Powerful encounters with the divine. How awesome is that? We’re going to talk about some of those this morning, but let’s start with prayer. Dear Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you for your peace. Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, open our ears to hear and hearts to receive God’s truth this morning. And I ask, please take me out of your way. In Jesus name, Amen. Well, we are in the second week of a five week sermon series from Eden to Sinai. If you were here last week, you would remember that we were reminded That God created all things in heaven and on earth. He created all the trees and the water and all the animals. He created humans when he was done creating. Remember he said it wasn’t just good. It was very good. But then we were also reminded that the catastrophe of the fall came. Adam and Eve listened to the enemy instead of God’s voice. And sin entered God’s creation and it was broken and shattered. But instead of abandoning God’s people, he made a way. For all things to be restored. If you remember right, in Genesis 3, God said that through the offspring of Eve, there would be one day when he would send His son to restore all that had been broken through the sin today.
We turn our attention to God’s Continuing to be present with his people you see God’s story Endures and he has a plan for all of humanity and that plan Meant that he would make a covenant with a man named Abraham and a woman named Sarah His wife. This covenant relationship we would hear the first time way back in Genesis 12. God first tells Abram, for his name had not yet been changed to Abraham, that through him all nations would one day be blessed. The promise of an heir for Abraham and Sarah had been spoken. But as we know, if we’ve read our stories in the Bible, that that did not happen right away. And as the years went on, Abraham went back to God over and over again asking about God’s grace. Timing, questioning God’s ability, questioning his willingness to fulfill this spoken promise. When we get to chapter 15, we hear Abram say to God, Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus. And Abram said to the Lord, you have given me no children. So a servant in my household will be my heir. God’s response back to Abram was to say this. This man will not be your heir, but a son who is of your own flesh and blood will be your heir. And we know that after God spoke that to Abram, he took him outside. He had him look up into the night sky and he said, count the stars.
And we know that was impossible for Abram to do, and he said one day your descendants will be this vast. Trust me, Abram. I’m faithful, Abram. We know that later on in that same chapter, God cut the covenant with Abram. And what that meant was that God would remain faithful even though he knew Abram and his offspring would not. We have a faithful covenant making God. Well, God, Abram was not done being doubtful and fearful and anxious about the fact that he didn’t have a child. You see, Abram’s wife continued to be barren. By the time we get to chapter 17, God comes again to his faithful servants to calm his fears. In this interaction between Abram and God, he changes his name from Abram to Abraham. He changes Sarai’s name from Sarai to Sarah. He gives circumcision as a sign of the covenant, again reassuring them, I’m here, it’s my timing that you’re holding on to. I know we often say that it was Sarah that laughed, but Abram in chapter 17, Verse 17 of chapter 17. He says, he laughs, and he says, Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?
Will Sarah bear a child at the age of 90? Do you hear this question? Is that even possible? Springs us to our reading this morning in chapter 18. If you have your Bibles, turn and read with me. We’re going to read the first 15 verses. The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed. Low to the ground, he said. If I have found favor in your eyes, my Lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat so you can be refreshed and then go on your way. Now that you have come to your servant very well, they answered do as you say so Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah Quick, he said get three sheaves of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread And then he ran to the herd and selected a choice tender calf and he gave it to a servant who hurried to prepare it He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them while they ate He stood near them under a tree. Where’s your wife Sarah? They asked him. They’re in the tent He said then the Lord said I will surely return to you about this time next year and Sarah your wife will have a son Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him and Abraham and Sarah Were already very old and well advanced in years and Sarah was past the age of childbearing So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, after I am worn out and my master is old. Will I now have this pleasure? Then the Lord said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh and say, Will I really have a child now that I’m old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh.
But he said, Yes, you did laugh. I don’t blame her for laughing. I’m old. I’m… Way beyond the ability to have a child. What in the world? I don’t know about you, but reading this powerful exchange, this year seems to have a different meaning in my life than in years past. This isn’t the first time I’ve preached on this text. It’s one of my favorite stories to bring to God’s people. But this year is different. I seem to identify way. A way that has me asking some hard questions. How do we or how can we remain faithful and trust God’s timing when doubt and fear and anxiety and other life circumstances Intrude on our faith. Have you ever been there? Are you there right now? I found myself asking how do I stay faithful? How do we stay faithful? When it feels like we have long passed the time being useful to the Lord. This year as I read over this text I was reminded that at first Abraham and Sarah had no problem believing the promise. They were all in. It was exciting, but boy, as time dragged on and Sarah and Abraham became older and older, believing in God’s ability to fulfill his promise to give them a son, to give them an heir began to weaken with every passing years as menopause came and went for Sarah.
