Archive for August, 2010

Part 4 – Genesis 21:22-34 – WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IF…

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I was talking with a Jewish friend at work the other day. She said “I don’t like evangelicals!” I said that it was unfortunate because I was one, and that she was working for an evangelical organisation. She said “I don’t like people trying to convert me!” I said that as I share with people about Christ in my life and live out my genuine faith in Christ that I hoped that those around me will see in me something they will also want to have in their lives. She accepted that explanation of being an evangelical. She just didn’t want to be FORCED. I can understand that. I hope she understands that I want my influence to have eternal value.

What would it look like if I were to LIVE MY LIFE in such a way that people could see the PRESENCE OF GOD IN ME? Abraham lived his life like this. At one point a king called Abimelech comes to him and says, “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do.” (Genesis 21:22 NLT)

2 Corinthians 8:21 (NLT) says “We are careful to be honourable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to SEE that we are honourable.” What is it that people see in me that indicates the PRESENCE OF GOD?

If you had asked Abimelech about his INITIAL IMPRESSIONS of Abraham were when he first met him, he would say that he was a LIAR and lacked integrity, untrustworthy and a believer who didn’t seem to have much trust in God, someone willing to put everyone in danger to save his own neck. Proverbs 12:19-20 (NLT) says “TRUTHFUL WORDS stand the test of time, but LIES are soon exposed. DECEIT fills hearts that are plotting evil; JOY fills hearts that are planning peace!” Proverbs 11:11 (NLT) says “Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, ..”

1. I want people to SEE GOD IN ME as they see how committed I am to living a life of INTEGRITY.

I really like the way there’s an HONEST EXCHANGE here. Abimelech is so HONEST with Abraham. He comes right out and says, “Swear to me in God’s name that you will NEVER DECEIVE ME, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.” (Genesis 21:23 NLT) Abimelech has already been on the other end of Abraham’s deception. He wants some ASSURANCE OF ENDURANCE. He doesn’t want to be under God’s death sentence again. He also sees the benefit of connection with Abraham, a rich and powerful man. Abraham replies, “Yes, I swear to it!” (Genesis 21:24 NLT) What else could you say? This is a great way to MAKE AMENDS for being such a jerk.

2. I also hope that people see that I serve and honour God by the way I am willing to DEAL WITH CONFLICT head on. Let’s get things OUT IN THE OPEN before they cause a rift in my relationships. Abraham does this. He complains “to Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had taken by force from Abraham’s servants.” (Genesis 21:25 NLT) Abimelech can then do something about it.

3. I also want people to see God in me through my GENEROSITY. They make a covenant, a peace treaty, a business deal, but Abraham’s generosity goes beyond just making a legal agreement (Genesis 21:27). He gives a special gift to establish their relationship even more firmly. Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) says, “The GENEROUS will prosper; those who REFRESH OTHERS will themselves be refreshed.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NLT) says “Teach those who are rich in this world … to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.” 

4. Abraham plants a tamarisk tree “and there he worshiped the Lord, the Eternal God.” (Genesis 21:33 NLT). God is eternal and connecting with Him has eternal consequences. John 3:36 (NLT) says “…anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.”  

I want people to see God in me by the way I WORSHIP HIM. I don’t need to go around planting tamarisk trees but I do need to leave a LEGACY OF WORSHIP and look back on the times and places where God has met with me. Jesus used wine and bread once with His discipes to say, “Remember me”.

God bless you Church as people see your integrity, your willingness to deal with conflict, your generosity and mostly how you acknowledge and worship our eternal God. May people know through your words and actions that God offers eternal life through Christ. Make a difference that counts for eternity today.  

Pastor Ross

Part 3 – Genesis 21:14-21 – MY KINGDOM FOR A GPS!

Destination Straight Ahead!

When we left to Pastor a Church in the Whitsundays we left our children, Ben and Rachel, behind in Sydney. Rachel was still in her late teens, but both of them were already involved in Hillsong Church and did not want to leave. We remember the pain of driving off without them and for the next 10 years we commuted between the Whitsundays and Sydney every opportunity we had. It’s so strange leaving home WITHOUT YOUR KIDS. It is normally the other way around. In Genesis 21 Abraham’s pain must have been so much worse as he realised he would never see Ishmael again.

“So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he SENT HER AWAY with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.” (Genesis 21:14 NLT).

