November 15, 2015 [Genesis 18]

November 15, 2015
[Genesis 18] 
"God's Approach to You" 
Pastor Kenny Lee

Before we begin the message, I wanted to share what has been on my heart. A lot of times when I talk with people and hear what they are saying, their logic is right. Our thoughts are often right. I think a lot of the times where we go wrong is with our assumptions of ourselves. If I say that you’re not perfect, I know that you will agree it is not true. We are so quick to point out other people’s flaws. In Christianity, we are called to look at ourselves in the light of Christ. In that light we are not that great. We are all sinners in this world. There should be some kind of joy when we see one another because God loves us so much that God would redeem us.

With that said, the sermon is called “God’s Approach to Us.” The more I thought about it, I wanted to make it personal and call it “God’s Approach to You.” Most of us would think “My Approach to God” sounds good, but I feel like that is theologically incorrect, and I will explain why.

How does God approach you? What should be our response to God’s approach?

The last time God spoke to Abraham his name was Abram. What had happened was that Abraham went through this guerilla tactic warfare, because his nephew Lot was taken hostage by these kings. Abram gathered 318 of his men and joined armies and freed his nephew. Lot, stubborn as can be, wanted to go back to Sodom. The problem is Abram doesn’t have a son. He doesn’t have an heir. Abram was hoping that Lot would be the heir. Lot was not, so Abram was very distraught. God reassures Abram that his offspring would actually come from him. Sometime passes, and last week we talked about the whole fiasco with Sarai, Hagar, and Abram. Where Sarai, who also wants a child, tells Abram that the offspring would actually come from him and not her. Of course Abram listened to the voice of Sarai, and out comes Ishmael. From that time till now, thirteen years has passed. Ishmael is about to be a man, coming on his thirteenth birthday. God intervenes in Sarah and Abraham’s life. We see that God says, as a sign of the covenant I want you and all the men of your household to be circumcised, as a sign that you are set apart by me. God is saying this a sign that your are mine.

Some time passes, and in Chapter 18 we see that God visits Abraham. We get to see an interaction with Abraham, with Sarah, and with God. We get a unique glimpse where God interacts with a human being. We see them having a full on conversation. We are going to study the anatomy of that conversation. What is God’s approach to us? How does God approach the world? How are we are to interact with God? If you are like me, you assume that you can go to God. You assume that you can pray to God and He will be there. If you are like me, you grew up in church thinking that you know who God is and what church is all about. Those of you who grew up in the United States, in a democratic free world, you think you know what politics is all about. That is why you don’t bring up two things when you meet a stranger, politics and religion, because everyone has a hard line opinion about it. We have an assumption that we know something about God, that we know something about religion. One thing that I know is that the more I study Scripture, the more I try to get to know God, I just don’t know God. I just don’t know what religion is and I don’t know what church is about. The more I approach God, the more I realize I don’t know what God is all about. There are things that I do know. When I study this passage and when I study the entire Bible there is one thing that is clear: man does not search for God. Man does not go to God. If you look anywhere in Scripture, it is never man that goes to God. It is always God coming to us. Never do we search for God. I guess you can say that Abraham goes to God because when he lifted up his eyes he saw God and he approached him. If you study it correctly, in the first verse of Chapter 18, “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day”, it is God who approached Abraham.  Later in verse 15 when God talks to Sarah, when she says, “ ‘I did not laugh, for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.” God is the one who questions and asks why Sarah laughed. It is God who approaches man. Man does not approach God. Sixty-six books of the Bible written by different authors says the same thing about God, that you cannot approach God and that He approaches you. The reason why I say that is because I’ve talked with so many people who say, “Pastor you may be right that God is the way the truth and the life that and no one comes through the Father except through Him. But I like my life. I like the way I live. I like being independent and free.” They say things like, “Maybe I will live 50/60 years free, and then when I’m older I will give my life to Jesus.” Sorry it just doesn’t work. It is God who comes to you, not you who comes to God.

Another thing I noticed, I look in my life as I am growing up in Christianity is that I am not very real with God. When I see Abraham, he has a real relationship with God. There is something genuine about Abraham and God. Do you see that? When I read the following verses, there is something so genuine about Abraham. He wants to be in the presence of God so much. It is not an obligation. It is not a duty. It is not something he has to do. It’s not that at all. There’s an actual joy. It reminds me of my dog. His name is Gronk. He is a sheepadoodle, half sheep dog, half poodle. This past weekend I went to New York to see my parents. I wasn’t able to see my dog for a couple of days. I come back and I swear for thirty minutes he is jumping out of his skin and wagging his giant tail everyone. He is jumping all over me. There is something genuine about that dog. There is something so genuine about Abraham. Look in verse two,

He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 6while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on- since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”  

Notice it says, “while a bring a morself of bread.” A morsel is a whole calf.

6And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.’ 7And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.”

There is something so genuine about Abraham’s relationship with God. How’s your relationship with God? Do you just jump out of your skin to spend time with God? Or is it really formal? Do you have any relationships like that? Where you would jump out of your skin. How can Abraham be so real? It has to do with fear. A lot of times we don’t have real relationships is because we are afraid. We are afraid to be known. We are afraid to be judged. We fear we are not loved and we are not cared for. We fear that we are not respected. Look at this whole interaction while God is eating and Abraham is right there. Sarah is in the background in a tent eaves dropping. Listen.

“They said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife’” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah.12So Sarah laughed to herself, saying,After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”15 But Sarah denied it saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Sarah denies it because she was afraid. And God says, no but you did laugh. Why do we hide ourselves? We are afraid and we are in fear. You remember it is God who we are talking about here. God knows you. God knows us. It reminds me of this movie. This guy is an invisible man, but he’s really not. So he takes off his clothes and thinks no one can see him. We are kind of like that. We think we can hide from God. You cannot hide from God. We know that, but why do we act like we can hide from God? I think one of the reasons is because God is just not a reality in our lives. People are more of a reality in your life than God. The Bible says that is a false illusion. You are more afraid of people than God. He is not a reality. Be real with God. It comes in the form of security, in believing, having faith in God.

A second thing is to be humble. In the beginning we always assume that we can approach God. You cannot approach God. He approaches you. Be humble. We see that God had other plans and along the way He meets Abraham. The reason He came down to earth was to check upon Sodom and Gomorrah. There is this exchange and prayer. The way Abraham approaches God is with utter humility. What is humility? For you to be a good student you have to be humble. You take instructions from a professor. So as a student, you have to be humble. “I do not know this so please explain this to me. Can you teach me?” Do you know the reality of who you are? We see that with Abraham when he prays. God wants to share with us his will. In verse 16, “Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and might nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”  You notice it is in the earshot of Abraham. It is like me saying, “You want to know a secret? You promise not to tell.” The reason why people say that is because they really want to tell you. God is the same way. God wants to tell us his thought and the purpose of why He is here. We realize the reason why God came is this, “20The the Lord said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” What God does is that God sees how Abraham reacts. I do that with my kids. I say, “I’m thinking about doing this and doing that.” I love seeing how my children react. It’s not like I need my children’s input. I talk with them. As I am sitting with them, I start talking just to see what my children are thinking. There are times when they are talking and they say some amazing things, “I don’t know Dad I think you should be gracious and give that person a chance.” When I hear that it makes me proud and happy because it is in line with Scripture. It is not like God needs Abraham’s counsel. It is not like God’s mind is going to be changed either way. You know why I think that God hears Abraham out? He loves the fact that Abraham cares about something other than himself. Abraham is thinking and Abraham knows who God is all about and he says, “23 Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death and the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? 26And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” How do I know he is so humble? In verse 27, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” Abraham knows exactly who is. Do you know exactly who you are in God? Do you know the reality of who you are in God? Abraham is praying in that way.

