Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. – 2 Corinthians 1:20
Vs. 23 – The reason that Ishmael was born was because Abraham and Sarah were impatient and showed a lack of faith in God’s promise. There are consequences for not trusting in the promises of God, for trying to do your own thing according to the flesh/in your own way/man thinking.
He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” – Genesis 16:12
And just so you understand, Genesis 25:18 tells us that, “Ishmael’s descendants… lived in hostility toward all their brothers.”
To this day Ishmael’s descendants are fighting among themselves, with others, and with us. The consequences of not trusting God, of not believing in the promise, of disobedience, are long lasting and the collateral damage is incalculable.
To put this in perspective: God has told us that as Christians we are enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That empowerment is a promise of God, it is the Holy Spirit working in us as we reach out, being salt and light to our neighbor, in the communities in which we live, work, and play.
But… we choose not to follow the clear commands of God. While not being downright disobedient, we just ignore what we know to be true, living as though we do not know what the Word of God clearly says, not trusting God for what He has promised. This is living according to the flesh. The Holy Spirit tells us in Romans, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
In chapter 3, the question is asked about their being drawn away or bewitched because they had known the Truth. This is what the Holy Spirit through Paul is saying to the Galatian congregations and to us. You started in the Spirit by trusting in the finished work of Jesus and God’s grace alone, are you now going to end up in the flesh trusting your own efforts and performance?
5:6 – We cannot make loving God and others into a work of the flesh, something we do to earn our way, like the Judaizers were trying to get the congregations of God’s Church in Galatia to do with circumcision.
We need to understand that our faith works through God’s love for us – not our love for Him. When we understand the depth, width, and length of His love for us, how much He loves us, then He will be able to do more than we can ask for or think according to the power (Love) that works in us!
According to the riches of his glory may He grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19
How are we filled with all the fullness of God? By being grounded in and knowing the love of Christ!
Faith works when we realize how much we are loved by God, that His love is unconditional. That it is not based on works of the flesh, on our performance; and that no matter what His Love is constant, totally independent of what circumstances we are facing. That is when we truly trust in His promises, and when we do, we are truly children of the promise!
But what if our faith is weak or things seem worse when we are trusting God? Then that is when we lean into the love of God. The more we understand it, behold it, think about it, and thank God for it, the more faith works effortlessly and naturally in our lives.
When we dwell on how much God loves us, we realize that If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39
No matter what we go through, no matter how challenging our circumstances are, nothing can separate us from God’s unconditional (agape) love.
Not all those who are physical descendants of Israel belong to Israel. These who belong to Israel, who make up the Israel of God, are identified as Children of Promise. It is those, who through the Love shown us, by the Love that has been poured into our hearts, those who have put their faith and trust in Christ (the fulfillment of God’s promises) who are the Children of God!
Are you a child of promise?