As Abraham’s ability to believe in God’s covenant, they all faded. The world of Sarah’s barrenness became the reality. So when the messengers came that day and announced the coming of the promised child, Abraham and Sarah’s faith for the promised child was all but gone. We remember that at one point they took everything into their own hands and the son Ishmael was born as a result of that. But that was not God’s promise. And yet when the messengers came that day, Abraham and Sarah’s belief that God would never give Sarah a son was so strong, and it was almost as if Abraham’s faith seemed to be bound more to Ishmael, the son he already had, than to Isaac, the son who would come. Yet the promise of God did not. And was not dependent upon Abraham and Sarah’s ability to trust God and to remain faithful to God’s promise. It was not about them. It was about God. God’s resolve to fulfill His promise to Abraham and Sarah and to the rest of the world was not dependent upon Abraham and Sarah being ready to accept God’s timing.
God had determined the hour and the day and the way that Isaac would be born. And in God’s perfect timing, He fulfilled that promise. Sarah and Abraham’s laughter aside, Sarah and Abraham’s doubt and fear aside, the baby of the promise would be born. Verse 10 tells us that the messenger said, I will surely return to you about this time next year. And Sarah, your wife, will have a son. An emphatic statement. He 14 to ask a question. Is anything too hard for the Lord? This is a question that hung in the air almost waiting for Abraham and Sarah to answer it and in their silence the messenger steps in and he says, I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son. This is going to happen. Get ready. God’s word had been spoken. Their lives and the lives of every person who hears this story. Would be impacted because God’s promised word was fulfilled. Let’s read about it being fulfilled. You have to go to chapter 21. It says, Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah, and he said as he had said. And the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When the son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. Sarah said, God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. And she added, who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children, yet I have borne him a son in his old…
What about us? How do we react to hearing this story at this time in our lives? You know, most of us have more years in the rearview mirror than in the front. Windshield, right? So how is our faith impacted by this story this year? For me, it’s been different. I told the four o’clock and the eight o’clock, um, I’ve preached it before, but I’ve never preached it at this age. And they laughed like you. I had a birthday this week. I’ve never been this old. And not just that, women in my family don’t live to be this old. I’m living in new territory for our family. I remember asking Rich when, or telling Rich when we got married, um, 20 some years ago, I hope we make it to 20 years. Cause you know, women in our family don’t live that long. But here I am! Creaky knees and all, yeah! I discovered that I don’t get in and out of the swimming pool the same way I used to. But God is faithful. And it’s not just because I had the birthday that this story hit me different this year. It hit me different for a lot of different reasons, but this one in particular. You see, I told you I related more to their faith crisis this time around. That’s because I have come out of a faith crisis of my own. It was about a year ago that the lies of the enemy had come upon me so forcefully for so long that I was worn out. I had come to believe his lies that God was done with me. That God was going to remove me from ministry and put me aside. In fact, I was so convinced by the lies of the enemy that I went to Rich and I said, I’m retiring in a year from now, next September. So, whatever we have to do financially, that’s your job. Get us ready, because I don’t want to come to you next September and you tell me, Well, sorry, you have to stay. Because I feel God taking the mantle of ministry off of me. I was so convinced of that, that when Rich and I were invited to go to a pastor’s retreat in March, down in Arkansas, I was shocked for God to tell me that wasn’t the case.
The last sermon that was preached by a preacher, Named Tommy. He had been preaching since he was 13 years old. And he stood in front of myself and 200 other pastors that felt a lot like I did. And he said, God’s not done with you yet. He said, you have to get home and you’ve got to get back in the game. And then he said, today, at this time, right now, God has written appointments on your calendar. And if you don’t go home and get back in the game, someone else is going to have to pick it up and go and do it. Oh my gosh, it felt like the Holy Spirit was talking directly to my heart. And I was so excited. God wasn’t done with me yet. I still had a purpose in his kingdom. Now, Rich and I, the next two days on the way back up to Salt Lake, we were really excited, and we were making all kinds of plans about going back home to Utah, and what it was going to be like for God to reveal all of those appointments that he had made for us. Little did we know how much God must have been laughing. Utah, you think I have these appointments for you in Utah? Oh, you just wait. I had a phone call in May that changed the trajectory of our lives.
And as such, it has changed Victory Lutheran Church as well, because I got on the phone with Pastor Todd and said, Can you tell me what you want? What’s this chaplain thing all about? And 45 minutes later, he may not remember it, but he said to me, I believe that God is going to bring you to us. I got off the phone and I said to Rich, I don’t want to move to Mesa. It’s hot. We went into prayer about it and over and over again in the next three weeks, God was so deliberate. In telling us, this is my plan for you, this is my will for you, you will go. Not because you’re going, but because I’m gonna take you there. I’ve got plans for you there. I’ve got people for you to go and to serve there. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so… excited about a call before because God has been so deliberate in telling me this is where you’re supposed to be just because he told me that does not mean that the last couple of months have been a bed of roses because just like Sarah and Abraham heard the Word of God they still had times where they kept going back and saying are you sure God well same thing happened to Rich and I it seemed like just as every time God moved Satan would come bring this big old storm and we would look at each other and we’d go to God and we’d go, Are you sure?