As he is praying more and more, God is saying the same response. You notice the chapter abruptly ends. The prayer seems unfinished. Why is that? It is because while Abraham is praying he is learning something. He is being taught a lesson. His mind is changing while he is praying. That is why he finishes that prayer. He doesn’t complete that prayer. How should it be completed? “How about if it is one righteous?” Yet, it ends so abruptly. Verse 32, “Then he said, ‘Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.” That is it. In Abraham’s he is transforming. He is realizing certain things about God. God is an Almighty God. He created the heavens and the earth. God knows how people. Abraham saw that with Sarah. God knows your heart more than you. God loves Sodom and Gomorrah more than Abraham. God loves Sodom and Gomorrah so much that God has to actually come down. Even up in heaven He knows, but He comes out of heaven to see for Himself. An Almighty God who would go to those kind of lengths to do that. This God doesn’t have to do that but he does. As Abraham is interacting with God he is realizing another thing. There is no one righteous. Abraham trusts God. He trusts that God loves the city. We assume so much don’t much don’t we? We assume no one loves people more than we do. That no one loves our kids as much as we do. God loves your kids, your parents, and everything more than you. You see how Abraham transforms. If he finished his prayer, God would have finished Abraham’s prayer for him. If Abraham were to ask, “how about if one person was righteous? Would you save the city?” God’s answer would be yes. Then you would have to come to realize there is no one righteous. We are all sinners. You know how much God loves us? God would send a righteous man in the form of His one and only Son to us. So that not only can He save the city, so He could save the world. God so loved that He sent His one and only Son. Whosever believes and has a relationship with Him may not perish but have eternal life. Do you have a relationship with God?  Or do you think you know better than God? Do you have the security being loved or being real? I pray that if you don’t know Jesus Christ that you would know who he is.  You need to have your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you humble enough to be real with God? When you pray are you able to be transformed by Scripture?  

November 8, 2015 [Genesis 17]

November 8, 2015
[Genesis 17]
God's Perfection in Us
Pastor Brendon Wu

Being Perfect
Growing up, one of the most common themes or things that I read and saw all the time is the idea of perfection. We see this all the time. I remember one Christmas I went to the movie theater with my family and we watched the movie “Love Actually”. I really don’t like the movie, but in one scene there is a man that shows up at her door and isn’t saying anything. He made these cards and it reads a message of his affection for her. The last card says, “You are perfect to me.” I really don’t like this kind of stuff.  I think I did at one point in my life but it’s too embarrassing to recall and think about so no examples are going to come from my own life, maybe ever. Whether its relationships or attaining the American dream or perfect job, or perfect marriage, our society is inundated by how to be perfect or better. This past week I was really challenged by that when seeing this, the way our family or our society tells us how to achieve perfection. This passage shows us that God knows what we need to hear.

Does God expect us to be perfect?
What is God’s perfection of us? Does God expect us to be perfect? That should be the most important question more than our own perfection of ourselves, is the person that made us and saved us, is He someone that expects us to be perfect? As we have been looking at Abraham, we consider him the father of faith and he is not perfect. There is the time when he was in Egypt and he lies and says his wife was his sister, he throws her under the bus and the time. There was this time when Abram was struggling and afraid and God say, “Do not fear for I will be your shield and reward.” He doubted that God will give him an heir, or that God will give him a son. Most recently we learned about how Abram and Sarai went around God’s Word, Abram was at fault for listening to his wife, not that listening to your wife is ever bad, but the problem was that he listened to his wife over the Word of God. Unfortunately his wife had this idea of setting up her slave girl to try to bring about a son. We see how Abram and Sarai throughout this whole thing they have been trying to figure out how to have a child because Sarai is barren. Through this whole time is that they aren’t perfect in their trust in God, whatsoever.  13 years after Hagar had her child, Ismael, Abram turned 99 years old. Last we heard of Abram was when he had a son at 86 years old when he had his son. That means that 13 years passed and nothing has happened. God appears and says “I am the God almighty, walk before me and be blameless that I may make my covenant with you and multiply you greatly.” There has to be some sort of thought into what Abram has been going through and there has to be some sort of trust but at the same time he is still struggling with doubt. He is just like you and me; we struggle with doubt in our relationship with God. But Abram falls on his face.

God’s covenant with Abraham
When we think about how God makes a covenant with us, we learned that God always makes and initiates his covenant. In Genesis 12, when he first calls Abraham. He says 7 “I will” statements. I will do this/that. In Genesis 15 we see that God makes a covenant where he walks through the sacrificed animals, and said that when the covenant is not kept, He will be just like these animals, dead. This presents a problem to us because in this covenant God requires him to do something. What does this mean for God and Abram? I saw different parts, there is God that initiates the covenant where he says, “Behold my covenant is with you” and I will do these things. “But after that there is a part where he says in v. 9 “As for you, you shall do these things…” In verse 15, and Sarai and Ismael “As for you, you shall do these things…” God says he will do something but there is something that Abram must do. God will do what he says he’ll do but he also expects us to do these things. This makes sense it’s like someone making a marriage vow to be faithful in health and sickness. When a promise is made, you want to have some sort of response in the relationship. One person says “I love you” and the fear is that the other person won’t say it back. That’s not what is happening between God and Abraham. God doesn’t fear whether or not he will reciprocate this type of affection. If Abraham carries out his part of the covenant of the circumcision it shows that he trusts God’s love to him and promises everything to him. We see that in a lot of places in scripture and parts of our life. For example, many of us were studying the Lord’s Prayer in bible study and there is one part that says, “Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. It’s not that God’s forgiveness of us is dependent on us forgiving others but rather if God has forgiven us, then does that cause us to forgive others? Does that cause us to change to forgive others?

God changes our identity
In no kind of way does God expect us to be perfect, but in our relationship with him, how do we respond? The problem we see is that it seems very hard and we don’t know where to start. What I appreciate is that God gives Abraham a name change and he changes his name from Abram to Abraham, which means father of a multitude of nations. Abraham is a really rich man, cattle livestock, and servants.  Abraham will always have to live a life where his name means a multitude of nations but he has no children. Personally when I read this, I would think that if my name were changed to “Father of many Nations.” I would want to see it swing in that direction, to see a kid, but there was nothing. God is saying that this is a sure promise that isn’t dependent on Abraham but on God. God changes Abraham’s name and God’s name does not change. He introduces himself as God Almighty. In Hebrew that’s known as “El Shaddai”, God almighty. Does God expect us to be perfect? He expects that with God nothing is impossible. As men we have to change, because we are not perfect. What’s amazing is that God does change us, He will work on us. It’s all based upon God, there is no way to walk before him or be blameless without being dependent on God and what he will do. If you call yourself a Christian what does that mean? Does Christian just mean you go to church? Does Christian mean you crack upon the bible once and a while? You say that Christ died for you, but in your heart and n your life that doesn’t have any bearing. What does it mean for us to be a Christian? It’s not so much about what it means to be a Christian but where does our name come from? Christ. Who is Christ? What is his word, and what is his promise to us? Are we still counting on ourselves to be perfect before God? Or are we counting on God’s perfection more and more and that he is God almighty and he is going to take care of everything. The fact that if God calls us Christian and calls us sons and daughters there is already a certainty and promise that God will take care of us forever. God wants us to realize this more and more. God doesn’t need Abram and his household to be circumcised, but God wants him to go through this so that they would be able to respond to God. When God tells Abraham to keep his covenant and then to be circumcised he says it’s a sign of the covenant. But during that time circumcision was very generic, not special a lot of tribes and people outside of their tribe, it was a tribal right. If someone wanted to become apart of a tribe or clan they might ask you to be circumcised as a demonstration of loyalty. Abram’s people never practiced this; I realized that circumcision isn’t really a Jewish thing. This changed my view of this passage. God asked them to do so and put his significance over it. He’s saying that it’s a sign of the covenant. It’s an act of initiation. If someone’s household is circumcised, then they will be accepted into Abraham’s family but if not, they will be cut off.

God can work in the most difficult of times
What does this mean for us? God then starts talking about Sarai, and tells Abram that she will no longer be called Sarai but Sarah. Both mean Princess. Other commentators believe that they both mean the same thing. Some commentators believe that in both of their names have the letter H and that letter in the Hebrew represented sprit or breath. The sound of the “Hhhh” some people theorize that when God was changing their name he was adding breath/spirit to their name. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that God is confirming his promise, making it even more sure. Doesn’t God do that in our life? One of the joys we have together as a church is seeing God confirming what he is doing in our lives. I look back to when I first became a Christian and I genuinely believed I knew what it meant to be a Christian. I look back to myself in 2014 and I think “Oh man.” I bet Abraham and Sarah feel the same way. It’s not about them, but it’s about God making his promise sure and what he says that is different from before. He says that He will bless her and moreover a Son will come from her. Finally we’ve been going through this story for a month and a half and finally a son will come from not only Abraham but from Sarah. It is very certain. I will bless her, kings and nations shall come from her. Isaac, this promised son from Sarah is not a bad thing, its’ a beautiful thing because she is barren. It’s amazing to see, but difficult to see. When things feel impossible, it’s not bad things, but its opportunities, beautiful times where God can work. God can work through that barrenness. If he is saying that He can give a son through Sarah. Sarah feels cursed and appears to be cursed when we feel that way, is that the reality? That’s way we need God, to see it through his perspective. He sees this curse and he turns it into a blessing. Many of us are like Abraham that laughs out of this time, he laughs out of doubt or skepticism. O that Ishmael might live through you. I relate with him even when God shares his word with us a lot of times we laugh at it. We have doubts. Abraham we are concerned with a lot of other things rather than what he said. He can’t help but think of Ishmael and pleads for him like a good father. He doesn’t want Ishmael to be forgotten. How relatable is that with us? When we hear God’s word given to us but we think about what about my friend? What about these people in my family? God addresses all of this, I hear you Abraham. I will bless him .

