søndag 27. april 2014

Genesis 21 God, the promise-keeper

Genesis 21

My wedding day was awesome. The loveliest, most godly, most adorable, most beautiful woman in the world walked down the aisle towards me. I took her hands in mine, gazed into her eyes – and made the most outrageous promises to her. Wedding vows are serious business! These are covenants, promises: I will be faithful to you no matter what. I will love you whether I feel like it or not. Through good times and bad, when you love me and when you hurt me, I will love you and stick by you. We are one, and only death can separate us.

That’s the kind of promise God has made to Abraham, to the people of Israel, and indeed to us. I will stick by you, no matter what. And because God is God, he really means it, and has the ability to see it through. No matter what the cost.
Easter is the celebration of His love – a love so vast, so huge, so unquenchable, that God goes to the cross to rescue those he has chosen to love. That’s us. Wow. The Wedding Feast will be amazing!

As it’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been in Genesis I’m going to spend a few minutes reminding ourselves of the context of chapter 21: what is the journey we’ve been on with Abraham these last few months. And thinking about where we’ve come from in chapter 12, what struck me the most, what surprised me, is the subversive nature of Genesis. Subversive means: how it turns things on its head –it does what we don’t expect. We expect a story about a righteous man, a good man who impresses God, and as he grows in righteousness God blesses him more and more.
What we get is a sinful man who receives ALL of God’s blessings immediately, and then immediately proves he is a sinful man by lying, by not believing God’s promise, and creating a whole lot of trouble for the country he lives in (Egypt, back in chapter 12). But God blesses him. In the next chapter (13) he then tries to give away the land God promised him. But God blesses him, keeping His promise. Abraham then commits adultery with his wife’s servant girl, Hagar, and then he and his wife abuse her so badly she runs away to die. But God blesses him, reaffirms his covenant, and promises him a child.
The story is subversive. We keep thinking that we can earn salvation. We keep thinking that Abraham was a good man, and so God liked him. And Genesis keeps turning our expectations on their head. We cannot earn salvation. Abraham was a sinner, just like us. And God still loved him. God keeps his promises, even when we do not.

Genesis is an uncomfortable book to read (and to preach!) because it keeps messing up our neat theology (our wrong theology!). As I said a couple of weeks ago, when we looked at chapter 20, Abraham is annoying. He’s received all the promises of God, has met personally with God, has even played the role of Jesus, pleading with the Father for mercy on the city of Sodom – and then he goes right back to the same behaviour of chapter 12. Lying, prejudice, selfishness. Disappointing. Annoying Abraham.

But God is even more annoying, I said. Because instead of Abraham getting punished, getting what he deserves – he gets rewarded with sheep and goats and servants and money. It’s unfair!

And that’s the gospel.

The gospel is unfair. It’s by grace we are saved. It is unearned. And we stay Christian only by grace. It is unearned. It is God who is the hero, who is the promise-keeper. We are saved by GOD’s action, by GOD’s grace, by GOD’s decision, by HIS will, not ours. And we remain Christians, we remain blessed, because our standing before God is not based on OUR actions but on His.

This thread of the gospel runs the whole way through the story of Abraham. And next week we’ll look at a huge signpost pointing the way to the son of God giving his life as a sacrifice for sin as Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son as an offering to God. But this week? Well this week we see that God keeps his promises, even to sinful people. God’s word is dependable. We’ve seen that when he says he will judge, he will judge. Sodom found that out. We’ve seen that when he says he will rescue he will rescue: Lot found that out. And we’ve seen that when he says he will bless he will bless: Abraham found that out, Abraham will experience it again in this chapter – and Hagar will find that out. God keeps his promises.

We’ll start off with verses 1-7 the promise to Abraham fulfilled. Then verses 8-21 the promise to Hagar fulfilled. And finally v22-34 the promise of the land will be fulfilled.

1. Promise to Abraham fulfilled v1-7

The writer wants to make it clear that God is a promise-keeping God – and so reminds us three times in v1 and 2 that God keeps his promises: 1 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.

This is a direct fulfilment of the promise made in chapter 18, just before the destruction of Sodom. Flip back to 18:10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah hears this and laughs in disbelief and so in 13 the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Why was this promise such a big deal?
Firstly because Sarah had been barren her whole life – she had never been able to have children, even in her most fertile time of life. Secondy, because she’s now an old woman, past the age of childbirth. “Yeah, right, I’ll have a kid. Sure God. I’m a dried up old prune. Good joke at my expense.” Bitter laughter from Sarah.

