Series: One Hope
Good morning, if you are still here on YouTube or on Facebook, we’re glad to have you. We’re going to jump into a sermon here in God’s word together in just a moment. And, you know, for the month of March, we had been going through a focus on one hope and really what what the concept of hope really means and how and how we really need to take it in from a biblical standpoint. And a couple of weeks ago, Bill did a fantastic job giving us a very comprehensive overview of hope and one of some of the things that he shared during his sermons, he said hope is to have expectation.
It’s tied to our faith and to our trust. Hope isn’t passive. It’s active. It’s a it’s a process. It’s something that we must choose to participate in. He also asked us to really do some evaluation of ourselves about what we hope in and and what we hope for. Because really, if you think about it, so much of the frustration in this world comes from placing our hope in something that’s not Jesus or not heaven. And he also shared something that we’re going to continue on here this morning.
That hope is tied to this concept of waiting. And I don’t know about you, but I hate that. I have a hard time waiting on almost anything, even if it’s drive through lines, but especially if it’s if it’s something of significance or consequence. And if you’re like me, if you share in this struggle, there’s a word for it that I’m sure you’re probably familiar with. And that word is impatient. But the truth is that waiting is is part of life, that God actually built it into nature and all of his creation.
And really, when you think about it in nature, good things, powerful things, they take time. There’s a few examples that I want to show you here in the world of of of of of arbitrary, arbitrary arborists, for the for those that love trees, an apple tree. You may not know this, but when you plant an apple tree, it takes up to two to five years for that tree to produce fruit. So you have to wait some that we’re so used to, we see apples everywhere, but it takes two to five years to even get an apple tree to a place where you can enjoy its apples. Chinese bamboo. You know, there’s lots of stories about Chinese bamboo, but essentially, what the concept with it is if you plant it, it won’t break ground for somewhere near three to four years, that there will be nothing on the surface. Then all of a sudden it breaks through and in about five weeks it has the potential to grow up to 90 feet.
Can you even wrap your head around that? 90 feet in five weeks after three to four years of nothing on the surface? You know, we’ve been going through in one of our regions, we’ve been talking about about these trees that we find in the Middle East, in the desert, and that show up in the Bible, in the Old Testament. And one of the ones we talked about was called a tamarisk tree. And it’s an incredible analogy when you look at it in the Bible, because it could take generations before you can even enjoy the tree.
And in the Old Testament, we see examples of God telling people to plant a tamarisk tree. And the idea is that you’re going to plant something that not even your kids, maybe not even your grandkids, but maybe your great grandkids would be able to enjoy and experience, you know, other examples of things in the in nature that we got to wait for birth in the animal kingdom. There’s a lot of great things to talk about there. But, you know, in the animal world, in the mammals, gestation periods depend completely on the size of the animal.
And what I even found out the size of their brain, that the smarter the animal, the bigger their brain is, the more their gestation period takes. Intelligent animals like whales and dolphins. Orcas have up to 17 months of gestation period because of how intelligent they are. But here’s some examples of some other animals, you know, local to us here in Florida, manatees can take up to 13 months to give birth. It’s a long time. If you see up there on the screen, camels and giraffes, they both take around 13 to 15 months before they’ll actually deliver a baby. And one of things I found out with with giraffes in particular is that part of why this takes longer is because the mom actually gives birth standing up. So a baby must be developed enough to fall out of the mother, hit the ground and stand up. I mean, just amazing. Rhinoceros take 15 to 18 months. And those are massive animals. But obviously, the king of the mammal kingdom of the animal kingdom is elephants.
And that takes 18 to 22 months, almost two years before they can give birth to one baby elephant. That just is absolutely bonkers. But as we think about this. And we get into the Bible here, I actually want to reread a passage that Bill shared a few weeks ago, and I don’t want you to worry about turning there. It’s just going to pop up here on the screen. In Romans eight verse twenty two through twenty five. It says that we know that the whole creation has been groaning and the pains of childbirth, as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
Not only so, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the spirit, we grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope, we were saved. But hope that is seen as no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have. But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Bill brought up this passage in the context that one of the most amazing things that we have that we have hope for as Christians is the hope of heaven, is the hope of eternal life.
But we have to wait for it. Paul brings up here in this passage the concept of childbirth. And this is going to show up through what we’re going to talk about here this morning. But moms out there can confirm this. The pains of childbirth that Paul refers to here, that the pains of childbirth when you’re in the middle of it, make every groaning minute feel like an eternity when you’re in labor. And the correlation that Paul makes here to childbirth is that sometimes the groaning pain of life makes waiting on heaven feel like it’s taking an eternity.
And the Bible tells us that hope requires patience. That’s what he just told us here in Chapter eight, and the Greek word for patience in the New Testament can literally be translated to long suffering if you’re reading a new King James translation. That’s what you’ll see. Show up a lot. And that’s that even, I think, describes a little bit more of what patience is supposed to be, the ability to to to go through some pain, some suffering and wait things out.
The problem, as people that we have is that really we all struggle with our title of our sermon here is this morning. That’s wait problems. And today, we’re going to read from Genesis Chapter 15, one of the most important stories of the Bible for me personally. So if you got a Bible, go ahead and turn on over there to Genesis Chapter 15. You know, for context, what is happening here is that this is three years after God called Abram, our leaders, we know him to be Abraham and told him to go to the Promised Land and told them that he was going to have children.
And that shows up in Genesis Chapter 12. So this is three years after that. So at this time, he’s roughly about 78 years old. So let’s put ourselves into Abram’s mindset for a moment. You are 78 years old. God has told you to take your family, to uproot your lives, to leave, to go to an unknown land.
And he’s promising that you’re going to have children. Now, Abram, and, you know, again, we’re putting ourselves in his mindset, you’ve you’ve been faithful, you you had out there trusting what God is going to say, and you’ve been traveling around for three years at this point, living in tents. Now, where are you at mentally? Where are you emotionally? Are you feeling do you think you would feel hopeful, if you were Abram?
How do you feel about waiting in general, are you just like, yeah, I can’t wait to wait some more? Well, what we’re going to find out here is that Abram was wrestling. Let’s look in verse one: After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. And let’s pause there for just a moment. See, God shows up to Abram.
And he’s saying something here that it’s awesome, it’s reassuring, it’s it’s very comforting when you dig into what he says. And this verse has actually been a memory scripture of mine for years now, how God seems to be encouraging him and cheering him on like like, yeah, you’re doing awesome. And I got your back. We’re we’re going to get into this, you know, but we’re actually want to I want to pause what God says here.
We’re going to talk about this yet revisited a little bit later. But I want to see Abram’s response to this encouragement from God. Let’s pick up in verse 2. It says But Abram said sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless? And the one who will inherit my estate is Eleazar of Damascus. And Abram said, You’ve given me no children, so a servant in my household will be my heir. So what’s Abram’s response to God’s encouragement, he struggling.
God is talking to him directly, trying to encourage him and Abram’s not having any of it. Nothing about his attitude in this passage is is hopeful. He’s got wait problems, might even say he’s got baby wait problems.
But really, what he’s what’s going on here is that he’s struggling to trust what God had told him. And I mean, can you blame him? He’s looking at his age, 78 years old. He’s looking at his wife, who is also not very young. He’s looking at his circumstances and he’s thinking, man, time is running out here. I don’t have much wait left in me wherever whenever we’re in the middle of waiting for something that takes longer than we expect, we all tend to find ourselves in this type of place.
And if you’re there right now, this story especially is for you. If you’re struggling you feel like God, is God’s not been showing up for something you’ve been praying about or waiting on. Pay attention to this. Now, when when it came time for me to have my have our son, I was struggling a lot with wait problems and his his birth story was a little bit unique. You know, it was actually the weekend of our of our churches marriage retreat.
And we had left to go be a part of it. And all of a sudden my wife started having these pains and bleeding and we ended up having to go into the hospital last minute here. And we went in and she was having contractions. She was having bleeding. She’s having all these different things is about a month early from his due date, I think a little bit, a little bit more than a month. But either way, we got in there and after seeing everything that was going on and we showed them, you know, kind of what was happening, the doctors that were there saying, you’re not leaving here without a baby.
You can see this picture of us in the hospital. And and it was a scary time, but it was also incredibly exciting to remember we’re not going to have to wait for another month for our son to be born. He’s he’s ready to go here. Like, this is awesome. So we’re not leaving without a baby. And then as the weekend played on turned out, the doctor’s tone started to change. They were like, actually, you know what?
We’re going to wait. We’re going to go ahead and leave things alone. You know, it might take a little bit longer. I think things are going to be OK. And over the next month, we will end up going to the hospital about three to four more times than you’re going to see a picture here of one of those times. And, you know, two different times. I mean, one of the times that it happened, it was actually my wife was really dehydrated.
We ended up finding out, but she was having contractions. She was dizzy. She wasn’t feeling well. And and it was like 15 minutes before I was supposed to preach on a Sunday. So we literally like I’m like talking to her, like, what are we going to do? And my sister in law takes her to the hospital. And so I have to get up there and preach and finish my sermon and then race off to the hospital.
It was it was crazy. And two of those three or four times that we went in, we were actually in the hospital thinking we were in labor while friends of ours were in the hospital having their babies, that Kelsey actually has some pictures with both of them that we got to hold one of the babies. And the other one was in labor when we were there. But during this time, this was like the longest month of my life.
I know how that sound, ladies. I struggled so much. I had this expectation. I felt like I was let down. I had attitudes towards God. I was in a place and I started pushing my wife to do things we thought would induce labor. Like she’d go on walks like I was I was being I was being really difficult with her. I mean, if you look at this picture of Kelsey, you see I mean, she is really pregnant.
When she gets pregnant, she carries lots of baby. And here I am, the dad that can’t wait, telling her she should go walk more because I feel impatient to have my son.
And you know what this revealed to me and I think even just for waiting in general, is that waiting has a tendency to draw our hearts out and our sin in a very unique way and exposes some deep parts of us. You know, when we pray for things that we really care about are things that have a big effect on our lives or has a big effect on someone else’s. And then God’s response to that is wait. It’s hard to stay hopeful.
You know, you might have heard this before, but whenever we pray, God always answers, and it’s either yes, no or wait. Sometimes the difference between no and wait is is really hard to tell. You know, in my own life, for for 13 years, I prayed for one of my family members to be sober. It’s a family member I, I love, I’m very close to, and throughout that time, there were so many moments where it seemed like maybe they were at rock bottom, where they were going to change, where where things were looking up and they were going to get better and they didn’t.
And during that journey, so many times I struggled with feeling hopeless. I struggled with having times where just where it seemed like God was saying no to me and I was angry, I I struggled with with telling God that, you know, this isn’t fair.
This isn’t something you want. Isn’t this a good thing? Aren’t I praying for something that you’re praying for to it? Isn’t this isn’t this something that you want for them?
And in those moments, man, in those those dark times, I had a lot of moments like Abam, where it seemed like I was saying wait, but I was I was questioning like, can I can I trust that you’re good here? Can I trust that you’re really working this out, that you’re going to that you’re going to follow through? And. Abraham here in the middle of his waiting. In the middle of this this time when his heart’s just not there.
Let’s look at what God’s responses to him in verse four. In verse four, it says, Then the word of the Lord came to him, This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir. He took him outside and said, look up at the sky and count the stars. If indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be Abram, believed the Lord and he credited to him as righteousness. I love this response from God. God doesn’t condemn Abraham, he doesn’t go full Job on him. Brace yourself like a man you don’t know who you are. Verse five says. He takes him outside. You know, through deduction doesn’t take much to guess this, but we can assume the Abram is having this conversation with God. They’re they’re talking here inside his tent.
And what God seem to know at this moment is that what Abraham needed is he needed to get outside of the tent, he needed to get outdoors and look at something that was bigger than his tent. You know, oftentimes when we’re struggling with hope, it’s because we can only see the walls of the tent around us. We can have tent thinking. We limit God, we limit our circumstances just based on what we can reach out and touch, what we can see right in front of us or on top of us, and God takes him outside and showed him the stars and use them as an object lesson for him to even really how short sighted Abraham’s hope was or Abram’s hope was.
Abam was only thinking about one child. And what God says here in this passage is that God was thinking about generations. He was thinking far beyond Abram’s vision. But then luckily, praise God, what we see here is that Abram got there. When we’re struggling with waiting in our hope of God’s promises, oftentimes we need to get outside of our house, out of our box, get into the word, get into nature, get into God’s promises in the Bible.
And to be reminded that God’s vision, his hope for us is so much bigger than our own. You know, I want to circle back to verse one here as we wrap up the story of Abram. I’m gonna reread it again, says after this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, do not be afraid, Abraham, I am your shield, your very great reward. So God encourages him with don’t be afraid. I’m going to protect you.
I got you. I got your back. But then he also says something incredibly powerful here. I am your very great reward. Now, other versions, depending on the Bible you reading, might say your reward will be very great. But if you really study this out in the context in the Hebrew here, it suggests that what God is even trying to communicate to Abam is I am your prize. I am your medal, I am your trophy.
I am the reward that is waiting for you at the end of this journey that God told Abram. If we look back at his promises here in Chapter 13 and 14, that he told him that he was going to give him the promised land and descendants. But what he’s telling him here, though, is that the reward of this journey that Abram is on is not the promise, they’re not the promises that he offered him. It was the relationship with him.
So now let’s clue into this, because this is powerful, powerful stuff, the reward for Abram was walking in intimacy as God’s partner through this journey. Now, I don’t know about you, but I missed this so easily.
A huge part of Abram’s wait problem here is that he was hoping in the wrong reward, he had set his hope on the gift from the father and not the father. Now the Bible tells us, God shows us throughout the Bible in many ways that we we as his children, as his people, the opportunity to remind God of his promises and that we can expect him to fulfill him, that he’s not going to fall short on his word. You know, we see this in the Book of Psalms that David was good about bringing up God’s promises to him.
And Luke, 11, when Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer, he says, how many of you if you’re if your father asked you or if you’re if your child asked you for bread, would give him a ston or something or a fish, and then you give him a scorpion or snake that if you though you’re evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, then how much mercy will your father your heavenly Father, your perfect father give you the perfect gifts.