Make the impossible possible, your wife will bear a son and his name will be Isaac and his name means he laughs and a year from now is when your son will come. This applies to us, hundreds of years later there is a son that comes in a very impossible way. The mother isn’t barren but is a virgin and conceives and that son is Jesus Christ. Both Mary and joseph feel cursed in way because society will look down on them now. Somehow she is going to have a child. How can they explain this? She will be shunned. Yet, I’m amazed in  a reaction like Abraham , our doubt
That makes it necessary for Jesus to come. Because of our doubt in God and his word, that’s why Jesus was sent into our lives.

In our imperfection God is drawing us closer

We don’t think God can do the impossible we don’t think God can help us or be good to us, but God says he can and much more. Just how circumcision back in Abram’s day was a very generic, not special thing. Do we know that crucifixion was a very generic thing? It’s not something we think about. Who says, “My lord Jesus Christ died in a very generic way.” Actually during the time of the Roman Empire, thousands of people died through crucifixion and hung on a cross beam made out of trees. Even in the way he died, that it wasn’t what made it special, just like circumcision. What made it special then? It’s who died on that cross, and who chose and initiated to die on that cross. God said that he will make a sacrifice and atonement for us What God said he did, he carried it out. It’s Jesus Christ himself who dies on a cross. What does Jesus mean to us? We don’t fully realize this, how amazing it is to hear the words from Jesus that he loves us. Many of us want to hear the words “I love you” from a romantic relationship, or parents. What’s more amazing is hearing Jesus say, “I love you.” It’s who says this, that’s amazing. It’s who makes this covenant, that’s amazing. Does god expect us to be perfect? Do we know that God is perfect? That he does what he says? If you love me, you will obey my commands. In our imperfection, God is drawing us closer and closer to him. It’s not that he is making us better people; he is challenging us and growing us to be more intimate in our identity with god. What does it mean to be a Christian? For Abraham and Sarah what did it mean to have these names and bear it and not be able to physically see that their names were true, but to really count on God. For us, to not see exactly what god is doing, but count on his word. Do we believe in the kind of God that is so perfect, El Shaddai, mighty to do anything but the one thing he chose to do above all and love above anything else is to die for us and sacrifice himself for us on the cross Making himself the guarantee of his covenant and promise to us. We have to put our faith into practice and that is what we see at the end of this chapter. He takes God very seriously, 99-year-old man and is indeed circumcised and circumcised his son Ishmael and other men in his household. He really puts his faith into practice and believes it enough to let it affect everything around him, Do we believe it enough to let it affect everything around us or let it affect us? Pastor Kenny gives us, as a charge is “are we evangelizing to our family and friends, work or school or are they evangelizing to us?” Again its not that God is expecting us to be perfect, but is our trust in God whose word is perfect.

November 1, 2015 [Genesis 16:1-16]

November 1, 2015
[Genesis 16:1-16]
“Lost in Translation”
Pastor Kenny Lee

We used to play a game called “Telephone” and somehow it would get lost in translation. For me, I taught elementary school kids and everything and we played that telephone game, he-he-he, you see you get lost in translation, so that’s how I came up with the title. For him (Pastor Brendon), he’s like Indie films, yeah indie films, where this down and out old actor goes to Japan to do some kind of commercial, and meets up with this newly wed lady, kind of thing. I just heard about it. Anyways well there are two movies here. One is Lost in Translation; the other one is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. You guys don’t know The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly do you? Well some people do here, some people right around that area knows The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, it’s with Clint Eastwood. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, it is a western movie; it talks about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those are the outlines for this sermon. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But we’re going to add one more thing at the end, The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Beautiful.

