- Sermon Notes
God’s Best is Worth the Wait
August 20, 2023
- Waiting. No one likes to wait. Why? Because we want everything now.
- How many bad decisions have you made because you didn’t want to wait?
ILLUS – Buying my first car
- In Genesis 15, we are told that God promised Abraham that an heir would come from his own body, even though he was advanced in years.
- After considering God’s promise, his old age, and most importantly, the character of the One who promised, we’re told that. . .
Genesis 15:6, Abram believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
- Genesis 15 could be characterized as Abraham’s “mountain-top experience” with God.
- But we are quickly dragged into the “valley of testing” in Genesis 16.
- In fact, the impact of Abraham and Sarah’s decision in Genesis 16 is still felt to this very day. Why?
- Because Abraham and Sarah failed to wait for God’s best.
- From this passage, we will uncover principles to help us patiently wait for God’s best because “God’s Best is Worth the Wait.”
Transition – While you are waiting for God’s best, please remember that. . .
I. God Knows Your Pain (1)
- When the wait is long and it looks like there is no relief in sight for the problems that plague you, it’s difficult to wait for God’s best.
- Questions about God’s love for us or His ability to deliver us can flood our hearts and minds.
- At times it may feel like God is far away and your prayers are unanswered; the silence can be discouraging and overwhelming.
Transition – What was Sarah’s pain?
A. Sarah’s Pain: No Child
- For Sarah, being childless was her deepest wound.
- For Abraham, the matter was settled in Genesis 15 because had God promised he would have a son from his own, old body.
Genesis 15:4, Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”
- But for Sarah, the matter was unresolved.
- Abraham was specifically mentioned, but Sarah was not.
- Yet, it is clearly implied that Sarah was included.
- Note: Emphasis on “Abram’s wife” (1).
- Conclusion: God included Sarah in His promise to Abraham because they were married.
- Children are a blessing from God.
- In that day, there was great stigma for those who were childless.
- Their culture believed that parents lived on through their children.
- If a husband and wife were childless, they were considered cursed with extinction.
- No child? “What did you do wrong? There must be sin in your life.”
- No child? “God’s hand is against you. He has cursed you.”
APPL – Whatever your issue, struggle, or pain; God knows and God cares for you.
- Your heavenly Father invites you to bring your deepest wounds, anxieties, and fears to Him.
- God is waiting for you.
- Cast your cares upon the Lord and wait for His best.
- God’s answers are perfect and so is His timing. David said. . .
Psalm 34:4, 6, I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. . . . This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
B. Sarah’s Temptation: “I need a back-up plan.”
- Hagar was an Egyptian maid.
- She was young and beautiful.
- She was loyal, or so Sarah thought.
- But as an Egyptian maid, Hagar was outside of the Lord’s covenant with Abraham because she was not Abraham’s wife.
- It is also important to note that Hagar was acquired because of compromise.
- There was a famine in the land of Canaan so Abraham traveled down to Egypt for food (Genesis 12:10).
- But fear gripped Abraham’s heart as he entered Egypt and he forgot the Lord’s promise that he had just received.
Genesis 12:2-3, And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
- In fear, Abraham came up with his own “back-up plan.”
Genesis 12:11-13, It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.”
- Unfortunately for Abraham, his “back-up plan” worked.
Genesis 12:15-16, Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
APPL – Notice how one compromise sets the stage for the next compromise.
APPL – Temptation is not sin.
- Jesus Christ was tempted but never sinned.
Hebrews 4:15, For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
- Temptation becomes sin when we act on it.
James 1:14-15, But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
- Therefore, we must flee our lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.
2 Timothy 2:22, Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- By the way, the Lord struck Pharaoh’s house with great plagues (Genesis 12:17) to protect Sarah and His promise to Abraham which would be fulfilled through her.
- Why would God preserve Sarah if He did not plan to use Sarah to bless Abraham with a son?
- That said, the table was set for their next compromise because Hagar was in their house.
Transition – While you are waiting for God’s best, please remember that. . .
II. God Wants Your Faith Not Your Help (2-3)
A. Sarah’s Assessment: “God did this to me!”
- Sarah told Abraham, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children” (2).
- The Bible reveals that God can close the womb.
- In Genesis 20, we’re told that Abraham used the same back-up plan to insure his safety when they traveled toward the land of Negev and settled in Gerar, where Abimelech was king.
- Abimelech took Sarah (20:2).
- But God came to Abimelech in a dream in order to protect Sarah once again and preserve the covenant promise He had made with Abraham in Genesis 15.
Genesis 20:3, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.”
- God restored Sarah to Abraham and Abraham prayed to God for Abimelech and his wife and maids because God had closed their wombs.
Genesis 20:16-17, Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
- But God can also open the womb.
Psalm 113:9, He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!
- Here’s the key to this passage; Sarah was hurting and filled with doubt.
- If only Sarah could have seen that she was. . .
- Barren but not due to sin in her life.
