Sunday Rest and Reflection:Ishmael

Dear Friends,

Greetings on this day of rest!  We are so blessed to have assurance of our salvation.  God has promised us salvation for faith in Jesus Christ!  (Romans 10:9-10)  We don’ t have to work to earn our salvation!  We are blessed by God with the grace of Christ’s gift to us.  This is a big contrast to the group of people who have come from the first son of Abram, Ishmael!

Ishmael was well taken care of by God.  God heard his cry as a teenage boy and promised to bless him, too.  Ishmael was not a person of faith, however.  He did not share in the inheritance that comes by faith through grace.  From his descendants comes Mohamed, the founder of Islam.  He was a violent man who had twelve wives and numerous children.  Mohamed promoted a religion of rules and regulations and told of an angry God, Allah, who demanded obedience to his rules or punishment would come.  Those who refused to submit were to be killed.  The only way to assure that a follower of Allah would make it to paradise was for him to die for the cause of Allah by conducting “Jihad”.  Women were treated as property and  a strict set of rules and mandatory prayers mark the lives of those who submit.

By contrast, followers of Christ do so because of love and faith.  Their God sent His Son Jesus to die for them and they can live eternally as a free gift.  (John 3:16-17)  They obey because of love and trust, not out of fear of punishment.  Their God lives with them and delights in them.  He is always for them and prays for their faith and success.  (Romans 8:31, 34)  Every person is given the opportunity of salvation, whether male or female.  God shows no partiality but wants all to be saved.  (1st Timothy 2:4-5)  Followers of God willingly give their money, time and talent, even their lives,  to serve their God out of gratitude for His mercy.

As you rest today, thank Him again for the freedom we have in Christ!  (Galatians 5:1)  Pray for the 1.2 billion descendants of Ishmael who are lost and need true freedom!  God wants them free, too!

In His Love, Pastor John

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