Tim Meathrel 6.30pm 27th January 2013

ST JOHN’S SMALL GROUP STUDY NOTES

From Tim’s sermon on January 27th 2013

Passage: Genesis 14:1-24

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Study:
Continuing in our series in Genesis looking at Abraham’s (Abram in this passage) life and as we read through his story we see a picture of Abraham as a man of faith. A man who believed God and who put his faith into action – no other type of faith!

Read Gen 14:1-24 & Heb 11:1-19

Q. What does it mean for us to put our faith into action?
Often putting our faith into action will bring us into conflict with the ways of the world and the patterns of the world in which we live. We can learn lessons from the life of Abram on how we too can learn to live a life of faith because Abram’s life reveals the nature of faith and what it takes to please God, because, as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us: ‘without faith it is impossible to please God’
Heart of this chapter is the question of the faith or failure of one man, Abram, not on a local scale but on an international scale as he gets involved in the politics and wars of the region at that time. Abram is involved in an event that shows on an large scale the implications of his faith and the impact that one man’s faith can have.

14:1-11 – the four kings conquer the rebellious cities in a battle against 5 kings – events which provide the backdrop for Abram’s involvement

14:12 – Lot is captured – How will Abram view these events? How will Abram respond? His choice is between:

The eyes of the world or the eyes of faith
Here we see writ large the contrast between the fortunes of Lot and Abram. Lot who viewed life through the eyes of the world in chapter 13: Choosing the most fertile ground for his flocks and in doing so Lot pitches his tent near Sodom. As a result he and his household then becomes part of the spoils of war and is led into captivity.
Abram in contrast views life through the eyes of faith knowing that God was able to deliver his promise regardless of where he had to live and prospers in the hills of Hebron.

Now Abram has another choice to make asking him again does view life through the eyes of the world or through the eyes of faith? Will he go to rescue Lot even though he only has 318 men and would face a numerically superior force? Would he look through the eyes of faith knowing that God was able to deliver them into his hands? Or would he view his circumstances through the eyes of the world and make a sensible decision?
Abram looked at the world through the eyes of faith knowing that God was able to deliver on his promises, knowing that God was bigger than his circumstances, knowing that with God nothing is impossible and that God can do amazing and wonderful things.

Q. Contrast in their fortunes reveals the way God wants us to live: do we view life through the eyes of the world or through the eyes of faith? What might that look like for you?

14:13-24 Continuing the story

Abram makes the choice to go and rescue Lot and defeats the army of the four kings in a night-time battle. He recovers all of the people and possessions including Lot and his household. Abram then returns to Canaan and is met by two kings and just as this passage introduces the contrast between the fortunes of Lot and Abram there is a contrast between these two kings. These two kings represent two kingdoms and have two vastly different outlooks. They represent two very different ways to live calling from Abram a choice between:

The response of the world or the response of faith
Of the two kings to meet him – Melchizedek pays tribute to the victor first.
Character of Melchizedek appears as if from nowhere but he is an important biblical character. We are told that he is the King of Salem (which is another name for Jerusalem) but also ‘priest of God Most High’ (trans Yahweh). This combination of someone who is a king and priest isn’t found anywhere else in the OT.

Read Hebrews 7

Q. What do you think Hebrews chapter 7 says about Melchizedek and Jesus. How did Jesus fulfil the dual roles of King and Priest?
Melchizedek meets Abram and offers him bread and wine and pronounces a blessing upon Abram (a priestly role). His blessing focused on the giver and not on the gift and acknowledges who gave Abram the victory – God most high, creator of heaven and earth.

The King of Sodom’s offering is very different. Here he represents all of the evil for which Sodom was infamous. But the King of Sodom was a defeated king, already at Abram’s mercy. But he comes like a business man ready to cut a deal. He pretends to be generous, offering Abram all of the possessions of the battlefield. However, in reality, he is offering a reward which was Abram’s by right anyway. Picture of a devious and calculating King.

Q. Why do you think Abram made the responses that he did?
Abram’s response is the real key to this passage because in his response Abram reveals which way he is going to live and Abram signifies his yes and his no refusing to compromise on his call. Abram’s response is the response of faith: his response is the say Yes to Melchizedek and God’s work through Melchizedek. His response is also No to the king of Sodom. But how easy it would have been for Abram to make the response of the world; to cut a deal with the King of Sodom. A deal which would have ensure lasting gratitude from his neighbours and thus safety, material wealth and greater position and prestige. But all of those things would have had to come at the expense of his call!
So Abram’s response was the response of faith: faith which acknowledges God as provider, sustainer, as the giver of all good things and as the faithful God who is true to his promises.
Making the response of faith is all about saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the right things. To things that will help further our call to be holy, set apart and distinctive from the world around us. And on the specific level of furthering the call on our lives as individuals.

Q. How often do you make the response of the world when we should be making the response of faith? How often do we say yes or no to things which compromise the call of God upon our lives?
The key is to know what God is calling you to do or to be and then making choices which help speed you towards that destination and destiny.

Q. Would anyone be willing to share times when they’ve made the right or wrong choices? Where they’ve said yes or no to the right/wrong things.

The way of the world or the way of faith
These two ways of living are often in direct opposition. To live the way of faith is often to follow something that is counter cultural and that doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Here in this passage the choice facing Abram is whether or not to accept riches from the king of Sodom or to trust God for his provision. As we’ve already seen Abram rejects any offer from the King of Sodom and chooses to trust God for his provision. But as we said at the start faith without actions isn’t faith at all. So Abram’s faith in God as provider is seen in his no to the King of Sodom but is also seen in his yes to his tithe to Melchizedek.
Tithing is a great example of where the way of the world and the way of faith come into direct opposition.

Q. What do you think about tithing? Do you tithe? Do you think it’s a biblical principle? Where do you think your tithe should go? Under grace is 10% enough?
Abram gave out of gratitude to God and because he trusted God is good and that God is provider.

Q. Do you share that same trust in God? Do you think that God is good and that you can trust him to provide for you?
One of the key themes which recurs throughout the story of Abraham is that those who join with Abram share his blessing.
I believe that those who learn to live life seeing through the eyes of faith, making the response of faith and living by the way of faith will know God’s blessing in their lives but also, like Abraham, will share in the promise of being a blessing to the world around them.

31st Jan 2013 Posted in: News, Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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