- Barren but not cursed of God.
- Barren but in the middle of God’s will.
APPL – God’s delays are not God’s denials.
- Yet Satan whispers lies to us while we are waiting for God’s answer.
- “God can’t use you now.”
- “God wants someone better than you.”
- “God has forgotten His promises to you.”
- How many bad decisions have been made while waiting for God’s best because of a wrong interpretation of God’s delay?
- Please remember, when God makes a promise, He will make it good.
Numbers 23:19, God is not man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
B. Sarah’s Solution: “Please go in to my maid”
- Sarah must have felt so desperate.
- She was willing to give her husband to another woman.
- You’re in a dangerous place when you want someone or something so bad that you’re willing to compromise so much to get it.
- It’s true that Sarah’s plan was a culturally accepted and legally practiced; build your family through a surrogate.
- Caution: Just because a practice or plan is legal or culturally accepted does not mean it is God’s best for you.
APPL – God wants your faith not your help.
- Remember it was God who simply spoke and creation came into existence (Genesis 1:3).
- Nothing is too difficult for God.
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
- We can patiently wait for God because He knows what He is doing and His time is always the right time.
- We can confidently trust God because He will never fail us. He will always make it good.
APPL – But trying to “help” God is tempting.
- We must remember that God’s promises are never fulfilled through human effort alone.
- God’s promises are:
- Supernatural not natural.
- And they are undeniably divine so that God gets all the credit.
APPL – Why did God make Abraham and Sarah wait twenty-five years for their promised son?
- Because God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead.”
Hebrews 11:11-12, By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised; therefore, also, there was born of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.
- “Good as dead” physically speaking so that they were beyond the child-bearing years.
- “Good as dead” spiritually speaking so that Abraham and Sarah would give up their back-up plans and simply believe that God would do what He had promised.
APPL – There is a spiritual lesson for us too.
- Sometimes we might be waiting because God is waiting for us to be done with our back-up plans, to be “as good as dead.”
- Sometimes we might be waiting because God is waiting for us to simply trust Him.
C. “Abram listened to the voice of Sarai”
- Sarah had made an accurate observation.
- Sarah’s plan seemed reasonable.
- Sarah’s plan was culturally accepted.
APPL – Before you consent, prayerfully test all counsel, even counsel from trusted sources.
- Never let the opinions or counsel from others replace the counsel from the Bible.
- In fact, this verse links Abraham to Adam when he sinned in the Garden of Eden?
Genesis 3:17, Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
- In Genesis, whenever you read that someone “listened to the voice” of someone other than God, bad things will surely follow.
APPL – We must carefully listen to and discern what is being said to us.
- Abraham listened to Sarah’s voice, but he did not hear her heart; what she was really saying to him.
- If Abraham had been listening to his wife, he would have told Sarah. . .
- You are my wife.
- My covenant is with you and our God.
- Let’s seek God and wait for His best.
- Transition – Finally, while you are waiting for God’s best, remember that. . .
III. God’s Blessings Come Without Regret (4-6)
A. “Abraham went in to Hagar” (4)
- Abraham and Sarah’s marriage bed was defiled.
Hebrews 13:4, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
- Hagar conceived.
- Hagar despised Sarah.
- Her loyal, trusted maid had become her arrogant arch enemy.
- Everyone thought Hagar was blessed and Sarah was cursed.
- Everyone doted on Hagar while Sarah was ignored.
- I am sure Sarah would confess that her back-up plan created an unexpected mess.
APPL – What was God showing Abraham and Sarah, and us as well?
- We cannot fulfill God’s promises with our back-up plans.
- We cannot fulfill God’s promises by our power.
- We cannot fulfill God’s promises through our wisdom.
B. Abraham and Sarah’s lives were a mess (5-6)
- Sarah blamed Abraham.
- Even though he followed her plan.
- And Sarah was suspicious of Abraham, insinuating that he caused the change in Hagar’s attitude.
- Abraham passively deferred to Sarah.
- No leadership.
- No repentance.
- No reconciliation.
- So Sarah harshly treated Hagar until she ran away.
APPL – There is another lesson in this.
- When we try to help God, we often make a bigger mess.
- That mess will quickly spread.
- And that mess will be impossible to clean up without help.
APPL – Cleaning up the messes we have made in our lives begins with asking Jesus Christ to be our Savior.
John 3:16, 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.
APPL – Consider the following questions before you make a major decision:
- Will this decision contradict a principle or promise from God’s Word?
Psalm 25:12, Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
- Will this decision honor God?
1 Corinthians 10:31, Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- Do I truly have peace about this decision?
Romans 8:6, For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace
- Have I been waiting patiently for God, giving Him room to move?
Psalm 27:14, Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.
Genesis 16:1-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will [a]obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 After Abram had [b]lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your [c]arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her [d]sight. May the Lord judge between [e]you and me.” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your [f]power; do to her what is good in your [g]sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.