Devotional by Ray Stedman – The old natures never die – A daily devotion for June 20

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Topic:A supernatural birth
READ THE SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 21: 1-7

Jehovah visited Sarah, as he had said, and Jehovah did with Sarah as he had promised.
Genesis 21: 1

Ray Stedman devotion
Ray Stedman

This verse is an image of the joy of realization. Finally we have two sons of Abraham living next to each other, Isaac and Ishmael. We do not need to ask ourselves what this means in the life of faith, because in Galatians 4 Paul explains it to us. It tells us that Isaac is an image of what is born of the Spirit and that Ishmael is an image of what is born of the flesh. Isaac is the result of a life controlled by the Spirit. What does this mean for us? In that same epistle he says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5: 22-23a). These are the Isaacs we’ve been waiting for. Ismael, on the other hand, represents the works of the flesh that are highlighted in this chapter. Notice how it is confirmed in this passage. First, Isaac’s birth was supernatural. He was not born until Abraham and Sarah reached an advanced age. Sara was ninety years old and Abraham was one hundred years old. It happened in a certain time, some thirty years after God had first promised Abraham a son. In Romans 4: 19a Paul refers to this moment, saying: “And his faith was not weakened when he considered his body, which was already as dead (being almost a hundred years old), or the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” This was a supernatural birth in which God accelerated the natural processes again, and a child was born. some thirty years after God had first promised Abraham a son. In Romans 4: 19a Paul refers to this moment, saying: “And his faith was not weakened when he considered his body, which was already as dead (being almost a hundred years old), or the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” This was a supernatural birth in which God accelerated the natural processes again, and a child was born. some thirty years after God had first promised Abraham a son. In Romans 4: 19a Paul refers to this moment, saying: “And his faith was not weakened when he considered his body, which was already as dead (being almost a hundred years old), or the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.” This was a supernatural birth in which God accelerated the natural processes again, and a child was born.

Do you see now why God waited all this long time to fulfill the promise to Abraham? He was waiting until the ability and strength of the natural man had ceased, so that His promise could definitely be a supernatural fulfillment. This is exactly what God tells us about the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. It will never come from the flesh or from our own efforts, or from the fact that we think positively or by trying it in a perpetual way. Love, joy and peace, these wonderful gifts of God, never come from any effort we make to imitate them. You can imitate them, but they will never be more than a simple imitation. You can not produce the fruit of the Spirit through the flesh,

Lord, I see both Isaac and Ishmael inside me. It produces in me those qualities similar to those of Isaac that I can not generate by myself.

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Application to life
Are we doing everything possible to imitate the fruit that feeds and gives the life that we can only produce by the Spirit of God? Do we see the difference between trying and trusting?

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