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Ishmael vs. Isaac, Part 1 (cont'd)

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
September 30, 2020 8:00 am

Ishmael vs. Isaac, Part 1 (cont'd)

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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September 30, 2020 8:00 am

Developing a healthy appreciation for our spiritual leaders. Lessons Paul helps us draw from contrasting Ishmael with Isaac.

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As long as you are trying to observe the law, as long as you are trying to be justified by your own strength and power, you will never be able to access the grace of God that will allow you to live in the freedom God has ordained for your life. The Old Testament law was given to us for many reasons. One of them was this, to show us how badly we needed a Savior. Hello and thanks for stopping by for today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd.

What was true 10,000 years ago is still true today. We cannot earn salvation by behaving well. We cannot forfeit salvation by behaving badly.

God wants to move upon our hearts to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Well, today Pastor Paul takes us back to the story of Ishmael and Isaac to remind us that our salvation does not come by our own might or power, but by the Holy Spirit. Stay right here or download the podcast on demand at, at Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And stay tuned after the message when Pastor Paul joins me in the studio. But first, let's join him for today's Destined for Victory message, Ishmael versus Isaac. Imagine a childless man being told that through your seed, all the nations of the world are going to be blessed.

I want you to just walk with me. I'm going to establish my covenant with you and your descendants and through you all of the nations of the world are going to be blessed. You say, well, what's the problem? He's childless then, but he can have a kid. When God is speaking to him, he's already an old man. And his wife is 10 years younger than him, but she's old too.

She's old, he's older. They are past childbearing years. And they would have assumed if they were going to have kids, they'd have had them a long time ago. In fact, at one point in their conversation, Abram said to God, somewhere in those chapters beginning in Genesis 12 and proceeding, he said to him, you have not blessed us with children. Lord, in other words, we were regular married folk, what have you, but we did not have children.

You know, sometimes God will shut doors and close opportunities in your life for his own purpose. And for all of their normal childbearing years, they were unable to have children. But now he's in his 80s, his wife is in her 70s and God says, through your seed, I'm going to bless the whole world and they have no children. So if you read down further, when you get down into Genesis 16, this promise has been spoken into their lives. They've been following God, but they say, well, you know what, God sounded serious. So we better get down to the business of having this baby. And that's where his wife said, well, I don't know how God plans on doing it, but I know how he's not going to do it.

I know I'm in my mid 70s, I am unable to help you. I understand you and God had a talk and all, but I am unable to help you. But look at her diligence. She is so willing to be part of what God has been saying. She believes her husband has heard from God and she is willing to be part of it.

But they don't have a framework for faith that takes you past what you can understand. So she's assuming I'm out of the running, God must mean somebody else. In their culture, it was possible for a woman to have as her maidservants persons who if she allowed them to get impregnated by her husband, the child would actually be credited to the woman of the house. So she says, I think I know what God wants to do. I believe I am to give you Hagar, my young Egyptian handmade servant, and I will give her to you as a wife for the purposes of procreation and then I will build a family through her.

That's what Sarah says. Now God didn't say that, but that was the result of her assuming I'm out of the running, so that must be God's way. They didn't realize if God wanted that, he'd have said that. He'd have said, you know, in nice good King James English, thou shalt take unto thyself Hagar.

I shall build a family for Sarah through Hagar. If God meant that, he'd have said it. He was specific about everything else. At one point he told Abraham, look up in the sky.

See all those stars, that's how your seed's going to be. God was very specific with him, so he wouldn't have left out of detail like that. But you know, unbelief does some funny things in your mind. And they decided that apparently God's going to do it this way. And so Sarah gave this young pretty Egyptian woman, the Bible doesn't say she's pretty, but she had to be cute.

This young Egyptian woman put her in Abraham's arms for the purposes of procreation. That is a woman who is really seeking to bring God's will to pass even though she lacks personal faith to do it. That's some diligence.

Let me prove how diligent that is. You wives, how many of y'all are so anxious to see God's will come to pass that you're going to take some younger woman, put her in your husband's arms. I'm taking us back to that culture now. It doesn't apply. Men, don't get happy. It doesn't apply to our culture.

Don't get happy now. Let me clarify this. Oh, see, pastor said that that's still going on today.

No, I did not. No threesomes in the kingdom. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. Need to help y'all.

Y'all go out here and misrepresent what I said. Go home, tell your wife, baby, I know we've been trying to have a child. But wives, think about it now. How many of you, even in that day, would have just taken a younger woman, put her in your husband's arms? Sisters would have been like, please.

He better go somewhere to an adoption agency. I know that. You wouldn't have done that. That is completely against every instinct. But that's how anxious she was to be part of what God was doing in their lives. But the fact is, that was not God's will. Well, long story short, she does it. And it's so interesting when you read in Genesis 16 where this is occurring, this is her idea.

And the Bible says Abraham goes along with her idea. I'm sure I can imagine Abraham getting real clear up front. You know how, you know, in marriage counseling, sometimes the counselors will tell you, now what you need to learn to do is listen more actively to each other.

