Peninsula Community Church
By Faith: Is Anything Too Hard for God?
October 16, 2016
Hebrews 11:11-12 – By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
Today, we continue our walk through the Hall of Fame of Faith. It is an amazing walk as we have already discovered that each person inducted into the Hall of Fame of Faith had one thing in common. They had faith in an unmovable, unshakable, and faithful God. Though God was faithful, we must understand that those inducted were not perfect people as they had their foibles and their failures. They were tested beyond measure and they failed many times. But they were always able to adjust and refocus on what was right and good. They were able to refocus on God and His faithfulness.
The story of Abraham and Sarah is no different. The story of Sarah which have in front of us today proposes a question that must be answered in the heart of every believer. Is there really anything that is too hard for God? How many times are we confronted with issues that seem too big, too costly, too expansive for anything good to come from them? If we were honest, how many times do we face issues that we believe that not even God can resolve or fix? How many people are in our life seem to live or act in a way that diminishes any hope for change or redemption? We are all confronted with events, circumstances, and people which can cause us to question the power of God to do the impossible. We can begin to believe that there is no hope as we see the physical evidence of that which is impossible or too hard. But in our study today we will find that even under the greatest of odds, God is able to do the impossible.
In Genesis 18:9-15 we have the rest of the story of Sarah. The Lord had visited with Sarah and Abraham and the Lord said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
When we consider the story of Sarah and Abraham we see that the odds were against them. It had been 15 years since God had promised them that Abraham would be the father of many nations. They were now in their 90’s and their bodies were beginning to show the signs of aging. I am sure that were becoming wrinkled by the force of the sun beating down on them. They grew tired more easily. They faced aches and pains that had not been there in their earlier years. We have a glimpse into their health in Hebrews 11 when the author states that “Abraham was as good as dead.” This was the man that God had deposited the promise and it was through this man that God would fulfill His purpose. He was almost dead but God was not finished with him.
One of the things I have learned through my years of ministry and life is that sometimes the promise has to die so God can resurrect it the way He desires. If you have read the entire story of Abraham and Sarah you will remember that they had lost hope in the fulfillment of the promise. They took things into their own hands. They tried to help God out. Sarah had given Abraham her handmaiden, Hagar, to have a child. While in those days that was considered a loving gesture, it was never God’s will. It was never the plan that God had for them.
We find that Abraham had sexual relations with Hagar and out of that relationship Ishmael was born. While Ismael was Abraham’s son it was through Isaac that God was going to bless and fulfill His promise. The turmoil in the home became so great that Abraham had to send Ismael and Hagar to the desert to live. The choices made at that time started a ripple effect that would impact the world for centuries to come and in fact is effecting us even today. You may not know this but Muslims preach that they are descendants of Ishmael while Christians and Jews alike believe they are the descendants of Isaac.
What began as a play for power, a heart of jealously, and a grab for authority has continued through the years. It reminds us that our choices in life have consequences. Our choices effect those around us. One decision by Abraham has effected almost every generation from that day until now. The conflict in the Middle East and the terroristic plots of our day have all been seeded by Abraham’s decision to try another way to fulfill God’s plan. His decision led to hatred between Ishmael and Isaac which reached across the centuries.
As we read this story, we find that although Abraham had been given Ishmael, he knew that Ismael was not the son of promise. God had given Abraham a dream but that dream seemed to be delayed and seemed to be just a pizza dream at best. But here is the truth we must hear today. Sometimes the dream has to die before God can bring it to pass. Abraham and Sarah tried to do it their way and now God gives them a chance to do it His way. He says I will do the impossible to show my grandeur and my love for you. One of the great missionaries to China, Hudson Taylor made the following observation. God’s work done God’s way will never lack God’s supply. And that is so true.
Secondly, we must be aware that God’s delay is not a sign that God has forgotten us. In living life, there are things we have prayed for and promises we believe God has given us. We can grow weary in waiting for those things to happen and we can begin to lose heart. But know, or at least be aware that God’s delay is not a sign that He has forgotten us. He is still there and He is still working. The problem for us is that we want immediate action and an immediate response to our need and desire. In Psalm 46:10 we are reminded that no matter what comes our way or what storm may blow, we must be still and know that God is still God. He never leaves us and He never fails us.
Thirdly, God wants us to be honest with our emotions and how we feel. As we read this story, we find Sarah does something pretty amazing. Sarah laughed and scoffed at the prospect of having a child. Her seemingly lack of faith was merited in the fact that the odds were against them. Both Abraham and Sarah were old. They were advanced in years and they were tired and weary. It is noteworthy that the Scripture says that “the way of a woman had ceased to be with Sarah.” There was no way for her to have children. She needed a miracle and that is just what they received. With that said there is a point that needs to be made here. Some may criticize Sarah for laughing at the prospect that she would give birth to a child. We might even be insulted that she would dare do that but her response was an honest response to an impossible dream.
The fact is, too often we attempt to hide our emotions. We try to distance ourselves from the pain in our life. We try to even hide our emotions and disappointments from God. Somehow we think that God will be upset if we are real with Him. But here is a secret that needs to be revealed. God already knows your emotional state. He knows your heart and He knows what you are feeling. For that reason it is ok to express your emotions. It is ok to be real with God. I believe that it is important to communicate our emotions because we get to hear the words and feel the release of the pain through our words.
Sometimes, we have to go through a negative season of doubt and fear so that we can grasp the value of trusting God and believe that He will do what He said He would do. I am amazed in this story that although Sarah doubted and laughed we do not see any condemnation or judgement being passed onto her. And yet how often do we live with guilt, worry, and fear because we have expressed an emotion that we spoke from our heart. I love what the angel of the Lord spoke. He simply said I know your heart and by the way I will see you in a year. I will see you at the birth of your child. He spoke with confidence and she was filled with promise, hope, and life. Even though Sarah tried to hide her emotions, the Lord looked right through her to see the reality of her heart. And today, He is looking through the facade of our life to see the emotions of our heart.
Fourth, we need to know that God keeps His word. The angel of the Lord spoke to Sarah and said to her. At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. He is saying, “you will have a son.” You may not accept that. You may think that it is an impossibility but trust me it will happen. God keeps His Word.
Here is an interesting note about this story. We know that although the promise seemed impossible; Abraham and Sarah did their part. They had sexual intercourse. They had a sexual encounter at least once. By their faith, they moved beyond what they saw in the natural to believe God for the spiritual. They did their part and God did the rest. God touched her body and the seed of man joined the egg of woman and their son was born as promised. How amazing is that? God promised and He fulfilled His promise against the most amazing odds.
We began by asking the question, “Is there anything too hard for God?” We have looked at the issues with Sarah and have seen what God did for her. So the answer for us today is that there is nothing too hard for God. Nothing at all.
In the New Testament we find a similar story surrounding Elizabeth a relative of Mary. We find that she is pregnant even though she too was considered to be too old and she was barren which meant she could not have any children. This is the proclamation made in Luke 1:38. “for nothing will be impossible with God.” How much is impossible? Nothing at all is impossible with God. By the way John the Baptist was born to her just after this proclamation.
No one is ever too old. No one is ever too barren. We tend to measure God’s ability by what we see but God works the impossible and does what only He can do. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus reminds us that we don’t need big faith we just need faith. In fact, He compares the amount of faith that is needed to a grain of mustard seed. It is a small seed but that small seed has great potential. What Jesus is referring to here is that it is not the size of our faith that counts it is what we do with our faith that matters. Are we discouraged by the size of the need or the mountain in front of us? Whatever level of faith we have we can trust God. We can trust Him for answers to prayer. We can trust Him to do the impossible. That is God’s will. After all it is God we focus on on and not the mountain.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom