Tim Meathrel 6.30pm 3rd March 2013

St John’s Small Group Study Notes

From Tim’s sermon on 3rd March 2013

Passage: Genesis 20:1-18

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This sermon rooted in my heart for all of us that we might become men and women of God in our generation who will seek and see God’s Kingdom come. In order be those people we need to know the love of God, the fear of God and the power of God.

Love of God
As we read this passage we encounter Abraham on the move following where God would lead them. So Abraham moves on from Mamre to the region of the Negev (A desert region south and west moving towards Egypt) and stays for a season in town called Gerar which was ruled by a local King called Abimelek.

Abraham, like us all, is a complex character. On the one hand he is a pioneer of faith, a man who believed in God despite all of the obstacles and his life is a lesson on how to live a life of faith with lessons which the generations who have come after him have learnt from his obedience. But he is also a flawed character and in this passage Abraham makes a mistake which is the second time he’s made this particular mistake.

Q. Read Gen 12:10-20 – why would Abraham make this mistake again in Gerar? What was driving Abraham’s decision making?

Abraham is clearly obsessed with the idea that the kings and rulers which he and Sarah encounter would all want to marry Sarah and then get rid of him. He makes the mistake of emphasising his relationship as half-brother to Sarah rather than her husband with dire consequences in Egypt and Gerar.

Why would he do such a thing? Why would he make the same mistake again? The reality is that Abraham was a man of faith but also a man who wrestled with fear. For Abraham it was fear for his life that motivated his decisions so much so that he and Sarah had devised a strategy for dealing with these circumstances. Abraham faltered over a relatively small danger all because he was gripped by fear. His fear leads him to jeopardise the promise of God over his life because by allowing Sarah to be taken in Abimelek’s harem he was jeopardising the paternity of the promised child.

Q. In your journey of faith have you ever had to wrestle with fear? What did it feel like? How did you overcome it?

We have to wrestle with and overcome fear in order for faith to flourish in our lives. The danger is that fear can easily become a way of life for us and fear can become the driving force in our life.

Q. How do we overcome fear?

The Bible gives us a very simple remedy for overcoming fear: 1 John 4:18 – perfect love casts out fear. There is no fear in love and where we experience perfect love then fear goes. Of course, perfect love only comes from our perfect God and the experience of his love casts out our fear because when we know that we are loved then we can come into a place of trust and faith because we know that God has our best interests at heart.

Q. How much do you battle with fear vs faith? How much do you need to know the love of God tonight? Perhaps it would be good to open up the possibility of people receiving prayer.

Fear of God
So back to the story. Abraham has lied about his relationship with Sarah and she enters into Abimelek’s harem with similiar consequences as before in Egypt. But this time God appears to Abimelek in a dream and reveals to him what has happened and what he needs to do about it. He needs to talk to Abraham and get him to pray for him. So Abimelek confronts Abraham and in v11 Abraham tries to justify his actions to Abimelek: “There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will surely kill me because of my wife”. Of course, the great irony here is that, whilst the town of Gerar may have lacked the fear of God so did Abraham! Because if Abraham had the fear of the Lord he would never have tried to deceive the king and his people.
Great challenge to you and to me is that Abraham, even though he was a man of faith, was confronted by fear which caused him to operate outside of the fear of the Lord. The reality is that the same can be true of us. So we need to know what the fear of the Lord is and how we can grow in it.

Q. What do you think the fear of the Lord is? How can we grow in it?

What is the fear of the Lord?

Simply, fear of the Lord for Christians is not terror in the face of God but but rather a godly fear, a good fear of God. The bible reveals different components of the fear of the Lord:

1. Reverence and awe – God’s might, his power, his holiness – should all inspire reverence and awe within us – he is GOD ALMIGHTY

2. Hatred of evil – Prov 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil”

3. Obedience to God – Ps 34:11-14

How do I grow in the fear of the Lord?

Q. Read Prov 2:1-5 – how do these verses help us to understand the fear of the Lord and how we can grow in the fear of the Lord. Hint – look at the three ‘ifs’!

1. If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – We need to receive God’s word with respect and treasure the word of God.

2. if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding – About prayer and what we’re asking for in the secret place

3. If you look for it as for silver and search for it as hidden treasure – Prov 25:2 – God doesn’t put everything out in the open and when we have to search for understanding and wisdom we grow in the process.

THEN – the promise – if we do those things then… “you will understand the fear of the Lord and find knowledge of God”

The prize is knowing God more but the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Lord go hand in hand – you can’t separate the two. If you want to know more of God in your life then you need to know more of the fear of the Lord in your life.

Power of God
The power of God is seen in this story in God’s intervention to save Sarah and Abraham and to resurrect the promise of the child. His power is also seen in him speaking to Abimelek in a dream and him healing Abimelek and his family and household. But again there is irony in this story because God intervenes in power to save Sarah just as surely as he would have intervened to save Abraham!

The bottom line is that Abraham clearly didn’t have the confidence in God’s power to act on his behalf. Had Abraham just been confident in God and his power to act then, surely, he would have acted differently.

What’s true of Abraham can be true of us too. We can believe in God’s power but have little or no faith that God will act for me or through me.

Q. How confident are you in God’s power? How confident are you in God’s desire to work in power in you and through you. Why are you/aren’t you confident? What experiences have contributed to that confidence/lack of confidence? How can we grow in confidence?

7th Mar 2013 Posted in: Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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