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Presentation 36. The uneventful days of our lives are often better tests of our character than days of crisis. We more readily stir ourselves to pray.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 36. The uneventful days of our lives are often better tests of our character than days of crisis. We more readily stir ourselves to pray."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 36


3 The uneventful days of our lives are often better tests of our character than days of crisis. We more readily stir ourselves to pray and seek Gods help in times of crisis but we often fail in the routine of daily living. Yet it is here that we are constantly observed by an unbelieving world. What impression do we give through our life at home, at work or in our church fellowships? Introduction Presentation 36

4 In our passage we see a godly man and a pagan king on good terms. Abraham and Abimelech hold each other in mutual respect. Is it not strange that Ablimelech respected a man, who had previously deceived him, causing him personal injury and then excused his deceit by slandering Abimelechs character? There is surely no fear of God in this place and they [Abimelech and his people] will kill us Gen. 20.11. Observable Blessing Presentation 36

5 What had changed Abimelechs attitude towards Abraham since that first encounter? He had since observed Abrahams life and concluded that God was blessing him. Not just materially, or supernaturally - for news of a child born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age must have reached him - but much more generally. God seemed to prosper Abraham in whatever he did. Gods blessing brings with it personal enrichment and contentment and that in turn causes other people to take notice. Observable Blessing Presentation 36

6 Observable Blessing Think of the story of Joseph, sold as a menial slave to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaohs guard. We read that the Lord was with Joseph and he prospered Gen 39.2 and again when put in prison, The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did Gen 29.33. Or think of King Uzziah who followed a succession of godless kings, who had ruined Israel, politically, economically, and spiritually. Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success. 2Chron 26.5 For much of Uzziahs reign he was able to put Israel on the map once again! Presentation 36

7 Do others see Gods hand of blessing on our lives? Like Abraham our faults are not hidden, but that aside, does the world see something in us that makes them sit up and take notice? If all the professing Christians in our neighbourhood were to vanish overnight, would anyone notice? Would we be missed? If not then there is no use complaining about the wicked, godless, state of our society for clearly we have contributed little to influence or improve it. Observable Blessing Presentation 36

8 Abraham also held Abimelech in high regard. A pagan king? Yes! Abimelech was a man of integrity and kindness, who wanted to live peaceably with his neighbours. Some Christians say they could respect such a ruler, but not all officials are just and kind. But all human authorities hold office by Gods permission! All are accountable to God for the way they exercise their authority. Should we fail to recognise the authority of their office if they show themselves unworthy of it? No! To reject lawful authority because it does not square with our view of justice simply opens the door to anarchy. That in turn causes society to fragment because everyone simply does, what is right in their eyes, and causes people to ask, What is good for me? - with no reference to the welfare of others. Relations with the State Presentation 36

9 Take one example of a bad ruler from scripture. Pilate! His rule in Judea was marked by insensitivity, bloodshed and sacrilege. He was more concerned with his status than with anything else. He married into the emperors family in order to secure high office. The family, into which he married, was so depraved that his mother-in law was banished from Rome. This is the man who sat in judgement over Jesus. Jesus showed him no sign of disrespect, when he appeared before him. Indeed, Jesus spoke approvingly of Pilates authority, not of his character but of his office, noting it had been given him by God. Relations with the State Presentation 36

10 We note this because we live in an age that is increasingly cynical and critical of authority and dismissive of those who exercise it. What should the Christians position be towards those who govern? God calls on us to honour elected officials, of whatever political persuasion, and to pray for those in positions of influence and authority cf. 1 Tim.2.1. We are to support those, who enforce the law and administer justice cf. Rom 13.1ff. We are to be willing law-keepers and tax-payers cf. Mark 12.17. Jesus never advocated anarchy. Why? Because rebellion against authority mirrors heart-rebellion against the God, who instituted authority. What of those who miss-rule and usurp their authority? They are answerable to God! Relations with the State Presentation 36

11 There is a second feature in Abrahams relationship with Abimilech worth touching upon and that is their mutual concern for peace and justice. Indeed a peace treaty is proposed v23. Some Christians find it hard to co- operate at any level with other groups of Christians unless they are in complete doctrinal agreement. We dont agree over baptism and therefore cannot work together on a certain project. We dont hold the same view of the Lords return so we cannot share in mission together. If Christians cant agree to co-operate with other churches then they are even less likely to work with the state in matters of common interest. Relations with the State Presentation 36

12 This passage has something to say about church/state relationships. It does not advocate indiscriminate co-operation, where we agree to suppress the voice of conscience. We find clear instruction in Gods word - in situations of a conflict of conscience there is a place for civil disobedience. To use Peters words to the Sanhedrin, when they sought to suppress the proclamation of the gospel, Judge for yourselves whether it is right in Gods sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard Acts 4.19. There may well be a day, in the not too distant future, when freedom to proclaim the gospel will again be denied the Christians! Relations with the State Presentation 36

13 Abraham and Abimelech show a commendable concern for peace. Abimelech conscious of the increasing number of Abrahams servants, and the size of their respective flocks was anxious to establish a framework for peace before hostility broke out cf v23. These men did more than talk about peace they did something about establishing it. They entered into a binding peace treaty. Jesus did not say, Blessed are those who believe in peace, or who talk about it, he said, Blessed are the peacemakers Matt 5.9. Relations with the State Presentation 36

14 Of course peace cannot be separated from justice and so Abraham raises the matter of a well that his servants had dug and which Abimelechs servants had seized. At that time, whoever dug a well had the rights to the area of land around the well used for watering livestock. Abimelech was clearly embarrassed by the news of his servants behaviour and immediately affirmed Abrahams rights to the well. Justice was done peace was secured. Relations with the State Presentation 36

15 Sadly, this eagerness to find a just and equitable solution to problems is not always reflected in local and national politics. One thinks of speeches made and votes taken that are more concerned to frustrate and embarrass ones political opponents than to serve the good of the community or the nation. Petty bickering and personal animosities often displace the pursuit of justice. The defeat of ones opponents in debate can become more important than the welfare of ones constituents. Relations with the State Presentation 36

16 Sadly the same behaviour is sometimes reflected in the courts of the church. Decisions can be reached that neglect the substance of the debate but instead reflect a personal dislike, or a blind admiration for the person raising an issue. People say, He talked a lot of rubbish but I could not vote against him hes my best friend or There was a lot of sense in what he said, but I cant stand him, so I voted against it. Whenever that happens the welfare of the church is not justly served. Relations with the State Presentation 36

17 The lives of professing Christians are under constant scrutiny. Christ calls his people to be different. He empowers them to be different. Where possible we must identify the interests that the church has in common with society and seek to make a positive contribution to that end. Always remembering that we do not share the worlds values, nor indeed its priorities. And because of that there will be times, when we respectfully question decisions that authorities make and the policies that they pursue. The church is not the lackey of the state. God has called us to promote his kingdom, to reflect his passion for peace and justice. By so doing to be salt and light in the world. Conclusion Presentation 36

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