1 Message for Wednesday Night Praise and Worship, Wednesday, May 24, 2017 Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister Message 6 in Mountain Moving Faith Sermon Series By Faith Sarah Hebrews 11:11,12 (NKJV) Tonight as we continue with our Mountain Moving Faith series I would ask you to open your Bibles once again to the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. And let's pick up where we left off last week with verses 11, 12. HEBREWS 11:11,12 (NKJV) Let us pray. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. *****************************************************
2 Introduction Any time one choose to live by faith it has a very profound affect upon the lives of those around them, especially the lives of their family. Illustration: Back in the late 1950's and early 60's, my dad was the minister of the County Line Christian Church near Axton, Virginia. In about four years time the Church had grown to nearly 300 in attendance and had just built a brand new Church building. Then in the spring of 1962 my dad was contacted by a man by the name of Roy Girloff from Newton, Kansas who invited dad to come work with a brand new Church they had just started in an old ice cream parlor in downtown Newton. My dad didn't give Mr Girloff a flat no, instead he told him he and my mom would pray about it and get back with him. Over the next couple of weeks dad and mom prayed, seeking God's will about what to do. And the more they prayed, the more convinced they became it was God's will that dad accept the call to the Church in Newton, Kansas. My dad called Mr. Girloff and told him he would become their minister, but he would have to wait until school was out before they could make the move. Nothing about that move made sense from a human standpoint. Dad was leaving behind a Church of 300 to go minister to a Church that at that time was averaging ten. He was leaving behind a Church that had a brand new Church building to go minister to a Church that was meeting in an old abandoned ice cream parlor.
3 He was choosing to leave a comfortable salary and a parsonage at the Church in Virginia to take a ministry in Kansas that could only afford to pay him $75 a week, and he would have to rent a house for us to live in out of that meager income. Even as a young boy, I still remember the shock of sitting worshiping with 300 one Sunday, and the following Sunday after we moved to Kansas worshiping with 15 people, five of which were the members of my own family. The night Dad and mom told us kids we were moving, I remember dad laying a map of the United States out across the kitchen table and with his index finger he pointed to Axton, Virginia on the map. And with his finger he traced a line from Axton, Virginia to Newton, Kansas and he said, this is where we are moving. We would be leaving behind everything that was familiar to us...our home...our Church family at County Line...my first-grade classmates at Callands Elementary School...EVERTHING! And we would be moving to a place we had never heard of or been to before. It took tremendous faith on my dad's part to make such a bold and courageous move. But it required a tremendous amount of faith on my mom's part as well. Never once did I hear mom argue with dad about making this move. She had faith that if this is what God was calling my dad to do then it was the right thing to do. Like I said a few moments ago, When one chooses to live by faith it affects the lives of those around him, especially the members of his own family. *******************************************
4 In last week's message we saw how Abraham answered God's call to leave behind the comforts of his home in Ur of The Chaldees to move to a land that God would show him, a land to which he had never been to nor heard of before. And while we considered what tremendous faith it required of Abraham to make such a bold and daring move, we must remember, it also took tremendous faith from Sarah. By responding to answer God's call by faith, Abraham's decision meant Sarah was going to have to leave behind her home, and her relatives, and her friends, and the comforts of the life she had known up to that point. What tremendous faith Sarah must have had. When you study the life of Sarah in the scriptures there are three things that really stand out: Her BEAUTY,, her BARRENNESS,, and her BLESSING. First of all, let's consider... I. Sarah's BEAUTY 1. It has been said, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some women are outwardly beautiful, but not inwardly beautiful at all. Some women are NOT outwardly beautiful, but they are inwardly beautiful. The scriptures teach us that Sarah was a woman who was blessed with both OUTWARD and INWARD beauty.
