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BBBI - 2018.02.07 - PM - God's Specialty: Ability within Impossibility (Gen. 18:1-15)

BBBI - OT101.2 - Genesis II  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:09:45
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We may believe certain things about the Bible, but do we believe God can make them a reality in our own lives?

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Genesis 18:13–15 KJV 1900
And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Introduction

Get Attention:
Titles - ?The Lord's Specialty in Impossibility: Bringing Life Out of Death; or Sarah's Social Faux Pas ?
Social Faux Pas ...an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.
The noon encounter in this chapter and the night scene at Sodom in the next are in every sense a contrast of light and darkness. The former, quietly intimate and full of promise, is crowned by the intercession in which Abraham’s faith and love show a new breadth of concern. The second scene is all confusion and ruin, moral and physical, ending in a loveless squalor which is even uglier than the great overthrow of the cities.
In verses 1–15 nothing is added to the promise of 17:15ff. What is new is its setting, and the challenge to Sarah’s faith—for she must be brought into believing participation. How necessary the challenge was, can be seen in verses 12–15; how successful, in Hebrews 11:11.
Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 142.
Raise Need:
We need to see in Sarah 3 fingers pointed back at us, and ask in what ways we may be doubting what our Creator's capabilities are.
Orient Theme:
Like Mary and Martha, when Jesus had waited too long in their minds (as Jehovah had tarried too long for Sarah), we may have all the theology that knows the Lord will bring life out of death at the resurrection; but have we failed to believe that He wants to bring eternal life to our spiritually dead neighbor, co-worker, classmate, friend, relative, brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter?
State Purpose:
My purpose in this exposition is to get you to think about where God is challenging your faith, and then move you from faith to faith, believing that He can, and will do the impossible, not through someone else, but through YOU!
Main Thought
As Jehovah promised to accomplish the impossible through the bride of Abraham (to bring life out of death, and to ultimately bring the Messiah to the world through the Seed of the Woman), so also has Jesus promised (to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think) to do the impossible through His Bride (to bring eternal life to souls through the preaching of the Cross by His Church).
Sub-Introduction
The Son of God is the central figure here. He loves the homes of men. It has ever been his wont to visit the homes and hearts of those who love him. See Prov. 8:31. Abraham knew well that the High and Lofty One, who inhabits eternity, had come to dwell with him.
F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 26.
“If we are beset by an unseen foe,” wrote Vance Havner, “we are also befriended by an Unseen Friend. Great is our adversary but greater is our Ally.”
Friendship involves ministry; and in this chapter you will find Abraham ministering in three different areas: to the Lord (18:1–8), to his home (18:9–15), and to a lost world (18:16–33).
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 72–74.

I. Abraham Receives Jehovah (Gen. 18:1-5)

A. Jehovah's Appearance & Abraham's Response (Gen. 18:1-2).

Genesis 18:1–2 KJV 1900
And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

1. The Place:

Plains of Mamre
Tent Door

2. The Timing:

The Heat of the Day

3. The Men:

Three men
Stood by (they stand by him here, he stands by them in v. 8)

4. The Welcome:

He Saw
He Ran
He Bowed
He Prayed - spend time with me and let me serve You!
The experience of Abraham and the experience of Christ with His disciples tells us that God wants a closer friendship with us. God wants us to open our hearts and lives so that He can draw closer to us and us to Him. God wants us to develop a deep affection and respect for Him, to develop the most intimate friendship possible with Him.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3).
“I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (Ps. 16:8).
“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
“The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).
“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways” (Ps. 119:15).
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Re. 3:20).
Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Genesis (Chapters 12–50), vol. II, The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996), 89.

B. Abraham's Invitation & Jehovah's Acceptance (Gen. 18:3-5).

1. His Humility (Gen. 18:3):

Genesis 18:3 KJV 1900
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
He called him "Lord" - adonai
He called himself "servant"
He recognized the privilege of the Lord's presence - "pass not away from..."
The point is this: meditation and prayer are the way to draw closer to God, the way to become a close, intimate friend with God.
(1) Meditation draws us closer to God.
“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah” (Ps. 4:3–4).
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Ti. 4:15).
(2) Prayer draws us closer to God.
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jn. 15:7).
“Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chr. 16:11).
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him” (Ps. 91:15).
“Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity” (Is. 58:9).
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Je. 29:13).
Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 90.