But the last laugh is the Lord’s, as one year later out pops Isaac, the son of the Promise. Isaac, whose name means “he laughs”. 21:3 And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4 Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. 6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7 Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!”

Who would have thought? God does the impossible, and keeps his promise. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Who would have thought that Sarah could produce a child? Who would have thought that God would keep his promise to Abraham and Sarah, despite their failings and rebellion and sin? Who would have thought that God himself would come down to our world, the true son of the Promise, be born in a stable, grow up to be a man, show us the Father in his life, in his power, in his teaching, in his compassion – and then take the road to Calvary, to hang accursed on a tree, to bear our sins, to taste death so that we can have life, eternal life! What a love! What a cost!

See, the birth of Isaac is the beginning of the fulfilment of the promise made in chapter 12:1-3 which ultimately is only fulfilled in Christ “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.

Through Christ all the families on earth will be blessed. Right now, across the world, in large buildings, in underground caves, in homes, in village squares, under trees, in rich places, in poor places, in every country in the world people are meeting to praise God for rescuing them. Across the world our brothers and sisters are rejoicing that they have been saved by grace. They are celebrating that God keeps his promises, by not giving us what we deserve, but blessing us instead.

And Isaac’s birth is the first in a long line that leads to the son of God. For Jesus is a son of Abraham, a great-great-great grandson of the miracle child, Isaac.

God keeps his promises.

And to remind us that this promise is not limited to one people-group – a lesson the early church learned quite quickly in Acts 10 – the writer of Genesis quickly introduces Hagar’s story – and the promise that God keeps that he made to her. God promises are for all people. His mercy is available for all.

2. Promise to Hagar fulfilled v8-21

Hagar’s story starts off by reminding us that our “heroes” aren’t very heroic at all. Just in case we thought we could earn our salvation, you know, be good enough and then God will like us enough to let us into the Club for Very Nice People (aka the Church?). No, no, no. This is the Club for Forgiven Sinners Who Continue to Sin and Mess Up But Love and Accept Each Other Anyway Because God Does (in other words, the Real Church!).

And sometimes we really do strain our ability to forgive each other and really need the Lord to give us strength. Look at how Abraham and Sarah behave.

8 When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. 10 So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”

Abraham is angry because he loves his son, but gives in to his wife’s demands after a word from the Lord, and sends Hagar and Ishmael out.

Why did the Lord expel Ishmael? Two reasons are apparent in the story: the first is in v12 But God told Abraham, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted. Isaac is the son of the Promise, not Ishmael. The second is a play on words in the Hebrew: Ishmael in v9 is seen as laughing at Isaac, “he laughs”. He’s mocking his name, mocking his status, in a sense, mocking his position as child of the Promise. And since the blessing of God is following Isaac, not Ishmael, Ishmael is mocking God. 12:3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.

So Ishmael is sent out to the desert – normally a death sentence. But Abraham had faith in the Lord’s words in v13 But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too. And Hagar and Ishmael soon realise that God is a promise-keeper.

Remember back in chapter 16: the Lord seeks out Hagar, finding her in the desert waiting to die after the abuse at the hands of Sarah. The Lord meets Hagar, sees her when no-one else does, hears her prayer – and says name your son “Ishmael” (God hears). I love her response back in chapter 16:13. It’s beautiful 13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

The God who sees. Our God of mercy. And again, he sees them. Out in the desert, rejected, alone, God sees them.

16 Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. 17 But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

God hears. Who did God hear? Not Hagar – but the boy. He may even have been praying, since the Hebrew simply says “God heard the voice of the boy.” (He was 14 at the time – for some reason I’ve always pictured him as a toddler, being left to die – but he was a young teenager, fully understanding what was going on.)

But the focus is not on him, is it? The focus is on God fulfilling the promise he gave Hagar back in chapter 16. Her son, Ishmael, “God hears”, just as Isaac brings laughter “he laughs”. At the time when all hope was lost, God heard their cry, and 19 God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.

And I cannot help but be reminded of Rom 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Hagar’s story is our story. Cast out from the place of blessing for our mockery of God. Separated from the promise of life. Utterly helpless to save ourselves. And Christ came at the right time and died for us sinners. He is the God who hears.

He keeps his promises. Happy Easter, indeed!

3. Promise of land will be fulfilled v22-34

Now for this final point I have to admit that I was really struggling to understand why it’s here in the story until I read this in one of the commentaries I have on Genesis.

“This treaty with Abimelech marked another small but decisive step towards the fulfilment of the promises. Under the treaty Abraham secured legal rights to a well near Beersheba. For a herdsman totally dependent on guaranteed access to water for his flocks this was a most important provision. This was the first foothold that Abraham secured in the land of Canaan. As a mark of his thankfulness to God Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and worshipped (33).”

