Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Know your mother and throw out the other. Stop trying to earn your way, and start enjoying your way to heaven.

Mary Hickey talks about the time when she was expecting her first baby. Then, a six-year-old neighbor girl was particularly curious. She wanted to see the baby furniture and hear her list of possible names.

When she asked where the baby was, Mary was a walking show-and-tell even at four months. But then the six-year-old asked Mary the question that probably had been foremost in her mind: “How did the baby get in there?”

Mary replied, “I think you'd better ask your mother about that.”

“Oh, I tried that,” the little girl confessed. “Nobody in my family knows!” (Mary L. Hickey, Kirkersville, Ohio, Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom”; www.PreachingToday.com)

It’s certainly important for young people to know, at the appropriate time, the facts of their physical birth. But it’s even more important for us followers of Christ to know the facts of our spiritual birth. It’s important, because that determines whether we live our lives in freedom or in bondage. So, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Galatians 4, Galatians 4, where God’s Word presents the facts of our spiritual birth.

Galatians 4:21-23 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. (ESV)

The first book of the Law, the book of Genesis, makes it very clear that Abraham had two children with two different mothers. One was a slave. Her name was Hagar, and she gave birth to Ishmael. The other mother was free. Her name was Sarah, and she gave birth to Isaac.

Now, in Bible days, the status of the mother determined the status of her children. If the mother was a slave, then her children were slaves, even if their father was a king. On the other hand, if the mother was free, then her children were free, even if their father was a slave.

So, spiritually speaking, who is YOUR mother? Is she a slave or is she free?

Abraham had two different children with two different mother, and these two children had two different methods of birth. They were born in two different ways. Hagar, the slave’s son was born “according to the flesh” (vs.23). And Sarah, the free-woman’s son was born “through promise,” i.e., through a miracle.

God had promised Abraham and Sarah many descendants, as many as the stars in the heavens, but nothing was happening over the years. Abraham and Sarah were growing old, and still they didn’t have even one son, much less “many descendants.”

So when Abraham turned 85 years old and Sarah turned 75, they decided to help God out. By their own efforts, in their own flesh, they were going to secure God’s promised blessing. Sarah gave her slave-girl, Hagar, to Abraham as his second wife, and they had a son in the ordinary way. Ishmael was born according to the flesh, as a result of a man trying to get God’s promised blessing through his own human efforts.

But instead of a blessing, they got trouble. Hagar began to despise Sarah, and Sarah flew into a rage. Their home was thrown into turmoil, which still continues today, 4,000 years later, in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

My friends, that’s what happens when we try to secure God’s blessings through our own human efforts. We only make a mess of things.

When Paul Harvey was on the radio, he talked about a sign that he once saw at a service station many years ago. It read, Labor: $10 per hour. If you watch, $12 per hour. If you help, $15 per hour. If you worked on it first & then brought it in, $27.50 per hour.

Today, such a sign would read about 5 times as much, but I think you get the picture. When an amateur tries to help a professional out, it only makes things worse.

So it is when we try to help God out. When we seek to secure God’s promised blessings through our own human efforts, we don’t get blessed; we get trouble.

That’s what happened to Abraham. His own human efforts to secure God’s promised blessing only brought trouble to his family.

Even so, 15 years later, when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90, God did a miracle. By His grace, God caused a 90-year-old woman to conceive, and Isaac was born, not in the ordinary way, not according to the flesh or any human effort, but as a result of a promise. God simply kept His word and allowed Sarah to conceive, even though Abraham and Sarah were “as good as dead” according to Romans 4:19.

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