Posts Tagged ‘Integrity’

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Anger © by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 4:4-5 – EXAMINE WHAT CONTROLS YOUR LIFE

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Interlude” (Psalm 4:4 NLT).

I wondered who David was addressing in this part of Psalm 4. Is he talking to himself, his own followers or his enemies? Is he trying to protect himself against the sin of being controlled by anger rather than, as he has said in the previous verse, be set apart as a godly man? Or is this the Lord speaking and answering David’s prayer? Then I realized that these words are relevant to all parties no matter who said them or to whom they are addressed.

Ephesians 4:21-27 (NLT) gives us similar instruction to those who believe in Christ. “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, … let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. … And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

My take on Psalm 4:4 is, “If you think you have a reason to be angry, don’t let that anger make you think you have a right to act independently of God. Consider this deeply before taking any action. Sleep on it rather than do something you’ll regret.” The idea is the intention for reflection which leads to repentance.

Psalm 4:4 gives me a choice to examine myself. I can make choices that can change the way I respond to life’s circumstances. I don’t have to be controlled by my emotions. I can, as Psalm 4:5 (NLT) says, “Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:12 speaks about Absalom offering sacrifices to impress people. When religious rituals become an excuse for power-plays then it has nothing to do with trusting in God and it is hypocritical. Religious rituals and laws are never enough to replace the right spirit and relationship of dependence to God.

Psalm 4:4-5 invites me to a life of integrity and trust in Christ. He became a sacrifice for sin once and for all and trusting in Him alone brings forgiveness and a right spirit. I am not to live a life controlled by my emotions, but as Romans 12:3 (NLT) says, “… let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 32:10-12 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 6

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-5).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? What do you do about it if your actions have caused the conflict?

  1. ADMIT YOUR PART IN THE CONFLICT

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© Unworthy but not worthless. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps!” (Genesis 32:10 NLT).

He’s right. He is not worthy. He has lied to his father and cheated his brother. He left the country bankrupt because you can never achieve a worthy end with unworthy means. Finally, he starts to realize that he has lived his life making decisions apart from God. Perhaps he is saying, “Lord I am the younger brother. I didn’t deserve the birthright or blessing on my life because they were obtained through deception and not from Your Hand. They gained me nothing but exile. Despite being as unworthy as I am, when I have trusted You, You have only shown Your love and faithful provision for my life.”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT) says “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” But now, in the crisis of this moment, Jacob makes himself subservient to God who has been with him in the process of a lifetime. He is unworthy but not worthless. He humbles himself before God just as he humbles himself before Esau. “Servant of all”.

This will test Jacob’s faith and character. Will he have what it takes for God’s promise to be fulfilled with integrity, humility and respect rather than try to gain the blessing from his self-motivated arrogant willfulness?

Recognising that we have a responsibility in owning our part in the conflict is important. Jacob is being real with God and Esau.

  1. BE SPECIFIC IN WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE HAPPEN

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© Specific Target. Created by Ross Cochrane.

“O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 

But You promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count’” (Genesis 32:11-12 NLT).

Jacob gets down to the specifics. He’s learned a lot about God; His promises, His faithful love, not to mention an angelic army. He doesn’t have nearly as much regard for Esau. He fears that he and his family will be massacred.

As God’s diplomat, he has been appointed with letters of accreditation in the form of a promise which enables him to carry out his duties on behalf of the King of kings within the jurisdiction of this land. He is a servant and ambassador for God’s purposes. But right now he is wondering about his diplomatic immunity from Esau’s arrows.

In prayer, Jacob the deceiver reminds God about His promises, and no doubt prayer also had a way of reminding him about the faithfulness of God.

He will need to take proactive steps to restore his credibility with Esau. Not so easy. How can you convince someone to meet with you when you have lost respect in their eyes? (Find out in Part 7, coming soon).

Pastor Ross  

Genesis 32:7-8 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 4

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see parts 1-3).

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do?

  1. MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS

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© Control Your Emotions by Ross Cochrane

“Jacob was terrified at the news…” (Genesis 32:7 NLT).

OK, so Jacob is not exactly cool, calm and collected about the news of an army of 400 men coming his way. And neither are you, if you are honest, when faced with conflict.

But once again, Jacob observes the facts of the situation as objectively as he can. So often in conflict management, we have limited information, much of which is anything but good. But here Jacob has a window of opportunity, a timeframe within which he must respond with something concrete and positive. The clock is counting down and at the moment he has about 24 hours to defuse this potentially explosive situation.

  1. REMAIN OPEN TO IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBILITIES

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© Remain open to possibilities by Ross Cochrane

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Jacob can only assume that past history will dictate how Esau will handle this conflict. Esau was always a hunter. A whole lot more information is needed but all Jacob can go with is what little he has. If he remains open to the possibility that Esau may be willing to negotiate, then he may still be able to pour oil on the water.

  1. BE STRATEGIC IN CARING FOR THOSE AFFECTED

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© Transparently Strategic by Ross Cochrane

“…He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape”” (Genesis 32:7-8 NLT).

Jacob is terrified but not stupid. He takes immediate action to protect his family and servants. Trusting in God but not his brother, Jacob believes for the best and prepares for the worst. He is being proactive in dividing his company into two groups given that God has not given specific instructions as to how to deal with Esau.

Notice Jacob moves to protect his family and his people rather than his flocks and herds. People are always more important than the conflict. He has learned that people in his life are not just commodities to be manipulated to suit his own ends. One group at least has hope for escape.

I’m sure Jacob is hoping that the angelic army is going to help, but he’s setting things up in case they are just there to watch.

