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A Faith That Works
Keeping Faith in God’s Waiting Room
There’s a singular truth in advertising, and doctors make it. They call the room where people sit prior to their appointments, “Waiting rooms.” Is that truth in advertising or what?
Have you ever been in a hurry only to find that everyone else isn’t? Have you ever found yourself needing to get in and out of a store only to find yourself stuck in a line? Or how about this, have you ever been in a hurry and god wasn’t?
One of the most difficult things to do is to sit in God’s waiting room. This is when we want something to change, like our job, a relationship, a family emergency or illness, and it’s totally out of our control. And so what we need is to learn to keep faith while we’re waiting upon the Lord.
After Solomon makes this incredible statement, “To everything there is a season,” he gives various examples, like a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to gain and a time to lose, and then he goes on to say,
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV)
Solomon is saying that God does everything right on time, right when it’s supposed to happen. Our problem is that we don’t understand what He’s doing or why. And God never pulls punches saying that His thoughts and ways are not our own, they’re much higher and beyond our ability to comprehend, that is, without special revelatory knowledge. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
So what happens is we spend time in God’s waiting room.
In our series, “A Faith That Works,” we’re going to be looking at our need to keep believing, our need to keep the faith while waiting on God. To accomplish this we’re going to be looking at the life of Abraham. Abraham was given a promise of becoming a great nation, but he had to wait 25 years for his first kid.
What did Abraham do while he waited? What do we need to do while we wait?
’d like to look at and discuss with you six phases which faith moves, and these are not rigid and inflexible, but rather they are fluid and we flow in and out of each phase as God works His faith within our lives.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2 NKJV)
Abraham was around 75 years old when God gave to him this promise, this dream, that he would become a great nation. Why was it a dream, because at this point Abraham had no children.
A dream is something God gives us. A dream can also be called a promise. It’s God’s way of blessing us so that we can be a blessing to others. And so my question to you is what is God’s dream for your life?
After the dream comes
“So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him.” (Genesis 12:4a NKJV)
Abraham was told to leave ell he knew, that is, his home, family, and friends, and he had to go to a place he knew nothing about. He had never been there. He didn’t take a holiday or vacation to Canaan to get the lay of the land, nor could he Google it to find out the best stops to stay at, or the best route to get there. God said go and Abraham went.
When God gives us a dream He usually couples it with an action, a starting point, and we have to decide whether or not we’re going to act upon it or not. Having a dream without making a decision to follow isn’t worth the time spent to dream it. Also, every dream of God has an element of risk attached requiring a step of faith.
After the decision comes a delay.
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.” (Genesis 16:1 NKJV)
Ten years have passed and still they had no children to fulfill God’s promise. Abraham is just hanging out in God’s waiting room.
During these times of waiting we’re tempted to doubt and take a detour or two. This is exactly what happened. Sarai used the cultural norms to that society and offered to Abraham her maidservant, Hagar, knowing that the child born would be theirs.
They were taking a detour around God’s delay and God wasn’t going to bless it.
Dreams are rarely fulfilled immediately. There is always a time gap between the dream and its reality, and that’s because God wants to grow our faith.
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?” (Genesis 17:17
Talk about a difficulty. Abraham is 100 years old and Sarah’s about 90 years old. Ladies, think about giving birth at 90 years old, and guys, we’d probably have a heart attack.
Problems develop while we wait. It’s where things go from bad to worse. Not only had Sarah been barren all these years, but now she’s too old to have kids.
But with God’s promise comes God’s fulfillment, and Abraham and Sarah had a boy and name him “Isaac,” or “laughter.”
Now at this point we’re tempted to this that the process is over, and this is probably what Abraham thought as well until the next phase.
“God tested Abraham, and said…‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” (Genesis 22:1-2 NKJV)
This was God’s test of faith. Abraham had received what he had desired, a son, but now he was being asked to offer him as a sacrifice to God.
God allows our dreams to seemingly die as a test of our faith. The test comes in how we’ll react. Will we doubt God’s love, wisdom, and purpose?