And so I want one to express your desires and what you want your spouse to hear and get from them. And then after they speak, then the counselor will say, okay, now I want you to speak back and echo, so to make sure that you heard it. And you know, that's one of the techniques. And perhaps Abraham said, okay, now baby, I think I hear you saying that you say it's okay for Hagar to marry me for the purposes of procreation so that God's will can be done.

Is that what I'm hearing you say? But he got it straight. That's what his wife meant. And it works, apparently. They get pregnant.

Now here's the point. The moment that happened, Paul points out when he's writing the Galatians, the proof that it wasn't God's will is that that first child that Abraham had through Hagar was a child he had with a slave. And the second one, the child of promise that comes years later, is a child with a free woman. He says you all should have known from redemptive history that God is not trying to bind us in any form of slavery. God saves us to free us to live the life he has ordained us to live. You are not to be bound by trying to observe the law, trying to make God promises, trying to get your act together.

God knew you couldn't get your act together. So he didn't birth you into the kingdom through a slave. He birthed you into the kingdom through Isaac, who was the son of a free woman. So Paul's first point in this section is that Christ offers us freedom, not slavery.

That's the point he's trying to make. Christ offers us freedom, not slavery. If you are moving more and more into slavery into a have to kind of mentality, you're not understanding that God has a plan and purpose for your life that is not called to bind you and to restrict anything good in your life.

It is freeing you to accept God's best in your life. So he illustrates it first by saying, notice that the first child who was not the son of promise came through a slave woman, meaning he would be a slave, she would always be a slave. Now look at the context. Hagar is Sarah's maidservant. She is her servant.

She is her slave. She only got to have this child by Sarah's permission. And it's so funny because in Genesis 16, once she knows she's pregnant, she got funny with Sarah. She started feeling her oats. Once she knew she's pregnant, maybe starting to show a little bit, feeling good about herself. And the Bible says she messed around and started despising her mistress.

Bad idea because you're a slave. So Sarah went to Abram and said, this is your fault. Right there, Genesis 16. This is your fault. Abraham said, now see, I tried. I tried to not let this happen.

He didn't know how he got blamed, but it's right there. She said, this is your fault. And she said, may the Lord judge between you and me. And Abram knew not to fight. Wise husbands, at a certain point in your marriage, you learn to quit trying to fight those battles. At a certain point, surrender is your best bet.

Abram didn't try to fight that battle. He did what any wise husband would do. He said, all right, baby. That's the Paul Shepherd version of the Bible. All right, baby. It's in your hands.

Do with her whatever you will. Sarah said, that's what I'm talking about. We're coming right back with more of today's Destined for Victory message from Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Listen to the broadcasts on demand at

That's, where you'll find a host of great resources in our online store. As long as we try to justify ourselves through the law, we diminish the work of Christ on the cross and rob ourselves of His grace. Here's Pastor Paul with the rest of today's Destined for Victory message, Ishmael versus Isaac. And the Bible says she began to mistreat Hagar until Hagar ran away, went out in the wilderness. The Lord had to go track her down. It's right there in your Bible. I tell you, you all need to read your Bible.

I'm serious. The Lord tracked her down. And He said, Where have you come from and where are you going? And she said, I'm running from my mistress.

She's mistreating me. And I love God. When we're at our worst, He's still faithful. He said, I want you to go back and submit to her. And then He gave her a promise. He said, I'm going to bless you. I'm going to bless your child, too.

But right now, I want you to go back and submit. And she went on back and behaved herself. Paul's point in bringing that up in Galatians is, she was a slave, was always going to be nothing but a slave. You've got to understand that Christ offers us freedom, not slavery. As long as you are trying to observe the law, as long as you are trying to be justified by your own strength and power, you will never be able to access the grace of God that will allow you to live in the freedom God has ordained for your life. In fact, Paul gives a very descriptive explanation of what happens when you and I, in our own power, try to obey God and try to do the things that we believe God wants us to do, but we're trying to do them in our own strength.

Look at how he describes it when he writes the church in Rome. Romans chapter 7, beginning with verse 14, here's how he describes you living in spiritual slavery. He says, we know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as, watch this, a slave to sin. Before you get saved, you're a slave to sin.

What does that mean? That means that you are alienated from God, don't have the life of God in you, so the only thing you can do is sin. That's why when the Bible says all of us have sinned, don't take it personally like it's speaking so much about your lifestyle. It's speaking more about what your lifestyle is emanating from.

It's talking about the root, not just the fruit. All of us have the root of sin in our lives. Sin expresses itself in different ways in our lives, but we all have the same problem. We're slaves, Paul said, to sin. That's why we all need a savior. He goes on to say, Romans 7, 15, I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. You ever been there? Oh, come on, I know you got your big Bible, but come on, let's be honest for a minute.

You ever been there? Paul said, when you are a slave to sin, even if you have now accepted Christ as savior, until you learn how to live the life of faith, where you can tap into God's power and provision for your life, all you can do is come right back to the same old sinful patterns. He said, and I'm finding this curious thing that I now want to do certain things, but I don't have the power to do them.

