He faced the fact that his body was as good as dead

Romans 4:19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave

The main thing we are looking at today is about faith. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus says “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Looking at Abraham, we see impossible becoming possible. He, by faith, with Sarah, begat a son. He fathered Isaac at the age of 100.

Now, the big question is, do I have that faith? Faith even of the size of a mustard seed. Looking at my life, am I moving mountains? Are there impossibilities I’m facing where I just can’t seem to breakthrough

The churches in our region have planned membership training. We were trying to get as many members join us so they can get trained more in depth. We start planning for it about a month ago. I was expecting at the least, we will have around 7 to 12 people, who will come out to join this training.

Yesterday morning, by 9 am, I came to experience this feeling of empty net that the Bible talks about often in the New Testament. Pastor Frank, Pastor Leah and I were in the boat. We pulled the net out of the sea, and we saw no fish

I believe all of us are striving toward something. We have goals, we have things we want to achieve. We pour our time, our effort and our very self into it. But what to do when the result is very disappointing? What do I do if what I worked so hard for doesn’t bring me back the return of investment that I so hoped for?

Isn’t this something we all think about time to time?

I say it was the same with this man whose name is Abraham. He got married to Sarah. They had a good life together. There were some bumps here and there but it was not so bad. But there was this one big problem. They had no child. They wanted a child. Never got there. But then one day, God promises him that his children will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and sands on the beach.

And let me tell you, he gets this promise when he is 100 years old. What to make of such a promise even when it is coming from God?

Romans 4:19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

I searched google and CBS News says the oldest woman to ever give birth was this lady in India. Back in 2006, a woman who is 72 years old gave birth to her daughter. Isn’t that crazy? Why is it crazy? Because CBS news, one of the biggest News media in America, forgot to report on Ms. Sarah. Do they not read their Bible? Let’s check this out.

Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

In fact, the oldest woman to ever give birth was Sarah.

But one thing we must admit, is that, even thousands of years ago with their clean air, organic food and great environment without pollution, when you hit 90 years old, giving birth was impossible. It’s the fact.

Listen to what even Abraham says to himself. Now, pay attention to how he says it, he isn’t saying what he is saying in Genesis with doubt. Rather, this is more of a statement he makes out of surprise. He is considering the impossible possibility. So he says,

“Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

Now, let’s go back to our main passage.

Romans 4:19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

The scripture testifies to the fact that Abraham, without wavering in his faith, faced the fact that he is 100 years old. And when it says he faced the fact, it means he was being real. Not just ignoring the facts, not just looking away. He is looking straight at the problem. The elephant in the room.

Sometimes, my daughter makes me laugh so much. One night, she did something wrong. I don’t remember exactly what. But we all knew and she also knew she messed up. As soon as I was trying to tell her about it, she started to say all these other things. I thought that was funny because she was trying to divert my attention. You know, let’s talk about alphabet, or numbers. Or school. She doesn’t even like talking about those things.

I see myself doing that actually. When I see things that are painful about myself, my flaws, my weaknesses, I try to look away. There are things that are quite dead in me, I look away. I don’t face it. I don’t want to think about it.

In a way, I justify doing that by thinking to myself, there are so many good things to focus on. Why bother any time thinking about my flaws?

And I think it’s true. It’s not that Abraham dwelled in his flaws or his old age.

But what the scripture is stating is that, nevertheless, he faced it. He considered it. He didn’t look away but he looked at the problems.

Sometimes, when I get into an argument, it usually happen when I ignore my problems and only focus on problems of the other. And the more I get upset and mad, I notice the more I am fixing my eyes on how wrong the other person did to me. You know, that victim mentality sets in.

Usually, where there is reconciliation, there is a hearty compromise. Both parties coming to focus on their flaws more than that of others. But it’s not easy. I always notice myself putting blames on others rather than facing my flaws.

A thing about facing the facts, it’s painful. It’s depressing. It’s discouraging. But what do I do after I face the fact? My fact?

20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory t

Let’s think about another example. Do you remember Peter? He walked on storming sea. He started to do the impossible. But then what happens. Waves. Fierce wind. Foaming water everywhere, showing its desire to swallow him.

Peter then does what? He fixes his gaze on all those. His sight betrayed him. Then fear took his heart captive.

Has this ever happened to you? I was giving an example of forbidden chocolate ice cream few days ago.

I am trying to cut sugar from my diet. But when I saw an ice cream box, same package, same color, everything the same, but two new words on it, ‘forbidden chocolate,’ my heart started to beat super fast. I was getting too excited.

That’s why Jesus says to guard our eyes. They are the gate to our heart.

In the same way, as soon as we fix our eyes on my flaws, my difficult situations, we too then start to sink deep into darkness, into the stormy sea

Any of you here sinking today? If so, what are you looking at? What’s your eyes fixed on? What’s your focus?

So many self-help books out there. They say look at the bright side. Every cloud has a silver lining. That you should never feel hopeless because difficult times always lead to better days.

