God With Us

Genesis 21:22-34

22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.” 24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”

25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.” 27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” 30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

Introduction

If you were to testify of what God has done or changed in your life, what would it be? Have you observed the difference between your old life and your new life in Christ? Have people sensed that God is with you?

Many believers are very vocal about their faith. Others are scared to share the gospel for fear of offending others. It declares in Jeremiah 6:10, 10The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 18The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

When non-believers bring problems, troubles, or difficulties into your life, the Lord presents a chance to practise faith in Him. Difficult situations are opportunities to prove that God is with us.

Let’s learn from Abraham, the father of all who have faith in God.

When Abraham went to live in Gerar, Abimelek took Sarah to be his wife. God warned Abimelek in Genesis 20:7, Return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.

Abimelek returned Sarah to Abraham. Abraham prayed that God may heal Abimelek’s wife and female slaves so they can have children again. Few years later, Abimelek visited Abraham. He said that he sensed God is with Abraham in everything he did, and wanted peace with Abraham.

It says in Proverbs 16:7, 7When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Abimelek and Phicol approached to have peace pact with Abraham not otherwise. When Abimelek and Phicol initiated the peace treaty with Abraham, does it show us that God is pleased with Abraham?

1. Show

22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”

Previously, Abraham prayed for Abimelek’s wife and female slaves to have children again. When God answered Abraham’s prayer, Abimelek believed that God is with Abraham. Abimelek must have been scared that God answers Abraham’s prayer. So, he brought Phicol and visited Abraham.

They asked Abraham to show kindness to him and his descendants just like the kindness shown to him. That was an opportunity Abraham waited to inform Abimelek about the unfriendly attitude of his servants.

24 Abraham said, “I swear it.” 25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”

The servants may have reported to Abimelek that they discovered water sources but did not tell him that they seized the well of water from Abraham. Do you agree that to deal with Abraham’s problem with the servants, God put fear in Abimelek’s heart to seek peace with Abraham?

It teaches us in Psalm 23:5-6, 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Truly, God’s goodness followed Abraham. In God’s perfect timing, Abraham complained against the harassment of Abimelek’s servants. When Abimelek asked for kindness just like the kindness he was shown, Abraham may have said, “Here’s what your servants did. Decide if it’s kindness.”

Perfect timing exhibited Abraham’s faith in God. Anyone can complain but perfect timing when to complain is favourably beneficial and necessary.

Nehemiah

Perfect timing has been practised by Nehemiah. Nehemiah was most trusted by the king of Persia. Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king of Persia. As a cupbearer, Nehemiah made it sure that wine given to the king is safe to drink. One of Nehemiah’s brothers visited him and reported about the great trouble of Jewish remnants had experienced in Jerusalem.

The terrible news made Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed to God. When Nehemiah brought wine, the king sensed the sadness of his heart. The king asked why Nehemiah looked so sad. Nehemiah told him about terrible situation of Jewish remnants in Jerusalem.

The king asked in Nehemiah 2:4-5, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Nehemiah prayed what to say, how to say it, and the king of Persia has granted his request. Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and built its wall and gates. Praying and perfect timing are very essential in believer’s lifestyle.

Have you expected promotion but your boss forget you? Have you been given salary increase but you are not satisfied with the salary increase you’ve got? Is it ethical to ask for salary increase? Do you believe that if you deserve promotion or salary increase, God will do something about it?

It teaches us in 1 Timothy 6:10, 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Does God forbid us from acquiring or having much money? Did God bless Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Jabez, Esther, and Daniel with wealth? To have much money is not the issue. The love of money is the main issue. The love of money invites evil deeds and many griefs.

It says in Ecclesiastes 5:10, 10Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.

Do you agree that minimum wage is sufficient for a single person?

Say, an individual who supports no one except his self alone: If his salary is above the minimum wage level, and determines that it is not sufficient for him alone, “the love of money” has infected his mindset.

There’s a saying, “When the cat is away, the mouse will play.”

Cheating at work is common. If students study diligently to avoid cheating in school, when they join the work force, they work diligently instead of cheating at work. Diligence and honest lifestyle start at childhood.

It says in Proverbs 22:6, 6Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Abraham’s lifestyle is a great example on how we may live our life as believers. When Abimelek asked to show him kindness and his descendants, the way he was shown kindness, Abraham said, “I swear it.”

2. Swear

27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?” 30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” 31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

In Hebrew culture, the 7 ewe lambs that Abraham gave to Abimelek were tokens or proof that he was telling absolute truth. In Beersheba, Abimelek and Abraham took an oath. They swore to be kind to each other from that time onward. “Beersheba” properly means “well of oath.”

Swearing on oath as allies has been a customary practice among kingdoms that don’t want to go to battle against each other. An alliance is a formal agreement to cooperate for specific purposes. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/alliance?s=t

The Dead Lands

In the movie, The Dead Lands,” the hero, Hongi ran after his enemies and entered the Dead Lands. The Dead Lands were assumed to be occupied by a monster. Hongi found out that the monster is actually a warrior who was the only survivor of a tribe that used to occupy the Dead Lands.

The warrior kills anyone who ventures the Dead Lands to prevent it from being occupied. Hongi made an alliance with the Dead Lands warrior.

The warrior helped Hongi and defeated his enemies.

Formerly, we were enemies of God. We reconciled to God through faith in Christ. By faith, we received the Spirit of Christ. We need to rely upon the empowerment of Christ to fight spiritual battles.

In Ephesians 6:12, 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

In Romans 8:31-32, 31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.

Christ’s Spirit empowers us to defeat spiritual forces that may cause us problem, if we rely upon Him. We rest from our spiritual battle if Christ’s righteousness prevails in our heart. He will sustain our Christian lifestyle.

Abraham had his share of problems. He waited for God’s perfect time and complained about Abimelek’s servants. After he made an alliance with Abimelek, Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistine for a long time without being bothered again by the servants of Abimelek.

3. Stay

32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

“Beersheba” belonged to the territory of the Philistines. After the ritual of making alliance with Abimelek and Phicol, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called on the name of the Lord, why?

Right in that place in Beersheba, Abraham acknowledged that God coordinated every event for him to have peace with the Philistines.

It says in Jeremiah 17:7-8, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

The blessed life of Abraham illustrates trust in the Lord. The Lord expects believers to bear fruit. Believers who bear fruit are called disciples. The fruit of disciples are disciples. When Christ’s Spirit empowers us, making disciples becomes spontaneous. Discipleship is collaborative effort.

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Sharing the gospel or witnessing is planting the seed of faith. Praying, helping, encouraging, visiting, leading, teaching, and preaching cultivate or water the seed of faith. But God makes disciples grow spiritually mature.

The work of discipleship is a team effort. In team sports, each player has his/her own special skill that would contribute to team success. Team sports owners select players that would fit the system or culture of the team.

Free Agency

In professional sports, “Free Agency” is a time when players are traded and signed contracts with teams that may need their service. Culture of trust and chemistry among players and coaches is vital to winning games. It takes right timing to acquire players who may help in building the team culture.

Great players can be but not necessarily the best fit in a team. The different positions in team sports have to be filled with the right player. Culture of trust and chemistry would inspire players, coaches and fans enjoy the game. Winning games is a bonus that may follow afterward.

To have enjoyable fellowship and ministry involvement, a culture of trust and chemistry is essential. By God’s grace, we can help build a culture of trust and chemistry in this church through involvement in the ministry.

We rely upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, discover spiritual gifts and get involved in the good work that God has prepared for us.

It says in Ephesians 2:10, 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

In Romans 12:4-8, For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Pray and wait upon the Lord’s perfect timing. Don’t rush! Don’t force yourself. Rushing and forcing don’t produce cheerful attitude. If you are gladly cheerful in your ministry involvement, you stay long in this church.

Keep praying to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. You will be amazed when God works perfectly in our midst. Pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to bear fruit in your life, but make sure you have the Holy Spirit.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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