It’s another indication that God keeps his promises – and the theme of this chapter, indeed, one of the major themes of Genesis and the Bible as a whole – clicked into place. As Abimelech says in v22 “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,”.

God keeps his promises. God is with Abraham, as he is with us. We live in the realm of blessing. But, the best is yet to come.

For, like Abraham, we live with not all of God’s promises fulfilled. This chapter reminds us, repeatedly, that Abraham is living amongst the Philistines. He has a well at Beersheba, but that’s all. Even Isaac, the son of the Promise, is born amongst the Philistines, outside of the Promised Land. Again, our expectations are subverted: Abraham lives most of his days in exile.
Heb 11:8–10 puts it like this It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

How do we live in this world as aliens and strangers? How do we live waiting for the heavenly city? By faith. Like our father Abraham. And his story gives us strength as we see how God cares for those waiting to enter the Promise Land, the New Creation, with Christ Jesus coming with the clouds in power, the sword of his mouth judging all people, and the earth being remade. As we wait for our life who is Christ to be revealed – have faith. Trust God. He knows how to keep his promises.

v22 “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,”. God kept his promise to Abraham of his son, Isaac. God kept his promise to Hagar and to Ishmael, to hear and to rescue. God keeps his promises, to be with his people of grace, to bless and not condemn. He is with us.

Mt 28:18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

God keeps his promises.

søndag 20. april 2014

Easter Sunday

EASTER DAY 2014 Rock International Church.
Luke 14:25-35
Living Bible (TLB)
25 Great crowds were following him. He turned around and addressed them as follows: 26 “Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does[a] his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—yes, more than his own life—otherwise he cannot be my disciple. 27 And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.[b] For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? 29 Otherwise he might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh!

Bc cartoon.
In Luke 14:25–28, Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship with some of the strongest language that he uses at any point during his ministry on earth. And he wants to be absolutely, brutally honest with us about what it means to truly be his disciple – a disciple of Jesus.
# One who believes in Jesus, worships Jesus, serves Jesus, follows Jesus, obeys Jesus. Yes, believes in Jesus, but doesn’t just believe in Jesus, lives a life in light of that belief.
Question..........Do I really want to be a disciple of Jesus?
Last week Chris gave us a very clear picture of Jesus that was agonizing over what was going to happen to him within the next few hours.
Egg n bacon..... chicken gave you an egg... bacon that pig gave everything.
For Jesus it was all or its nothing!!!
There are too many Christians giving so little to the one who gave so much!!
Isaiah 53:5 He was wounded for our sins…by his stripes we are healed. AND By His death We are set free, we are forgiven...given a new life, new destiny, new destination.

From the moment in John 13… Jesus knew the task before him.
Go to the cross in Jerusalem!!!
And the Cross....Not as a victim!!!....
Jesus was in full control...going to a place where it was quiet ...if he was arrested in the city that could cause a riot and people would die....
Goes to a place called the garden of Gethsemane that he would easy to find...away from crowds.
We know by history that it was a night of a (full moon) The police came with torches to search for him...

 Jesus is waiting of them…He openly admits who he is…He is not surprised.
Then the stupidity of the human race who has a tendency to get it wrong.  Peter. Starts a fight. He doesn’t understand....Doesnt see the BIG picture....

They take Jesus and kill Him. Oh the poor man.....
No nothing poor here!!!!
The story does not stop there.

HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD not by accident or by chance... not as a victim!!!
BUT VICTORIOUSLY. That’s what we are celebrating right now!!!

When I was 19 discovered the truth about a living Lord Jesus not a dead one.
Mary was at the tomb ready to visit the dead Jesus...
Luke 24:5. The angels said to Mary why do you search for the living among the dead?

We don’t have to find the answers to a dead Christ but answers to a living one....YES!!!

Pontius Pilot said; ‘what must I do with Jesus?’
That my friend is what we all must ask ourselves.

Christ died for me....I understand that.... I'm reconciled to God.

But now he is Risen and living! What does that mean for me?
Romans 5:10
New King James Version (NKJV)
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Being reconciled (brought back) to God is one thing....but for the Christian there much more..
Its knowing the importance that we are saved by His LIFE..daily!!.

His death fixes the crisis of the moment...(door closed now open)
His risen life is a process of our lifetime that goes on into eternity!!