Abraham gives her JUST ENOUGH supplies for a journey to the NEXT WELL. He doesn’t send them away with a caravan of supplies, just food enough to carry on her back. HOW CRUEL IS THIS? (Abraham really doesn’t know how to treat women well). How does he expect her to survive in the desert? He doesn’t give her a plan on what she can do with her life now, but hopefully he tells her how to get to the next well. The tension and emotion in the air as they leave must be thick.

DIVORCE is never pleasant, especially when children are involved, but Abraham doesn’t count on them getting lost. Most people don’t stop to think about the consequences of divorce or how much it will effect the next generations.

Hagar is now a HOMELESS SINGLE MUM with no resources in a hopeless situation and there’s no women’s shelter in sight. Like so many REFUGEES today she has been through a conflict that has led to her being deprived of a husband, with devastating results.

She heads in the general direction of her old home in Egypt, but sure enough, without a GPS, she MISSES THE NEXT WELL. “When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.” (Genesis 21:15 NLT) 

Perhaps Ismael is thinking of the fun he had made of baby Isaac and the consequences of his actions which has led them into this desert, but whatever it is, all laughter and cynicism is gone and He begins to cry out to God. In Genesis 21:17 it says that “God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.” 

God of course already knows what is wrong but he wants Hagar to articulate to Him what she knows of her situation so he sends an angel with these questions. GOD’S INTERVENTION INTO MY CIRCUMSTANCES IS SO OFTEN ACTIVATED BY MY CONFESSIONS. “What wrong? Don’t be afraid. Speak to Me. Trust Me”. It’s a good policy Just keep speaking to God when life isn’t working out as you planned.

It seems Hagars GPS wasn’t broken afterall – GOD’S POSITIONING SYSTEM. All of sudden Hagar sees the well. So often the answers I need are right in front of me but I can’t see them until I pray (Genesis 21:18-19). Hagar is sent to encourage Ishmael with WORDS OF LIFE AND PRACTICAL HELP.

God bless you Church as you do as 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” I recited this verse to a woman some time ago and she said “I couldn’t do that. Why would God be interested in my worries and cares.” HE IS! Romans 8:35-37 (NLT) says, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” 

Ishmael “became a skillful archer,” (I once was given the mechanism for a crossbow. I wonder what happened to it?) Anyway, “he settled in the wilderness of Paran (Arabia). His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.” and they all lived in conflict with Israel sadly ever after.  

Pastor Ross

Part 2 – Genesis 21:8-13 – THE LAST LAUGH!

What a Waste!

It was a boring job packing books and I remember we would look for ways to have a bit of fun in the warehouse. When people found other work and left the warehouse they were BINNED!

Usually it was TIM who organised a BINNING with everyone, and he would LAUGH THE LOUDEST. We would gang up on the unfortunate victim and lift them into a large industrial rubbish bin and stand around laughing at the shocked look on his face, then just walk away and leave him to climb out. I know it sounds a little cruel but it was all in good fun.

When I announced that I was leaving to Pastor a Church in the Whitsundays, I found out that Tim was planning to BIN me! So I decided to turn the tables on him. I would secretly arrange for Tim to be binned instead. I organised the whole thing with all the guys and planned it meticulously. It would be kind of like COLLECTIVE REVENGE.

I was so excited that day as we snuck up on Tim and I shouted “NOW!” but so totally shocked when they PICKED ME UP INSTEAD and binned me. The laughter and smirk on Tim’s face told me that he GOT THE LAST LAUGH. To this day I can’t work out how he did it.

There was a lot of laughter surrounding the birth of Isaac. Even Ishmael got in on the act with another dimension.

Genesis 21:8-10 (NLT) says that “When … Sarah saw Ishmael-the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar-making fun of her son, Isaac, .. she turned to Abraham and demanded, “GET RID OF that slave-woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”” All of a sudden Ishmael isn’t smiling anymore. THE LAST LAUGH WAS ON HIM.

The rift between Sarah and Hagar leads to Hagar being DIVORCED by Abraham (Genesis 21:9) and sent away. At first glance this seems so wrong and must have had a profound impact on Ishmael as the last ties to his father were broken. Abraham was as upset as any loving father would be and most likely prayed about the situation which was causing such conflict, but surprisingly in Genesis 21:12 (NLT) “God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” It seems God agrees with Sarah!

Why is God OK with the jealous rage of Sarah in wanting to get rid of Hagar and Ismael? Is Sarah going to get away with this kind of attitude? It seems as if she will. Nowhere are we told that Sarah went to God to pray about this situation.

As the laughter disappeared from Abraham’s face too, God reminds him that Isaac’s descendents are the key part of God’s purposes (Jesus will eventually come from this line). But God tells Abraham “I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.” 

When I am most conflicted, and the devil seems to be having the LAST LAUGH, God’s Word speaks to me and I am reminded that HIS PURPOSES are bigger than MY CIRCUMSTANCES. It may not seem to make sense at the time, but God knows what He is doing. I can trust Him. Abraham has learned this lesson several times already.

Ishmael was Abraham and Sarah’s idea of how to fulfil God’s promise, but when it comes to the crunch, you have to make a decision. The question that Abraham and I must decide on is “Will I respond to my circumstances in such a way that I live by the power of His Spirit or will I rely on my own good works?” I will never gain God’s approval until I am willing to put away my HUMAN EFFORT and trust in Him.

Galatians 4:21-31 uses this story as an illustration. Two Mothers, two sons, two covenants and two ways of living. You can’t live in harmony by trying to live by HUMAN EFFORT and still hope to LIVE BY THE SPIRIT and inherit the promises of God.

God bless you Church when you decide to put away a life based on human effort which will enslave you and you embrace a life of trusting in the promises of God which will release you to live how God intended. When you do, the last laughter of sheer delight that you will hear will be from heaven’s corridors.

Pastor Ross

Part 1 – Genesis 21:1-7 – LAUGHING AT GOD!

Laughing at God!

As he was born my heart was bursting with JOY. I held my son Ben up to the Lord and dedicated him then and there. I was so grateful for the gift of a child. I remember driving home at the beginning of that day laughing and honking the horn so everyone could SHARE THE JOY I had, though on reflection they may not have appreciated it fully.

Abraham and Sarah would always remember how they laughed at the promise of a son in their old age. It seems Isaac was laughed at in one way or another all his life. Isaac means “laughter”. What an appropriate name. A river of LAUGHTER runs through the entire story of the birth of Isaac.

Abraham laughed in BEWILDERED AMAZEMENT in Genesis 17:17 and Sarah mirrored his response in DISBELIEVING DOUBT in Genesis 18:12 until she too was able to believe. 25 years later they laughed in DELIGHT AND FAITH and in the SHEER JOY of finally realizing the promise of having a son in Genesis 21:6. Sarah indicates that people will laugh and celebrate in WONDER AND AMAZEMENT at what God had done in their old age. God has a sense of humour.

25 YEARS! Lord, You take a while to come through with your promises. Genesis 21:1-2 almost downplays the momentous event of Isaac’s birth by simply saying, “The Lord kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.” But of course what You say You always do, in Your time not mine.

Why do You delay Your promises? 25 years seems an awful long time. I guess it’s what everyone says – You want my faith to grow, for me to learn what perseverance and trust and earnest prayer is all about. You teach me to have a CONFIDENT HOPE, instead of an INDECISIVE WISH.

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the HOPE we affirm, for God can be TRUSTED to keep his promise.” 

Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) says “PATIENT ENDURANCE is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. THEN you will receive all that He has promised.”  

Romans 4:20-21 (NLT) says “Abraham NEVER WAVERED in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises.” 

Genesis 21:5 (NLT) says “Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born” Sarah said “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” She should talk! She’s no spring chicken either. Sarah is 90. 

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) says “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” 

INFINITELY MORE! In fact JESUS would be one of the DESCENDENTS of Isaac. Sarah doesn’t know it but Isaac’s birth points towards the BIRTH OF THE SAVIOUR, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:3) as promised to Abraham.

JESUS AND ISAAC. Both births were PROMISED an outrageously long time before fulfillment. Both births were MIRACULOUS both HUMANLY IMPOSSIBLE, and both birth’s brought INDESCRIBABLE JOY.

MARY’S JOY MIRRORS SARAH’S JOY. In Luke 1:46-47 (NLT) it speaks about Mary’s response to the promise of Jesus’ birth. “Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!..” 

Some laugh at the idea of God. God bless you Church as you LAUGH AT WHAT GOD IS DOING, not because you mock Him, but because you know the incredible Joy that the Holy Spirit brings as our lives collide with the promises of God and connect with Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

Pastor Ross

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

It’s not my fault! I didn’t do it!

Part 4 – Genesis 20:1-18 – BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT! 

“IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I DIDN’T DO IT!” I remember my protests fell on deaf ears and I was made to go to my room without dinner until I confessed. My mother insisted that it was me, probably because of the lie my sister told her. I don’t even remember the crime I was accused of but I do remember vividly the confusing and frustrating feeling of being innocent and yet paying the consequences for someone else’s sin. There were plenty of things I did do wrong, but that day I was INNOCENT!

I guess the king in Genesis 20 knew what it was like to bear the penalty because of someone else’s sin, only the consequences for him were a little more serious than being sent to your room. 

If this was a movie the REAL STAR in this SOAP OPERA SCENARIO in Genesis 20 is NOT THE BEAUTIFUL 90 YEAR OLD BEAUTY QUEEN – SARAH. It’s not the BIG BUSINESS TYCOON with a LYING PROBLEM – ABRAHAM (He lies about Sarah, telling everyone she is his sister not his wife). The real hero is the UNDER-DOG who gets caught up in a LIFE AND DEATH STRUGGLE by mistake – ABIMELECH. Abimelech, probably thinking that he can form an alliance with Abraham who is a wealthy man, decides to take Sarah into his harem. Abimelech may be the CO-STAR in this movie but he deserves the Oscar. 

When God speaks to him in a dream and says that he is a dead man for taking Sarah into his harem, He says “Lord, I’m INNOCENT!” He wakes up in a cold sweat and immediately gives Sarah back. ABIMELECH is the man with MORE INTEGRITY AND CHARACTER than Abraham! HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ABRAHAM THE LIAR!  

But there is no escaping. Not only does he have the death sentence hanging over him, but the only one who remains pregnant in this story is Sarah. Every other women in the camp becomes infertile as God takes His hand of grace off them and sin begins to threaten future generations big time. 

Now let’s get this straight – Abimelech DIDN’T SLEEP WITH SARAH, so what’s the big deal? Why do these women remain INFERTILE when Abimelech made an HONEST MISTAKE? IT ALL SEEMS UNFAIR! What is going on here? Why are the consequences are NOT REMOVED immediately when Sarah is returned? THEY HAVE NO FUTURE OR HOPE.  

That’s the power of sin. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Despite the fact that I declare my innocence, without Christ in my life, the sentence sticks. 

In this case, ABRAHAM IS THE CULPRIT! The perpetrator of this mess? And it all starts off with A MINOR SIN which escalates to something which threatens future generations. 

Abraham finds himself on the end of ABIMELECH’S REBUKE and rightly so. Unlike my sister, Abraham makes a series of CONFESSIONS which must have been humiliating for him but which are so honest and heartfelt, they change the course of the whole closing scene.

God obviously forgives Abraham, because He uses Abraham to pray for Abimelech’s tribe to be HEALED. Abraham caused all the trouble so God uses him to REPAIR THE DAMAGE. Kind of POETIC JUSTICE. Even so Abimelech pays a high price for his inadvertent sin. 

Like Abimelech, Jesus knew what it was like to bear the full penalty for someone else’s sin, only he paid the price completely by dying for us. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says “He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

Like Abraham, I am praying for your complete healing on the inside. I am praying that you would be restored and made right with God, though Christ. God bless you Church as you place your trust in Christ alone for your salvation. 

Pastor Ross

Part 3 – Genesis 20:1-18 – LIE LIKE THE DEVIL OR…?

Lie like the devil or ….?

She is 90 years old, and BEAUTIFUL. SARAH catches your attention. The perfect Hollywood star, aging gracefully and looking years younger without the use of LIPOSUCTION, HAIR COLOURING, BREAST IMPLANTS, FACELIFTS and all the rest, Sarah doesn’t even WEAR MAKE-UP. She does do a lot of walking, however, and without the use of a WALKING FRAME

Perhaps that’s the secret – SARAH’S BEAUTY REGIME – walk for miles in a desert climate. Now there’s a good tip for those who want to preserve their beauty as they age – go to Gerar … on foot – DESERT MARATHONS (Genesis 20:1). 

