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Opportunity Knocks: Genesis 18.1-15 (ESV)

“Oh the places you will go!”  Dr. Seuss had it right.  With all the adversity and challenges you’ve faced I know you have many opportunities ahead of you.  Today in Genesis 18 we will look at the opportunities of Abraham and Sarah, and an opportunity they weren’t expecting.  Life in the ancient near east; there was this concept of hospitality.  What do you do when God has you on a journey?  God speaks to us in many different ways in and through our lives.  This culture over 7,000 years ago was different than our culture.  When you went on a trip you wouldn’t see people for a while, like a whole month with no contact.  You depended on the hospitality of those along the way.  For example, a few months ago maybe you’d never heard of Zoom?  Today, if you don’t respond to a text message in 15 minutes people are ready to call the police!  Circumstances were different back then but people are the same as they were in the middle east.

God speaks to us through people.

God speaks through the people He has placed around us.  How do I know the will of God?  Is God calling me to follow Alex McFarland?  One way God will speak to you is through other people. 

                        1And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.

When Abraham first encounters these men he doesn’t know this is the Lord.  At the beginning he just sees three men.  Abraham has been working and he is taking a break.  This was common in middle eastern culture and is still in common in other parts of the world today.  For example, if you have yardwork to do, most of you don’t wait to do it in the hottest part of the day.  We wait till it’s cooler.  That’s how people planned their day.  They’d get up early and work and then rest when it was hot.  Abraham is resting and something out of the ordinary happens.  He lifts up his eyes and he is caught off guard.  These aren’t normal circumstances and God is preparing Abraham’s heart.  There are people who can speak into your life.  Some of these people have spoken deeply into your life.  Their words dwell in your heart.  Maybe it was a teacher?  God will continue to do this throughout your life.  Since God uses people to speak into our lives please treat people well. 

Treat people well.
What do we know about Abraham?  He’s wealthy.  He has a huge household.  Kings came to him for loans.  He doesn’t have to work.  What he does next is surprising.  Abraham remains a servant.  Notice how well Abraham treats these men.

                        4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves,

What’s Abraham doing?  Three guys have been traveling.  It’s natural for him to welcome them.  If you were working outside yesterday when you came inside you wanted a drink.  How good did that shower feel?  These travelers couldn’t go to a hotel.  Abraham greets them, gets them water, washes their feet and gets them a snack.  Abraham is not a servant.  He is wealthy but he goes into the mode of serving.  Abraham knows what it’s like to be away from home, to need other people.  It can have a huge impact on your life if you can learn from these examples.  Others will remember things about you.  

When you have the opportunity, live out Micah 6:8, “He has told you, Oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Show justice to other people.  Treat others with the same dignity that God has treated you.  Jesus modeled that for us.  Jesus was passing through Jerusalem and a short, wealthy guy climbed up a tree.  His name was Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus wasn’t well respected.  Jesus walks up to him and tells him to come out of the tree.  He says, “I’m going to your house.”   It’s reverse hospitality.  This man who was transforming the world gave Zacchaeus the opportunity to serve and be present with Him.  Jesus wasn’t tired.  He said today he was bringing salvation to Zacchaeus’ house.  God humbled Himself and walked among us.  God gave Himself for us.  This is what drives us.  Graduates, the most important thing is to bring salvation into peoples’ lives.  Hospitality has been important for thousands of years.  Treat people well and listen to God.

Listen to God.
There’s a purpose to this visit.  This is God.  God has shown up to speak into Abraham but He is actually speaking to Sarah.

                        10The 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.

Sarah was hanging out in the background, maybe not in view, listening.  The words that come are the fulfillment of some dreams.  After this time, we wonder if it’s going to happen.  God fulfills the dreams they’ve had for so long.  There’s an uncertainty.  College grads, you’re looking for your first job.  You wonder if it will ever happen for you.  You can also think all this isn’t fair.  How many times has Sarah said that to God?  The promise is going to happen.  This pandemic will pass.  It seems so huge right now.  Things will change and it will pass.  The dreams God has given you, the things God has spoken over your life will happen.  God is faithful to what He said He will do in your life.  Even with changes to come, keep working.  You will have opportunities in the future.

Sarah is behind the tent, listening.  We find out what’s happening and it reminds us to flexible.

Be flexible.

We feel like we have been on a mission trip this past few months.  God changes the plan for Abraham.  I’m sure this next week we’ll have another change.  Sarah listens and is surprised and her reason is in verse 11:
            11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years.

You know you’re old when the Bible calls you old!  Sarah is past her child bearing years.  She knows how her body works and this guy just said you will have a son?  She laughs to herself.  This isn’t just a man; the Lord asks her in verse 15 why she laughed.  God will throw surprises along the way.  Maybe you’ve given up on some dreams.  God knows what He is going to do.  Is there anything too hard for God?  There’s nothing too hard for God to do.  We have a God who says there’s nothing too hard for Him to do.  In Luke 1 an angel appears to Mary and tells her she will have a child.  Mary asks how that’s possible.  Nothing is impossible with God.  Both were extraordinary circumstances.  God can use adversity to birth some of the greatest things.  What’s God doing now?  Our response to God in such a time as this can be, “God, use me.”  What might God do if nothing is impossible?  We can all trust God today. 

Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.


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