And he was talking specifically about the Holy Spirit there. But that God God gives us what he says he’s going to give us. But the main thing that I believe he wants to teach us while we’re waiting for things, while we’re waiting for promises, while we’re waiting on heaven is how amazing it is that we have a God who loves us, who walks with us, who believes in us, who who fights for us. He dreams for us.
He sent Jesus to die for us. We can’t miss the father because we’re hoping for a gift. And if we do, we’re setting ourselves up for serious damage. And now Abram figures it out in this passage, but when you look just one chapter later in Chapter 16, he loses this vision again, and he concocts the worst plan in the entire world with his wife about basically how they’re going to manipulate this promise from God, about a child, about how they’re going to get a son, about how they’re going to have a baby by having Abram’s sleep with Sarah’s servant.
And it’s it’s awful. It’s like to this day I read it and I’m like, man, why did they think this was this was a good idea? Why did they think that this was going to be God’s promise? And it’s a terrible plan, it has generational consequences, Ishmael and Isaac, God says that they’re their family, like their bloodlines. We’re going to be at war with each other later on that this has huge ripple effect, ripple effects that they don’t weigh on God’s promises.
They try to fulfill themselves in a manipulative way. But, you know, it’s easy to be critical of this when you really stop to think about it. It shouldn’t take very long to think of the damage that you and I have caused ourselves and those around us because we tried to manipulate what we thought God wanted for us instead of waiting. But God is gracious, though. It was twenty two years after this that Isaac was born, that God never changes his promise, he says, look, I’m still I’m still following through here, but this is a long time to wait.
But even through this, what it tells us here is that God showed his faithfulness, even though Abram sinned even though he was impatient, even though he placed his hope in the wrong things and he took matters into his own hands, God fulfilled his promise. Later on, when Abram raised the knife to sacrifice his son, Isaac, God’s words were to him. Now I know. Now, I know that you trust me now I know that you know that I’m going to follow through with what I say.
That through the waiting, through the extra twenty two years, you might say, Abram learned to put his hope in his great reward. But there’s questions that we got to wrestle with in this. What area of your life is God telling you to wait for you to wait on a promise, to wait on a fullfillment? What is he teaching you through this or through just where life is at right now? What is he teaching you about where your hope is now?
Is it in the gift or is it in the great reward? And as we get ready to take communion here together, I want to close with this passage and again, you don’t need to turn there. It’s going to be up on the screen. But in Romans eight verse thirty one and thirty two, it says, what then, shall we say, in response to these things, if God is for us, who can be against us? He would not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things? You know, this scripture completely captivated me a few years back, and I’ve read, you know, Romans eight is probably one of the most important top 10 chapters in the Bible for me, but I’m studying out grace at this stage of my life. And Grace has been a constant I’ve really I’ve wrestled with off and on throughout my walk with God and really throughout my life.
And what what this passage, what these verses communicate here is it says that if God didn’t spare Jesus from the cross, from his death, when he knows how messed up we are before we ever become his children, before we ever become disciples, we give our lives up to the Lord.
If he gave Jesus up knowing who we were at our worst. Then what makes us think that he’s done with us after we become his children and maybe after we’re struggling with wait problems?
The promise of the cross, we can see this mirroring in a lot of ways, the promise to Abram that God loves us and will continue to be our very great reward.
And because of this, we have so much to hope for that according this passage that says, man, if he gave Jesus the greatest gift, he could give us then how will he not also graciously give us all things that we have so much to hope for as his children?
But in this, again, we don’t want to miss what our great reward is, if you’re a disciple of Jesus and you’ve had your hope in the wrong place, God still gave Jesus for you and will continue in his promises for you. Now, if you’re joining us right now and you don’t and you don’t know where you are with God, or maybe you know that you’re not right with God wherever wherever you may be. I want to encourage you.
This is a promise that God is offering to you right now. I want to encourage you to to reach out to us. You can you can throw a comment down there on the video or you can click on the links in the description that can get us connected to us. You can go to our website, whatever, but please reach out to us so we can get in the Bible together so we can show you how to take hold of this promise so we can show you what the great reward is.
And again, that the great reward is something that we get to experience because of Jesus. We’re going to bow our heads right now and take communion together.
Father, I just want to thank you so much, God, that you are patient with us and all of our wait problems, that you don’t you don’t look at our impatience and decide to to turn over our our promises, God, you don’t give up on us. Father, I pray that that right now is we even think about the ultimate act of your love and your patience by sending Jesus to die.
I pray that as we take this communion together that it pulls us back to what our great reward is, that our great reward is not on a bunch of these promises, but it’s about walking with you in intimacy through this journey of life. Father, I love you. I pray that you will you will really guide us in this, let this deeply into our hearts and into our lives. Its in your son, Jesus name we pray. Amen.