Is all this simply scheming as some have suggested, and not trusting in God? It seems to me Jacob is acting with care, putting others first. He’s afraid, but he’s not running away from God’s plan and he is taking responsibility for the blessings with which God has entrusted to him.

Jacob needs counsel, not criticism and who can he talk to? (Find out in Part 5)

Pastor Ross

Genesis 32:5-6 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 3

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. Jacob’s short course in diplomacy is worth noting (see parts 1 and 2).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? How do you prepare when you are facing a meeting with a sense of dread?

  1. BE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND FOCUS ON THE DESIRED OUTCOME

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© Keep Your Focus Clear. Created by Ross Cochrane

Jacob sends a message to Esau,

“…and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be FRIENDLY to me” (Genesis 32:5 NLT).

Jacob is direct. He lets Esau know that he has a small army of servants and livestock with him and that he hopes for a friendly meeting. Wise move Jacob! No sign of deception here, just a lot of wisdom.

Some say he was trying to impress Esau with his wealth, and this was only evidence that Jacob didn’t trust God to care for him, but please! He has to get in contact with Esau in some way.

He is letting Esau know that he is not there to bring harm but re-establish a friendship or at least a working relationship. He tells Esau exactly what is happening, how many people he has with him, what he can expect, no frills, no surprises, no deception. Just straight talk and a focus on the best possible scenario: friendship.

The key diplomatic responsibilities of Jacob are how best to influence and persuade Esau to re-establish a relationship with him as an ally rather than adversary. In this operation as an Ambassador of God, his intelligence, integrity, his understanding of the emotional climate, and his spiritual insight are critical.

If he succeeds, he will live to tell the story and develop a relationship with Esau grounded in trust and mutual understanding. If he doesn’t, he will have placed his family in the worst possible danger. There are no guarantees except the promises of God.

God has granted Jacob extensive privileges and immunities, but all that depends on upon applying his faith to this confrontation with Esau. The Elegancy of Diplomacy is worthless without the Integrity of Devotion to God and His purposes.

“After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, “We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!”” (Genesis 32:6 NLT). 

So much for diplomacy. Jacob shows his humility and Esau responds with a show of strength. Esau has an army and Jacob has flocks and servants. If this is reduced to Possessions and Power then there’s little chance of resolution.

Flexing his muscles with an army of 400 men indicates fairly strongly that Esau doesn’t trust Jacob. Based on his record, I wouldn’t either. Experience tells him that he should not take chances. He doesn’t give any message to Jacob but leaves him guessing as to whether he is coming as friend or foe.

When a conflict management meeting starts to go south, what can you do? (Watch out for Part 4)

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:5-17 – THE STING – HOW TO SHAPE YOUR DESTINY THROUGH DECEPTION

THE STING

My Mum always believed that a little white lie was always acceptable if it brought about the right end. Rebekah went all in for THE STING. Strictly speaking, Esau is her FIRST BORN SON, if only by a few seconds, and as such is entitled to certain privileges. A first-born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. This is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it? If it’s up to Rebekah, it won’t be.

Romans 9:10-13 says “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God.” She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” That had an impact on Rebekah then, and years later it still does.

THE SET-UP

Overhearing a conversation Isaac has with Esau, Rebekah discovers that Isaac intends to secretly give the family blessing to Esau NOT JACOB. Once given it will be binding and irrevocable. Family inheritance, family leadership, spiritual authority. BUT GOD PROMISED REBEKAH THIS WOULD GO TO JACOB!

THE HOOK

When life appears to be going pear-shaped for your children, don’t give up! Manipulate, deceive, badger and lie! If God won’t work things out immediately, do it yourself! At least this is Rebekah’s way of getting things done. Rebekah wants to work out the will of God on HER OWN TIMETABLE in Genesis 27.

There is always a Rebekah, who feels she is responsible, playing God, but in the most ungodly of ways. God said it, I believe it, BUT… Lacking faith in God’s ability to accomplish His promises, Rebekah has her own plan, a STING OPERATION on her blind husband. It’s a long-shot and poorly conceived, but she finds Jacob and gives him an opportunity to earn an Oscar. Not wanting Jacob to be the biggest loser and be by-passed for a leading role in life (Genesis 27:6-7), Rebekah tells Jacob that deception, trickery, fraud, dishonesty, lying and a sting operation is the only way left for her to fulfil the will of God! How twisted is this kind of thinking?

THE STING

She convinces Jacob to bring two of the young goats from the herd and she cooks them in the way Isaac likes. To complete the ruse, she finds some clothes belonging to Esau and puts them on Jacob. Since Esau is hairy, she glues goat skin to Jacob’s hands and neck (Genesis 27:16). She gives Jacob the meat and sends him in to play Esau and receive the blessing from his blind father. Simple. Who will ever know?

I can know God’s will and try to bring it about in the wrong way and in the wrong time. God doesn’t need me to lie and scheme in order to accomplish His purposes for my life. Do I really believe that unless I don’t act now it won’t happen and if I don’t do something God will bypass me? Is a deceptive means to a good ending justified? Is it really up to me to bring about God’s will in whatever way I please? I know I have to co-operate with God, but it seems to me Rebekah’s method is a bit sus.

God says “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

THE INVITATION God so patiently gives is for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. Like a father, He longs for relationship with us. He wants to include us in HIS plans, not the other way around. When I simply try to include Him in MY plans, I get it wrong and although He can turn cursing to blessing, He doesn’t condone my sin. Will my impatience with His timetable set into play a series of consequences that will inevitably shape my destiny in adverse ways? He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives, and to co-operate with Him along the way. Only He knows the beginning from the end. He can shape my destiny based on integrity not a sting operation. He likes to write the end of the story with my co-operation not my interference.

Pastor Ross

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

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 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 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