John 10:15 tells us… The son of man gave his life for many.
Not just the ones sitting in church right now.
But the ones sitting in their camping van OR CABINS with a hangover, ones who are stealing right now, and ones who are gossiping right now...the ones who never heard of Jesus.
Also died...The empty, the unattractive, and the ones you and I don’t like...
Isn't it wonderful that we don’t have to go to the church grave yard and place candles on the grave of Jesus.
The Muslims, They go to a grave to commemorate their dead leader, Mohammed.
The Jews, at the grave of Abraham.
Buddhists dead teacher tomb of Buddha.

We do not go to the place of Jesus burial because Jesus is not there. He’s alive. He’s risen. He’s ruling. He’s reigning. He is victorious. He’s saving. He’s serving. He’s forgiving. Hes praying!

He disarmed Satan and his powers making them a public example.  He triumphed…he was and still is the Victor ( champion, conqueror, defeater over them.)

Satan is mighty…BUT GOD but God….But God… Say it with me BUT GOD is ALL MIGHTY.
One day he will return. One day he will establish a never-ending kingdom. Death will be no more. Rebellion will be no more. Telen newspper will be no more.
Facebook will be no more...churches will be no more,
Sin and Satan and sinners will be no more.
And those whose faith is in him will rise to be with him. They will rise to be like him! They will rise to glorify him!

So on this fantastic day, I encourage you to give your sin...your worries, your old life to the risen Lord Jesus, and to receive his salvation, HIS LIFE to let this day, this glorious resurrection Easter Sunday, be the day that we celebrate His ressuerected life in you.
Today open your heart and your life and your mind and your eternity to the God who has loved you and loves you right now. His name is The Risen Lord Jesus.

We live and then we die.  Christ died and now he lives.

Now go ….that is where the action is out there.
Now let us see where this adventure OF KNOWING THE RISEN LORD Jesus gets us!!

fredag 18. april 2014

What's so good about "Good Friday"?

John 10
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant,

BC cartoon....
So what’s so good about good Friday?
ITS ALL ABOUT a man GOING die...!!!


One year that we were going to South Africa British airways messed up our our connecting flights so we had to stay in a hotel at their expense.  It was 4 or 5 star Hilton hotel...and they gave us a key that was an all access pass. Opened all doors to any facility in the hotel. Restaurants, swimming pool, sauna bath gym...

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a key like that in real life?

I wonder How many doors have you gone through today?

Open a door in paradise...all access pass to the garden.
Enjoy it...its a garden of perfection and relationships...enjoy.
One condition!
2 Tree’s of good and evil.

Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9
Ever had a door slammed in your face.
THAT’S WHAT Adam and Eve did...
slammed the door in Gods face. Instead of obeying God...
They thought they knew best!!!! 

What did God do? And drove out Adam and eve.

He put cherubim to guard the entrance. WHY?

For their protection he did not want them to touch the tree of life...especially as they were sin full. (Sin is saying no to God that's what they did when they did their own thing.)

If they could have found their way back into the garden and touched the tree of life they would be locked into a life of complete separation from God for ever !!! Gen 3:22

So right from the start.  God protected the man and woman .



You cant just come back to me any old way...there is a way and its my way.

John 10: I am the door.
Not a door not some kind of door, not a revolving door...NOT ANY RUBBISH DOOR  ..BUT THE DOOR!

To where?
Back into a relationship to God!!!!! A way that was safe...

John 10:6 people did not understand...
Have you seen HINterland a who did it show...a city cop come to the country wales...green fields and sheep!!!
14. I am shepherd
He lays down his life for his sheep.

So he starts to make a connection with the Door and shepherd.

Corral narrow door way.
The shepherd would sit or lay down so nothing can get through except over his body.

I am the door and eternal life is on the other side....
John 14:6...I am the way, truth and life...there is no other way to come to God.. except by ME.....I am the Plan!!!!
John 10:9.... I am the door:

There are many believe that God has been hiding from them all their lives.
Some people spend their whole lives knocking on doors...the financial door, success door, sex door, drugs door, relationship door...  only to find...no one home...no satisfaction...there was nothing there.

Not any man but Jesus came to make a way back to God and died doing so....BUT and rose again in order to open up an all access door.

And He says THROUGH IT come as you are...
It doesn’t matter if you’re an abandon wife or husband, whether you are sane or suicidal, drug addict, business man or at home mom.

so crippled with guilt because of your past mistakes, that never ending search for more and satisfaction.
come as you are...

If you trust me to be the door ...and come through that door I will relieve you of the past and create a new destiny and destination for you....
John 11:25.... "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies,.....I will give you LIFE.

Its there for the taking...new lives for old..... And that is what is so good about good Friday.

søndag 13. april 2014

Jesus in the garden

Jesus in the garden


Whenever praying, have you ever thought to yourself:

“What’s the point”, Even if Jesus can hear me, He has no idea what I am going through!