2. His Hospitality (Gen. 18:4-5):

Genesis 18:4–5 KJV 1900
Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Refreshing with water - Rest
Reviving with bread - Comfort

3. Jehovah Honors (v. 5b):

"So do as thou hast said"
Abraham is a dynamic example in serving others. He was a humble, ministry-minded person. Remember how he offered Lot the first choice of land (Ge. 13:8–9); how he rescued the people of Canaan, including Lot, from the invading army; how he accepted Hagar back after she had run away with their son, Ishmael (Ge. 16:1–16).
Abraham was always serving and helping others. And he was, no doubt, very busy managing his large holdings. Again, he is a strong example for us in serving others. We should always be looking to help people in need. When we spot people in need, we should run to meet them, be courteous, and seek to help meet their needs. We should follow the very steps that Abraham took in meeting the needs of these three men.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me” (Mt. 25:34–40).
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me” (Mt. 25:41–45).
Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 90–91.

II. Abraham Entertains Jehovah (Gen. 18:6-8).

In this day of convenient motels and hotels, we rarely think about what it means to entertain strangers (Heb. 13:1–2); but hospitality is an important part of Christian ministry (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9). In fact, “given to hospitality” is one of the requirements for leadership in the local church (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). By lovingly serving others, we serve Jesus Christ our Lord (Matt. 25:34–40), and we promote the spread of God’s truth (3 John 5–8).
Wiersbe, 76.

A. Abraham's Sarah - Help Meet (Gen. 18:6).

Genesis 18:6 KJV 1900
And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
Sarah's Willingness

B. Abraham's Sacrifice (Gen. 18:7).

Genesis 18:7 KJV 1900
And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

1. Urgency

- a sense of haste - quickly...ran...hasted

2. Quality

- a sense of excellence - hand selected; hand delivered

C. Abraham's Service (Gen. 18:8).

Genesis 18:8 KJV 1900
And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

1. He Set the Best Before Them

2. He Stood By Them

[Abraham] served the Lord cooperatively and involved the ministries of others. Sarah baked the bread; a young man dressed the meat; and no doubt other servants brought Abraham the butter and milk. “I would rather put ten men to work than do the work of ten men,” said evangelist D.L. Moody; and he was right.
[If you study] the biographies of great Christians; [you'll learn] that dedicated servants of God encourage and inspire others to serve the Lord. D.L. Moody was used of God to enlist and assist a host of workers, including F.B. Meyer, G. Campbell Morgan, and R.A. Torrey.... When we serve ourselves or our own ministries, our work perishes; but when we serve the Lord, He gives lasting and abundant fruit (John 12:20–28).
Wiersbe, 75.

III. Jehovah Promises to Return (Gen. 18:9-12).

A. Jehovah's Courteous Question (Gen. 18:9).

Genesis 18:9 KJV 1900
And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.
He kindly draws attention to Sarah's whereabouts

B. Jehovah Certifies His Promise (Gen. 18:10).

Genesis 18:10 KJV 1900
And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
He promises to open her womb

C. Sarah Secretly Questions Jehovah's Word (Gen. 18:11-12).

1. The Basis of Her Misjudgment (Gen. 18:11).

Genesis 18:11 KJV 1900
Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Because of their age as well as her body

2. The Brazenness of Her Mockery (Gen. 18:12).

Genesis 18:12 KJV 1900
Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
Note that she desired pleasure in what was cursed to bring sorrow
Unbelief will always keep us from being a friend of God. The friend of God believes God; he never disbelieves. We must, therefore, conquer unbelief:
⇒ We must not look at circumstances as though they are impossible for God.
⇒ We must not allow negative thoughts to surround the promises of God, questioning His promises.
⇒ We must believe that God knows all and can do all.
⇒ We must confess and repent of our sin of unbelief, of distrusting the promises of God.
This is the only way to conquer unbelief. This is the only way to become a friend—a true friend—of God.
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth [his] hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Mt. 14:31).
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mk. 4:40).
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Lu. 24:25).
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (He. 3:12).
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (He. 4:11).
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (He. 11:6).
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 Jn. 5:4–5).
“As they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chr. 20:20).
Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 92.

