A 4-Part Teaching Series on How to Live the Transforming Story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
PEOPLE OF THE PROMISE: STRIKING GOLD IN THE PROMISED LAND!
Teaching #3: “Golden Nuggets!”
Hebrews 11:8-12 (ESV)
Pastor Jerry Ingalls
March 12, 2017
Our lives are to be windows into grace and parables of love. We are not yet perfected pictures (that is in Heaven), but we are becoming more than we can be by ourselves—God promises to tell His Big Story through our little stories. How do we live as people of the promise?
(show picture of California) For the 3rd week, we are asking: Why did people head west in the mid-1800s? Because they were hoping to strike it rich and quick—they went seeking their fortunes in the promised land of California. The rumors began and were confirmed in 1848:
“THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE HILLS!”
(show pictures of real gold vs fool’s gold) How did the ’49ers know the difference between the real gold and the fool’s gold?
A modern-day ‘49er answered this question this way: “Gold is a very malleable material, which means it will dent or bend when you poke and press at it. Fool’s gold won’t dent or bend when you stick a pin into it . . . it will only crumble or break.”
(show pictures) How do you know the difference between real gold and fool’s gold in your own life?
From the last two weeks, we have learned how to be people of promise by examining the story of Abraham and Sarah which is highlighted as one of the great stories of faith in Hebrews 11:8-12. First, we learned to stake our claim on the promises of God. Second, we learned to pause and pray. When the journey of life entered difficult periods and trust was hard, Abraham and Sarah talked with God.That does not mean they didn’t make mistakes along the way; in fact, we are still paying for one of their big mistakes (which we’ll talk about next week), but God ultimately could use Abraham and Sarah because they would get back on track after they made mistakes. During doubt and discouragement, they kept their eyes on the promise!
Read Hebrews 11:8-12 (ESV).
I am going to walk you through 3 parts of this story. We will see the progression of their story to experience the wisdom of having the right perspective.
First, turn with me to Genesis 17:15-19 and let’s see how God lovingly reminds us of His promises so that we can keep His perspective: “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”  And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!”  God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.”
I read this to you to highlight the importance of pausing to pray. Abraham is taking time to talk to God and what does God do for Abraham: God reminds Abraham of His promise to bless him and his wife with a family. In fact, God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah so that every single time he would talk to his wife he would be confronted with God’s promise to Him, and so would Sarah. So, every time Abraham called his wife Sarah he was being reminded to stake his claim in the promises of God! And so was Sarah! How cruel… How loving!
Here is the application: Put up a visible reminder in your home, in your car, in your workplace, on your person, that causes you to pause and pray the promises of God. Have something in your way that forces you/confronts you with the promise of God for your life.
Now turn to Genesis 18:10-15 as we see how God responds to our doubts: “The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”  The LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’  Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time, I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.’  But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’”
By this point in the story, both Abraham and Sarah have come to the point of laughing at the reality of God possibly being able to keep His promises in their lives. More so than Abraham, Sarah is confronted for her laughter, but let us not miss the point that the foretold promised child’s name—Isaac (“he laughs”)—was announced not at Sarah’s doubt, but at Abraham’s. With Sarah’s doubt at His promises, God did not respond with a harsh rebuke; He responded with a reassuring certainty.
Please welcome Amber Estelle as she comes up to share her story.
Play music video on cue within her testimony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfUssvjj4rs&utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=IWLYG&utm_medium=Tweet%201
Amber finishes up testimony and prays.
Here is the application: God does not want His Church to be a place of fool’s gold—a house of cards—that when it is poked or prodded at it just breaks apart and crumbles. God has called us to be the real deal—GOLD! Let’s be real with God and one another; let’s create a safe culture for learning, discovering, growing. God wants to turn our tears into laughter, but if we are too scared of one another to cry openly, then we won’t see the miracle of transforming stories in our midst. This is why we need one another, our small groups, and real times of worship together. It is God’s promise to make something beautiful out of our lives—beauty from ashes!
Are you willing to allow the quality of your golden nuggets to be tested to see if they are the real deal? Or is having something shiny and sparkly enough for you?
Finally, the promise comes to fulfillment in Genesis 21:1-7, “The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.  And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him.  Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.  Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  And Sarah said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.’  And she said, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’”
God keeps His promises! Isaac’s name means “he laughs” as an eternal reminder to each of us that God will keep His promise—nothing is impossible for God!
Here is the application: God invites you to have your perspectives tested like gold so that you may know whether you simply have right religious answers to give about God or whether you truly have a right relationship with God. The good news is that God fulfills His promises and loves His people; that is who God is! God is not scared of our laughter at His plans!
I love when Sarah says, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” This is in direct contrast to the laughter at her and shame over her. Sarah’s name meant princess, but until Isaac was born, she was treated like royalty to her face, but laughed at behind her back. And she knew it!
Sarah’s life was a public embarrassment! Sarah’s barrenness was a public mockery of God’s promise! BUT GOD! At the age of 90, Sarah’s laughter took on flesh and dwelt among them… And the angels rejoiced that once again God proved to be who He says He is—God is able!
2,000 years after Isaac was born God did it again: God’s promise took on flesh and dwelt among us…so that all who put their faith in Jesus will never be put to shame. Nothing is impossible for God!
“THERE’S GOLD IN THAT THERE PERSPECTIVE!”