We all realise that one time or another, that life is hard.  Even here, in such a beautiful country, a country that’s been so blessed. A country where most of us live with so much . Even here, we see that life can be so hard.

Statistics tell us that in Norway 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriages; almost 50% of marriages end up in divorce. On top of that, up to 33% of Norwegians have suffered from some kind of mental disorder last year.

We can only ask ourselves;

Where does Jesus fit into the suffering and struggle in Norway?

Do we write Him off as silly folklore, or as the opium of the masses? Do we write Him off, because He doesn’t fix the world, the way we want him to.

Do we say to Him “Jesus if you don’t answer my prayer, I’m going to stop believing in you”

As we know honest questions demand honest answers, so we are going to look at what the bible says about suffering and about Jesus. I have three points and they are: He was a man of Sorrow, He was alone, and He had a choice.

1. He was a man of sorrow. (He knew what suffering was)

So to my first point. Jesus was a man of Sorrow.

1.State the point:

When we look at Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, we see that He was familiar with sorrow, and suffering!

2.Show it in the text:

Have a look at Matthew 26:37-38

37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed

.38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

3.Explain the point:

Jesus wasn’t a stranger to being tested.

He was man anguished and distressed. A man whose soul was crushed with grief to the point of death.  

We always speak about Jesus being 100% man and 100% God. But do we remember it? Jesus experienced terrible anxiety and sorrow, to the point where it almost killed Him.

Jesus fell to the ground in the garden while praying, crying out;

“Abba, Father,” “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:35-36

Jesus prayed intensely being in such agony that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood Luke 22:44.

Sweating blood is a real thing. Observed in people experiencing extreme physical, mental, and emotional pressure. Like Jesus who was carrying the sin of the whole world on and in his own body.

4.Illustrate the point:

Our sin caused Him great physical and mental suffering. Our sin caused Him intense sorrow and grief Matt 26:37-38

5.Apply the point:

Throughout the Gospels we most of the time see Jesus from His “godly” side. We forget that He was also fully human. Jesus the 100% God and 100% man, is the one sitting by God’s right hand in Heaven interceding for us. He does not have a theoretical understanding of sorrow and suffering. He has an intimate and personal understanding; Since He alone died, and lived through sorrow and suffering, for your sin and mine!!!

This gets us to my second point. He (Jesus) was alone.

2. He was alone

1.State the point:

Though He had a crowd of followers, He had to carry His grief and agony alone in the garden.

2.Show it in the text:

Let’s have another look at Matthew 26:37-38.

37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Now have a look at verse 40

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?

3.Explain the point:

Peter, James and John seemed unaware of Jesus’s agony. And the spiritual battle, being fought in the garden that night.

While Jesus was praying:

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine”.

His closest friends were far, far away in the land of dreams. They were not praying that He might be given strength. Nor making sure that no one disturbed Him, in His intense prayers. They weren’t thinking of Him at all, but catching up on their sleep. Already here, we hear the echoes of verse 31, where Jesus told His disciples.

“Tonight all of you will desert me”.

The first leader of the Christian church, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and his brother, had left Jesus alone, with His thoughts and fears, while carrying the sins of humanity. Later that night, Jesus’s prophecy in verse 31 came true in verse 56

At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

4.Illustrate the point:

Peter, James and John did not keep watch with Jesus, although that was all He asked them to do.

All the disciples swore to Jesus:

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you” Matthew 26:35

The same night after making this promise they all failed Him. There’s no doubt that the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak! The disciples intentions were honourable, but they failed miserably.

5.Apply the point:

They all ran away from Jesus. He was alone, while carrying the sins of the world. Why did this happen, why did Jesus accept this, cause that is what He did. Well… My third point is that Jesus had a choice.

3. He had a choice. (but He desired to do His Fathers will)

Well… My third point is that Jesus had a choice.

1.State the point:

It’s easy to forget that, He had a real choice that night in the garden. The choice to save us or to let us fend for ourselves.

2.Show it in the text:

Have a look at verses 46-54. This is right after Jesus came back from praying a third time.

46Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

We are going to have a look at why Jesus did that, starting with the beginning.