Why do I say Lost in Translation? Well if we look back on Genesis 15, there’s this wonderful picture of the covenant, Abram and the covenant. Where Abram is doubting like crazy, Lord I don’t have a child yet, and my only heir that I thought was to be the heir or my offspring, Lot, I thought he would be my heir, but he wants to go back to soddom, and the only person that I have left is Eliezer, who is the head of my household, who is in charge of everything and he’s going to be my heir.’ God takes Abram out and says this man Eleizer will not be your heir, in fact, your heir, your offspring will come directly from you. In other words you’re going to have a son that comes directly from you. And eventually you’ll have offspring like the stars. And Abram believed and said okay. See you see I’m the God who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, that’s where you’re from, you’re from Ur and I brought you out of there, so I could give you this land. And Abram goes ‘Oh well I have another worry. You remember that land thing; I come to this place Canaan, where all the Canaanites are and there’s a problem. It’s a nice piece of land, don’t get me wrong, it’s a good piece of land, but its occupied by people and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to leave anytime soon, in fact they look like they just moved right on in and they’re occupying this space and they look very happy in the land. It seems like they’re not going to leave. How are you going to give me this land Lord?’ And God says give me some animals. And Abram knew exactly what God’s doing. God is making a covenant; God is establishing a promise.

And so what they did back then was they didn’t write up or draft up a contract, what they did was more literal back then. They cut up some animals, a cow (a heifer), a goat, some pigeons, some birds, and laid them out on their side and he took a whole day to cut up this contract, right, as it were. And to cut up the animals, the animals are dead, its bloody, gory, you can just imagine the carnage. And Abram was just getting ready to cross this contract. And that whole contract is this. Abram I am going to give you this land, I am going to provide this land for you, and I am going to do all that. However, in order for you to receive this land, receive all these promises, there are certain things you have to do. You have to listen to my word, you have to obey, and all of that stuff. What should’ve happened is Abram should’ve walked through those animals. And the significant meaning of that is this: If I do not keep my end of the bargain, may I be just like these animals. May I be cut up and dead. And I was saying before that’s a good way to do a contract these days. I don’t think there will be any kind of late payments, I think that people would pay on time and think twice before taking out a loan, and all of that. That’s a good way of doing things, right? No, right? But I mean it would be nice, but can you imagine? You don’t pay your bills on time, the guy comes with a knife. “Hey, you’re going to be cut up just like these animals.” No one. Anyways we’re not in that kind of world now.

But the interesting thing about this covenant is the fact that Abram doesn’t go through those animals. Who goes through those animals? Abram is in deep sleep. There’s a presence of the Lord, heavy presence of the Lord that comes. And Scripture says this pot fire, this smoke crosses those animals. Okay maybe the Lord is just being very nice. One of those I’m a common man kind of king. I’m like one of you, so I’ll walk through these things, but you know all that the Lord has to do is give the land, that’s it, so he will always keep his end of the bargain right? The interesting thing is the fact the Abram doesn’t cross those animals, so what does that mean? And what I was saying last week was this, what God does is God frees Abram, saying ‘Abram, even if you don’t keep your end of the bargain, that you don’t obey my words, you go against my will, and you break this contract. Even when that happens I will pay for it. You are free; you don’t need to pay for it. I will pay for it.’ So that’s the environment, or in Korean the B-H-G, the ‘boon-hee-gi’. That’s the feeling that Abram was sensing. He knew the full will of God, he knew the meaning of God. You ever feel that? You ever go to a good retreat and you’re stressed out and you go into the retreat and you feel the presence of God and you’re just like I know the will of God, I know it. And you’re floating on air, and when I go back home, I just know what to do; I know how to do it. It seems like the vision of God is so clear. It’s like taking ten thousand Claritins and it just brightens up the room. There’s a clear vision that you know. That was for my pharmacist people, Claritin, anyways.

