A genuine walk of faith rejoices in God’s will, clears obstacles to one’s walk, and evangelizes in one’s world.

There are no more happy people on earth than those who know and do the will of God! God’s will is found as we study His Word. We are responsible to what we know of the Scriptures.

The Joy of Knowing and Doing God’s Will (verses 1-8)

God’s calendar is always perfect. Yahweh, Jehovah, the God who hears His people and keeps his promises, gave Sarah a son at the appointed time. Her words “God has made laughter for me” rejoice that God made Isaac out of apparently nothing.

Sarah was faithful to God through many years. She had grown to be characterized by joy, and her genuine testimony spread joy to everyone around her. Local churches experience these kind of testimonies when they have high expectations of older saints. As saints have a deepening understanding of God’s Word, they grow in doing God’s will, which results in more and more sanctified joy in their lives.

The task of younger saints is to see these examples and be like them! To be like them, you have to get to know them. It takes time to learn a joyful disposition, to know God’s will and to do it. Our choices should always be governed by God’s Word. Our culture has it all backwards. We are to look to age for wisdom, not youth. A blend of ages is not only crucial, but it is natural for a New Testament local church.

Shedding Obstacles to Knowing and Doing God’s Will (verses 9-21)

This section of Abraham’s story can be difficult to understand, but it too is a simple matter of doing God’s will. God had promised Abraham descendants through a son born from Sarah.

When Isaac came of age, the family threw a feast to celebrate that he was now prepared to receive the birthright. Ishmael’s mocking threatened to split the family. Sarah’s comments to Abraham show that she wanted God’s will. It was appropriate for her to confront her husband when he was not thinking clearly. At stake was an entire nation, both political and spiritual. Abraham learned that the wisdom of God also comes through listening to godly people when we’re struggling.

The mercy of God is evident in the next events for Hagar and her son. Ishmael’s name is not mentioned, but it means “God hears.” They had not been walking in God’s will, got caught up in emotion, and created their own conflict. They couldn’t see the well that was right there, but God opened their eyes. He still answered their cries and provided for their needs. Ishmael was able to see God’s promises to him fulfilled.

Influence from Knowing and Doing God’s Will (verses 22-34)

Abimelech had been watching Abraham for a few months and came to a better conclusion than suggested by their first interaction in the last chapter. He saw that God was with Abraham “in all that you do.” They made a covenant of peace together.

Here’s the lesson we can learn: we can regain our testimony, even with unbelievers, through continued perseverance. Abraham maintained his walk with proper confession even before this pagan king and came to have a saving influence on him. He won a friend for eternity.

Application Points

  • Does your family know you to be a happy person? We should have a deep joy about us that grows out of our knowledge of God’s Word. If you’re known as a grump or a sourpuss, confess it to the Lord and acknowledge you have work to do!
  • For those that are married, do you listen to your spouse? If you love the Lord, you will want their wisdom. God loves to perfectly match the strengths and weaknesses of a couple, so you can function as one. Where are you weak that your spouse is strong? Do you allow their strength to help you grow?
  • Saints over 60, are you known as a joyful person? How are you deepening your understanding of God’s Word? Are you investing in younger saints?
  • Saints under 60, do you know the older saints in our church? Do you look to them for wisdom? If not, choose one person with a joyful testimony who you can get to know.
  • Do you have unsaved friends who know you in all areas of life? When they know your life well, they should be able to see Jesus in your testimony. Who can you have a saving influence on?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”

Rejoice ye pure in heart;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King.

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice,
Give thanks and sing.

Bright youth and snow crowned age,
Strong men and maidens meek,
Raise high your free, exultant song,
God’s wondrous praises speak.

With all the angel choirs,
With all the saints of earth,
Pour out the strains of joy and bliss,
True rapture, noblest mirth.

Your clear hosannas raise;
And alleluias loud;
Whilst answering echoes upward float,
Like wreaths of incense cloud.

With voice as full and strong
As ocean’s surging praise,
Send forth the hymns our fathers loved,
The psalms of ancient days.

Yes, on through life’s long path,
Still chanting as ye go;
From youth to age, by night and day,
In gladness and in woe.

Still lift your standard high,
Still march in firm array,
As warriors through the darkness toil,
Till dawns the golden day.

At last the march shall end;
The wearied ones shall rest;
The pilgrims find their heavenly home,
Jerusalem the blessed.

Then on, ye pure in heart!
Rejoice, give thanks and sing!
Your glorious banner wave on high,
The cross of Christ your King.

Praise Him Who reigns on high,
The Lord Whom we adore,
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
One God forevermore.