Dear church I hope you are doing well,

Lately, my wife and I have been watching a show called ‘Deadliest Roads’.  It follows truck drivers all over the world who drive on some of the most dangerous roads in the world.  One of the common things that the truck drivers do before they set out is to go through various religious or superstitious rituals.  They know the road is dangerous and so they will often offer prayers and/or sacrifices to gain favor for their journey.  Sometimes the drivers are Christian, but many times they are from other religions.  They sense this need to have blessing to succeed and remain safe on the road.  The truth is we all know we need God’s blessing.  This is how so many are trapped into the slavery of legalism.  Legalism promises that if you keep this rule or do not do that bad thing, then God will give the blessing you need.  Legalism makes blessing something we can achieve by our own actions rather than something we must rely on God for.  This is why the Galatians and we are so often caught up in the slavery of legalism.   

Paul gave us an illustration of this principle in Galatians 4:21-31 by contrasting the birth of Ishmael and Isaac.  Ishmael was born because Sarah and Abraham took matters into their own hands to get a son. They wanted to receive the blessing that God promised them by their own efforts.  This is the easy way.  On the other hand, Isaac was born to them not because of their own efforts but as an amazing work of God.  This was the hard way.  Blessing only came to Abraham and Sarah as they patiently waited in this place of barrenness for God to fulfill his promise to them.    

Think about how hard it was for Abraham and Sarah to keep on trusting and relying on God in their barrenness.  For ninety years, Sarah was barren and there was no human hope for her to have a baby.  Living by faith in God’s promise is not an easy place to be.  It was not for Sarah and it is often not for us.  Many times, it seems like a barren wilderness and we might as well give up on God and take things into our own hands.

And yet, as soon as we take things into our own hands, the very blessings we seek elude our grasp.  This is what happened to Abraham and Sarah.  All their efforts to make an heir did not bring them blessing.  In fact, it brought them hardship and woe.  This is what Paul has been hammering on throughout the whole book.  Our own efforts cannot bring us blessing but only curses

On the other hand, true blessing comes to us as we walk by faith and rely on Christ alone amidst the hardships and trials.  In Him we have joy unspeakable because we have been forgiven of our sins and have become God’s children.  We have an eternal inheritance in Heaven.  Just as Abraham and Sarah trusted God and He fulfilled his promise and filled them with joy, we know that He will fulfill all the promises he has made to us in Christ and fill us with joy forever. 

Let us be a people who live by faith in God’s promises this week and do not take the shortcut to blessing. 

In Christ, 

Taylor Ewert

Pastor, Friendship Baptist Church