3.Explain the point:

Have a look at verse 36:

6 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane

Why is this significant? Well… in John’s Gospel we read that Judas knew Gethsemane, and that Jesus had often gone there with the disciples John 18:1-2 Judas also knew that it was a quiet place far away from crowds; and the chances of an uproar from His followers were small. Well aware of Judas’s plans Jesus didn’t change His. Knowing that Judas was coming He told His disciples:

“Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” Matt 26:46

Jesus could probably see and hear Judas’s band of merry men, long before they entered the garden. It might have been quite dark, so they probably carried torches. The chances of such a big group having ninja like skills, is quite slim. They were probably all rallied up, carrying their torches and pitchforks, ready to have themselves a good old-fashioned lynching. A Lynching is, when a group of people (a mob) capture and execute someone.

But to their surprise, Jesus came to meet the angry mob, on their way to arrest Him.

Why didn’t Jesus hide? Why did He tell Judas to do what he came for? Simply because Jesus chose to give himself up, He had decided to come quietly. Something that Peter made quite difficult, trying to slash of Malchus’s head. He missed and chopped of his ear instead.

You can just picture how: a quiet surrender could have turned into a massacre, 12 people against, an angry mob armed with clubs and swords. In Luke’s Gospel we get a deeper glance into the story.

49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” Luke 22:49

Jesus made it clear that He chooses to surrender when He says:

“Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?

Another translation says in verse 53

53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels. ESV

I can’t stress it enough! Jesus’s gave himself up freely. A legion is 6000, so 12 legions of angels would be roughly 72 000 angels. If Jesus wanted to He could have asked God to send 72 000 angels to free Him from his captors, but Jesus chose not to. Jesus fixed Malchus’s ear, and came with them quietly.

Why did Jesus come quietly? We know that He could have could have called for 72 000 angels and left a trail of dead bodies from Gethsemane to Jerusalem. We find the answer in verses 39, 42 and 44 where He prayed “yet I want Your will to be done, not mine”.

We also see it in verse 54 where Jesus says to His disciples;

But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

Although Jesus had an actual choice. He loved His Father. Therefor His desire was to do the will of His Father, as we saw earlier as He prayed sincerely:

yet I want Your will to be done, not mine”.

4.Illustrate the point:

Is there any Grey’s anatomy fans here today? Well if there is, you might remember when Denny say’s to Izzie;

“I chose you Izzie Stevens”, “I’ve been given a choice, and I chose you”!

Looking back into the garden that is what Jesus did.


5.Apply the point:

After hours of agony, intense prayer and sorrow, Jesus gave himself up willingly. He came quietly, and He did not resist. The desire to do His Father’s will, was greater than His desire to survive.


To sum it up.

He was man of sorrow. (He knew what suffering was)

He was alone.

He had a choice. (But He desired to do His Father’s will)

Jesus has endured, a great deal of suffering and agony for us. He has felt it all on His own body. He endured it even though He had the choice not to.





He- sits- beside- His- Father- in- Heaven- praying- for... FOR YOU. That’s our Jesus, that’s our Lord and Saviour. He chose you!







søndag 6. april 2014

Genesis 20: Abraham, a flawed Saviour

Genesis 20

We are saved by grace. We all know this. But salvation is one thing. After you are saved, you’d better pull up your socks, try harder, and start living right. God helps those who help themselves.

What a pile of unbiblical, Satanic, nonsense!

We are saved by grace. And we continue in grace. This story of Abraham makes that very clear! Abraham was a sinner, and even after he was saved back in chapter 12, and given the covenant, he still kept sinning. So the covenant had to be confirmed – chapter 13, 14, 15, 17…. God doesn’t say “damn it, Abraham, why did you lie about your wife, you’ve wrecked the covenant now.” Or “damn, why did you sleep with Hagar – your sin has stained you – I can’t use you now”. In this chapter again we see that despite Abraham’s sin, he is not damned by God, but blessed.


Because he lives under grace. We are saved by grace and we continue in grace. We live in the realm of GRACE. It is not our efforts that count, but the efforts of Christ Jesus. And he was perfect.

1. Abraham, the disappointment

The previous chapters have been pretty dramatic: God visiting Abraham personally with a great eternal promise. The promise of a son. Abraham playing the role of Jesus, interceding for mercy. A massive judgement on the rebellious, with Sodom. And Lot was saved because God heard Abraham’s prayer. Wow.

And this chapter is a total let-down! In many ways.
It’s not dramatic. Nothing seems to particularly happen (Isaac, the promised son, is only born in the next chapter). The story seems to be a repeat of the one in chapter 12, when Abraham lived in Egypt and the king of Egypt took Sarah as his wife.
And, quite frankly, Abraham himself is a let-down. I’m disappointed with him. “Abraham, how can you make the same mistake! You KNOW God now, you KNOW he will keep you safe. I had some sympathy for you back in chapter 12, but now? You just spoke with him face to face and he heard your prayer to save Lot. God listened to you! You’re blessed. Part of the covenant. So why are you lying and disbelieving God’s Word? C’mon Abraham!”

