Christian, God is always faithful and will always keep His promises; therefore, spend less time worrying about your performance and more time resting in Christ’s love. When we worry about how we measure up, we take our focus off of Christ and place it upon ourselves. When we take our focus off of ourselves and turn it upon Christ, we will grow in faith, hope, love, and perseverance. It is the issue of perseverance that we will discuss in today’s sermon because all of us endure trials in this life. We are told in Scripture three very important truths about trials: 1) They should not surprise us (1 Peter 4:12), 2) Trials test our faith (1 Peter 1:7), and 3) God preserves the righteous through their trials (1 Cor 10:13). In our sermon today we shall discuss a trial Isaac endured and learn that God is always faithful and will always keep His promises, even when we fail. Consider:
- The Faithful Are Tested (1). Isaac, like his father Abraham, endured a trial that tested his faith. Like in Abraham’s day (Gen 12), there was a famine in the promised land. Abraham had fled to Egypt and, faced with the prospect of starvation, Isaac considered leaving and going to Egypt as well.
- The Faithful Listen to God (2-5). Before Isaac made any decision, he listened to God. The Lord told Isaac not to go to Egypt. He said, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.” The Lord demonstrated to Isaac that He is trustworthy. In verse 4, the Lord reminded Isaac of the oath He made with Abraham and reaffirmed it with him. He told Isaac to trust Him as Abraham did. Isaac, in faith, listed to the Lord, trusted Him, and remained in the land.
- The Faithful May Fail (6-7). If this next section sounds familiar, it is because Isaac’s father (Abraham) acted similarly in two previous occasions. Isaac has settled among the people of Gerar and has become fearful for his life. Rebekah was a beautiful woman and Isaac was concerned that the men would kill him in order to marry her. He deceives the men by telling them that Rebekah was his sister. Two important points are revealed in this incident: 1) Isaac’s faith in God is weak and 2) Isaac is operating out of self-preservation. Why would Isaac behave this way? Has he forgotten the oath God made to Him? Why would he allow his desire for self-preservation to overrule his faith in God? It is humbling that the faithful—who love God—are capable of such failure.
- God is Always Faithful (8-12). When it seemed that all was lost and the ruse was discovered, the Lord protected Isaac and Rebekah. Abimelech acted with integrity (unlike Isaac) and protected both Isaac and Rebekah. While it may not be explicitly stated, it is properly understood in these verses that it is God who is protecting Isaac. Verse 12 tells us that the Lord blessed Isaac. Consider for a moment that God is always faithful even when we fail and sin. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:11-13, “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful.”
We serve a gracious and loving God. When someone becomes a Christian, they are not promising that they will be perfect and never sin. On the contrary, they are promising themselves to God and entrusting everything to Him. When a Christian sins, they have sorrow and seek forgiveness. When a Christian endures a trial, they seek God’s help first and foremost. Let us be encouraged to walk by faith and trust.
Grow Group Guide
Always Faithful (Genesis 26:1-12)
Open with prayer and then have someone volunteer to read Genesis 26. After reading the text, discuss the following questions:
- What does the text say? (What happened? What happened next? What happened after that?) What happened that caused Isaac to consider going to Egypt? What did God instruct Isaac to do? Did Isaac obey God’s instructions? What did God promise Isaac? Who did Isaac say Rebekah was? What reason is given for this deception? How did Abimelech discover the deception? What did Abimelech do in response?
- What does it tell us about God? (Discuss the nature and character of God.) Why did God not want Isaac to go to Egypt? How is God’s promise to Isaac similar to His promise to Abraham? What does this tell us about the character of God? Did God protect Isaac even when Isaac was weak in faith? Why would God bless Isaac even after Isaac had failed? What does this tell us about God’s oath?
- What does it tell us about ourselves? (What are the human characters in the story doing or not doing that serve as a warning or encouragement to us?) Isaac demonstrated great faith at times and weak faith at times. Reflect on times in your own life when you have had great faith and weak faith? What contributed to the great faith? What contributed to the weak faith? What does it reveal about Isaac that he told the men of Gerar that Rebekah was his sister? Why is self-preservation contrary to faith?
- How am I going to think, speak, and live differently because of what I learned? James writes that we should be doers of the word and not just hearers (James 1:22). It is not enough to know what the story says, it is important to apply the truth of the story to our lives. Take some time in prayer and consider some changes that you need to make in the following areas: