Everyday Christianity

Mourning and weeping don’t show emotional weakness or lack of faith; they just reveal we love as God intended. Not to mourn would’ve certainly been wrong, but it would be equally wrong for Abe to wallow in sorrow. He must continue to live the life God has given him. For there is a plan in place. Jeremiah 29:11~For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV) Just like Abe, we must move forward in faith as we go on with life, not vacillating from God’s purpose because of self-pity. In the traumatic times of Life and Death, we should Grieve Biblically.

Behave Respectfully (Genesis 23:3-16). Remember Abe is a sojourner or a nomad who owns no property, so he has an obvious problem when it comes time to bury Sarah. Therefore, Abe politely says to the sons of Heth (the Hittites) in Genesis 23:4~I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. (ESV) Abe is highly respected, even by pagans, who respond in Genesis 23:6~Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead. (ESV) This ought to remind us, that as believers, we must always be careful to treat even the worst of non-believers with love and respect as Father Abe did. Next, Abe rises and bows as a courtesy sign of respect expected in that culture. The Bible teaches we as Christians are to treat non-believers with respect and dignity. 1 Timothy 3:7~He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (NIV) 

Since the world is the only place from which to win new converts, we as believers, especially church leaders, must have good reputations among outsiders, which is to say those who are not yet believers. Too often, believers have a holier-than-thou attitude which can turn off non-believers and makes it almost impossible to win them to Jesus Christ. Understand we win people like God won us—by loving, not blasting, them. Romans 5:8~But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV) Furthermore, we read how Christ Jesus is a friend of publicans and sinners Luke 7:34~The Son of Man has come eating and drinking and you say, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (ESV) Hear me, we are not to antagonize non-believers; we are to evangelize them. Antagonizing cause hostility, while evangelizing seeks to convert them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Life & Death

Last week we walked with Abe on a journey that took us to Mount Moriah, where we were filled with the mulling over of questions, then awed by the wonder of the Lord, how God wanted to reveal Abe’s heart. Yes his mountain-top experience with God proved to be the naming of provision, Jehovah Jireh, God my provider. Like Abe, we can’t stay on a spiritual mountaintop forever, Valleys are the fat of the land because we can’t have mountains without valleys. In Genesis 23, we find Abe in the deep valley of despair. Some of you have been there on tour and even rented a home for a season. This season of Abe’s life gives us three principles to help us during traumatic times, this is Life and Death: Grieve. 

Grieve Biblically (Genesis 23:1-2). Death takes loved ones from all of us, and Abe will now experience that very traumatic time of life. For some 60 years, Sarah and Abe have been on a journey into purpose. Sarah at 127 years old (23:1). Time again fast forwards for about 20 years since Father Abe offers Isaac on Mount Moriah. Therefore, they could have moved several times, before finally arriving at Hebron. Genesis 23:2~And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn (סָפַד caphad) for Sarah and to weep (בָּכָה bakah) for her. (ESV) Hebron is in the very heart of the Promised Land, it’s about halfway up the dead sea, and halfway to the coast, about 30 minutes due south of Jerusalem. 

However, neither Sarah nor Abe will live to see their descendants possess it. She was the first among many who died in faith, not having received the promises Hebrews 11:13~All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (NIV) When Sarah dies, Abe goes to mourn and weep for her (23:2). This is the first time we read of Abe crying, and the Holy Spirit goes into great detail to show his deep grief and sorrow. The Hebrew word translated mourn (סָפַד caphad) means to lament or wail loudly. While the word (בָּכָה bakah) or weep refers to the many tears Abe shed. When a loved one dies, we may grieve and cry like Abe but listen to Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 4:13~Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (NIV) 

Faith that has…

Wherever the Lord guides, God will provide. I don’t know where you are on your journey through life and faith but, you need to know that the Everlasting God is the one who will provide for everything that He has planned and purposed for your life. Matthew 6:33~But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV) When life seems Strange: and it doesn’t make sense, we must Go where the Lord guides, Trust the Lord to provide, and learn how to Reside in His promises like Abe. As you stand with me, Saints, I want you to know that God rewards faithfulness. What do you need to place on the altar today? Come give to the Lord.

Reside in God’s promises like Abe. God rewards us in several ways when we live faithful unto Him. First, Abe gets a fresh word from the Lord. Where God tells Abraham He will multiply his descendants. Genesis 22:17~I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies (ESV). This promise would later be fulfilled during Israel’s conquest of Canaan. In Joshua’s farewell address just before he dies, he says to the Israelites in Joshua 23:14~Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (NIV) 

Abe is also rewarded by news from the East about his family from whom he has not heard from in more than a quarter century. Learning that his brother Nahor has many children Genesis 22:20-24~Now after these things it was told to Abraham, “Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor: Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” Bethuel fathered Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

At this point, Abe is experiencing the truth of Psalm 37:4~Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (NIV) Saints when we learn to live and walk by faith we are learning to live in God’s provisions, to trust the that the Lord sees and knows all and He has a purpose-filled plan for our lives and those who are near us. That’s right God sees the lives of seven-plus billion people and is working all things out for our good and His glory. When life seems to be getting Strange: and it doesn’t seem to make sense, do these three things: Go where the Lord guides, Trust the Lord to provide, and Reside in the promises of God.