Summary: This message first looks at the frustration and responses Christians have when God does not act according to our plan and then the need for our response to trust Him.
Waiting For God
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.
2 So Sarai said to Abram, "See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her." And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.
3 Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.
4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.
18 And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!"
19 Then God said: "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
20 "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
21 "But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year."
22 Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
As we learn to walk by faith, we struggle to wait on God. We get ahead of Him and we produce our own works. However, God honors what He produces, not what we produce. In this message, we will look at these three areas of walking by faith – Getting ahead of God, the fruit of our works must be from God, and waiting on the Lord.
1. Getting ahead of God
Probably the hardest part of living by faith is waiting on God. We want God to act swiftly and decisively. We don’t want God to work behind the scenes; we want to see what He is doing so that we can be confident in what He is doing. Our natural, human reaction when God doesn’t act according to our ideas is that we want to take matters into our own hands. This hasn’t changed since the beginning. Peter also address this by reminding us that “God is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but longsuffering toward us”. As we see time ticking away, we grow more and more impatient. When time seems against us, His promise begins to look impossible. We feel like we have to act now or miss out. When people feel like they will miss out, they react and interfere with God’s intended purpose. We will look at the two ways Christians react to God’s delay.
We try to put ‘legs on our prayers’. This is what we observe with Abraham and Sarah. God gave the promise of a son years ago. As the years ticked by and old age crept in, impatience came with it. At the point where Sarah realized that it was now physically impossible for her to have children, she began to question whether they were following the promise in the right way. It was already too late for her, if they waited much longer, it would be too late for Abraham too – if it was not already too late. If they continued to wait, surely they would miss out on God’s promise.
What they could not see is that God’s promise was to be fulfilled in such a way that it could only be attributed to God. God was doing a work that would glorify Himself and benefit Abraham and Sarah. What great work would it have been if Sarah had gotten pregnant after God gave Abraham the promise? She was counted as barren, but we all have seen or heard of people who were told they could not have children and later became pregnant. To the couple it may seem like a miracle, but the world credits time and chance. Throughout scripture you see miracles that only occur after it has become absolutely impossible without God. Sometimes God allows the greatest defeats before He raises us from the ashes of despair. If God bails us out of trouble, we glorify Him a little, but if God redeems us from the ashes of satan’s destruction, we will praise Him with all of our being. It is also through trouble or the delay in His promise that our faith is established. It takes very little if any faith to demand immediate relief of fulfillment, but it takes a lifestyle of faith and a heart that truly finds its hope in God to remain faithful when the promises seem impossible.