What God is actually doing is getting us ready for the last and final phase
“And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’” (Genesis 22:12 NKJV)
Just so we get this straight, God is going to take us through these phases many times as we continue to seek and build His kingdom the reason is so that we can keep growing our faith. In fact, each one of us are in one of these phases right now.
To get us through these phases while in God’s waiting room, there are several things that come out of what the Apostle Paul said about Abraham in his letter to the Roman church.
“As it is written: ‘I have made you a father of many nations.’ He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” (Romans 4:17 NIV)
While the situation may be out of our control, it isn’t out of God’s control. The key is to focus not on what we can’t do, but what God can do.
Paul is saying that God can either bring to life what has died, or He can created something new out of nothing. God can give life to a career, marriage, or a dream. He can bring life to something that looks and feels like it’s dead.
“The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27 NKJV)
Abraham didn’t put his faith in himself, or in the power of positive thinking. Instead He believed in God. When we come to those dead ends we need more than positive thoughts, we need faith in God and in God alone. When we get to those dead ends we need to remember what God can do, because what’s impossible for us, is not impossible with God, because with God all things are possible.
This leads us to the second thing we need to do in God’s waiting room.
Of Abraham Paul said,
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Romans 4:18 NKJV)
Even while it looked hopeless for Abraham to have kids, Abraham beyond all hope, when hope seemed dead, in hope he believed.
How can we tell if hope is dying within us? It’s when we start using the word, “never.”
But look at what Abraham did when hope seemed dead. He believed in hope, he kept faith in God and in His word.
Nothing is more reliable that God’s word. It was Abraham’s reliance on God’s word, God’s promise that kept him going when he more than likely wanted to give up. This is why we need to read and study God’s word, so that when the trials and tests come, when difficult times come our way, when hope seems dead, we can contrary to hope in hope believe.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.” (Hebrews 11:17 NKJV)
Abraham was at a dead end. His son, Isaac, the one God promised was to be sacrificed. But Abraham didn’t panic, plead, or disobey; instead He believed God’s word and obeyed.
The writer of Hebrews continues and tells us Abraham obeyed “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:19a NKJV)
When Abraham headed up the hill he told his servants, “We will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5b NKJV). Not, “I’ll be back,” but “We’ll be back.”
When Isaac asked his dad where the lamb was for sacrifice, Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” (Genesis 22:8 NKJV) And Abraham called the place, Jehovah Jirah, or “The Lord Will Provide.”
When the trials of life come, when God tests our faith asking us to sacrifice our dreams, we can, like Abraham, beyond all hope in hope believe.
Think about the disciples. Things looked bleak for them as well. All hope seems to be sucked out of their souls. Jesus, whom they believed was the Messiah, and who had told them that He was the Son of God, was forcefully taken, unlawfully tried, convicted of a crime He didn’t commit, crucified, and buried.
Things don’t get much worse, and so they were devastated and their hope had died within them. They didn’t know that the resurrection was right around the corner.
God specializes in turning dead situations and resurrecting what looks hopeless. Abraham became the father of many nations just as God promised. A promise is only as good as the one making the promise. And since God made the promise, the promise will come about.
The next thing that we do while in God’s waiting room
“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body…and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.” (Romans 4:19-20 NKJV)
Abraham recognized they were past their childrearing years. To have kids was a medical impossibility. Abraham doesn’t deny these facts; instead he faces the facts with faith.
Faith doesn’t ignore reality. Faith doesn’t pretend a problem doesn’t exist. Faith is facing the facts without being discouraged by them.
Faith it knowing the problem but believing God is working out His good through it. It’s as Paul said, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
The last thing we do while in God’s waiting room
It’s expecting God to act and do good even if it’s not the way we planned it.
“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” (Romans 4:20-21 NKJV)
Notice he rejoiced before the fact, before the promise was achieved. When we thank God for something after it happens, that’s gratitude, but when we thank God before it happens that’s faith.
When Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb, His purpose was to raise him from the dead, but before He commanded Lazarus to come forth Jesus prayed, “Father, I think you that You’ve already heard Me.” Jesus was thanking God in advance.
Our faith isn’t seen after the fact, it’s seen before it. It’s thanking God for His deliverance even in the midst of the storm.
All the world can offer us is wishful thinking.
Beyond all hope, in hope believe.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study