And he would say, Are we there again? Yes, I’m sure. In fact, the night that, uh, the The moving truck was already in our driveway. It was partially packed. And then the movers decided they were quitting at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. What? I had sent Rich to a motorcycle rally believing that I could take charge of the moving process. And I knew I was going to let him down about 10 o’clock at night. I was sitting on the couch just weeping. I said, God, are you sure we still have time? You gotta let me know 100%. And I felt like the Holy Spirit put his hands on his hips and went, really? We’re here again with this question? And the Holy Spirit said, Susan, get out of the driver’s seat. I’m the one driving this bus. Just get back there and relax. I’ve got this. And here we are. At Victory Lutheran Church, a church that celebrates and is excited about being used by God in the second half of our life. This story is personal, should be personal for us, because God says I have a purpose for you at every stage of your life.
God hadn’t thrown me aside. He does not throw us aside. He’s got ministry for us to do no matter how old we are. Now I’m not telling you that we’re going to have a nursery full of babies next year. Boy, wouldn’t that be a miracle? But I am telling you that the Holy Spirit’s going to be back here in a year, and He’s going to be excited when we are telling each other the stories of how God’s going to impact us through the work that He’s got for us to do over the course of this next year. We are Victory Lutheran Church. We celebrate the second half of our lives, and we believe that we are a community. that serves God with faith and passion and gusto. We don’t serve the same way we did when we were in our 20s or 30s, but we serve God. Do you know that some of our Stephen Ministries, Stephen Ministers, are pushing 80? How awesome is it to go to a hospital room and have two Stephen Ministers show up?
As I am ministering to the person who’s laying in the bed, they come and the four of us have communion together around that bed, remembering the faithfulness of God for that person. And for us, we’re Victory Lutheran Church. We believe God has brought us together to actively be used by God at this stage in our life. So today, let us listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He’s come here today. To place faith in us, to whisper into our ears that God is still faithful and trustworthy to the promises that He has made to us in our life. We serve not a God of impossible, we serve a God of possible. Nothing is impossible for our God. The Holy Spirit has brought us here today. He’s gathered us together. He’s given us an opportunity to be part of the people that Sarah talked about. She said, in generations to come, people will gather, they will hear this story. They will laugh not at me, but they will laugh with me. For they too will remember the faithfulness of God in their lives as well when He did the impossible. The Holy Spirit has also prepared our ears. To hear and our hearts to receive God’s truth this morning. He’s instilled faith in us so that we can respond to the love of God, the faithfulness of God in hearing this story being told again. Let us hear some of the promises that God has for us.
God promised that we can trust him for his love endures forever. God has promised us that when we repent, he forgives us. God promised to give us eternal life, not just for us, but for everyone who hears about Jesus and comes to profess Him as the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. We sang earlier that when we hear the story, when we believe the story, it’s our job to go out and tell those who don’t know the story about Jesus. God has promised Jesus to be our Immanuel. Jesus himself said, I will never abandon you. I will never forsake you. I will not leave you as an orphan. In fact, he says in Matthew, I will be with you to the, always to the end of the age. These are God’s promises for us. God’s promise, Jesus said. And Jesus is a promised gift. He said, I will send the Holy Spirit to be with you. He will come and He will live inside of you. He will bring the presence of me to you every day. He protects us, He guides us, He comforts us. He strengthens us. He speaks God’s truth into our ears.
He reminds us, I love you. That’s God’s word for us. And He knew that today we would be gathered in God’s house needing to hear these things. Jesus promised us that he gave us a new covenant in his blood shed for us on the cross. Once a month we come and we take part of that new covenant. So that we can be reminded of God’s faithfulness to us and to all people. And if God can be pro can be trusted to fulfill all of these things, to give Isaac to Abraham when he’s 100 years old and Sarah when she’s 90, can’t he be trusted to fulfill his promises for us as well? Now, the messengers left that question hanging in the air. Is anything too hard for the Lord? It’s not just Sarah and Abraham that need to answer it. We need to answer it as well. Is anything impossible for our God of possibilities? Jesus himself gives us the answer. We heard it in the reading of Mark. He said, with man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible. For God. Let’s clinging to that hope that we have in our hearts. Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for being our faithful God. Thank you for being our God who’s bigger than the world, who’s bigger than the chaos in our lives, who is bigger than anything that we are facing right now, including getting older.
God, you have been with us from the beginning until this very day. Remind us that you are not done with us, that we still have purpose. You still have plans for us. And so, show them to us. Holy Spirit, come right now. Speak into our ears. Tell us the things that you have for us to do. And then give us the courage and the faith to go and to do them. And we ask these things in Jesus precious name. Amen.