The big surprise in this chapter is that our “hero” becomes the anti-hero, and the “baddies”, the Philistines of Gerar, represented by their king Abimelech – he’s the hero! While Abraham is sneaking about, lying, being afraid, Abimelech is taking action, standing up for his people, obeying God, and blessing Abraham. Abimelech appears to be a better Abraham than Abraham!

2. Abimelech, the innocent

Abimelech is an innocent man, who listens to God, and obeys him. And the story is deliberately written in a way to contrast Abraham and Abimelech. Just look at v3-4

3 But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!” 4 But Abimelech had not slept with her yet, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?”

Big echoes of Abraham’s conversation with God back in chapter 18. God comes to Abraham, and says “I will judge” and then Abraham says “Will you destroy the innocent along with the wicked?”

Both men are approached by God with tales of judgement to come, both respond with appeals to God’s mercy. Abimelech continues:

5 Didn’t Abraham tell me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘Yes, he is my brother.’ I acted in complete innocence! My hands are clean.”

And God’s response is shocking. Not so much for us, but for the original hearers of this story – the Jews (Israelites). The Philistines were the big baddies, the evil people who so often attacked Israel and enslaved them, particularly during the time of the judges. (Gerar was a Philistine town, and in the next chapter they are explicitly called Philistines).

6 In the dream God responded, “Yes, I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her.

Innocent? Protected by God? God, what do you think you’re doing? You can’t declare THOSE people innocent.

I feel there’s echoes here of the scandal of God choosing a Chaldean, a descendant of those who built the tower of Babel in rebellion against God – he chooses him – ABRAHAM – and declares him “righteous”. We forget how shocking any act of grace is. How undeserved.
And here we have Abimelech, the king of the hated enemy, declared “innocent” by God. Scandal! Read all about it! This would turn your prejudices upside down!

And even worse: He’s a good king, who’s concerned for his people. Hard to be prejudiced against him when he’s just so darned nice.

As I was preparing this, we got to chapter 10 of Acts in the Bible study. And wouldn’t you know – we meet another “evil pagan” who turns out to be a good man, a righteous man who loved God. Cornelius was his name, and he was a Roman officer. Not an Israelite. Not descended from Abraham. And yet had faith like Abraham in God. Just lilke Abimelech.

And the Apostle Peter in Acts had to learn that God can save Gentiles (non-Jews / Israelites) too. That the gospel is for all. That God really meant what he promised Abraham in Genesis 12: The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.

The blessing of Abraham is not just for a few, but for all. Roman soldiers like Cornelius, Philistine kings like Abimelech – even they can receive the mercy of God.

That is a lesson Abraham had to learn. That is a lesson Peter had to learn.

That is a lesson we must learn.

Peter thought the gospel was just for Jews – for the good people, the special people – until God saved Cornelius and his family. Gentiles! Eeew. How? Come on Wednesday to find out!

Abraham was just prejudiced against Abimelech and his people – look at v11 Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’

Abraham, Abraham, not everyone is like Sodom!

Our problem is that we pretend that God is like us, and sees people the way that we do. That’s why we need to keep coming back to the Bible and seeing what he is actually like. Because he is NOT like us. We would save people we like. We are nice to people we like. To people who’ve been mean to us or hurt us we’re mean to them, because they deserve it; or at least ignore them. We don’t save them! We don’t come and die for them to rescue them!
God is not like us.

When we think about those God can save we tend to impose our thoughts on His. We think “they’re beyond reach”.
Why are there so few Christians in Notodden – probably less than 5%? One of the reasons certainly seems to be because Christians are not telling non-Christians the gospel! And you can feel it – I feel it – feel the pressure to keep it light, to not rock the boat. You can feel the resistance to the explosive power of the gospel.
And I am wrong to give in to that pressure. I am assuming that God is not at work in their hearts. I am assuming that God cannot save them. I am assuming that This is a godless place.

Just like Abraham, I am wrong. For God’s Word assures me that there are many Abimelech’s here, many who are ready to hear the gospel and be declared righteous.

Now I don’t know how to change that in me. I don’t know how to go about sharing the gospel. Do we just kick down the door of our neighbours houses and say “Repent and believe, Jesus is Lord!”?
But God knows, and so I can start by asking him. Asking him to change me so I can see people through his eyes. Asking him to give me opportunities to share the gospel, both in actions and in words. With the people I already know. The people I have relationships with.

