Posts Tagged ‘Abimelech’

Matthew 17:14-20 – HOW TO ADJUST YOUR FOCUS

“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important. Develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, take another shot.”

Focus. Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge.org, Paint.net, and MorgueFiles.com

Focus. Image by Ross Cochrane using FilterForge.org, Paint.net, and MorgueFiles.com

Recorded in brilliant failure, Matthew 17:16 is a digital snapshot the disciples would rather have erased from the memory card. The colours are too dark, and there are no finely focused images of a miracle, just the indistinct madness of an ill-conceived attempt. When the disciples can’t cast out a demon from a boy, Jesus tells them that they “don’t have enough FAITH” (Matthew 17:20 NLT). In Mark 9:28-29 (NLT) Jesus adds “This kind can be cast out only by PRAYER.” 

Faith and prayer, like the interplay between field of focus and the aperture, are both needed to obtain the right exposure to God’s light for a healing miracle to occur. The disciples depth of faith was far too shallow, much too close to the Scribes, focused on their arguments, accentuating their negativity and blurring the little boy’s needs into the background.

They had needed more light that day. They did not allow God to adjust the aperture of faith to even the size of a mustard seed to obtain enough light to expose this little boy to the love of Jesus. Their image was far from perfect. 

DEPTH OF FAITH

As Jesus came down from the mountain He framed a different picture of all that was happening in a deep depth of faith. Everything was in focus, the argument with the Scribes, the crowd, the failure of the disciples, the faith of the father and the boy who needed healing. He saw the scene with absolute clarity.

The paparazzi crowd zoomed in on Jesus and away from the negative image of the argument, focusing their lenses on the celebrity of Jesus. The Son is the best light source of all. Rich and warm, His light brings out the best colours in everyone, but also highlights the strong shadows of darkness in the scribes and boy; the demonic shapes, long and sinister. The contrast is striking.

Then darkness suddenly flees as the demon is fully exposed to a blinding flash of light! Abruptly the shadows vanish and the image of a bright little boy appears, alive and well for all to see. The crowd is in awe at the picture of health they see. What had looked obscure and shadowy is now a beautifully balanced image of a boy, correctly exposed to the saving power of Jesus. Miracles are all about light. They marvel in the presence of Jesus, Master of Light and Life.

THE APERTURE (Faith)

Each person is a lens with their own maximum and minimum aperture setting (faith). Jesus invites me to use the widest aperture to let in as much of the light from God’s Word as possible. Otherwise, I will experience an underexposed life. 

ISO SPEED (Inner Sensitivity Opportunity)

At its simplest level, the Faith Aperture is an opening in my perception the size of a mustard seed. When God’s illumination passes through that opening, it shines on a light-sensitive heart that absorbs the light and captures the image of the Son of God within. The ISO speed (the Inner Sensitivity Opportunity) controls the sensitivity of my heart. The higher the ISO speed, the more sensitive the heart is to the light of God’s Word and the message of Christ. As these settings are adjusted to different circumstances I can get clarity and focus for perceiving my world through the eyes of God.

FOCUS AND LENS (Perception) 

Life is all about capturing light. It is received in faith. When I manually seek to control my world some circumstances will be in focus, crisp and clear, while others will be out of focus, blurry and confusing. As I allow the light of Christ to fill my life there are many ways that God automatically allows my perception sensors, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to detect, track and adjust my faith focus in the situations that I face each day. His invitation is to bring light and life and focus to your life.

He moves in closer like a big cat, stepping lightly and with careful intent, zooming in on His subject. He wants to capture every detail, the peppered freckles, the curve of the mouth, the twist of hair in the breeze. 

The intersecting lines of the viewfinder are poised and the autofocus is locked onto His subject. Playing with the early light, the background trees splash soft, subdued nuances of colour upon the scene. And in that split second when everything is resolved, His finger instinctively finds the shutter release and presses. The sound of the shutter sings in the silence, and a split second of time digitally replicates itself, irrevocably remembered and beautiful.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:26-35 – WE’RE NOT GOING TO LIVE IN FEAR!

She is new to Shalom, the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain. Jane (not her real name) is old and frail, and anxious. She clings onto my hand, frantic eyes wide and pleads “Will you stay here and talk to me. I don’t have any friends here. I need someone to stay with me. Please don’t leave me alone.” I can almost smell the fear it is so palpable as she looks into my eyes and tentatively glances around the room at her new surroundings.

That’s when I notice Francis (not her real name) at a table nearby, listening to our conversation and pretending to read a book. I breathe a sigh of relief. After all Jane can’t live the few remaining years her life in fear. Meeting new friends can only help. The perfect opportunity for Jane to meet a new friend. We arrive at her table and I introduce Jane to Francis.

Fancis, a rather tall and well built woman stands to her feet and before I can stop her she slams her considerable sized book on the table in front of her. With venom in her voice she yells at the top of her vocal range, swearing into Janes face “Get a ^%#@* grip on yourself woman! … Keep her away from me!” All of a sudden the loungeroom was a battlefield, Jane’s wheelchair was her trench and each strange face her enemy. She was afraid and I was her only ally, vainly waving a peace flag while it was being shot to pieces.

