Often God gives us a promise we are not capable of receiving at the time. What He wants to do for us simply requires much more faith than we have. We hear His promise and are delighted by it, but even as we listen we may recognize it will take more faith than we find inside for something so great to happen. Some people become overwhelmed by the thought and try to forget they ever heard a promise. Some wait passively for a period of time and then if nothing happens give up hope. But some believe God anyway, trusting He will somehow work things out. Thats the kind of people Abraham and Sarah werepeople who responded with whatever faith they had, and then refused to give up on God long enough to allow Him to grow them into different people. You see, He had to change them before He could work that miracle for them. And they gave Him the time to do it, and obeyed step by step as He put them through a series of faith-enlarging tests. So, long after most people would have give up, Abraham and Sarah held their miracle in their arms. Today lets learn from their example.
A. When God speaks a promise to us Hes telling us what He wants to do through us if well cooperate with Him.
1. Hes not announcing destiny, Hes announcing intention. We must cooperate with His intention for it to become destiny.
2. In order to receive what Hes promised we must (Heb 10:36, 39):
Do the will of God
3. So, when God speaks a promise:
Some refuse to do the will of God and nothing even begins
Some start out but do not endure, so as time passes the process dies
Some obey and keep on obeying thus entering a process of growing faith
4. Gods will for us will never change, but unless we choose to enter His training process much of His will for us will never be realized.
B. When God speaks a promise to us He also accepts the responsibility to grow our faith until we are capable of fully receiving His will.
1. Faith is a level of trust that grows through testing, obedience and patient waiting.
2. Very few people have the capacity to receive what God has promised at the moment when He first speaks it to them. God knows that but He also knows how to grow our faith.
3. Faith comes to life when we hear God speak to us (Ro 10:17) but it grows stronger when we endure through trials.
C. When God speaks a promise to us He already has in mind a series of preparatory tests that He plans to put us through.
1. If we cooperate, these tests will transform us into people who are able to receive His highest purpose.
2. Sadly, stubbornness and fear cause many to settle for far less. They are left wondering why those promises never arrived.
D. Lets take Abraham and Sarah as an example:
Test #1: leave home and family
Acts 7:2-4 southern Mesopotamia to northern Syria to Canaan
Genesis 12:1 Ill give you a national homeland
Test #2: This is it!
Test #3: You and Sarah will have a baby who will be the start of an entire nation.
Genesis 11:30 Sarah was barren
Years passed without a child
Genesis 15:1-6 Descendants (seed) so numerous they cant be counted
Genesis 16:1, 2 Frustration led to rationalizing
- Hagar, an Egyptian maid
- Troubled family relations
Names changed: Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many); Sarai (my princess) to Sarah (princess)
Genesis 17 circumcision
Genesis 17:17 Abraham laughed
Genesis 18:11-15 Sarah laughed
Abraham prayed for Abimelech so that his household bore children (Ge 20:17, 18)
Genesis 21:1-8 twenty-five years later Isaac was born. Hes named Isaac because everyone will laugh when they hear a 100 year old man and a 90 year old woman bore a child.
1. It took 25 years to prepare them to receive the miracle God wanted to give.
2. God was not a bit upset with them for taking so long. In fact, He knew the appointed time and started working on them early enough so they would be ready.
3. God led them step-by-step through one test after another so they could grow strong in faith.
Romans 4:16-22 hope upon hope
Hebrews 11:11 Sarah believed God to transform her internal organs
4. Abraham died without seeing all the promises fulfilled, but God continued on to keep His promises. Faith lights a fire that keeps burning long after youre gone to heaven.
E. God works the same way with us.
1. He gives a promise knowing we are not capable of receiving it.
2. He leads us into a series of tests that will grow our faith.
3. The passage of time is of little concern to Him. Hes not angry or disappointed. Hes our Father.
4. He repeatedly reminds us of His promises all the way through.
5. Much of what Hes promised will not be fulfilled in our lifetime.
F. When God grows our faith we find the process drains ambition and greed out of our hearts until we are left standing in the midst of our blessings longing for heaven.
1. The only thing that really satisfies is God Himself (Heb 11:13-16).
1. Can you name a promise God has made to you that is yet to be fulfilled?
2. Has God ever put you through a series of tests to grow your faith? Tell us how these changed you.
3. Name an area where your faith is larger than it once was. What made it grow?