The hardest is with people who are genuinely good people. Which, if truth be told, is most people we know here in Notodden! We live in a lovely town full of lovely people. But being good is not enough. And that’s the third surprise of this chapter, and my third point. Abraham was a disappointment, Abimelech was surprisingly good, but

3. Abimelech needs a Saviour

Goodness is not enough. His innocence is not enough. God agrees that he is innocent 6 In the dream God responded, “Yes, I know you are innocent.

But he’s still in danger:

7 Now return the woman to her husband, and he will pray for you, for he is a prophet. Then you will live. But if you don’t return her to him, you can be sure that you and all your people will die.”

Abimelech may be good, but he still needs a saviour. He still needs a mediator between him and God. The curse of living outside of the Garden of Eden still stands. The Fall has marked us all: we are under the curse of death, and no amount of being really good can change that.

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, so they could have children. 18 For the LORD had caused all the women to be infertile because of what happened with Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

Abraham, playing the role of Jesus, prays to God – and death is turned to life. The curse of death is lifted, and Abimelech and his nation will live.

We too are under the sentence of death. We too need a mediator between us and God. We need Jesus to turn our death to life.

That’s the message of the gospel. And it’s fantastic. It’s amazing. And it’s unfair.

4. The gospel is unfair

I really don’t like this story. Abraham is a disappointment, He moves away from the oaks of Mamre and goes to live in Gerar “as a foreigner” (v1). Why did he do that? We don’t know. But it certainly seemed to be a bad idea, and probably rebellious.

Then when he gets there he assumes everyone else living there are godless swine out to kill him, and lies and lies to protect himself – again risking his wife being married off to a foreign king. Foolish, disappointing, Abraham.

So Abraham’s annoying – but God’s even more annoying! Look at verses 14-16 with sheep and goats and servants and money. Isn’t that so frustrating? Why is Abraham blessed after his stupid behaviour? Abimelech should be getting the gifts!

As we’ve already seen in the previous chapters, it’s because Abraham is under God’s blessing. It’s something that GOD has decided, something that GOD does, based on GOD’s actions – not Abraham’s. And so, despite Abraham’s sin, he is blessed.
Despite his failings, he is blessed. In fact, whether Abraham does the right thing or the wrong thing – he is blessed. And that’s unfair.

And that’s the gospel.

We are saved by GOD’s action, not our own. We are Christians by GOD’s grace, by GOD’s decision, by HIS will, not ours. And we remain Christians, we remain blessed, because our standing before God is not based on OUR actions but on His.

Do we understand that when he looks at us he sees Jesus, the Christ? That we are judged not on the basis of our life but his? That’s what it means to be declared righteous by God, as Abraham was.

I am so thankful that the gospel is unfair. Because that means that I can be saved. And that means that anyone else I know can be saved – however unlikely. And that means that we will keep being saved until the end. We can no more fall out of God’s blessing than Abraham could – and he certainly seemed to try!

I am saved – not because of my actions, but because of Christ’s.
I stay saved – not because of what I do or don’t do, but because of what Christ has done.
My friend, neighbour, husband, wife, child, work colleague, boss can be saved – not by their actions, but because of what Christ has done.

It is good news. Not “here’s a list of rules to follow” or “be a better person than everyone else” or “try a bit harder” but: you are forgiven. Forever. You have passed the exam of life. You have a ticket to heaven, bought with Jesus’ blood.

Abraham was a disappointment, but blessed.
Abimelech was a good man, but still needed a Saviour.

On Friday I was walking to the bank and praying for Notodden as I went. I said to the Lord “I don’t know what to do. How do we reach so many lost people? How do we share the good news of Jesus when to so many it sounds like boring religion, a list of rues to follow: “Be good and God will like you.” How do we reach people who’ve been inoculated against Christianity?”

And God reminded me of this passage. Abimelech the Philistine, who meets with God, and is saved by Abraham. And surprising converts like Ruth, and Rahab the prostitute, and Saul, and Nebuchadnezzar. And me. And you.

God can save people. Not just people we like, not just people like us – but those we think are “godless”, and beyond reach. Those he can save. And the “good”. Those he can save. Anyone.

So let’s commit to pray: pray for our family, our friends, our workmates, our children. Because we need God to act.
And commit to share – share the gospel with those around you.

As we take communion now thank God that you are blessed, no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done, because Christ’s body was broken, his blood was shed, so that you can know him.
And then ask the Lord to show you one person that you could share this gospel with this week. Just one. Pray for them now.

And if you are Abimelech? Maybe you’re a good person, maybe not – but you need a Saviour. Without Jesus you will die. Now would be good time to pray to him in your own words, and ask him to save you.