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Genesis 18:1-33

Walking in Faith

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 9, 2008

In our last study in Genesis we saw Abraham growing in faith as he entered into the “circumcised life.” We saw that it is a picture of the heart that belongs completely to the Lord. It speaks of a life that puts no confidence in the flesh, but instead has confidence – faith – in God. In this chapter, Abraham will have an opportunity to walk in the faith that he is growing in. In this story, Sarah also will have her opportunity to walk in faith as well.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Walking in Faith 

Genesis 18:1-33


In our last study in Genesis we saw Abraham growing in faith as he entered into the “circumcised life.” We saw that it is a picture of the heart that belongs completely to the Lord. It speaks of a life that puts no confidence in the flesh, but instead has confidence – faith – in God.

In this chapter, Abraham will have an opportunity to walk in the faith that he is growing in. In this story, Sarah also will have her opportunity to walk in faith as well.

I. Faith Must be Tested

  • Here in this chapter, we see this faith put to the test in terms of practical everyday experience. There is a big difference between just learning about faith and actually living it out. You can go to seminary and take classes about what faith is and what it looks like, and then at the end of the class you will take a multiple choice test.
  • You can actually get an A on a test in class and then not be able to live it out.

A. In unexpected ways

  • If God sent you an email and let you know that your faith would be tested tomorrow afternoon, you would be able to polish up your faith and be ready.
  • But God allows our faith to be tested in unexpected ways without any notice at all.

Illus – When you’re relaxing at home and suddenly the phone rings with an urgent call for a request that is very inconvenient, that is a test of faith… When you’ve got five things going at once and your child comes up and asks how grasshoppers can fly, that is a test…When the cashier at the mall forgets to charge you for something, that is a test… When your neighbor gets sick and needs someone to help with the kids, that is a test.

Romans 12:1, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

  • What do you do, how do you react in life’s situations? That is the real test of faith.
  • This is what happened to Abraham at the beginning of chapter 18.
  • It’s hot, Abraham is comfortable in the shade, and there appear three strangers. Abraham doesn’t yet know it is the Lord, but takes immediate action.

Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men... It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Matthew 25:34-40 What you do to the least of these…

B. Give the best of your heart

  • Abraham is visited by three strangers on a hot day in the desert, but Abraham didn’t yet realize that it was the Lord Himself.
  • What happens next is important. Abraham asks Sarah to make bread with the best wheat. He selects a calf that is the choicest in the herd.
  • In other words, he gives of the best! (By the way, this meal would never be served in Israel today because they don’t serve milk with meat.)

Illus – It is certainly true that they know how to eat in the Middle East. On our recent trip to Israel, I couldn’t believe the selection of foods we had at our hotels for every meal! But then again, they have a reason; they are competing against all the other hotels in Israel.

  • But what if no one else was around, what would we do then?
  • Abraham is out in the middle of the desert and there is no one but God to judge his heart and character.

App- One of the tests of faith is what we do in our own home. We often give our best when we’re out in public, but become very lax when we’re speaking to those in our own home.

App – and so we don’t let people into our lives because it’s a mess… Many won’t let God into their lives because it’s a mess, but He is the very one we should invite in. “Lord, my marriage is a mess and I need help…”

  • Should we not also give the best of our heart to God? Certainly, there is no one who truly knows what happens in our heart, but God deserves the best of our heart and devotion.
  • Why? Because He has given the very best to us!

Isaiah 5:1-2, Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine…

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Illus – God gives us the picture of eating together to describe the kind of relationship He desires with us.

Revelation 3:20-21, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

C. “Is anything too difficult of the Lord?”

  • The focus of the story now turns to Sarah as one of the men asks, “Where is Sarah your wife?”
  • The question itself suggests that these are no ordinary desert travelers. Sarah’s name had only recently been changed … by God Himself.

  • Sarah heard the promise that she would have a son and laughed in her heart because she saw only the obstacles – their old age.
  • The Lord brings the question that immediately turns the matter to the Lord, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”

App – if we want our faith to increase and see God move powerfully in our lives then we cannot stay focused on how great our problems are. We must see life from the perspective of this question “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”

Illus – When David volunteered to face Goliath it was not because he already knew what he could do… he already knew what God could do!

I Samuel 17:36-37, “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

  • There are several other scriptures that we should treasure that put God in the crux of the question.

Job 42:2, I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

Jeremiah 32:17, Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,

  • Finally, we also need to see one final part of this story of Sarah… God blesses in spite of our weakness. God was faithful…

II Timothy 2:13, If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

II. Faith Does What God Cares About

  • The story now turns as the three men begin to leave and head toward Sodom, but then separate as two head toward Sodom and the Lord tells Abraham what He is about to do.
  • We now see Abraham walking in faith as he makes bold requests of the Lord in behalf of the city.

A. A man of faith looks beyond himself

  • We have a tendency to be ‘myopic’, near-sighted, or short sighted. But this is because of immaturity.
  • A true mark of growing in our faith is when we look beyond ourselves and look to the needs and concerns of others.
  • Unfortunately, if you watch Christian television you might get the impression you should focus on yourself, but your prayers will end up sounding like that of Janis Joplin, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.”
  • But the Lord does address the question of motives in prayer…

James 4:2-3, You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

  • We can certainly ask for our daily bread, but God asks that we seek Him…

Matthew 6:33, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

  • Solomon becomes an illustration of this very point because God comes to him and permits him to ask God for anything he desires.
  • But God blesses him abundantly because he asked for an understanding heart so he could rule well as king over Israel.

I Kings 3:10-12, It was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing. God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words.”

B. Faith sees the value of one

  • Abraham finally stopped asking at 10; if there were ten righteous there God would spare the city, but who was in his mind? Lot his nephew was there.
  • Abraham had actually saved the city once when they were attacked and plundered by Chedorlaomer king of Elam, but no one learned from it now is sinful beyond hope.
  • What we see in Abraham is the heart for others to ask to save the city, but also the value he places on just one.
  • God helps us see the value of just one when He says…

Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

  • The whole world is not enough to equal the value of just one soul.

App – Should we not also see the value of one soul? Should we not also be concerned about those who are lost?

  • You never know what difference one life might make…

Illus – In May 1934 in Charlotte, North Carolina a farmer lent his pasture to 30 local businessmen who wanted to devote a day to prayer because the depression had spread spiritual apathy in the city.

They planned to hold for an evangelical crusade, a campaign later that year. Their leader Vernon Patterson prayed, “Out of Charlotte the Lord would raise up someone to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

Did the Lord hear their prayer? The renowned southern evangelist, Mordecai Ham, shattered complacency in Charlotte. The farmer who lent them his pasture for that day of prayer was Franklin Graham and his son Billy became a Christian during those meetings and the rest is history.

Genesis 18:1-33     NASB

1 Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, "My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant." And they said, "So do, as you have said." 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes." 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

9 Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "There, in the tent." 10 He said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" 13 And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son." 15 Sarah denied it however, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh."
16 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 The Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." 20 And the Lord said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?

25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" 26 So the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account." 27 And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?" And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." 29 He spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it on account of the forty." 30 Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there." 31 And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the twenty." 32 Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten." 33 As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.

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