Meet Sarah: The Mother of Believers (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 318

“Look to Abraham your father; and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him” (Isaiah 51:2, NKJV).

Due to Judah’s unfaithfulness, the kingdom experienced a spiritual crisis. Many went astray and followed other gods. As a whole, the nation saw a steady decline in religious fervor and prosperity. Hope for a restored Jerusalem dwindled. This caused the righteous in the land to wonder if the Lord still remembered His people. Not only that, they wondered if there ever would be a revival and restoration in Zion. Isaiah’s ministry to Judah was two-fold. His mission was to call the nation to repentance and trust, and to reassure them of a future filled with hope, prosperity and glory.

 In Isaiah 51, the Lord had a message for the righteous in the land who longed for Zion’s restoration. He urged them to look back at their roots: “Look to Abraham your father; and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.” God knew that Abraham and Sarah were the father and mother of His chosen people. He called the people’s attention to them for a reason. Notice what He said in the second part of the passage. He called one man, Abraham, who had no child. Yet He blessed him and increased Him. The point God is making here is that He is a God of increase and of infinite possibilities. He is able to create a multitude out of one person. If He could do that with Abraham and Sarah, He could restore and increase Zion also.

Let us consider Sarah since she is the focus of this teaching. God said to His people, “look to Sarah who bore you.” It is as if God had said, “Look to Sarah, your mother. Consider her life of faith and the great things I did for her. If you believe in me, I can do for you what I did for her.” Sarah was barren. Moreover, age had caught up with her. The hope, if any, of bearing a child was gone. Despite these odds, the Lord promised that Sarah would be the mother of nations, and that kings of peoples would come from her.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us how Sarah conceived: “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised” (11:11). Sarah was a believer. She held on to God’s promise, believing that the Lord was who He said He was. She believed that the Lord would deliver according to His solemn word. By faith, therefore, Sarah received strength to defy the laws of biology. Contrary to the dictates of scientific facts, she conceived and gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety years old. And through Isaac, the Lord increased Sarah so that she became the mother of multitudes of people who believe in the Lord.

When the Lord told His people (in Isaiah 51) to look to Sarah, their mother, He wanted them to learn from the faith of Sarah. He wanted them to have faith that if He could make a barren woman the mother of their nation, He could also restore and prosper Zion despite her seemingly hopeless condition. This message applies to Christians today. God wants us to remember that we are a nation of faith and that Sarah is our ‘mother-in-faith.’ 

We can face situations where the odds seem to be against us. In those moments, let us remember that we are from Sarah’s line: a line of people who defy the laws of nature, time and space. When they say there is no hope, we say, “Hope does not disappoint.” When they say there is no cure, we say, “With His stripes, we are healed.” When they say we can’t, we say, “We can do all things through Him who strengthens us.” And when they say it is impossible, we reply, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

To be continued . . .

For further studyGenesis 18:1-15

Learning from History

Daily Devotion|Day 262

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2, NKJV).

The forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness were a period of test. The test was primarily one of faith. Some failed the test. Consequently, they did not enter the Promised Land. However, others did pass the test. They went in and took possession of God’s promises.

At this point in the Letter to the Hebrews, the author is warning his Christian audience. He does so by reminding them of what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness. The basic problem at stake for the Israelites was a lack of faith (faith understood as confidence/faithfulness/obedience). In 4:1, the author tells his audience to approach their salvation with fear lest anyone comes short as it happened in the Old Testament.

In today’s opening passage, the Scripture says the Gospel was preached to the Israelites of old as well as to current believers (Christians). Unfortunately, the word which they heard (i.e. the Gospel) did not profit them. This means it is possible to hear the word of God in vain. The Bible then tells us why the word of God did not profit them: They did not mix the word with faith. The author of Hebrews wanted his audience to understand this so they too don’t become victims of unbelief.

The underlying message here is that hearing the word of God isn’t enough for one’s salvation. When the word of God comes to us, it doesn’t work independently of our heart’s disposition. For the word of God to benefit us, it must be mixed with our faith. This means putting complete confidence in what God says and making choices consistent with such confidence.

BlessingMay the Lord surround you with favor as with a shield. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyMatthew 13:1-23 and Numbers 14:1-38

Miracles Are Born, When Faith Is Conceived

Daily Devotional|Day 256

“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’ Immediately her fountain of blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction” (Mark 5:27-29, NKJV).

Miracles are born when faith is conceived. Faith is a simple thing. Miracles are simple, too. When you have faith, you will have a corresponding assurance in your heart that what you believe shall happen. The life of Jesus shows us how different people experienced miracles in their lives through faith. In nearly all cases, it was a simple thing. Where miracles happened, most of the time Jesus was actively doing something (laying hands, for example) for the people who needed help. In today’s story, however, we have a different scenario. A woman came in quietly and received her healing miracle before anyone knew it. Let’s break down what happened. We will learn that miracles are born when faith is conceived.

