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Responding Properly to God's Promises

By Bob Hoekstra

      By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)
      Before we proceed in our consideration of God's promises, let's look at some examples of those who responded properly to His promises. This will assist us in the path of living daily by the grace of God. Remember, living by God's grace and depending upon His promises are two perspectives on the same reality. Both speak of God working in and through the lives of His people.

      Sarah responded properly to God's promises. It is true that she tried to fulfill God's promise of a son by her own ingenuity. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her' " (Genesis 16:2). It is true that she later laughed with incredulity, when the promise was repeated. "And He said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.' And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him . . . Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also'? " (Genesis 18:10, 12). Nevertheless, she eventually related appropriately to what God had promised to do. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed." The proper response to God's promises is to believe them. All who trust in the Lord to do what He has promised experience God at work in their lives. Sarah trusted God's promise of a son, and she was enabled by God to conceive and birth that son. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age."

      Isaac was born in spite of the fact that Sarah did not have the natural capacity to accomplish such any longer. Isaac was born by means of Sarah exercising faith in the promises of God. Note, however, that Sarah's faith was not merely some act of the human will (like "mind over matter" or "power of positive thinking"). Her faith was based upon the faithfulness of God. "She judged Him faithful who had promised." She considered what God had revealed to her about Himself and concluded that He was reliable, so she relied upon Him.

      Dear faithful Father, I confess the many times I have responded to Your promises like Sarah did at first - - scheming to fulfill them myself, or overtaken with unbelief. Yet, when I look in the scriptures, I see Your faithfulness declared regularly and documented repeatedly. Also, every time I trust in You to do what You have promised, You demonstrate again Your great faithfulness. Lord, would You especially fulfill Your promises in those areas where I am as convinced of my helplessness as Sarah was of hers, for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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