5 First, let's see what the word of God has to say about... (A) Sarah's OUTWARD beauty. (Genesis 12:10-20) Before I read this passage let me explain something. After Abraham and Sarah left their home and ventured to the land of Canaan where God led them you remember they did not build a home. They lived in tents. Well after they had lived in Canaan for a period of time a terrible famine came all across the land, and Abraham and Sarah had to pack up their tents and all their belongings and move to the land of Egypt for a time. Now follow along with me, beginning in Genesis 12, verse 10 to verse 20. Genesis 12:10-20 (NKJV) 10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, This is his wife ; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you. 14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh house.
6 16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram s wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, She is my sister? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way. 20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. We have all heard the old saying, if looks could kill. Well, Sarah's looks almost got Abraham killed. In verse 11 Abraham told Sarah how beautiful she is. He said to her, Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. In other words, Abraham is saying, Honey, I know how blessed I am to have a wife as stunningly beautiful as you are! And just as Abraham feared, other men took notice of his wife's beauty. Verse 14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. Now keep in mind Sarah was 65 years old at this time. At sixty five years of age she is still turning heads because of her outward beauty. To save his own hide Abraham and Sarah told a half lie. They came up with this story about how Sarah was Abraham's sister rather than his wife. Well she was actually his half-sister. They had the same father but different mothers.
7 Well this plan would work well for Abraham, but what about Sarah? She was taken in by Pharaoh to become part of his palace harem. But thankfully GOD intervened and put diseases upon Pharaoh and all his household so they would not touch Sarah. The story ends with Abraham's VISA being revoked and he and Sarah being deported from the land of Egypt. But not only was Sarah a woman of outward beauty. (B) Sarah's INWARD beauty. ( I Peter 3:5,6) Do you think Sarah had some heated arguments with Abraham about this decision? Do you think she gave Abraham the silent treatment for days after he told her what he was going to do? I don't believe so, and I will tell you why. I Peter 3:5,6 (NKJV) we read... 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, (now listen closely...) 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
8 Now what does that tell us? It tells us Sarah was submissive and obedient to her husband Abraham. Sarah had the utmost respect for her husband, even calling him lord. She respected him as the head of their home, and she followed his lead, especially when it came to important spiritual matters, like making a decision to leave the comforts of their home in Ur of The Chaldees and go to a place they had never been to before. So that's the first thing the scriptures tell us about Sarah. She was a woman of great OUTWARD and INWARD BEAUTY. Secondly, the scriptures tell us about... II. Sarah's BARRENNESS (Genesis 16:1-5 NKJV) Let's turn over just a page or two in our Bibles to Genesis chapter sixteen. Genesis 16:1-5 NKJV 1 Now Sarai, Abram s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. 2 So Sarai said to Abram, See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. 3 Then Sarai, Abram s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. 4 So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.
9 1. You remember in last week's message we learned that Abraham answered God's call immediately to leave his home in Ur of The Chaldees and head to the land God would show him. And you remember Abraham did as God commanded him because he trusted in God's promises. Genesis 12:2,3 (NKJV) I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 2. In order for God to fulfill these promises it required that Abraham and Sarah have a child. But there was a a problem...a VERY BIG PROBLEM! Sarah was barren. The word barren to be incapable of producing off-spring or sterile. The word barren also means, unproductive, fruitless, empty. A tract of land that is incapable of producing a crop is said to be barren. A tree that bears no fruit is said to be barren. A cow that can't calve is said to be barren. And a woman who cannot have children is said to be barren.
10 3. In Biblical times barren women endured terrible scorn. In the eastern culture to be able to have children, lots of children is a mark of a man's virility and a woman's fertility. So when a woman could not bear children she was viewed as being cursed or defective or inferior. In Biblical times a husband who had a barren wife often despised her as though he got a bad deal in marrying her. This is one reason why we read in the scriptures about men having multiple wives. If a man's first wife was barren, he would often take a second wife, and a third wife, and as many as he wanted; because the more children he fathered the more it proved his manhood; at least that's what men believed in those days. While it is still heartbreaking for a woman not to be able to bear children today, barrenness doesn't have the same social stigma it did in Biblical times.
