Laughing at God is probably not the most respectful way to react when God comes with a message. Sarah thought it was quiet funny to hear that she was going to have a baby when she was already an old woman. With all the logic and reasoning she could muster, all she could do was see the humor in it and laugh. Others might have cried after waiting so long to have a child. There were probably many times in her life and during her marriage that she had felt like a failure. She had failed to provide a child, especially a son, to her faithful and fine husband Abraham.
Laughing is what we sophisticated people often do when we hear something unbelievable. It is certainly not a sign that we are taking the matter seriously. It is a lack of faith. God “straightened” Sarah out a bit when He said ““Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-14)
Sarah failed to realize that when logic and reasoning say God can’t, it is God that smiles and says “Oh yea, I’ll show you!” It was God who got the last laugh when Sarah at the age of ninety-one had a son.
When God makes a promise, He will fulfill it. There are no miracles too small or too great for God. We are blessed to know that God loves us and will hear our prayers. Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Instead of laughing or showing our incredulity let us rediscover and strengthen our faith, knowing that God is still able and will deliver us in His time.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is truly an odd one. We have the twin cities standing during Abraham’s time as terrible symbols of rebellious sins against God. The Lord said “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,”. (Genesis 18:20) He was speaking to Abraham and informed him that He was about to bring destruction on them. Abraham would plead before the Lord, who informed Abraham that He would not destroy the cities if He found at least ten righteous men. History would show that ten were not found. (Genesis 18:32)
Later the Angels would appear to Lot and his family, who lived in Sodom to warn them so that they could flee. The men of the city were so depraved that they demanded to have the Angels to satisfy their sexual hunger. (Genesis 19:5-4) Fortunately the Angels blinded the men before they could cause any harm.
When the morning came Lot and his family fled the city. They had been warned not to look back. It is a message that still speaks to us.
God desires a better life for us and demands that we flee from evil and sin. He demands that we remove them from our lives and distance ourselves as much as possible from their temptations. However evil and sin seem to have a bizarre hold on us even when we see their evil faces. Such was the case of Lot’s wife.
Lot’s wife ignored the warning and longing looked back and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) Perhaps she truly did not want to leave this evil city and was already thinking of all the many wonderful things she was leaving behind. In our lives we must push on, looking forward to the promises of Christ, our eternal future with Him and the many blessings of our new life with Him. We must contemplate on that which is good and resist longing for those things we left in our sinful past.
Later, at my church at around 2 pm we will be celebrating life; a brand new life in Christ. Thirteen newly committed Christians who have made a decision for Christ will be baptized. This is a life paid for by Christ and it was a heavy price of pain, torture and blood. But why do Christians get baptized?
The simple answer is that Jesus commanded us to be baptized. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus tells his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” But why did Jesus instruct us to baptize new believers?
Jesus made a commitment to come to this world, and gave his life in the most horrific and public way possible. He suffered the crucifixion and the entire world witnessed. When we give our life to Christ He wants us to also make that commitment in a public way for the world to see that we are his disciples and now He is our Lord.
Romans 6 helps to explain that the baptism also provides a powerful visual of how our old life without Christ is put to death in the water and when we rise out of the water we are now starting a new life with Christ. It is also a powerful reminder that like Christ we will be resurrected and live forever with Him.
Our new life is certainly an abundant eternal one and we will celebrate!
If we were arrested unjustly, stripped, beaten, made fun of, whipped until our skin was ripped from our bodies, and had the strength to speak, what would we say? What if after losing a great deal of blood, we were made to climb up a hill, and nailed to a cross, what would we say? Perhaps we would cry for mercy. Another logical response is to exclaim our innocence. We might have enough energy or voice to condemn those who tortured. Now imagine if for some magical reason we all of a sudden had the power to escape. All the pain could end suddenly. All the wounds healed and we could reappear in paradise. What would we do? What if we had the power to get immediate revenge? We could zap to death all those responsible for our capture and pain.
Jesus went through everything mentioned above. He had the power to stop the pain anytime he wanted to. He had the power to destroy his enemies with just a simple word. The Mountains would have certainly obeyed and swallowed them all, the seas could have been commanded to come upon them or a legion of Angels would have defended him. But Jesus did none of these. He certainly could have condemned the soldiers responsible for his torture. But Jesus spoke no such words. Instead these were the first words he uttered on the cross “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
This is truly the loving God that did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it. (John 3:17) While going through all that pain and injustice all he thought of was mercy. Mercy was his mission and purpose. It is the reason why he gave his life. It was the price paid for our sins; that we might be saved from eternal condemnation. He is still saying “Father forgive them”. All can be forgiven, all we need to do is believe in Christ as our Savior and Lord, and repent of our sins.