He says, and I'm also finding that things I really want to avoid, things I hate, I find myself doing. And you've been there, we've all been there, after receiving Christ, realizing that it's not just a magic wand of having come to Christ, that's the first necessary step. But now I have to learn how to live the life of faith because the power to do right will never reside in me. Get what Paul's saying, the power to live right, and God does call us to live right, is a power that never resides in you, it only resides in the Christ who lives in you.

So you have to learn to walk the walk of faith, and he's going to get into more detail as he takes us further in Galatians and talk about walking in or living by the Spirit. Because if you and I don't live by the Spirit, we have no power to live right. We have no power to be the people God wants us to be. We are slaves to sin unless the Lord himself lives his life through us. So Paul is making the point by using this Sarah Hagar and Ishmael Isaac analogy, he's using the point that if God had allowed Hagar and her son Ishmael to live and never bring the promise forth, we would have all stayed slaves in sin.

Because there's no hope within ourselves. Paul says in one place here in Romans 7, in me that is in my flesh dwells no good thing. Do you know that your flesh isn't getting saved?

Paul called it in Romans 8, he says it is enmity against God, it is the enemy of God and always will be. If you are left to your own devices, if I am left to my own devices, we will never accomplish the will of God. So the Lord didn't save us according to the flesh, he saved us by the power of the Spirit.

What did he do? Instead of allowing redemptive history to come through Ishmael, a child of the flesh, he waited. When Ishmael was born, Abraham was 86, Sarah was 76. The next time they hear from God, Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 89. 13 years since they didn't pass the first test of faith, God let a lot of time pass. He just said nothing for a long period. Because he wanted to show them what I'm going to do has got to be something that is impossible to you.

It would have been hard at 76. But now that you're pushing 90 Sarah, now that you quit all that cackling, you know because at one point it talks about her laughing. So Abraham laughed at first and then later on you see in Genesis, Sarah cracked up at the thought that she was going to have a child. When she got through with all that laughing, God said, now if you're ready, now don't fool with me this time because I'll push you up to about 110.

That's the clear impression I get when I read it. God's like, all right, now don't you all fool with me. If you're ready now, we're going to get this done. And that second time they believed God. Now bring in some little cute young folk. No, no, this is going to be a work of God from start to finish.

Guess what? What the Lord has for your life and mine is going to be a work of God from start to finish. He doesn't need you inserting yourself at any point. All we're called to do is obey him. All we're called to do is walk with him.

All we're called to do is keep our focus on him. As soon as you get your focus off God, you'll begin to sink back in to your old ways. You know seniority doesn't count in the kingdom? Well, I've been saved 40 years. You can mess up in your 40th year being saved.

It has nothing to do with longevity. Your flesh isn't getting saved. Your flesh is always enmity against God. The key to living in the freedom God has ordained for our lives is to walk in the Spirit, to follow God, to put our trust in him, to empty ourselves of trust in us. God wouldn't trust me to live right. That's why Jesus came.

Because it's not about trust. It's about without the life of God, I have no ability to show the character of God. It's not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord. Many will come preaching a different gospel, but as Jesus said, you can know the truth and the truth will set you free. Thanks for joining us for today's message, Ishmael versus Isaac. Before we wrap up things on today's Destined for Victory, Pastor Paul has joined me from his studio in California. Pastor, we're encouraged that listenership seems to be up. People are turning to Christian radio, turning to Destined for Victory for answers to the hope they've been seeking. That's encouraging. I'm so grateful to know that that's happening.

People really are tuning in. We heard not long ago from a person who is sort of proudly an agnostic, but it gives us an opportunity to simply share the faith. I'm not an expert apologist. I try to learn as much as I can to defend the faith intelligently. But the one thing I rely on is the power of the Holy Spirit as he simply lets me share the testimony God's given me that in the midst of times like these, we have hope. Our hope is not in circumstances. Our hope is firmly rooted in Christ himself. He is our hope. And I want to encourage people, just put your trust in him.

You will never go wrong if you do. Thanks, Pastor Paul. I'm reminded of Hebrews 10, verse 23. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. You know, there's a growing number of people who not only need to hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they want to hear it.

And you can help through your prayers and financial support to Destined for Victory. When you give your generous gift today, we'd love to send you by request a study guide from InterVarsity Press called Fruit of the Spirit. The Book of Galatians lists nine qualities that make up the fruit of the Spirit, and this outstanding resource will walk you through all of them.

It's a great way to find out where your strengths and weaknesses may be so that you can go out and bear fruit in the lives of those around you. That's Fruit of the Spirit, and this is the final day of this offer, so request it today for your generous gift to Destined for Victory. Just call us at 855-339-5500, or visit to make a safe and secure donation online. You can also mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538.

Again, the address, Destined for Victory, Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538. Sometimes God will let your situation go from bad to worse before he comes through, because he wants you to be absolutely convinced that when he comes through, it had to be God. That's next time in Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, Ishmael versus Isaac. Until then, remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-05 14:32:33 / 2024-02-05 14:41:23 / 9

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