Posts Tagged ‘Sarah’

Genesis 25:1-4 – HOW TO LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY?

Leaving a Lifechanging Legacy

The artwork and design of my wife’s book on her family tree is magnificent. The storyline is clear and so interesting. Hours and hours of work, a labour of love. I am so proud of her. A legacy for generations to come.

In the prologue of her book, Julie writes “It seems a strange thing, almost a disrespectful thing, to reduce the lifetime of one person to a page, a line or just a photo in a book. If only we could go back in time and spend an hour, a day, with each of our forebears, and listen to each one express their lives in their own words – the highs and lows, the challenges and accomplishments, the disappointments and surprises, the heartaches and celebrations – not only would we know more about them, we could appreciate more of the valuable contribution each made to following generations, and understand more about who we are ourselves.”

In Julie’s family tree we can trace back a history of ten generations and a history of faith in Christ for at least five generations. Who knows how many generations to come will seek to find a relationship with Jesus Christ as part of their family heritage? Others in the family tree we know very little about, however.

Everyone knows about Sarah and Hagar in the story of Abraham, but very few know that he also had another wife. In Genesis 25, Abraham Marries Keturah.

We all know he had trouble having children with Sarah. God healed both Sarah and Abraham in order for them to have children, so by the time he marries Keturah all those problems are long gone. Did you know that he had SIX MORE SONS, as well as Ishmael and Isaac?

Psalms 92:12-15 (NLT) says that “the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” This is certainly true of Abraham.

What is the story with these other sons and grandsons of Abraham? They are given generous gifts and sent away. Strange names like Zimran, Ishbak, Ashur, (We named a cat Ashur. I wonder what ever happened to Ashur?) and Letush (great name for a market gardener), and Dedan (the trail goes dead with Dedan), and more. We never really find out? The line is followed only through Isaac, the promised son, not though these other sons.

It is strange to get a mention in Abraham’s family tree and then disappear into OBSCURITY. It seems they do nothing of any real significance worth mentioning. These other sons and grandsons made no real contribution to God’s purposes on the earth except to fulfil a promise made to Abraham of numerous descendents. Why are they mentioned by name at all? Perhaps God deliberately CONTRASTS them with those who follow the believing line which runs through Isaac. Will I leave a lasting Legacy or disappear into obscurity?

Abraham was a very wealthy man and at the time of his death Isaac inherits a huge fortune, everything Abraham has. But the HERITAGE OF FAITH that I give to my children is worth more than all my possessions. We have no idea of the difference we make when we believe in the promises of God and pass them on to our children. Genesis 25:11 (NLT) says “After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac” (see also Genesis 17:19).

The choices Abraham makes in his life give me an invitation to explore what it would look like if I believed in the promises of God. What if I, like Abraham, believed in the promise that one day through Abraham the nations of the world would be blessed. Isaac will continue the LINE OF FAITH that one day will lead to the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. What if I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for my sins?

Genesis 25 is not about Abraham’s death. It’s about LEAVING A LEGACY. I choose to believe in Christ and LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY of faith for generations to come. What about you?

Pastor Ross

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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 3 – Genesis 18:1-15 – WHO WERE THOSE MASKED MEN, ANYWAY?

Who were those masked men, anyway?

Some of you would have no idea of who I am talking about when I speak of the LONE RANGER. He is way before your time and he doesn’t fit into our culture anymore. Pity. He had a strict moral code and even the actor, Clayton Moore, was a great ROLE MODEL for children.

Actually, the Lone Ranger was rarely alone. He hung around with his Indian sidekick Tonto). He rode a WHITE STALLION (I never liked the white stallion as much as Zorro’s Tornado. I guess I liked the black look. I still wear black, but without the cape and mask. They seem to suit Antonio Banderas better).

Anyway, the Lone Ranger would be introduced each episode with the tune of the WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE (then Robin Hood got in on the act and used the same theme music). Towards the end of each episode, as the Lone Ranger galloped away towards the sunset, he would shout to his stallion “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” No-one ever asked what “HI-YO” meant or why he said it, but this was inevitably followed by someone asking “Who was that masked man, anyway?”

And that’s the question I find myself asking when I get to Genesis 18. Abraham meets with 3 men with SECRET IDENTITIES. He doesn’t even ask them who they are? All we know is that they are more powerful than either Zorro or the Lone Ranger and their theme tune would more appropriately be HANDEL’S MESSIAH.

Genesis 18:1-2 (NLT) mysteriously speaks of 3 men who visit Abraham. WHO ARE THESE MASKED MEN? (OK, so they are not wearing literal masks but their real identities are masked from us. Who are they?) I know that One of them is the Lord Himself in human form from later on in the passage, but WHY THREE? The Lord and two angels? The Lord and two prophets? The Trinity in human form? Did the Lord need witnesses concerning the promises He was about to make with Abraham and then the judgment He inflicted on Sodom?

This is all a bit weird and Abraham starts to act even more weird, bowing down, washing their feet, feeding them and waiting on them like a servant before he even asks them who they are and what they are doing here. Even then he doesn’t ask the questions I am dying to ask. He had to be interested, surely? 

The visitors seem more interested in asking the questions and after Abraham waits on them like a servant and provides a barbeque lunch, they ignore him and ask about his wife, calling her by name (Genesis 18:9). How did they know Abraham’s wife was Sarah? And why are they so interested in his wife anyway?

Then comes the bombshell!

In Genesis 18:10 one of them says, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Now this is a nice positive word to leave with a couple to encourage them when they have been trying to have a child, but it’s a bit cruel to say to a couple who are BEYOND CHILD BEARING AGE and have always wanted children of their own. They don’t know Abraham’s wife. SHE IS 90 YEARS OLD! Abraham himself is certainly no spring chicken!

“Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. … she laughed silently to herself…” (Genesis 18:12). I mentioned this story to some women in their 90’s the other day (I work in an aged care facility) and THEY LAUGHED TOO!

In 2006 CBS News reported on a 62-year-old woman, Janise Wulf, who “gave birth to a healthy 6-pound, 9-ounce baby boy, becoming one of the oldest women in the world to successfully bear a child.” CBS didn’t mention Sarah.

In Genesis 18:14 the Lord says, “IS ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”

The answer to that question is “NO.” It is the most important question in the Bible in a way. It needed to be answered by Sarah as she took a step of faith in believing God. It’s a more important question than “WHO WERE THOSE MASKED MEN, ANYWAY?” or “How did they hear Sarah laugh? Why did they eat a meal if they are angels?” and all the other questions I have about that passage. When it all comes down to it, the really important thing I need to decide about the Lord is whether He is TOTALLY ABLE to direct my life or not. When I get that right then I have acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord of my life.

God bless you Church as you acknowledge today that “He is able” as the old song says, “more than able to accomplish what concerns me today. He is able more than able to handle anything that comes my way. He is able more than able to do much more than I could ever dream. He is able more than able to make me what He wants me to be” (© 1989 Maranatha Praise Inc.)

Pastor Ross