Those peptalk works a few times. But even that gets old. We hit this point where it just doesn’t inspire us anymore. What do we do

What we know about Peter, is that, as he was sinking, he does this one thing that’s very natural but also very essential.

On Matthew 14:30, it says Peter cried out, ‘Lord, Save Me.’

And the next verse says, 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

Remember we asked this big question at the beginning of this sermon? Do I have faith a size of mustard seed that can move mountain?

Abraham experience the impossible possibility by faith.

Peter sank because of no faith.

There is something very crucial in understanding all these scriptures. What’s the secret of knowing the truth. It’s that, when it comes to faith, the focus is not on us but on God, on Christ.

This is a bit difficult to explain but stay with me here.

Peter is sinking. As he sinks, where does he fixes his gaze? He fixed it on Christ.

When Abraham, as he is facing the facts and considering the deadness of his flesh, where does he fixes his eyes? On God.

I learned how to ride my bike pretty late in my life. All my friends start riding them as soon as they were in first or second grade. I was so scared of falling, I never really learned it. But while I was in fifth grade, the desire of wanting to bike with my friends and exploring the town surpassed all my fears of falling. I was thinking about all the troubles I must go through to ride my bike. No, I was looking at something entirely different. So I dared myself to get on that bike. I fell many times. Scraped my knees. Crashed into a car and make a dent and then ran away before the car owner showed up. But then, nothing stopped me from trying again.

How can I have faith that can move mountain. The answer is, it was never about me. If it’s about me, my failures, my falls and my mistakes will taunt me from even making the first step to do anything.

Then what is faith? It’s coming to know and see the righteousness from God. No matter how unrighteous I am and no matter how deep I sunk, it’s lifting my eyes to look to Jesus and call out to him. Lord, save me.

Faith starts from knowing how God sought me when I didn’t seek him. Faith starts when I, as a prodigal son, begins to see the father who is running toward me without his shoes on.

Faith is living and dwelling in God’s love, in God who demonstrated his love for us in Christ, who died on the cross for us, while we were yet sinners.

As long as I am looking at me, my fortitude, my success rate and my performance, I’m only drifting farther and farther away from faith.

But what’s the starting point of faith?

It’s that very moment when you failed. It’s that very moment when you sinned. It’s that very moment when you fell short.

It’s facing and considering all the negatives but then rather than sinking all the way in by only looking down, what do I do?

20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

I give glory to God. I don’t condemn myself. I don’t condemn others. But I return glory to God for everything.

I ask the Lord to save me from my flaws, yet at the same time, I don’t live there. What’s faith? It’s living not in the past mistakes but living in future glory.

And I choose to also see others the same way. How God is also leading them to the future glory. The flaws I see in my brothers and sisters are there so that the glory of God will be revealed. So we glorify God.

Faith is coming to the end of me. That I no longer live to prove myself to others. But it’s knowing how Christ redeemed a dead man like me and gave me promise for the future in spite of my deadness.

So, what’s faith.

It’s the end of my struggle and the beginning of my surrender. Surrender to what? God’s love and His promise given me despite my horrible performance record.

Where does faith starts? I like the way Chris Tomlin sings it in his song. It says:

Where sin runs deep , Your grace is more, Where grace is found , Is where You are, And where You are, Lord I am free, Holiness is Christ in me

Devil attacks me and says how unholy are you? How faithless are you?

But what’s your answer? Holiness is Christ in me. Oh wow

While I was making this point during a Bible study, one person was cynically telling me that how hypocritical Christians are. Because they rest on grace and keep on sinning.

You know, when I heard that, I got so furious. But with my calm mind, I want to explain this.

Is it really true that resting on faith, God’s grace and forgiveness only makes a person more of a professional sinner?

Let me read you this excerpt from Belgic Confession.

The Belgic Confession was written in 1561. In this confession, it points out the continuity of Reformed belief with that of the ancient Christian creeds. Meaning, our reformed faith takes heritage from the early church.

On Article 24: The Sanctification of Sinners

We believe that this true faith,
produced in us by the hearing of God’s Word
and by the work of the Holy Spirit,
regenerates us and makes us new creatures,58
causing us to live a new life59
and freeing us from the slavery of sin.
Therefore,
far from making people cold
toward living in a pious and holy way,
this justifying faith,
quite to the contrary,
so works within them that
apart from it
they will never do a thing out of love for God
but only out of love for themselves
and fear of being condemned.

Remember how I told you about selfishness? You see, however much people condemn Christians for relying on grace, they themselves live in life of selfishness. They are slaves to themselves, pleasing themselves only, and living in a world where everything is about them.

But true faith in Christ, experiencing the grace over and over again, sets us free from our slavery to self. Living a life where we never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and the fear of being condemned.

The love of Christ, the love of God, resting on it, is the truth that sets us free from ourselves.

We will end the sermon by reading together 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.