Two thousand years ago a prophet came out of Galilee and into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. A multitude praised Him shouting
“Hosannato the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosannain the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9)
They were looking and hoping for a Savior. Hosanna meant save us and praise. They wanted someone who would break the Roman hold on their nation and establish a new and greater kingdom of Israel. He was supposed to be the fulfillment of all prophesies. His name was Jesus!
Soon after his entrance he was rejected by the masses, arrested and accused unjustly and sentenced to be crucified. He was whipped, beaten, spat upon and nailed to a cross. Many assumed this could not be the true Messiah. The liberation from Rome did not happen.
What many failed to see was the sacrificial lamb. For Isaiah had Prophesied the coming messiah, but the picture was in stark contrast to the expected conquering hero Messiah. The messiah Isaiah wrote about in chapter 53 is a suffering one, who volunteered to give his life for all humanity.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Later Isaiah the prophet said,
“For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death,” (Isaiah 53:8-9)
Isaiah wrote these words 800 years before Jesus ever set foot in Jerusalem. Jesus came and fulfilled every prophecy. He was indeed stricken, beaten for our sins. He was killed along with criminals and yet was buried in a rich man’s tomb just as it is written in Isaiah. Jesus did conquer the greatest enemies, sin and death. He made a way for all to be saved. All that is required is that we believe. (John 3:16)
Hannah was a tortured woman, who was ridiculed by her husband’s other wife. She suffered one of the great disgraces of her time, she was barren. Her rival, Peninnah, had many sons and daughters and often took the opportunity to ridicule her. Why do some feel the need to elevate themselves by putting down others? Hannah had no other recourse but to end her days in tears and would even go without eating. The bible makes it clear that she suffered this abuse for years. (1 Samuel 1:1-7) There are times when we too suffer under hardships for years. We may even begin to doubt God.
Since the bible doesn’t say, it is possible that Hannah had previously not presented this most horrific problem to our Lord. How sad when we believers do not trust in God to care for our needs. Finally after years Hannah is seen praying to God in supplication. She is heartbroken and can’t take it anymore. (1 Samuel 1:10) This is the moment when we are all forced to turn to God. God never fails. He hears her prayers and many months later she gives birth to one of Israel’s greatest men, Samuel. Hannah was faithful to God and dedicated Samuel to His service. (1 Samuel 1:27-28) He became the High Priest, a judge, a prophet, and anointer of kings; the only man recorded to hold all four positions. Not a single criticism would be written of this great man.
Suffering for years under hardships is unfortunately part of the human experience but it is awesome to know that God is faithful, and if we call upon Him he will answer. Hannah, in addition may have failed to come to God quickly with her plea. We must not wait to call upon God. The reasons for this failure may be multiple. Sometime we may believe that we are not important to God or perhaps it is our pride that causes us to carry our burden alone. But God is faithful and is overjoyed to see his people turn to Him in faith. Do not wait to present your condition to the Lord; believe in Him who can do all things.
The mighty warrior Joshua was in the midst of a great campaign in the promise land seizing territories and completing God’s plan; however he experienced a minor setback. The city Ai defeated him. This really seemed to shake Joshua who was not used to defeat. Scripture relates that he “tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening”. (Joshua 7:6) Then he did what all wise men do who fear the Lord, he prayed and pleaded before God.
God provided all the wisdom Joshua would need. Not exactly what a confident and independent generation wants to hear. It wasn’t that Joshua did it his way. His wisdom came from God. God’s plan was to coax the army of Ai out of the city and with a strategically placed ambush, take the city and destroy its army. Simple enough and yet like Joshua we often do not see the solution to our challenges until we humbly present them to the Lord.
Joshua set 30,000 men behind the city and told them to wait patiently. He then led 5,000 men against the city. When the army of Ai came against them, Joshua and his men fled. Every last soldier in Ai abandoned the city to chase Joshua. The 30,000 who were waiting in ambush entered the city and torched it. Now those chasing Joshua looked back to see their city in flames. They turned and tried their best to take back the city. But now their own defenses could be used against them by the Israelite Army that occupied the city. In addition they had Joshua and his 5,000 to deal with. The Army of Ai was sandwiched between both forces and was completely destroyed.(Joshua 8:10-22)
Sometimes no matter how much success we have, life can present unexpected setbacks. We need not to give up. We should do like Joshua. Not that we should tear our clothes! Clothes can be expensive, and if made well, difficult to tear anyway. However we should present our challenges and difficulties before the Lord and trust that He will give us the wisdom to be victorious.