There was a period in my life when I was reading through a variety of self-help books.
Something was out of whack in my life, and I was trying to figure out what it was.
Then, two different people within the same week asked me to explain my faith to them.
I struggled to respond to their probing questions, which bothered me greatly.
I picked up a one-year bible and immersed myself in scripture. If I was going to claim to be a follower of Christ, I felt this was the right next step.
Making this one decision began a transformation in my faith life. Although not always easy, this decision has proven more powerful and encouraging than any other pursuit in my life.
What does this have to do with Genesis 18, Hebrews 11, and seeking God’s city?
Compare the following verses.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.
List the physical hindrances Sarah had to conceive a child.
10 The 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.
Abraham was told he and Sarah would have a son. Sarah also heard the promise from her vantage point from behind the door of the tent.
Keep in mind Abraham had fathered a child with Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar (Genesis 16). Thus, even though Abraham was quite old by this point, his physical ability to procreate was not as big of a question mark as Sarah’s.
Consider Sarah’s initial response to the Lord’s promise to her and Abraham.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”
This verse makes it clear Sarah did not speak out loud. She was processing the prospect of conceiving a child at her and Abraham’s current physical stages of life in her own mind.
Read how the Lord responded to Sarah’s thoughts.
13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”
Why did the Lord question Abraham instead of Sarah about her inner thoughts?
It is one thing to discern a person’s inner thoughts when you can see their facial expressions. But the Lord knew Sarah’s thoughts even though she was behind the tent door, out of view (Genesis 18:9-10).
What three things does the Lord affirm about himself with his questions?
Consider Sarah’s next response.
15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” 
Why did Sarah deny she had laughed at the prospect of the Lord promising she would have a son?
How does the Lord react to Sarah’s denial?
Unlike being told why Sarah denied laughing to herself about the prospect of the Lord promising she would bear a child at this stage of her life; scripture does not reveal the specific tone with which the Lord spoke to Sarah when he, for a second time, revealed His power to know her thoughts. Instead, it is a “just the facts” statement made by the Lord in verse fifteen.
Why are we told about Sarah’s emotional state but not the Lord’s in this exchange?
How does this reveal God’s grace toward Sarah and Abraham?
Now consider how this review of God’s promise to Sarah and Abraham in the Genesis text helps us understand Hebrews 11:11-16.
11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 
Whom did Sarah consider faithful?
The writer of Hebrews states that Abraham and Sarah, as well as other patriarchs, all died in their faith without receiving the more distant promises of God. Instead, they continued to live not as rulers or owners, but as strangers and exiles among other ruling nations. (Hebrews 11:13)
Hebrews 11:14-15 states that these heroes of faith never sought to return to their previous lives after being called by Him.
That these people remained faithful to God’s call reveals they were more desirous of a heavenly home with their Lord than an earthly one without Him. (Hebrews 11:16a).
Consider what Hebrews 11:16b reveals about God.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. 
What is your reaction to the phrase, “God is not ashamed to be called their God?”
Do you know what the city God is preparing for his faithful people will be like?
Consider Revelation 21:23-25.
23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
Both Hebrews and Revelation are talking about God’s city as a place where those who believe in Him will live in His presence forever.
This is what Abraham, Sarah, and all heroes of the faith desired more than anything else.
My decision to read the Bible consistently has deepened my faith in God and Christ more than any other spiritual discipline. I, too, am seeking God’s city through faith.
Do I always get things right?
Of course not. I too, like Sarah, have moments when God reminds me He is the one who can create from nothing and restore life to dead bones.
How would you describe your present level of faith? Why?
What have you learned from this study of Abraham and Sarah’s faith journey with God that encourages you on your own faith journey?
How can you encourage a friend, neighbor, or family member on their faith journey this week?