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Presentation 34. Failure overwhelms many on the Christian pilgrimage. We can become discouraged and conclude that, We have no place in Gods future.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 34. Failure overwhelms many on the Christian pilgrimage. We can become discouraged and conclude that, We have no place in Gods future."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 34


3 Failure overwhelms many on the Christian pilgrimage. We can become discouraged and conclude that, We have no place in Gods future. A conclusion that a study in the life of Abraham might reinforce if the biblical record spoke only of a life of unchecked progress. Instead, we find that Abrahams life is punctuated with failure. There is at times a Snakes and Ladder quality about his spiritual progress. There are chapters in his life that might be entitled, The Pilgrims Regress and we deal with such a chapter now. Introduction Presentation 34

4 What caused Abraham to again move away from the land of promise where God had placed him and travel towards the Negev? As he looked down on the destroyed cities of the plain did he think that his intercession for them had been in vain? Was he disappointed that Lot had not returned to a place of faith? God does not always meet our expectations. We battle and struggle in prayer and expect a particular answer because we are sure that God has heard our cries. But if the answer is not, what we expected we can spiral into depression and unbelief. Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

5 Elijah is the classic example of this. After the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, God answered by fire. Elijah was vindicated and his opponents discredited. Elijah expected not just the rain to fall but a spiritual revival to flood the nation. And when the latter didnt happen he deserted his post, ran off into the wilderness and asked God to take his life, 1Kings 19.4. Was Abraham also leaving his post because things had not worked out as he expected? Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

6 Another explanation for Abrahams journey is that it was in response to a panic attack. The God he worshiped was responsible for the destruction of Sodom. What was to prevent his neighbours from gathering an army to exact their revenge on him? After all he was Gods man! But could God not keep him safe? There is an irrational quality associated with unbelief. And as Abraham journeyed towards Gerar, he was moving from a position of faith to one of unbelief. His confidence in God diminished and once again he began to introduce Sarah as his sister. Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

7 A see-saw principle operates in the spiritual realm. When our view of God is high, our view of ourselves is low - we see ourselves as weak, and sinful. When our view of God is low so that we no longer see him as loving, powerful and in control of the universe, then our view of ourselves rises. We become confident in our own ability to handle difficulty. When Abraham failed to trust God, confidence in his own ingenuity soared. He believed that by introducing Sarah as his sister, he would be free from danger. He did the same thing 20 years previously when he first travelled down to Egypt! Then the plan had failed miserably. Clearly, Abraham hadnt learned from the past. Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

8 We learn from v13 that the origin of this deceit goes back to the time he set out from Ur. When Pharaoh had previously taken Abraham to task for his deceit, this agreement to misrepresent his relationship with Sarah had not been discarded. How many Christians have made compromises in their early years? Perhaps a decision to bend the commands of God in a particular way. And after years of discipleship and without any warning, that early compromise suddenly springs up introducing all sorts of complications. What is the solution? Their foolish decision needs to be brought out into the open, confessed and forsaken and Gods forgiveness and deliverance sought. Something Abraham had failed to do. Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

9 Abrahams behaviour not only put his wife in danger but it could have imperilled the work of God. Remember that within a year the child of promise was to be born. The one in whom Israels future blessing and that of the entire world was to rest. What chance did Abraham have of becoming a father with Sarah locked a way in the royal harem? And if a child had been conceived just before they entered Egypt, Abraham would have no way of knowing if this child was indeed his! No DNA tests were available then! Do you see how the whole plan of God had been imperilled? Abrahams Failure Presentation 34

10 However, the two most significant words in this passage are found in v3 But God. Indeed, these words regularly appear in scripture and usually address situations, which from a human perspective are completely and utterly hopeless. But with God there is always hope and we see Gods hand at work both in preserving Abraham and Sarah for future service and in dealing graciously with a heathen king. It was to the heathen king that God spoke. God made it clear that it was he, who had prevented Abimelech from being embroiled in a sinful Relationship by making the king unwell and thus preventing him from visiting Sarah in the royal harem. The Grace of God Presentation 34

11 I wonder how many of us can look back and see the restraining hand of Gods grace keeping us from situations that could have shipwrecked our lives and impeded the fruitfulness of our Christian service? I think we might be surprised to discover just how often God has stepped into potentially disastrous situations in our lives both before and after we came to faith. The Grace of God Presentation 34

12 Why was God so gracious towards an inconsistent Abraham? Scripture tells us that Gods gifts and callings are without repentance. When Abraham was called to play a prominent role in Gods work it was not because he deserved it or stood head and shoulders above everyone else as far righteousness was concerned. He was the product of Gods grace. The people with whom God works are not of themselves intrinsically better than others. What men and women of faith become, they become in spite of their natural selves. Indeed, God delights in doing the extraordinary through the ordinary. The Grace of God Presentation 34

13 What does Paul says to the Corinthian church. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before him. 1Cor 1.27 The Grace of God Presentation 34

14 But Abraham was not just a nobody from a distant land. He was now viewed as a deceitful nobody who impugned the integrity of the king v11. Abimelech may have thought Abraham to be a cowardly, two-faced hypocrite but this is not how God spoke of him to Abimelech. God describes him as a prophet and an intercessor v7. He was a man set apart by God for a purpose! God was not indifferent to Abrahams sin – it would be dealt with at a later date. The thing to note is that Abrahams sin did not change Gods view of Abraham. The Grace of God Presentation 34

15 In the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.11ff, you will remember that the attitude and behaviour of the prodigal grieved the father. And the penitent son upon his return felt the best he could hope for was a servant role in the kitchen. The thing that he found mind-blowing was not simply his fathers forgiveness but discovering that despite his sin and rebellion he was still viewed and treated as a much loved son! The Grace of God Presentation 34

16 Abimelech took sheep and cattle, male and female slaves and gave them to Abrahamv14. Was he heaping coals of fire on Abrahams head [Rom. 12:20] by behaving in such a generous fashion? Abraham should have been giving gifts to Abimelech, because he was in the wrong! Abraham accepts these gifts, but had previously refused gifts of the king of Sodom cf. Gen.14:21-24. Why? Here, because of Abrahams deceit, he finds it hard to reclaim the same high moral ground and to cause offence by refusing to accept the gift. Abimelech makes clear his reason for the gift was to vindicate Sarah lit. she was found to be right a reference to her humble submission in this mess! The Grace of God Presentation 34

17 I am sure Abraham felt a deep sense of shame as he is taken to task by the heathen king for his deceit. What kind of way is that for a man of God to behave? I am sure he experienced relief, when he discovered that the kings illness had kept him from Sarah. He may have experienced surprise, when he prayed for Abimelechs recovery and God heard and answered his prayer! But surely Abraham stood in awe of Gods grace on discovering God did not berate him for his sin. He did not rub salt in the wound of this broken penitent man. Can God really say, We will forget all about this and not raise the matter again? Yes! such is his grace towards his penitent children. The Grace of God Presentation 34

18 Is it not incredible to think that even when we doubt Gods ability to care for us that he continues to care. When we fall into sin and he picks us up and sets before us the grace of forgiveness. There is no greater incentive to keep us from sinning than this experience of Gods grace. You may be thinking that your situation is hopeless, that past failure has disqualified you from future service. Perhaps you feel like throwing in the towel and bringing your spiritual pilgrimage to a halt. Look up to see two words written above your life - but God. God is bigger than our sin for where sin increased, grace increased all the more Rom 5.20. God is bigger than our failure. He wants to bless us despite the past! Conclusion Presentation 34

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