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Live By Faith: Starting With the Impossible

The writer of Hebrews 11 introduces Sarah as our next hero of the faith. Her story is a very unusual one and is found in Genesis chapters 16 through 18. The summarized version of her story is this: Sarah was married to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father

The writer of Hebrews 11 introduces Sarah as our next hero of the faith. Her story is a very unusual one and is found in Genesis chapters 16 through 18. The summarized version of her story is this:

Sarah was married to Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. However, Sarah was unable to bear children, and that was a big problem.

Sarah gives her handmaiden, Hagar, to Abraham and that union bears a son named Ishmael. Later, God lets Abraham know that Ishmael will not be the covenant son. Instead, Sarah will bear a son in her old age. When Abraham hears the news, he laughs — and so does Sarah.

Is it any wonder they both laughed? Abraham was nearly a hundred, and Sarah was ninety. Frankly, the thought of it makes us laugh too. Even if she could conceive, imagine the difficulties faced by an elderly woman carrying a child to full term and giving birth? Go ahead, picture it in your mind. The entire scenario is painfully ridiculous. There was just no way on God’s green earth that Abraham and Sarah were going to conceive a son. But that’s exactly what happened. They named their son Isaac, which means laughter.
The Impossible

When we are about to do something very important, we start with the possible. Good leaders weigh the options very carefully before executing a plan. Even Jesus recognized the need to do so in Luke 14:25-34. Building a tower? Going to war? Count the cost and make sure you can finish. If you take on a task and are unable to finish, you will look like a fool.

However, when God is about to do something important, He starts with the impossible.

Think of all the ridiculous stories found in the Bible. Here’s a few: crossing the Red Sea on dry ground; water from a rock; manna from the sky; fire from heaven to consume a saturated sacrifice; Sampson kills 10,000 soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey; Gideon’s 300 soldiers conquer an army of 135,000; A virgin gives birth to a son; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Impossible. All impossible.

Exactly. God starts with the impossible so that we will not take credit for His work. He is still accomplishing the impossible today — and He uses the weak and broken to do it. Trust me; I’m living proof of God’s ability to work through the weak and broken. God is not concerned with our ability — He’s got that covered. What He is looking for is our availability. And when His ability combines with our availability, the impossible happens.

On a side note, this is one of the big challenges churches face. On the one hand, our leaders are called to count the cost and make sure that our goals can be accomplished before we begin a big project. But on the other hand, God is calling on us to take on the impossible so that His power can be displayed through our weakness. The mix of those two realities has led to many interesting church meetings.
Flesh Gets In the Way

When God makes His covenant with Abraham, He chooses a rather unique sign. There has been a lot of speculation over the years as to why God chose circumcision as the sign of the covenant. Circumcision is not very visible. A tattoo on the arm might have been more useful. Regardless, God chose circumcision. Is it possible that it was God’s way of communicating to Abraham, and rather painfully so, that our flesh cannot accomplish the impossible?

The whole story of Hagar and Ishmael stands as an example of what happens when flesh tries to force God’s plan — when we try in human power to do what only God can do. Though Abraham and Sarah tried, flesh could not accomplish God’s impossible miracle of grace.

In Romans 2:22-25, Paul talks about circumcision of the heart — of cutting the flesh out of our hearts. Abraham and Sarah had nothing to do with the conception of Isaac — it was a miracle plain and simple. Physiology was not the problem, and flesh couldn’t fix it. How often do we fall into the same trap? How often do we allow our flesh to get in the way instead of waiting for God to do the impossible?

Jesus was born of a virgin. Isaac was born of an old, barren woman. Both were impossible — to God be the glory, great things He has done!
Let Them Laugh

The world laughs at believers because we believe in miracles. They think we are crazy to buy into what they consider to be ancient legends and fairy tales. Their unbelief blinds them to miraculous events — even the ones that take place around them every day. That’s the interesting thing about us humans: those who believe see proof everywhere, while those who refuse to believe, see no proof at all. Belief is what makes the difference, and it is why the writer of Hebrews 11 is calling us to be people of faith — to believe that the impossible is possible with God.
God has not changed. The impossible is still His domain. Are we laughing, or are we believing?

God calls on us to have a faith that can move mountains. Do we believe He can do it? It’s not about our strength; it’s about His. Faith isn’t faith until it has gone beyond what flesh can do. Remember, it is in our weakness that His power is displayed. Read II Corinthians 12:1-10.

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