Ruth Hassall 11am 20th January 2013

ST JOHN’S SMALL GROUP STUDY NOTES

From Ruth’s sermon on January 20th 2013

Passage: Genesis 13:1-18

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Study:

 This week’s passage is a story of conflict and contrasts.

Read Genesis 12:10-20 to fill in the back story between last week’s notes and this week’s.

What strikes you about this passage in contrast to last week’s?

  • Abraham responds out of fear of famine, and then fear for his life, rather than to the prompting of God
  • ends up in spiritual disaster

Faith filled restoration(1-4)

So, Abram’s sojourn in Egypt doesn’t turn out well, and so as we meet him again at the beginning of chapter 13 we find him heavy in wealth but also heavy in heart. In verses 3-4 we find him going back to his spiritual roots knowing that he needs spiritual restoration. He heads back to Bethel, literally ‘The House of God’, back to the place where it all started for him, where he first worshipped after receiving the promise, back to the place where his faith was strong.

  • Do you have a place in your life that is significant to you as the place where you first met the Lord?
  • What is the value of returning to those places, whether physically or in our minds, or re-reading things that were important?

God restores him and renews his vision.

Conflict Rising (v5-13)

Abram is restored but trouble is brewing. In his handling of the situation we see how well he conducts himself. The huge wealth that both Abram and Lot was the course of the conflict. Grazing rights and watering facilities were the key issue – wells were for vital for life and with so much livestock there wasn’t enough ground or water for the two of them, let alone the Canaanites and Perizzites living there.

Abram knows that this conflict comes at a cost – God’s promise to him was that whoever he blessed, God would bless and while there was all this in-house quarrelling, this was not a good witness or blessing to those around.

  • What surprises you about Abram’s approach?

Lot looks and sees how fruitful the land was to the east – led by his physical sight he made his choice, undeterred by the bad reputation of the nearby cities, he chose that way – and we find him pitching his tent near Sodom – and so begins his decline. Next time we meet Lot in ch 14 he’s living in Lot, and is abducted and Abram has to rescue him. He goes back and finds more trouble, and then ends up in a shameful situation with his daughters. But there is redemption for Lot too, in Peter’s epistles he is recorded as being a righteous man.

  • What does this tell us about the faithfulness of God even when we’re faithless?

So Lot is deceived by seeing the beauty and prosperity of the land and heads that way. He couldn’t see what would happen to his heart by living there.

  • What present day examples can you think of where we are tempted to ‘pitch our tents close to Sodom?’

God’s renewed promise to Abram (v14-18)

Lot has gone on his way and Abram is left, and you can just imagine him standing there, with God’s two-fold promise ringing in his ear about being the father to nations and inheritor of all the land, looking out at the land that he is left with – the least desirable area of land left to him and his aging wife, and wondering …

And God meets with him again and reminds him of the promise – this is all yours. Abram hadn’t chosen for himself but far from losing out, he had the word of the Lord. The reiterated promises and recurring themes of people and land enabled him to believe that it would be as the Lord had said.

“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live on the basis not of what he saw he couldn’t do, but on what God said he would do.”

  • What difference does living by faith make to us?

Now if you know the story of Abraham, know he doesn’t get to see the fulfilment of both promises. He starts to see the fulfilment of his many descendants, but it’s another 500 years before they get the land. Many heroes of faith listed in Hebrews never saw the fulfilment of the promise – isn’t it a reminder that when we follow Jesus we’re saying yes to an invitation to being part of a story that is so much bigger than just us, and that promises that God makes to us, may be just for us, but also might be for the long term, part of the bigger picture – things that will make a difference for those following on from us.

  • Are there any bigger picture things that you feel God is calling you to be part of?
5th Feb 2013 Posted in: News, Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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