January 22, 2020
Dear Praying Partners,
Good morning to each of you and thanks so much for your willingness and desire to pray for our prodigals and for revival. Prayer is a labor of love both to the Lord and those for whom we pray.
It was a hot day as Abraham sat at his tent door by the Oaks of Mamre. The three guests walked down the path, and he ran to greet them and provided them with a good solid meal. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned spiritual and Abraham realized these guests were not your normal guys out for a stroll. They were travelers from above and one of them was the LORD. They had made the journey specifically to give Abraham a message. (Genesis 18 provides all the details.)
Prior to this visit, God had appeared to him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham and reconfirmed His covenant with him (Gen.17). He had made a promise that Abraham would have a son from his beloved Sarah. Abraham’s immediate response was to fall on his face and laugh! Not your normal response to a message from God, but in this case Abraham was ninety-nine and Sarah was 90--a few years past the age of producing or bearing children. I think it was a laugh of complete surprise. It seemed totally outrageous and impossible, and so it was. When Sarah heard the news she laughed to herself, although she tried to deny her mirth (Gen.18:12). With both, there was a definite hint of unbelief behind their laughter, because the response that the Lord gave after Sarah laughed was a question: “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen.18:14).
The next time we read about laughter is at the birth of this promised son, Isaac. In fact, his name means “laughter” (Strong’s Concordance). And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me” (Gen. 21:6). This laughter was clearly the laughter of joy, happiness, and even worship. God had taken away her reproach, had done what, humanly speaking, was impossible, and the result was a lot of laughing. (We need to do more of this!)
Sadly, there is another type of laughter that often occurs in the lives of God’s people. It wasn’t long coming on the heels of Isaac’s birth. After he was weaned, Abraham threw a party and all were invited to enjoy the celebration of the miracle child. Then, Sarah saw it happen: Ishmael, her handmaid Hagar’s son, was laughing, only it wasn’t a laugh of joy, it was a laugh of mockery, of jealousy and hatred. It was more of a scoff than a laugh. The NLT says, “Ishmael was making fun of Isaac” (Gen.21:9). This is the kind of laughter that is cruel and unnecessary.
What can we learn from all the laughter surrounding Isaac? Three important lessons:
First, God is able to do the impossible. While initially, we too may be like Sarah and laugh in unbelief, the more we prove God, the more we will learn to trust Him. You may be facing a crisis of one sort or another and think there is no way God can change your situation. The lesson of Genesis 18 is that there is nothing too hard for the LORD. Nothing!
Second, when God works, praise Him for it. In whatever area you witness the hand of God, whether it is personal or in your local church or in the life of someone else, just acknowledge God and give Him the credit. God is working all around us and we need to lift our hearts in praise and worship on a continual basis.
Third, never despise the work of God in another person’s life.
Jealousy is rotten to the core and will eat you like a cancer.
If God chooses to use your brother or sister in a mighty way, that’s His prerogative. The scoffing type of laughter should never be seen or heard among us.
In the end, God had the last laugh. For through Isaac, as He promised, the Messiah came, and the whole world has been blessed as a result. Even we can join in the laughter over the wonderful things God has done through this amazing event. Maybe we are due for a good laugh today!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel