The Salvation of Souls and What Happens Next?

salvationGenesis 23: 1 Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. Genesis 24:1 Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.Genesis 25:1 Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

Salvation through the Old Testament

This week our focus has been on Genesis 23, 24, and 25.  These three chapters are known as “Chai Sarah” or The Life of Sarah.  Interestingly enough, these three chapters tell us about the death of Sarah and the death of Abraham, so why then would this portion be called “The Life of Sarah?”

Sarah was a godly woman.  Scripture and the sages tell us that God dwelled in Sarah’s tent.  Sarah was a good wife.  We learned previously through Abimelech restoring her to the holy space of wife, that this position is worthy of protection.  Women, if you are a wife, you are walking in a holy space and you need to guard the boundaries around that space.  If someone is flirting with you, remind them that you are a married woman, and leave NO room for misinterpretation!  Another way that you can guard this space is by honoring your husband!  Show your husband respect, teach your children to show your husband respect, and others will give him the respect he deserves.  Pray for your husband.  Just as I told husband’s yesterday to cover their wives in prayer as Isaac did for Rebekah, wives, you are to cover your husband in prayer.  This is an act of love.  This is one way you are his help mate.

We then looked at Abraham’s death.  Abraham was a righteous man.  Scripture tells us he was a man of few words, but his actions of loving kindness did all of the speaking.  He lived his testimony of God, and others came into relationship with God because of the way he lived his life.  He was a good husband, even though his fear allowed him to put Sarah is some precarious situations, He trusted God to protect her and himself.  He tried to raise his sons in the ways of God.  Ishmael was rebellious and ran towards the idolatry of his mother’s people.  Isaac was the promised son.  He followed his father’s leading in the ways of the Lord.

What do these chapters have to do with salvation though?  We learned through the Binding of Isaac, that Abraham trusted God enough to provide a sacrifice that he was willing to take Isaac to the place God showed him and offer him as a sacrifice. Not only did Abraham trust God enough, but Isaac did not protest once he learned that he was going to be the sacrifice.  He was willing to be that sacrifice!  Of course, God was just testing Abraham, and he did provide another sacrifice.  Abraham and Isaac’s willingness concerning this sacrifice offered salvation to all Jewish people.  Isaac was a foreshadowing of Christ.  I am in no way saying that Isaac was the Messiah for the Jewish people, just that his willingness to be sacrificed is comparable to that of Jesus.  Scripture tells us that we will know the end in the beginning.  I believe this.  We must take the Bible as a whole.  The Old Testament: Torah, the prophets, and all that is contained in it, is a foundation for The New Testament!  We must have that foundation!

We can learn from Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, Isaac, and Rebekah how to live a life which brings others into relationship with God!  We do not have to be eloquent speakers, our actions can speak so much better than our voices.

Loving Kindness

practice-loving-kindness-cropped-resizedphoto credit http://katytaylor.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/practice-loving-kindness-cropped-resized.jpg

How do we practice loving kindness?  How can our actions speak louder than our words?  Give out of your need not your abundance, whether it is prayer, financial blessings,  comfort, encouragement, or hope.

21:1 But before God healed Avimelech and the members of his household, God had already remembered Sarah as He had said to Abraham that he would: 59 she became pregnantThis is indeed the rule: when someone needs something and prays for that same thing for someone else, God provides his needs first.And God did for Sarah as He had spoken to Abraham:60 she bore a sonThe Lubavitcher Rebbe

Abraham showed loving kindness to everyone, Abimelech, Lot, he even prayed God’s mercy over Sodom.  Others were blessed through his prayers and actions.  He and Sarah balanced one another.  She representing the physical body and he was representing the soul.  He mourned for her (his body) when she died.  And he purchased her burial site because holy spaces come with a cost.  He was blessed because of his godliness, his righteousness.  He did not try to force God on anyone.  He remembered the importance of choice! God gives us all a choice on whether or not to come into relationship with him. He did not point out their flaws and mistakes, he did not judge them, he LOVED them.

As we learned with Isaac and his children, sometimes we have to take a different approach.

The names of both patriarchs mentioned in this verse each appear twice; these four mentions allude to the four types of motivation to fulfill God’s will:

  • Isaac (severity/fear): doing God’s will out of fear—either out of fear of punishment or out of fear of the spiritual defilement caused by sin. This is referred to as the lower level of fear (yirah tata’ah).
  • [Son of] Abraham (kindness/love): doing God’s will and loving Him in order to receive material or spiritual reward. This is called “small love” (ahavahzuta).
  • Abraham: doing God’s will and loving God without regard for reward. This is called “great love” (ahavah rabbah).
  • [was the father of] Isaac: doing God’s will out of a humility born of the awareness of God’s loftiness and infinite greatness. On this level, one is not motivated by fear of the repercussions of contravening God’s will but rather by revulsion at the very act of contravening the will of the infinite God. This is the higher level of fear (yirah ila’ah). This level transcends the level of “great love,” since in the latter, some vestige of the self that experiences love remains. In this fourth and highest level, we have risen to a state of true selflessness.

The sequence in which Abraham and Isaac’s names are mentioned reflects the order in which we climb the ladder of spiritual development, first serving God out of self-interest 8 and eventually maturing to a relationship built on self-transcendence.

