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Presentation 35. Chris Tarrent, the presenter of Who wants to be a millionaire?, often extends a cheque to contestants and then withdraws it saying,

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 35. Chris Tarrent, the presenter of Who wants to be a millionaire?, often extends a cheque to contestants and then withdraws it saying,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 35


3 Chris Tarrent, the presenter of Who wants to be a millionaire?, often extends a cheque to contestants and then withdraws it saying, We dont want to give you that. He implies that contestants can win something better, a cheque for £125,000 instead of one for £64,000 etc. A choice has to be made. Will the contestant give up something good for the chance to win something better? That decision is always presented as a gamble. Introduction Presentation 35

4 God often asks us to choose between something good and something better. However, there is no element of chance in Gods offer. He doesnt say, there is a bit of a gamble involved in choosing to go for something better. God guarantees we cannot lose. The costly choices he sets before us reap a high dividend, even if it that is not always immediately apparent. Abraham knew all about costly choices! Introduction Presentation 35

5 More than 25 years previously, Abraham had left his land, his friends, his family and, in obedience to the call of God, made his way to Canaan. God had made binding promises to Abraham the fulfilment of which rested upon the birth of an heir. The birth of the miracle child is introduced by the phrase the Lord was graciousv1. Clearly God blessed this couple despite their sin and the many complications they had introduced to the fulfilment of Gods plan. This birth had more to do with Gods promise than with their performance. Abraham and Sarah can hardly contain their pleasure. From the beginning Isaac, which means laughter, lived up to his name. The Child of Promise Presentation 35

6 Whenever our lives have been marked by one disappointment after another, or by a long period of unrelieved anguish and then God graciously breaks in with all his transforming power, it is difficult to describe the joy we experience. Psalm 126 expresses the Jews response on their return to Jerusalem after 70 years in exile: When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter our tongues with songs of joy. It was excitement on this scale that Abraham and Sarah experienced. It had cost them to become obedient pilgrims leaving home, family and friends. Their childlessness had been the cause of ridicule but this bundle of joy made it all so worthwhile. The Child of Promise Presentation 35

7 A shadow is soon cast over their joy, which was not universally shared. Abrahams other son, Ishmael, born to Sarahs servant Hagar revealed a festering resentment towards his baby brother. The teenagers nose was out of joint, not simply because he was no longer the focus of attention but there was now a rival for the considerable inheritance, which he thought his. We are not talking a few shekels - Abraham had by this time reached millionaire status. Ishmael saw Isaac as the child, who would dispossess him and his anger could not be hidden. It found outward expression in mockery and verbal abuse. Complications from the Past Presentation 35

8 Where might Ishmaels hostility to Isaac lead? That is what troubled Sarah, whose perception of the situation was more unclouded than Abrahams. Something had to be done and physical separation seemed to be the only solution! For Abraham the matter was not so simple. After all, Ishmael was his son, and over the past 16 years, as the boy had developed so had Abrahams feelings for him. Sarah, by asking that Ishmael be sent away, was asking him to make an extremely difficult choice. Complications from the Past Presentation 35

9 But there is a sense in which this choice was only now facing him because of an earlier wrong decision to try and help God out! They had felt poor God had bitten off more than he could chew by promising a child to woman who was biologically past it! Over and over in their minds they would be thinking, If only we hadnt tried to help God out, if only we hadnt been impatient, if only we hadnt tried to produce an heir through surrogacy. But we all have to live with the consequences of past decisions as Abraham was discovering. Complications from the Past Presentation 35

10 Separation is both costly and emotionally harrowing. Who has not been moved by the final paragraphs of Gone With the Wind, in which Rhett Butler leaves Scarlett OHara for the final time? Though deeply in love with him, she makes the best of it and speaks the famous line, After all tomorrow is another day. But in actual fact she has lost the only person who has really mattered to her or could make her happy. But she simply could not bring herself to try and verbalise the trauma of separation. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

11 Are you familiar with the biography of John Paton. In the C19 th he set out by ship from Greenock in Scotland as a missionary to the New Hebrides, which is located the midst of the Pacific Ocean. His father came to bid him farewell. There were tears in both their eyes as they hugged and said their goodbyes. They both knew that it was unlikely that they would ever see each other again. The decision to part company was one that was made at considerable cost. The same emotional trauma was the experience of a young Afghan believer, whose father was a mullah. His mother told him that for his own safety he must leave his home and never return! A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

12 Could Abraham detach himself from what was good in order to pursue Gods best? It was a tough, heart-rending decision but it was also a faith decision. He acted in obedience to the clear command of God and in the knowledge that previously God had told Hagar that Ishmael would be the father of a great nation. A promise reaffirmed to Abraham, who knew that God was able to do, what from a human perspective, seemed impossible. Therefore, Abraham trusted God to take control of Ishmael safety and future development. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

13 This incident raises pressing personal questions. Today, God continues to confront his people with situations, where a separation of some kind is called for. It may be to leave family, friends or an occupation in order to enter a sphere of Christian service in another part of the country or another part of the world. It may be a separation from a pastime or hobby that takes up so much time that we have little time left to do the things that God wants us to do. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

14 You see, the need to separate ourselves from what we know to be bad is fairly easy to grasp. So too is the distinction between good and evil, black and white. But to separate ourselves from something that is either morally neutral or obviously good is harder to handle. We face such decisions from childhood. We are told that to give up our milk bottle and start eating solid food is the best thing for our development. We respond, But the milk is good. Our parents reply, Solid food is best. In the process of Abrahams thinking the argument must have presented itself again and again, it is good to have Hagar and Ishmael around. But what is for the best? The choice confronting Abraham was not between right and wrong but rather between what was good and what was Gods best. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

15 There are times when God says to the Christian, There is something in your life that I want you to let go, not because it is intrinsically wrong but because I have something better for you. A Scottish minister was an extremely accomplished musician. He spent a lot of time playing his piano. Playing hymns and praising God was good but he was spending so much time playing that he was unable to fulfil the ministry that God had prepared for him. God told him to let go of what was good - to get rid of his piano - in order to lay hold of Gods best. He obeyed! It was a hard decision to make and God honoured that decision for over the years that minister exercised a very fruitful ministry. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

16 Gods command to Abraham, to send away Hagar and Ishmael, may also be seen as preparation for the supreme test of faith that he would face 15 years later. Then God would tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Had Ishmael still been around at that time, then Abraham might have thought Ill still have Ishmael. I still have a fall back position. What we can say with certainty is that Gods reasons are not always spelled out in the choices we face and in the partings and separations we are asked to make. We might be able to guess but at times we do not know. God wants us to learn to trust him. A Difficult Decision Presentation 35

17 There is an element of mystery involved in Gods providence. We look back and ask, Why did God put me through all that? - things I do not fully understand. Was it for the kingdoms sake, for the sake of my personal and spiritual development, for familys sake, or for the sake of others? God may presently be pressing home some choice on your heart. Does it appear to you that God wants to take something from you that you consider good? If so, it is only because he longs to give you his best. How much do we long for Gods best? It comes at great cost! Is that a price that we are prepared to pay? Or, put it another way, can we afford not to pay that price? Conclusion Presentation 35

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