Abraham and Sarah are the original GREY NOMADS. They take a caravan and travel. You’ve got to be careful about caravan parks. There are some pretty rough characters around and Abraham is afraid of lawless places. I was speaking to some people from South Africa some time ago and they say that it can be dangerous to live in parts of Johannesburg, especially if you have money. People do a lot to protect themselves. BARBED WIRE, ALARM SYSTEMS AND GUNS. 

Abraham thinks people will see he is married to a 90 year old BEAUTY QUEEN and they will kill him in order to take Sarah. The fear is real. The reasoning that results from it is a little TWISTED. But fear begets defence mechanisms and so Abraham LIES to everyone, saying that Sarah is his SISTER. I don’t know how this PROTECTS SARAH who is probably pregnant at this time! 

IS IT EVER OK TO LIE? WHAT IF YOUR LIFE IS IN DANGER? One little white lie about Sarah being his sister surely isn’t going to make a difference. It could even help God look after him. NOT! 

All Abraham was interested in was saving his own neck, it seems. It’s interesting to follow the consequences when we use the devil’s tactics. What are the CONSEQUENCES of telling this lie? 

1. The first consequence is that it ENDANGERED ABRAHAM’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. My sin becomes a SUBSTITUTION FOR MY TRUST in God. Abraham trusted in a lie rather than in God. 

2. HIS SIN ENDANGERS SARAH’S LIFE. My sin can endanger my FAMILY. ABIMELECH, who is the king in this territory, innocently takes Sarah into his HAREM. He’s probably not so much interested in a 90 year beauty queen. He is probably more interested in forming a BUSINESS ALLIANCE with Abraham. After all, Abraham is a rich man. Abraham thought he could control things as a brother but it all got out of hand and endangered his family. 

3. The third consequence of Abraham’s sin is that ABIMELECH’S LIFE IS ENDANGERED. My sin not only endangers my family but also others in my sphere of influence, leading them inadvertently into sin. God speaks to Abimelech in a dream and says that he is a DEAD MAN. 

4. The fourth consequence is THE FUTURE OF ABIMELECH’S FAMILY IS ENDANGERED. GOD CAUSES INFERTILITY IN ALL THE WOMEN. My sin has an affect on FUTURE GENERATIONS. Genesis 20:18 (NLT) says “For the Lord had caused all the women to be INFERTILE because of what happened with Abraham’s wife, Sarah.” 

5. The fifth consequence is that Abraham GIVES A BAD EXAMPLE OF WHAT A BELIEVER IS. My sin is a bad witness to those around me. Abraham finds himself on the end of ABIMELECH’S REBUKE and rightly so. 

While Abimelech is giving Abraham a tongue lashing, Abraham has to make A CHOICE – what do you do when you’re exposed for a fraud? LIE LIKE THE DEVIL … OR TRUST IN GOD? 

John 8:44 (NLT) says “.. the devil, … has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” 

The consequences of this story is an invitation for you to place your TRUST in the GOD who CANNOT LIE (Titus 1:2), to TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST who is the way, the TRUTH and the life (John 14:6) and to TRUST in the HOLY SPIRIT to lead you into all TRUTH (John 16:13). God’s Word is the WORD OF TRUTH (2 Timothy 2:15). 

Pastor Ross

Part 2 – Genesis 20:1-18 – SCANNING FOR A TROJAN HORSE!

TROJAN HORSE!

TROJAN HORSE! It appears innocent enough, but it is a harmful piece of software that looks legitimate. It tricks people into loading the wrong things into their systems. It gives a hacker access to cause damage. Unless you have a good ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMME, you will get infected and your whole computer may crash! I should know. A few days without our computer to CLEAN OUT the whole system. Nothing too serious this time. More PRECAUTIONS needed though, and a much better VIRUS DETECTOR. It COST us something! On SCANNING, once again we are SAFE.

Genesis 20 in my Bible teaches me THAT BELIEVERS HAVE TROJAN HORSES. I knew that already from other parts of the Bible. Satan is the original HACKER and Adam and Eve fell for the Trojan Horse, installing unwanted data into the system. Right from the beginning the Bible doesn’t hide the truth about its STARS OF THE FAITH who were infected. NOAH gets drunk and exposes himself (Genesis 9:20-23), LOT, a believer, gets drunk and commits incest (Genesis 19:33-36). MOSES murders an Egyptian (Exodus 2:12), DAVID commits adultery with Bathsheba and murders Uriah, her husband (2 Samuel 11). ANANIAS AND SAPHIRA lie (Acts 5:1-11). And here ABRAHAM also lies about his wife (Genesis 20:2).

Here’s how it happens in Genesis 20.

Abraham and Sarah tell people what they consider to be a “HALF-TRUTH” in Genesis 20:12 by saying that Sarah is Abraham’s sister, not his wife. She actually is a half sister but this is still a FULL-ON LIE.

Abraham JUSTIFIES HIS LIE because he feels his life will be endangered by telling people he is married to this beautiful 90 year old woman. WHY DO WE THINK THAT WE NEED TO LIE IN ORDER FOR GOD TO KEEP US SAFE? I mean, do we really think that God needs me to SIN in order for Him to help us? Der!

Does God grant EXEMPTIONS when it comes to telling lies? Is the only exception the NAZIS LOOKING FOR JEWS scenario? Are there really EXCEPTIONS when God needs me to TELL A LIE in order for Him to protect me? I don’t think so. That would be ludicrous! What is that saying about a totally sinless and holy God?

The Bible says the devil is the LIAR! John 8:44 (NLT) “…He has always HATED THE TRUTH, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he LIES, it is consistent with his character; for he is a LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES.” 

Pastor Brian Houston reminded us this morning that part of the armour and character that protects us from the devil is the BELT OF TRUTH. Living a life of INTEGRITY. It enables me to STAND FIRM during the tough times (Ephesians 6:14). Great message! Great Pastor!

RUN A SCAN, Abraham! No, I said SCAN, NOT SCAM! Safe? How about Right? How about your example to unbelieving people, not to mention PROTECTING AND HONOURING YOUR PREGNANT WIFE and for that matter God’s name!

God called Abraham a prophet. This is the first time the word “prophet” is used in the Bible. He is the technician God will use to CLEAN OUT THE VIRUS FROM THE SYSTEM. Abraham’s prayer stops Abimelech life from crashing. This seems to be evidence that Abraham RAN THE SCAN on his own life, confessed his sins and that the Lord had forgiven him.

God bless you Church as you allow God to SCAN YOUR LIFE for areas of deception that indicate your life is in CRASH MODE. CLEAN THE SYSTEM! Start afresh through the cleansing work of Christ. 1 John 1:9 (NLT) says “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” “MAXIMUM PROTECTION! NO INFECTED FILES!”

Pastor Ross

Part 1 – Genesis 20:1-10 – HE’S A FRAUD!

HE'S A FRAUD! HE'S A FRAUD!

Diary entry – “Full circle! Here I am again. Dealing with the same old things over and over in my life. You would think that eventually I would get it – that God wants to fulfill His purposes in my life if only I’d GET OFF THE ROUND-A-BOUT. I reach great heights on the FERRIS WHEEL only to find myself back where I began” – Abraham.

He lay in a bed seat, slightly twisted and looking at me with one eye half open. I was finishing a small Bible study devotional with a group of aged people on a passage from the book of Job in the Bible, telling them that God loves them and still has a purpose for their lives, to look UPWARD NOT INWARD even when things don’t always go as they plan.

With a croaky voice filled with the bile of his past and exposed by his dementia he shouted “He’s a fraud! He’s a fraud! Don’t listen to him! Don’t listen to him! He only wants your money! He’s a fraud!” It was disconcerting to say the least. All of a sudden it was me that was looking inward instead of upward and I needed to be reminded of Jesus’ words. 

Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” (John 14:6). He is my Truth. He enables me to live a life of INTEGRITY. With Christ in my life I am able to live how God intends me to live and be GENUINE before Him and others and even myself, WITHOUT HYPROCRISY. NOTHING FRAUDULENT ABOUT THAT!

The Bible says that it is the devil who is a LIAR and a FRAUD! John 8:44 (NLT) “…He has always HATED THE TRUTH, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he LIES, it is consistent with his character; for he is a LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES.” 

The Bible doesn’t hide the rather sobering fact that even a great man like Abraham can get it wrong and start USING THE DEVILS TACTICS. Genesis 20 confirms to me that the habits of a lifetime are difficult to break, but also that God is PATIENT. He says “So let’s deal with this again.”