The shock of this confrontation is almost too much for Jane and I quickly wheel her away from her “potential friend” before she has a heart attack. I shake my head in disbelief as Francis continues her tirade from a distance. If Jane was fearful about being in a new place she is now TRAUMATISED against meeting anybody new. Who knows how the next stranger might respond? She feels REJECTED AND ISOLATED.

Isaac is also in a new place and among strangers, but initially he is tolerated and they allow him to farm the land. For someone who has never farmed before, Isaac has an unbelievably fruitful season, a bumper crop, by the time we get to Genesis 26:12. He is being blessed by God, and God, it seems, has incredible farming skills.

Although Isaac becomes very prosperous in his business, his RELATIONSHIP with his Philistine neighbours is in a mess. Isaac is seen as a THREAT and is ordered out of Gerar by the authorities. REJECTED AND ISOLATED in a strange place. Jane understands how he feels.

Isaac moves eventually to BEERSHEBA after a number of provocative incidents which, like a fully cocked flintlock on an ancient musket, were ready to create a spark that would ignite the priming powder of war. The Philistines are itching for a fight and they vandalise his wells by filling them with dirt.

Isaac is still pretty upset about the vandalism of his fathers wells. So when the Philistine King Abimelech walks into camp with his army commander, Phicol, he isn’t exactly receptive. He says “Why have you come here? You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land” (Genesis 26:27 NLT). He’s not being paranoid. They do hate him!

Abimelech acknowledges that he can see that the Lord is with Isaac. I spoke with a man the other day who can see the difference that faith has made but he is still unwilling to commit his life to Christ. Why is that? Is it because he is unwilling to come under God’s authority and to be accountable to Him?

Obviously Abimelech is a little bit afraid of the reprisals that might occur because of the vandalism to Isaacs wells. He says he wants peace. He says “Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace…” (Genesis 26:28 NLT). What gall! Treated him well? He has just finished running him out of town, almost instigating a war in the process, and he says that he sent him away in peace! Thems fighting words!

Here’s Isaacs opportunity to get even by running Abimelech out of town, but Isaac doesn’t take it. He sees the bigger picture. He begins being intentional about peace. He starts thinking in effect “How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?” The Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham would have been proud. “We’re not gonna sit in silence, WE’RE NOT GONNA LIVE WITH FEAR, Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!” (The Voice).

Isaac prepares a non aggression treaty. They eat and drink together, a sign of their mutual agreement. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NASB). Paul says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB). The next morning they sign the treaty by making a solemn oath with each other in front of witnesses. Then Abimelech leaves in peace (Genesis 26:30-31) and in that atmosphere of peace and security comes more good news.

That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “WELL OF THE OATH”)”. Isaac sees a connection with the finding of this well and the peace treaty he has just made with Abimelech, but mostly this is the place where God appears to him and reaffirms His covenant of blessing (Genesis 26:24-25).

Don’t miss it. Not having to live in fear is not just trying to please everyone around you. Deep-seated peace comes when I am in relationship with Christ who is my peace. Jesus says “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT). Reconciliation with God leads to reconciliation with others.

The invitation of peace with God and eachother is found in Christ. To followers of Christ, Paul writes, “You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him …Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” (Colossians 1:19-22 NLT).

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says “… we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. … anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. … And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 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.”

Now that’s some PEACE TREATY. Forgiven! Restored! Loved! “WE’RE NOT GONNA TO LIVE IN FEAR! OH-O-O-O, WHOA-O-O-O!”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 26:1-17 – LIAR LIAR!

Liar! Liar!

I will always remember him. 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. 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.

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.”

REBEKAH WAS BEAUTIFUL. Rebekah had been married for many years to Isaac but she could still turn the heads of men wherever she went. I am sure she wasn’t trying to do this, but she was the Audrey Hepburn of the ancient world (What do you mean you don’t remember Audrey Hepburn? How about Sophia Loren? OK, Catherine Zeta-Jones or some other aging movie star?)

I don’t know what it was about the Philistines, but Isaac didn’t trust them. He thought they would try to kill him just because he had a beautiful wife. Where did that thought come from? Even if I go through a bad part of town, I don’t expect to die just because my wife is beautiful. This passage has never made any sense to me. Isaac’s life in Genesis 26 is looking like a B grade RE-RUN of an old movie from Genesis 12:13 and Genesis 20:2.

Anyway, he passes Rebekah off as his SISTER. How this protects Isaac, I don’t know! It certainly puts Rebekah in danger. What kind of a husband does this? What is he trying to do? How is a brother any safer than a husband? And how did Rebekah feel about all this? She is the one most in danger!

You know the story. Abimelech sees Isaac caressing Rebekah and he confronts them. I like Abimelech. He has more character here than Isaac. He gives orders to his men not to touch Rebekah or Isaac (Genesis 26:8). Abimelech is more willing to protect Rebekah than Isaac. Is Isaac some kind of wimp who has to have a Philistine fight to protect his wife? Abimelech is more aware of sexual sin. He doesn’t want the guilt to rest on his men should they try to sleep with Rebekah because of Isaac’s deception. Where did he get such a healthy respect for God and being judged for sin? If he lived today would he have still had such a conscience? HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THE BELIEVER THAN ISAAC!

Well done Abimelech! At least he has some form of integrity which is more than I can say for Isaac. Isaac JUSTIFIES HIS LIE to Abimelech because he thought his life would be endangered by telling people he is married to this beautiful 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!

Isaac 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. The sins of the father.

God wants me to love my wife and respect her enough to protect her and our marriage. That alone will provide a great example for others, and apart from anything else my wife is worth risking death for. How would I respond in a situation like this? I’d like to think that I would come out of it with my WITNESS and my MARRIAGE intact, but I know that anyone is capable of falling. Lord, protect my marriage and my witness for both our sakes.

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 says “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always REAP WHAT YOU SOW.”

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!

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 as He 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, through Christ who strengthens you.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26 – REMAKE OF BACK TO THE FUTURE

Remake of Back to the Future

“BACK TO THE FUTURE”, for those who weren’t around in 1985, is an American SCIENCE-FICTION ADVENTURE FILM, starring Michael J. Fox. It could easily be a re-make of Genesis 26.

MARTY MCFLY is sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 in a DeLorean and its plutonium powered FLUX CAPACITOR. Back in 1955 he meets his future-parents in high school. Then the UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS. He accidentally attracts his future MOTHER, LORRAINE, romantically. Gross.

Marty has to repair the damage to history by getting his parents to fall in love, otherwise he won’t have a FUTURE. He has a photo of the family in his pocket and his image is fading.

Marty’s future father is George. GEORGE, as a teenager, is afraid of a bully called BIFF, and Biff starts to pick on George and Lorraine. For once in his life George STANDS UP TO BIFF and with ONE PUNCH knocks him out. LORRAINE, Marty’s future Mother, is smitten with George and they kiss on a 1950’s dance floor. Eventually they will marry and this assures Marty of his existence in the future.

Now all Marty has to do is to get home to the future. With the help of scientist DR. EMMETT BROWN (“Doc”), who harnesses a LIGHTNING BOLT to power the DeLorean’s flux capacitor, Marty finds his way back to his future.

I want a PLUTONIUM POWERED FLUX CAPACITOR for my Mitsubishi Lancer! I want to be able to go back into the past and correct all the mistakes I have made. If I can’t have that then spare me from repeating the same mistakes that my parents have made, so that my past doesn’t keep becoming my future. Isaac has a similar problem in Genesis 26.

Isaac’s father, ABRAHAM (Abram then), was afraid of a man called ABIMELECH (Biff?). Abraham has a BEAUTIFUL WIFE called Sarah (Sarai).

He doesn’t want Abimelech to get JEALOUS and attract attention, so he tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. BUT THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS! He attracts the UNWANTED ATTENTION of Abimelech anyway! Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem with the intention of sleeping with her. Somebody has to REPAIR THE DAMAGE otherwise Isaac won’t have a future. He won’t be part of Abraham’s family.

Fortunately God intervenes (who needs a plutonium powered flux capacitor to protect the future when you have God on your side) and a curse is placed on Abimelech until he returns Sarah to Abraham. THUS ISAAC’S FUTURE IS ASSURED.

Now the interesting thing is that many years later Isaac, Abraham’s son, makes the SAME MISTAKE as his father. Isaac travels to a place called Gerar and meets a man called Abimelech also. Dejar vu! Like his father, Isaac is afraid that Abimelech will be jealous of his beautiful wife and try to kill him, so he tells people that Rebekah is his sister and not his wife. He is REPEATING HISTORY. The question is “Will he DESTROY HIS FUTURE by his lie?” He has put his whole future at risk because he is not willing to trust in God.

Fortunately Abimelech sees Isaac caressing Rebekah and confronts Isaac with the lie. Abimelech is more concerned about the truth than Isaac is, and orders his men not to touch them.

What is the future that God has planned for Isaac? In Genesis 26:3-4 (NLT) God says “Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.”

God keeps His PROMISES made to Isaac. In the future, CHRIST would intervene in history as a descendent of Isaac, and would bless the nations of the earth as promised and REPAIR ALL THE DAMAGE that was done in the past. No need for a DeLorean to go back in time and fix my mistakes and sins. All we need to do is to TRUST IN CHRIST and what he has done for us when He died for our sins. Not a bad deal, but it requires FAITH (Romans 4:13).

What is the future that God has planned for YOU? The invitation is to stop repeating your past or living in regret. Only Christ can deal once and for all with my past mistakes so that they do not become a part of my future. Divinely generated FAITH, like an lightning bolt, helps me find my way BACK TO THE FUTURE God intended for me before the PHOTO FADES.

Pastor Ross

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 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