I remember earlier in my career it would happen to me and occasionally I got comments about it. I remember situations where for one of these two reasons I would give a little giggle and usually later someone would bring it up as something to work on because it can get misinterpreted or distracting.
Today’s reading we see how it happened to Abraham when he was told
‘Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”’—Genesis 17:15-16
When it is God saying something and making you a promise, even when it is bigger than anything you think is possible or makes you feel uncomfortable, how do you respond? Let’s follow Abraham and Sarah now that they have had a name changed and received the message of how God was about to bless her: “Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”
‘Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.” Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?” So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant. As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked. I will make him extremely fruitful and multiply his descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will be confirmed with Isaac, who will be born to you and Sarah about this time next year.” When God had finished speaking, he left Abraham. On that very day Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and every male in his household, including those born there and those he had bought. Then he circumcised them, cutting off their foreskins, just as God had told him. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, Both Abraham and his son, Ishmael, were circumcised on that same day, along with all the other men and boys of the household, whether they were born there or bought as servants. All were circumcised with him.’—Genesis 17:15-27
This promise touches me each time I read it as it was my reading that morning when I asked if I would have a son or only daughters and to my surprise and amazement – something that made me laugh and cry and change the name I was going to use for a son if I were to have one from Benjamin to Isaac and now I had a promise from God that I was to have a son and that his name was to be Isaac. God is awesome and faithful. God provided me a son and we named him Isaac. He completed the family and we have stopped at 3 children.
Today’s reading continues with Abraham and Sarah’s story – Genesis 18:1-21 and see that Sarah even laughed as earlier Abraham had done. How her view of the impossible made it feel uncomfortable and laughed? Nothing is impossible with God! Ever realize that sometime when something sounds too good to be true how God has to tell you again so that you can take hold of it? Ever realize that sometimes we don’t get it on the first time? Ever realized that if it going to be multiple people involved they both need to receive the message.
‘The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground. “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.” “All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.” So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees. “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord ? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.” Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. “For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”’—Genesis 18:1-21
So don’t allow the amazing visions and dreams and plans of God to keep you from taking hold of His promises. Don’t allow the nervousness or the impossibility of the promise hold you back from receiving the incredible gifts and promises God has for you. God is faithful and true. We see here how He even confirmed His promise saying he would come back around the same time the next year to see the child.
We see more of God’s hand and work through David as we move into 1 Chronicles 13. It is important that if God gives us instruction that we make sure we are clear on the plan and the expectations so that when we pursue it believing that it works out the way He desires the first time so we don’t have to learn the hard way and have to get a do over. Make sure to do your homework on the right process and way to do it.
‘David consulted with all his officials, including the generals and captains of his army. Then he addressed the entire assembly of Israel as follows: “If you approve and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send messages to all the Israelites throughout the land, including the priests and Levites in their towns and pasturelands. Let us invite them to come and join us. It is time to bring back the Ark of our God, for we neglected it during the reign of Saul.” The whole assembly agreed to this, for the people could see it was the right thing to do. So David summoned all Israel, from the Shihor Brook of Egypt in the south all the way to the town of Lebo-hamath in the north, to join in bringing the Ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. Then David and all Israel went to Baalah of Judah (also called Kiriath-jearim) to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart. David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the Lord ’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. So Uzzah died there in the presence of God. David was angry because the Lord ’s anger had burst out against Uzzah. He named that place Perez-uzzah (which means “to burst out against Uzzah”), as it is still called today. David was now afraid of God, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of God back into my care?” So David did not move the Ark into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. The Ark of God remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and everything he owned.’—1 Chronicles 13
We need to check with God on what we should do. We should be living in such a close relationship that we are always sure of what we will do. In 1 Chronicles 14 we see how even when it seemed right or easy or another chance to do it again, it doesn’t mean we should do it the same way for God may have an alternative, a better way to get it done. Let’s stick close and let’s receive the wisdom and instruction of God for all that we do in a day.
‘Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber, and stonemasons and carpenters to build him a palace. And David realized that the Lord had confirmed him as king over Israel and had greatly blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. Then David married more wives in Jerusalem, and they had more sons and daughters. These are the names of David’s sons who were born in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he marched out to meet them. The Philistines arrived and made a raid in the valley of Rephaim. So David asked God, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will hand them over to you.” So David and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “God did it!” David exclaimed. “He used me to burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So they named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, so David gave orders to burn them. But after a while the Philistines returned and raided the valley again. And once again David asked God what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” God replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them near the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, go out and attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.” So David did what God commanded, and they struck down the Philistine army all the way from Gibeon to Gezer. So David’s fame spread everywhere, and the Lord caused all the nations to fear David.’—1 Chronicles 14
Let’s make sure it isn’t about all that we can do but rather all that God is able to do in and through us because we are willing to draw closer to Him, wait on Him, hear Him, and do what He asks us to do in the way He asks us to do it. See the patience and obedience of David today’s reading. See God’s faithfulness to his obedience? Not our way but His way! Not our will but His will! Let’s take hold of this example in order to live out today in a way to bring praise, honor, and glory to God! Our reading continues to show the importance of this even in how our reading in John 5 shows us:
30I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. 31“If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you. 39“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. 41“Your approval means nothing to me, 42because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. 45“Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”—John 5:30-47
So what are you going to do? What is your situation? What are you to do? Let’s hear from James 5 what we can learn…
‘Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.’—James 5:13-20
So as we listen to God’s instruction and we hear how we should go, let’s believe and trust in Him and pursue Him and His will for our lives for we know He works all things for good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Let’s take hold of God’s Word and promise that He has a plan for us that is good, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So let’s come together and meditate on His Word and today’s Psalms from Psalms 12.
‘Help, O Lord , for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts. May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us?” The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” The Lord ’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord , we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.’—Psalms 12