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Promises Promises

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Promises, Promises

Genesis 21:1-6

Every person can understand God better by noticing the actions he took. 

Introduction:

     In the movie Liar, Liar a father is unable to keep his promises to his son.  At the start of the movie it seems to be about forgetfulness, but later on in the movie it is because of circumstances beyond his control.  We have probably all experienced this either on our won part, or because of the negligence of another person.  Sometimes this happens because you forgot a promise you made, or another person forgets the promise they made to you.  Or maybe something happened and you could not keep a promise.  Maybe that is the reason someone else did not fulfill their promise. 

     Maybe there are other reasons why people do not keep their promises.  Whatever the case may be, that is not how things work with God.  God will always keep his promises.  He does not forget and he does not have circumstances that get in the way.  God is faithful in his promises.  We can trust that he will come through on the things he promises. 

Action I.  He promises

A. God had told Abram so many times that he would be the father of many nations that it really began to sound like a broken record.  When he told Abram to leave his father’s household he was told that he would be the father of many nations.  Then when Abram and Lot realize their families had grown too big to stay together, God again reminds Abram that he will become a great nation.  In Genesis 15 God speaks to Abram in a vision that reminds Abram that he will make him into a great nation.  When three strangers visit Abram in Genesis 18 he is reminded again that he will be a father.  This all happens between the 75th year and the 100th year of Abram’s life.  Even when he is first promised that he will be a father, he is old to be doing that sort of thing. 

B. Throughout all of this time you might imagine that Abraham and Sarah have their doubts about God really coming through with his promise.  Abraham was looking at others in his family who could take the inheritance.  In one instance he even bears a child with a slave woman, so he can have an heir of his own.  This was not Sarah’s child, but it was Abraham’s.  I have to believe that Abraham was starting to really doubt whether God could pull this one off. 

C. It was a big move for Abraham to leave his father’s family.  This was a move in which Abraham would be giving up any rights to any inheritance he might have received from his father.  He sacrifices that so he can receive God’s blessings.  Abraham’s God made promises.  That is the same God that we have today.  He still makes promises.  He makes promises to us.  Probably many of us don’t even know what those promises are because we don’t look for them.  God spoke to Abraham directly and through the use of visions.  Today I believe that he speaks more through the Bible.  Yet very few spend much time in the Bible so we can learn what His promises might be. 

Action II.  He keeps promises

A. God made these promises to Sarah and Abraham.  Many times God had told Abraham that he would keep his promise.  Abraham had to be getting concerned that it was impossible for this promise to be fulfilled.  Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.  This is just something that does not happen.  I am sure that Abraham had to think many times that he was way too old to be fathering children.  He was not the sort of man who would be able to father a child.  At the end of v. 1 it says, “the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.” 

B. As impossible as this all appeared to be God was able to fulfill his promise.  Abraham was 100 years old.  Sarah was about 90 years old.  If you think about this, they would be laughed at if they would try to adopt a child.  Their doctors would doubt the reality of this happening.  God made the impossible happen.  God is able to do things that are outside of the ability of any man.  This also came at the time when God said it would happen.  It was not the result of some random happening.  It was not a result of a freak of nature.  This was a part of God fulfilling a promise.  It was a promise he was able to make.  It was a promise he was able to fulfill.  This did not happen as the result of an accident.  This was all a part of God’s plan and God work in Abraham’s life.  It is the fulfillment of an amazing promise. 

C. We have all had experiences when someone made a promise to us and then they failed to follow through with that promise.  Those can be very disheartening situations.  On the other had there have probably been situations when each of us has made a promise and failed to follow through as well.  Just like we were upset when a promise was not kept with us, it hurts others when we don’t keep our promises.  The great news is that when God makes a promise we don’t have to worry that it will not be fulfilled.  God is faithful when it comes to his promises.  We can be confident that he will not fail us when he makes a promise to us. 

D. Even when the world tells us that something is impossible, we can be sure that God will keep his promises to us.  Even when the promise that God makes seems impossible he will follow through.  We tend to want to assign human characteristics to God.  God is not required to live according to the same laws and d the same rules that we are. 

Action III.  He is gracious

A. One of the opinions that people have about God is that he is malicious.  He is a God who is far from malicious.  This would be a word that would not be used to describe God.  This is a very wrong picture of God.  When God does punish people or bad things happen to people there is a reason.  Many times it is for the sake of teaching something.  Maliciousness has no reason for the things it does.  God always has a reason for the things he does and the things he allows to happen. 

B. Many times in Scriptures it is said that God was gracious to a person when they had a child.  That is how it is used in v. 1 where we are told that Sarah had a child because God was gracious to her.  In many situations God is gracious when he allows someone to have a child.  Some of this can be cultural, but it can also be an eternal issue.  Even in today’s culture when a person can go through their life without a child and not be looked down upon, does not make God any less gracious when he does give someone a child.  Children are a blessing from God.  Consequently we can know that when God gives children it is the result of his graciousness. 

C. This may be an easy area to overlook what God is doing.  I think that there are a lot of times when we take the things that are demonstrations of God’s graciousness and we excuse them as ordinary.  In this case Abraham and Sarah it is easy to see that this is God’s grace.  In our case it is many times overlooked.  I would challenge you to look for God’s graciousness in your life.  Maybe you will see his graciousness in areas you had not noticed before, because you were not looking.  As you look it becomes easier to see those events that are the result of God’s graciousness. 

Action IV.  He commands

A. How many people in our world look at God as a kind of Santa Claus?  I think there are a lot of people.  They want to be able to go to him and ask for whatever they want.  It seems in our world they want less and less of the directions of God.  One time when I took my kids to see Santa he reminded them that they needed to pick up their toys so he would not hurt himself delivering the toys.  Even with a Santa view of God, people don’t want to hear expectations.  They just want to present their list and have God honor it.  In this passage and throughout the Bible we see that God has expectations. 

B. In v. 4 Abraham took Isaac to have him circumcised because this was something that God had commanded.  This shows us that God does not just give us what we want, but he sometimes expects us to do some things.  In this case he wanted Abraham to have Isaac circumcised.  If Abraham would have ignored God’s command it would have been a sin.  He needed to do what God had commanded him to do.  It was not something he could ignore.  He needed to do this to obey God. 

C. We want all of the good stuff from God without inconveniencing ourselves.  Rather than just waiting for God to give us all sorts of good stuff why don’t we see what we should be doing?  I am of the opinion that we miss out on a lot of God’s blessings because we don’t obey.  We don’t do the things God wants us to do.  In obeying it might be something small and simple, or it might be something big.  It does not matter what it is, we need to be obedient.  We need to be aware of God’s commands and we need to obey those commands.  Don’t miss out on God’s best for you, because you might be inconvenienced by some of the things he wants.  God makes promises, but he also expects things from us. 

Conclusion: 

     I have sat at the bedside of a dying person and heard them give promises of changes they would make in their life if they were allowed to survive this instance.  Sometimes they keep their promises and sometimes they are not able to keep them.  When you are on your deathbed is not the time to be making those promises. 

     God has promised us great things.  We simply need to accept the good things he has for us.  Sometimes we have expectations placed on us.  We can be assured that God will fulfill his side of any bargain.  Sometimes we need to be faithful in order for God to fulfill his side. 

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