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Summary: As time passes by, we lose our hope that God is going to fulfill the promises He's made. This message looks at why God delays and how we can maintain solid faith in the face of the waiting.

[This is a long outline that might be better suited to a Wednesday evening Bible study.]

WHY WOULD YOU LAUGH AT GOD? We laugh because we’ve given up hope.

- Genesis 18:11-12.

- The way verse 12 is phrased makes it obvious that she once harbored real hope that this would happen. The problem is that the months and years that have crept by taking a little bit of her hope with them each time.

- It’s that “yeah, right” thought from the person who has waited just a little too long and had their hopes dashed a few times too many.

THE TRUTH: There is no expiration date on God’s promises.

- Genesis 18:13-14.

- Delays are not denials.

- It’s hard to hold onto our faith when we’ve been waiting for so long.

EXAMPLES OF SITUATIONS WHERE WE WANT TO GIVE UP:

1. That unsaved relative.

- You have someone you’ve been praying for in your family for years and years. You reach a point where it’s been so long since there have been any signs of progress that you weary of continuing to pray.

- I want to be specific here in noting that I am not guaranteeing that every unsaved person will get saved, because obviously that doesn’t happen. I am, however, confident that God has not given up on them or quit working in their hearts. We need to not despair either or stop our efforts.

2. Your church going downhill.

- You get depressed when you come to church because of the small crowd. You get depressed when you come to church because of the powerless worship. You get depressed when you come to church because everything points toward the church continuing to go downhill.

- In such a situation, it’s easy to give up. It’s easy to cease to pray with faith for God to move powerfully. It’s easy to lower expectations to little more than keeping the doors open being a victory. It’s easy to accept defeat.

- God is not done in your church. Certainly, His ability to move depends in part on your people being willing to give their hearts over to His will and make changes where they’re needed. Certainly, there are churches that close their doors (4,000 a year in America every year) because they continue down this path. But we can have confidence in knowing that God is always willing to work with us to see our church become vibrant and expand the Kingdom.

3. That sinful habit removed.

- We all have persistent sin that we struggle to get rid of. It’s not something that we can just find an easy answer and see it go away – it’s something that sticks with us. After a while, we can reach the place where we despair of having the strength to continue to overcome it.

- God never promised that He would just take away our sinful desires. Sometimes that happens, but often He simply gives the daily strength to be able to continue to overcome.

4. For the single person, finding a faith-filled and faithful spouse.

- There are a lot of single Christians who come to presume that they need to lower their standards to find someone to marry. They are going to have to accept reality and sleep around or be willing to live together because of the culture in which we live.

- Obviously, that kind of compromise is unacceptable to God. But we lose our hope and belief that He can come through and open the door to a Christ-honoring marriage.

WHY DOES GOD WAIT TO FULFILL HIS PROMISES?

1. Timing of events.

- Sometimes the issue is that God is awaiting all the details to come together at the right moment.

2. Others’ disobedience.

- Sometimes the issue is that others are not doing what they need to be doing.

3. Greater glory for Him.

- It seems backward that this couple that has been chosen by God – Abraham and Sarah – would have to wait for so long. You would think that if they were the ones that God had put His hand on that they would get extra-quick “service.” That they are the chosen ones and yet they are also the ones who have to wait so, so long just doesn’t seem to make sense.

- The element that brings the puzzle together in this case is the God’s desire to make it clear that this child is a gift from God. God allows the time to go so long so that it is well past when parents would normally be able to give birth. This makes it clear to all that there is something miraculous and special about this child.

- I think in our lives about the (much, much shorter) delay that God allowed when we were moving from Poca to Madison. We wanted it to happen sooner, but God delayed it. The person who bought the house came the day we moved out, looked again the day we moved into the new house, and made an offer our first full day in Madison. It was a sign that confirmed that we were where we were supposed to be. It would have been nice for the house to have sold immediately when it went on the market, but the timing that happened made it clear that God was orchestrating this move – something that is always helpful to have confidence in as you move forward.

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