 In the story, we will identify four (4) related stages in the woman’s miraculous experience and apply them to our lives:

1. Hearing: The woman had suffered hemorrhage for twelve years. She had spent all her money on different physicians but her situation only got worse (Mark 5:25-26). Mark tells us that this woman heard about Jesus. Whatever she heard must have been encouraging/good news. Let’s pause for a moment. The Bible says, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17; see also Galatians 3:2-5). This was the first stage. The woman heard.

2. Believing: When the woman heard the good news about Jesus, she moved to the next stage. She believed. Believed what? She believed that it was a simple thing for Jesus to restore her also. Many people hear good things about Jesus, but not everyone believes Him. When you hear the Word of God, it generates faith in you. But it is up to you to take advantage of what you’ve heard and cling to it with unwavering faith. When you arrive at this point, you won’t see limitations. You will see possibilities.

3. Seeing: When you truly believe the Lord will do something you desire, you will naturally ‘see’ yourself already in possession of the thing you desire. When the woman believed, she said to herself, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” When you look carefully at this statement, you will notice that the woman ‘saw’ herself healed. She ‘saw’ the result she desired before it manifested physically. The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The woman’s healing was invisible at that time, but she ‘saw’ healing because that is the nature of faith. Before something is visible to the naked eye, faith can ‘see’ it and capture an image of it. 

4. Acting: Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). The woman’s faith was not passive. She didn’t just believe and sit back, hoping something will happen. She acted upon her faith. She conceived the idea that if she touched the clothes of Jesus, she would be healed. And she did exactly that. She acted on the ‘faith image’ in her heart. It was a simple thing; touch Jesus’ clothes. She laid aside all excuses, searched for Jesus, located Him, came behind Him and touched His clothes. And, bam!! Immediately, the flow of blood dried up.

 Miracles are born, when faith is conceived. Understand how faith works. When you want something from God, it’s a simple thing. Just hear and believe His word about that situation. When your faith is alive, naturally, you will ‘see’ yourself in possession of what you believe. Finally, act and speak in a manner that is consistent with what you believe.

And may the Lord be gracious unto you! Amen.

For further studyHebrews 11:1-29

3 Keys to Understanding the Bible

Daily Devotion|Day 240

“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45, NKJV).

God wants you to understand His Word. Why? Because your life depends on understanding it. God made sure His word was written down so that we would have an easy, accessible reference for our salvation. When Jesus rose from the dead, one of the problems He dealt with was His disciples’ lack of understanding of the Scriptures. He, therefore, took time to teach them at length from the Scriptures. More importantly, He opened their understanding. Jesus knows that understanding the Scriptures is vital. Today, let’s look at three simple ways to can grow in our understanding of the Scriptures.

1. Consult the Author: The Holy Spirit is the divine author of the Scriptures. He is the Spirit of Truth who will you into all truth (cf. John 16:13). The Bible is His work. He is your most important Bible Teacher. Speak to Him often and ask Him to open your understanding. He will show you great things in the Word. Develop fellowship with Him. Depend on Him to grant you illumination. You will be glad you did.

2. Be curious: Jesus said, “Seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). You will seek something if you are motivated. This is where you need to be curious. Curiosity leads you to search and ask questions. And as you search, God is faithful to point you to the truths of His word. Follow up on things that strike you. Read some commentaries to broaden your perspective.

3. Observe the details.  Details matter. The Bible contains the living words of God. Every detail in it is vital. When you read a Bible passage, pay attention to details such as names, places, events, sequence, numbers, gender, and repeated words or phrases. Note the details, and you will better understand what God is communicating.

In all things, however, your best aid for understanding the Scriptures is fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 119:33-56

Power in the Seed

Daily Devotional | Day 237

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11, NKJV).

One of Jesus’ famous parables is the Parable of the Sower. In today’s opening passage, Jesus tells us that the seed in the parable is the word of God. The Lord reveals an amazing truth about His word. And that is, God’s word is functions as a seed. It possesses the characteristics of a seed. Every seed in life produces fruit of its kind. Apple seed produces apple fruit; tomato seed produces tomato fruit; grape seed produces grape fruit, etc. Every good thing in an apple is programmed into the apple seed. The same applies to all seed bearing plants. The principle is simple: Sow the seed and the fruit shall follow.

The word of God is the vehicle of creationIt contains the answer to every problem. It contains the divine program for all life. Every blessing God has for you is contained in the seed of His word. No wonder the devil doesn’t want God’s word to take root in people: “Those by the wayside are those who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12).

Seek the word of God and give it a place in your heart. The answers you seek are in the word. The fruit you want to see in your life (whatever it is) is in the seed. Get hold of the seed. When you get the seed in you it will do what the word was sent to do. Take care of the seed, and it will take care of you. Discover the power in the seed of God’s word.

May the Lord command His blessing upon you and your household. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyIsaiah 55:10-13 and Luke 8:4-15