Abraham, it seems, lacks complete confidence and trust in God and feels he has to LIE in order to survive. He shows me that I can move to a different part of the country and still find myself in the same place spiritually. I can get a little older and still be just as immature. Maturity has nothing to do with aging. Believe me, I know. ROUND AND AROUND. Abraham’s life in Genesis 20:2 is looking like a RE-RUN of an old movie from Genesis 12:13.

The false accusations of an old man crying out “You’re a fraud!” hurt me but they also made me realize that I need to stay close to Christ who is the Truth and to His Word, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:12 in the Message version says “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”  

Galatians 6:7 (NLT) says “Don’t be misled-you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always HARVEST WHAT YOU PLANT.”

Lord, KEEP ME FROM EVIL so that I don’t bring disrepute to You or others or to myself. Let me live righteously before you today and in the joy of my salvation. Let me be a blessing to others today and live a life without hypocrisy.

God bless you Church as God replaces the habits of a lifetime with the habits of Holy living and the harvest of a fruitful life in Christ. In Him, you are not a FRAUD but a FORGIVEN, FAULTLESS, FAITH-FILLED FRIEND OF GOD, fru (I mean through) Christ.

Pastor Ross

PART 5 – GENESIS 19:1-38 – HAPPILY EVER AFTER – NOT!

Happily Ever After?

Julie and the kids were on their way home from the park when it happened. Ben was only about 5 years old and happily walking and running ahead on the edge of the road. There was no footpath beside the road but he was still on the grassy area. Then he must have seen our house on the other side of the road and headed towards it, edging onto the road just as a car roared up from behind him. Julie screamed for him to stop but there was not enough time.

To this day, Julie does not understand how it happened. He should have been run over. It looked to her as if Ben was picked up and thrown out of harms way onto the grass. She believes a guardian ANGEL PROTECTED HIM.

We have sought to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord. They have an understanding that they are important to Him and to us.

In Genesis 19 ANGELS SAVE LOT, his wife and his girls from the angry gay mob. Mind you, the angels have their work cut out for them in trying to get Lot and his family out! Judgment, DRAGON-LIKE, is just about to be UNLEASHED AND SWEEP DOWN upon the city and Lot is arguing with the angels about which way to escape? Figure.

MY CHOICES DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

Lot was saved because God ANSWERED Abraham’s prayer back in Genesis 18:23-32. James 5:16 (NLT) says “…The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 

So Lot starts afresh and they ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. NOT!

Lot had argued with the angel about escaping to the mountains. When he sees the destruction of Sodom and his wife, his life is now RULED WITH FEAR and he decides to obey the original suggestion and hives it up into the mountains, living in a cave with his daughters.

From BIG MAN in the city with servants and livestock, sitting in the gate negotiating business to being a frightened little man with a drinking problem. From exercising leadership and power to having NOTHING but the daughters he had tried to offer up to the men of Sodom. God has a way of impressing on Lot what is IMPORTANT in life, but he KEEPS MISSING IT. Here’s a brilliant opportunity to get to know his girls and bring them into relationship with God.

Lot’s girls, having been protected from being raped from the men of Sodom think that they will now never have children, unless they can RAPE THEIR FATHER while he is drunk. SKEWED VIEW OF SEX from the cities they had lived in and a view of themselves based no doubt on the poor view their father has of them! Talk about DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY!

Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” The opposite is true too. Lot doesn’t seem to direct his children in anything but in DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS.

IT’S WHAT DIRECTS MY LIFE THAT DETERMINES MY DESTINY.

Lot is a believer but he is ruled by his CIRCUMSTANCES! Ruled by FEAR! Ruled by ALCOHOL! Obviously Lot agrees to GET DRUNK. Can’t blame this on the girls. The girls saw this as the way to get him to sleep with him. Lot may have been a righteous man (a believer) but certainly not disciplined enough not to get drunk.

It happens twice. DRUNKENESS is not unfamiliar to Lot. What I want to know is how come they have so much wine in the cave? Where did it come from? Did they escape in a distillery truck or something? What is it that makes bringing wine up to a cave a priority? Is Lot an ALCOHOLIC?

MY PRIORITIES WILL DETERMINE MY DESTINY.

God bless you Church as you continually CHOOSE to live in obedience to God, and refuse to let the pattern of your life be DIRECTED your sinful actions. May your PRIORITIES be God’s priorities. Seek first His kingdom and you’ll live happily ever after? Well no. Happiness comes and goes. A life full of a deepseated joy in serving the Lord. Yes!

Pastor Ross