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Presentation 24. C. S. Lewis writes; “No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time”. And yet it is surprising to.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 24. C. S. Lewis writes; “No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time”. And yet it is surprising to."— Presentation transcript:

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3 C. S. Lewis writes; “No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time”. And yet it is surprising to discover the number of people who give up and write themselves out of the script when they fail. This is particularly true of those who have set out on a faith journey with God. The passage before us both encourages us to be on guard against failure and teaches us how to react, when we do fail in our relationship with God. Introduction Presentation 24

4 When Abram arrived in the land of promise, one of the first things he did was build an altar, and call upon the name of the Lord. He established a place of fellowship with God. Everything was fine until he left that place of worship and headed south into the Negev desert. He was on the verge of leaving the land of promise. But what drove him south? The shelves of the local supermarket were bare –there was a famine in the land. Failure Unpacked Presentation 24

5 Abram had an important decision to make. Should he call on God and ask for help and direction? This famine provided him with an opportunity to grow in faith. Would he look to God to provide? Instead he sought relief from his difficulty by running down to Egypt. He behaved as we often do. We seek relief from difficulty before we ask, ‘Why has God permitted the difficulty’. Instead of praying for wisdom to understand the purpose of our trial we want to escape it as quickly as possible. Failure Unpacked Presentation 24

6 Do not be unduly hard on Abram who after all was just a learner in the life of faith. Think of what his faith had achieved thus far. He had been prepared to relocate in a foreign land and say goodbye to the culture, lifestyle and friendships that he had enjoyed. He had moved into uncharted territory, where there was real physical danger. He had exchanged his settled existence in Ur for the unsettled existence of a tent- dweller. Faith’s Achievements Presentation 24

7 The land he had been sent to was even more godless than the one he had left. In response to God’s call, he had come into a situation that was emotionally challenging, materially unfulfilling and morally frightening Thus far he had demonstrated real faith! Surely faith has its limits? How was he expected to contend with famine? Everyone knew there was food in Egypt. Does that not seem a reasonable move to make? In crisis, it is so easy to stop trusting God and instead trust in our own wisdom. Faith’s Achievements Presentation 24

8 Abram’s failure to trust God set him on a downward spiritual spiral with disastrous consequences. Trace the steps of his failure. First, he moved from a position of faith to one of unbelief. He allowed sore circumstances to sow seeds of distrust in his relationship with God. It is easy to become the victim of our circumstances. Someone once asked a Christian how they were doing and they replied, “Not too badly under the circumstances.” The questioner then asked, “What are you doing under the circumstances, isn’t a Christian supposed to be on top of them?” The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

9 When all we can see are the sore and frightening circumstances, Then we have left God out of the picture. Peter discovered this on the sea of Galilee, when he was told by Jesus to leave the fishing boat and walk on the water towards him. Everything went well until Peter took his eyes off Jesus for then the waves of circumstance that surrounded him, completely filled his vision and he began to sink. Matt 14.29-31 The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

10 The second step in Abram’s decline is that he left Bethel behind. ‘Bethel’ means ‘House of God’, a place of fellowship and worship. We do not read of Abram worshipping God on his journey to Egypt or during his stay there. Indeed, worship in off his agenda until a chastened Abram returns to Bethel. Unbelief keeps believing men and women from worship. That may mean that they stop reading their Bibles and praying. It may mean they stop attending church or if they attend they close their ears to what God is saying. The litmus test of the vitality of our personal walk with God is to ask, ‘Has worship become a chore, something we can happily put to one side?’ If so, then we probably need to do something about our relationship with God. The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

11 The third step in Abram’s decline in faith is seen in his fear for his life. He had lost the peace of mind, which God brings. Abram experiences an unnerving sense of insecurity, “These Egyptians will take my life in order to steal my beautiful wife”. Courage goes out the window when faith fails. And a lack of time spent in fellowship with God can heighten our sense of insecurity. Abram’s unbelief did not only lead to fear and insecurity it revealed itself in surprising selfishness. He became more concerned with his own safety than with the honour and chastity of his wife. By turning away from God, Abram’s thinking became self-centred. He’s looking after No.1. The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

12 And that in turn led to hypocrisy. Abram pretended that Sarai wasn’t his wife but his sister. Sarai is told to live out the lie to preserve Abram’s life. You see Abraham could not trust God for protection because he had walked away from that trust relationship. All he had left was his own scheming. I am sure that Abraham justified the lie to himself by saying, “If it spares my life then its OK. The end justifies the means!” I doubt if that is what Sarai was thinking, when she was taken off to be Pharaoh’s wife! Our unbelief and its consequences does not operate in a vacuum others are caught up in it and suffer as a result. It is quite wrong to think that, “My bad choices will only affect me”. The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

13 Now God brought matters to a head by inflicting Pharaoh and his household with illness, which in turn led to the exposure of Abram’s deceit and to his public humiliation. God was so determined to bless Abram that he was prepared to publicly embarrass him. What could be more embarrassing than for a heathen king to give the man of faith a lecture on morality? As we focus on God’s intervention note that God was not frustrated nor defeated by Abram’s failure. God did not give up on Abram because he sinned, stumbled and fell into disobedience. “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand”. Ps. 37.24 The Consequence of Failure Presentation 24

14 God had a tight hold on Abram’s life. God had begun a work. God always finishes what he starts. This should be of tremendous encouragement to us, when we are conscious of having failed God. God is faithful to his covenant promises. When his people are faithless he shows himself faithful. He cannot deny himself. It is something of this commitment of God that Paul was anxious to communicate to the Philippian church. He writes; “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Phil 1.6 The Preservation of Failures Presentation 24

15 God does not cast us away when we fail him. This does not mean we have license to abuse God’s covenant and live carelessly and irresponsibly. We will soon discover that although Abram is restored to fellowship with God, he will continue to live with the consequences of his disobedience. When we sin and then experience God’s forgiveness its is like pulling out nails than have been hammered into a plank of wood. The nails may be removed but the marks remain. Our sin though forgiven leaves marks it carries consequences. Conclusion Presentation 24

16 Abram left Egypt and retraced his steps back to Bethel, ashamed, rebuked and repentant. This is the only remedy for unbelief and backsliding to return to the place of fellowship, which we have neglected. There was for Abram a recovery of faith. There is no reason why any disobedient child of God should not make a similar recovery. Listen to the words of the risen Christ to the church at Ephesus: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first”. Rev 2.5 Conclusion Presentation 24


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