11 4. Remember at the time God made His covenant with Abraham, Abraham was 75 and Sarah was 65. Now, God didn't specifically mention Sarah in His promise to Abraham, but Sarah naturally assumed since she was Abraham's wife that if he was to have an heir that she would be the one to bear his child. So because God made these promises to Abraham, Abraham and Sarah finally had a realistic hope that they would be able to have the child they had longed for their entire married life. 5. Well ten years passed and nothing happened except Abraham and Sarah got grayer and their wrinkles started growing deeper. Maybe Sarah asked Abraham, Just what did God say to you when He gave you His promises? Did He happen to mention my name at all? 6. Now seventy five years and still no baby, Sarah concludes that if Abraham is going to have an heir the child will have to come through another woman. So Sarah encourages Abraham to father a child through Haggar, Sarah's handmaiden.
12 7. Bad idea! Really, really bad idea! Sure enough Haggar bore a child and he was given the name Ishmael. And no sooner had Haggar given birth to her son than the conflict and disharmony began. And for the past 4,000 years since then the descendants of Ishmael (the Arabs) and the descendants of Isaac (the Jews) have been bitter enemies, even to this very day. 8. Abraham lying about his relationship with Sarah... Sarah giving her handmaiden to Abraham to father a child...these things tell us these great heroes of the faith were not perfect people...not one of them. They were just ordinary people like you and me who made some bad choices along the way, people who at times failed miserably, people who had a few chinks in their armor; and yet over-all, their lives were characterized by great faith in God. Well this brings us to the third thing we want to consider about Sarah and that is...
13 III. Sarah's BLESSING (Hebrews 11:11,12) 1. Fourteen more years have now passed. It has been twenty four years since God made His covenant with Abraham in which He promised Him descendants. Ishmael is now a fourteen year old boy. Abraham is 99, and Sarah is 89. It seems that all hope is now gone that Abram and Sarah are going to get that long-awaited son. 2. But remember, What is impossible with men, is possible with God. Listen carefully as I read from Genesis 17: Genesis 17:15-17 (NKJV) 15 Then God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her. 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child? 3. By this time God had already changed Abram's name to Abraham. Abram means the father is EXALTED. Abraham means, the father of MULTITUDES.
14 As the time came for God to fulfill his long-awaited promise He gave Sarai a brand new name also. God told Abraham to no longer call her Sarai which means, My Princess. He was now to call her Sarah which means Princess of the MULTITUDES. They are no longer Abram and Sarai, they are now Abraham the father of multitudes and Sarah the Princess of multitudes. 4. When God told Abraham that Sarah was going to have a baby, verse 17 says, Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed... Now we have always interpreted Abraham's laugh was one of shock and disbelief. But the scriptures seem to indicate Abraham's laugh was one of sheer JOY rather than shock and disbelief. Romans 4L19-22 (NKJV) 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.
15 5. In Genesis 18 we learn that Sarah reacted the same way Abraham reacted when she over-heard in the conversation between the Lord and Abraham that she was going to finally have a baby at the ripe old age of 90. Sarah laughed, though when the Lord asked her why did she laugh, she denied that she did. 6. Unlike Abraham's laughter, Sarah's laughter was more of shock and disbelief. But soon God would turn her laughter of disbelief into laughter of sheer joy. HEBREWS 11:11,12 (NKJV) 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. ******************************************************************************** C O N C L U S I O N God would bless Sarah with thirty more years of life after she gave birth to ISAAC, the son of promise. What do we learn from this great heroine of the faith named Sarah? Let me share two thoughts; one negative, one positive. The negative lesson we learn from Sarah is that our Plan B is never as good as God's Plan A. The world is still paying the price of Sarah's decision to have Abraham father a child through Haggar. But the positive lesson we can learn from Sarah is that she remained faithful in her commitment to her husband and most importantly to her GOD until death. Though she lived with great disappointment over not having a child all those many years, her faith in GOD never wavered. Like Sarah, may God find us faithful until death!