IV. Jehovah Reassures His Promise (Gen. 18:13-15).

A. Jehovah's Omniscient Ear (Gen. 18:13).

Genesis 18:13 KJV 1900
And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

1. The Laugh

- Abraham's Humiliation

2. The Lord

- Interrogation to get to the truth

B. Jehovah's Omnipotent Person (Gen. 18:14).

Genesis 18:14 KJV 1900
Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

1. The Lie

- Sarah doubted the Creator's capabilities
OMNIPOTENCE
I. The Fact that God is Omnipotent
Job 42:2—“I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee.”
Gen. 18:14—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Matt. 19:26—“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
FIRST PROPOSITION: God can do all things, nothing is too hard for him, all things are possible with Him. God is omnipotent.
(1) Gen. 1:3—“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Ps. 33:6–9—“By the word of the Lord were the Heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”
Ps. 107:25–29—“For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.”
Nah. 1:3–6—“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.”
All nature is absolutely subject to God’s will and word.
(2) Jas. 4:12–15—“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”
All men are absolutely subject to His will and word.
Note.—Happy is the man who voluntarily subjects himself to God’s will and word.
(3) Heb. 1:13, 14—“But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Angels are subject to His will and word.
(4) Job. 1:12—“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.”
Job 2:6—“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”
Satan is absolutely subject to His will and word.
II. The Exercise of God’s Omnipotence Limited by His Will
Is. 59:1, 2—“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
SECOND PROPOSITION: The exercise of God’s omnipotence is limited by His own wise and holy and loving will. God can do anything, but will do only what infinite wisdom and holiness and love dictate.
Question: Why doesn’t God destroy Satan?
Answer: It would not be wise to destroy him yet. By his malevolence he is working out part of God’s benevolent plans.
R. A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches a Thorough and Comprehensive Study of What the Bible Has to Say Concerning the Great Doctrines of Which It Treats (New York, Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898), 30–31.

2. The Truth

- Jehovah specializes in the impossible
“Our disappointments can become the Lord's appointments” - Unknown
Almighty God is not limited by circumstances. Somebody wrote these words:
Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
John Newton
God's Specialty - bringing life out of death

C. Jehovah's Immutable Righteousness (Gen. 18:15).

Genesis 18:15 KJV 1900
Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

1. Sarah's Denial based on Terror.

2. Jehovah Discerns the Truth in Love.

Notice three things about this unbelief. First, unbelief is sin. ...God had promised many times that Abraham and Sarah would have a son. He had recently given special and solemn testimony to this (Gen. 17:15–16). So to laugh as Sarah did was to say that God was a liar and could not be trusted....
Second, like all sin, unbelief leads to other sins. It is a case of chain reaction. When God confronted Sarah for her unbelief...Sarah did something even worse [than make excuses]: she lied outright, saying, “I [laughed not”] (v. 15). This is why sin is so serious and why we cannot willingly sin even “just a little bit.” The only safe course is to repudiate sin entirely and turn to him who is faithful and just to provide both forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9).
Third, God does not treat unbelief lightly. This is obvious from the nature of unbelief itself, for if unbelief is sin and if it leads to other sins, unbelief is clearly an offense to God and must be dealt with firmly. This principle is also vividly illustrated in the episode. Sarah had laughed to herself, so that even Abraham, her husband, did not hear it. But God did. Before him, all hearts are open, all desires known, and he replied at once with a question designed to expose and correct the transgression: ]“Wherefore did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?’] Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” A moment later, after Sarah had lied about laughing, God said, [“Nay, but thou didst] laugh” (vv. 13–15).
This seems harsh to us. We sin, and hope that God will ignore the sin. Then we are puzzled when the details of our lives go badly and prayer seems like pounding against a stone wall. How slow we are to learn! ...Many millions are hindered and even miserable in their Christian lives simply because they will not deal with sin severely, as God does.
James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 606–607.

Conclusion

I. The Miracle of God’s Limitless Power
A. There Is No Promise Too Hard for God to Fulfill
B. There Is No Prayer Too Hard for God to Answer
C. There Is No Problem Too Hard for God to Solve
1. God Works on a Different Thought Level
2. God Works on a Different Time Level
3. God Works on a Different Technique Level
D. There Is No Person Too Hard for God to Save
Adrian Rogers, “Is There Anything Too Hard for the Lord?,” in Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust, 2017), Ge 18:14.
God Wants You To: to be honest with yourself and Him. Where (I didn't say are there any areas, yes or no, I am assuming that you are as guilty as Sarah is here, and as guilty as I am in this regard) are you doubleminded? Stop wavering. See God's unconditional promises the way He does. Be not unbelieving any longer. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!
As Jehovah promised to accomplish the impossible through the bride of Abraham (to bring life out of death, and to ultimately bring the Messiah to the world through the Seed of the Woman), so also has Jesus promised (to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think) to do the impossible through His Bride (to bring eternal life to souls through the preaching of the Cross by His Church).
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