We tend to limit our relationship with God to being either love-based or fear-based, since we all possess a natural propensity toward one or the other. This verse teaches us that as heirs of Abraham and Isaac, we are both able and obligated to fulfill God’s will out of all four levels of motivation, regardless of our natural predisposition.9 – The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Discipleship

Discipleship or self signOnce someone comes into a relationship with God, what do we do?  Is our work done?  Do we leave them alone to learn on their own?  No.  We do not abandon them.  We kind of wrap them in swaddling clothes to show that they are not abandoned and love on them.  Now, each person has a different perspective on what this looks like.  One thing I have heard a LOT recently is “Christians seem so judgmental!  They are quick to point what they think I am doing wrong.”  This judgmental mentality had its place in history, but let me tell you: Church, you win more flies with honey than you do with vinegar!  What if someone went around pointing out all of our mistakes, or judged each thing we did?  Does it bring life and encouragement to you? NO!  We sometimes try to change everyone and we don’t even know what they should change into!  Scripture tells us that we do not know the difference in a blessing and a curse!  And remember, Paul was a murderer before he started following Christ!  What if people kept throwing those past mistakes up in his face?  What if Jesus kept telling him, “You murdered all those people!”  Do you think he would have followed him long?  I think not!  I caution you, don’t get caught up in the judgment trap.  You will be judged the same way you judge others.

Last year I went over the road with my husband for about four months.  I encountered many people with many needs.  I didn’t have a lot to offer them as we weren’t being properly paid for the work being done, but I could share what food I had in the truck with us, I could offer what little I had.  My heart broke for these people and I helped in any way I could.  I was sharing this experience with someone and they said, “Well, you don’t know if they truly have that need or if they will spend the money on alcohol or what!  I don’t know if you should help people like that!”  All I could say to her was this, “It doesn’t matter what they do with the money or the food.  God didn’t ask me to dictate to them what to do with what was offered, He asked me to meet the need before me!”  Too often we may want to help others, but we want to do it with limitations attached to it such as, “I will offer you this ______________, but you have to use it like this ______________…”  I don’t think that’s right.  I think it can hurt the message of love you are trying to show them.  God loves us unconditionally, just as we are.  We have to start loving others like he loves us, just as you are!  He will show them the changes that need to be made, that’s not our job.  They have to choose whether or not to make the changes He shows them.  He still doesn’t remove their choice.  So, if being a disciple isn’t telling someone what they are doing wrong…what is it?  Tell them what they are doing RIGHT!  Encourage them in their relationship with God.  Pray for them and with them.  Be available if they have questions and if you don’t know the answers, help them search out the answers in Scripture.  Study with them when you can, this doesn’t have to be face to face thanks to social media and the internet you can start a study group, study through email, etc.  If they stumble, do not kick them while they are down, but help them up.  Brush the dirt off of their knees and point them back to God lovingly.

Remember this too, if you see something in someone else that you think is wrong, they may be your mirror image. It may not mean that they need to work on that area but that you need to work on that area.  If people see you willing to make changes, you may see those same changes in them without ever having to say anything!  This is living it in front of them!  This is letting your life do the talking.  Jesus tells us to remove the boulder from our own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else.

I had the pleasure of hearing a youth pastor speak to a group of high school students a couple of weeks ago.  Here is what he said, “We live in the Bible belt.  There are four churches on each corner. This isn’t a bad thing.  We need these options, however, walking in a relationship with Christ is much harder by their standards than by the Scripture’s standards!”  Wow!  What a message!  We have pulled our own mindsets into discipleship!  We judge through our perspective which isn’t the same as God’s because He has the big picture, and in passing these judgments, we run people away!  We make it too hard for them!  We end up taking life away from them instead of speaking life into them!  That is not how this is supposed to work, and we will be held accountable for those actions!

So, let’s make a commitment to practice loving kindness and reap the harvest of that rather than a harvest of judgment.  As we pour life into someone else, they pour life into another.  We are simply paying it forward.  They will remember those acts of loving kindness and be able to share that love with the world around them!

Blessings,

Regina

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through Him.  He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.

Father, thank you for the lives of our forefathers and the examples they provide for us!  Thank you for Jesus who willingly accepted his cup on our behalf.  May we learn from You, from our predecessors and from Jesus true humility.  May we ever show loving kindness to those you place before us.  May we ever trust you!  Lord, You tell us in James 5:16 “Pray for each other.”  May we ever hold those you place before us up to Your throne. And when we do not know how to pray, please provide for us the words.  Help us to speak life into others, and to live a life which brings others into Your presence. Please dwell in our tents as You dwelled in Sarah’s.  I thank You for the opportunity to encourage others and to speak life into them.  I praise You for the blessings You have already provided and the miracles yet to come!  I love and trust You, Lord!  May Your love be ever-present in me!  In Jesus name. Amen.

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About Pastor Regina

Pastor Regina Sanders is a wife, mother, pastor, author, and teacher of Scripture. In January 2016 the Lord blessed her with an international satellite radio broadcast, allowing her to be heard beyond the borders of the United States. She was heard in places such as Hong Kong, Germany, and Canada. This broadcast lasted only about 4 ½ months as she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer in May of 2016. Pastor Regina smiles and says, “God has a sense of humor. I was teaching a group about coming out of their shell of introversion. I was writing another book on this topic, and I had this radio broadcast, as well as, my weekly YouTube uploads, and I found myself in the hospital for 11 days. Upon coming home, I found myself either in the bed or on the couch unable to continue with the tasks I had before me. Lord, you healed me of introversion, and I find myself feeling completely isolated…” Today, Pastor Regina shares her journey through the valley of the shadow of death.
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