And the wonderful thing, the good thing is this, is that one good thing about Abram is that Abram believes in the Word of God. Do you? That’s the wonderful thing, and you see that, you see that in Abram’s life, you see that when before Abram was kind of testing God out, so there’s a famine in the land, so Abram goes down to Egypt and lies. Throws his wife under the bus a little bit, but what he say was that God protected him physically, he experienced that. So next thing you know, his nephew lot gets himself in trouble and gets captured by these kings, and so what does Abram do? Abram fully trusts God, fully trusts that he’ll be okay physically from physical harm. So he goes off, I’m sure there is some fear, but he goes off into battle, fully trusting that the Lord will save him from any kind of harm and does that and save him. And he saves his Lot and Lot leaves and there’s another fear. And God says ‘No you will have a child and the child will come from you. This land will be given to you.’ You know what? Abram totally believes that, and Abram’s mind is like ‘Okay I am going to have a child, it’s going to be great.’ And so at this point, you’re thinking ‘Oh man, man, this is the reason why Father Abram he’s my boy, he’s my man, that’s the person I identify myself with, that’s why he’s the father of three major world religions, this is the reason why. And so we all just assume that Abrams life is going to be perfect, its going to be great, because we have that kind of understanding. Because Abram has that Jesus is on my side, kind of understanding. I know God’s will kind of understanding. We see that and we just assume that everything will be fine, but we know its not. That’s because we’re learned readers of scripture, we read scripture a little bit forward and we know that Abram, there’s a bad side to Abram.

And here’s the bad. 1Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. There’s that original issue, but She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And so I’m sure Abram like a good husband was telling her, I had this wonderful time with God. God said he was going to give me this land, God said he was going to give me this child, and it’s going to come from me. Isn’t that great Sarai? I’m going to have a child, we’re going to have a child! And Sarai is looking at her husband and saying ‘The Lord didn’t actually say that it was going to come through me, the Lord just said its coming to come from you. And that’s what the word of the Lord said right?’ And Abram is like ‘Yeah. I guess.’ ‘Well behold now, the fact of the matter is that the Lord God has prevented me from having a child, but not you. I have a servant, a woman servant, a woman slave, and you know she could bear a child. Why don’t you go in with my servant that it may be that I obtain a child by her. And so Abram is listening to this and this is what scripture said And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. The wording is the same way as when Abram listened to the voice of the Lord, same, it is written very similar. And there’s the bad. The bad thing is the fact that even when we think that we know the will of God and all that stuff, we still get influenced by the world. We still get influenced by people. And we don’t even have to assume that God loves Abram and Abram loves God. But yet even with Abram listened to the voice of Sarai that went against the voice of God. Isn’t that how we get into a lot of trouble a lot of times? Isn’t that how we get into a lot of insecurities? Isn’t that how we start doubting a lot of times? You know at one time you go to the retreat and there’s this wonderful great feeling that we have with God, we have this amazing relationship with God and we come back, we go to work, we do our daily things, and we listen to the world, we listen to drama, we listen to news and everything, we listen to our parents, we even listen to our spouse. And we start questioning. We start doubting. We start not trusting. And eventually what we do is we act upon those insecurities. We act upon that advice. We act upon those doubts. We act upon our emotion, our unbiblical emotion. And the crazy thing is that we twist it into thinking that it is God’s will. We twist things into thinking that it’s God’s will and it’s not.

And here’s the ugly. There are consequences to sin. You don’t think all because you are a Christian, that there is no consequence to sin. Oh there are consequences to your sin. And we see the consequences of sin. Abram has a child with Hagar and its funny when Hagar discovers that she conceived, you know what she started doing? This slave girl started looking down on her mistress, on Sarai, started looking down on her. Thinking that she’s somehow better than her. And of course Hagar knows full well. You know women, how they have that sixth sense you know. It’s freaky. My mom she has a sixth sense and she doesn’t look at me and she goes “What are you doing?” “Nothing! Nothing mom, nothing!” And at the time I was thinking something, you know. I was thinking about doing something. And she’s like “Don’t think about it.” And she’s just cooking, but she’s like “Don’t think about it.” “Noooo. I’m not thinking about it.”  Women have these sixth senses right? The world calls it ‘Women’s Intuition’; I just call it freaky. It’s just weird, but anyways so Sarai she’s old, but she still got it. She senses, she knows, there’s tension. And Sarai is distraught, and Sarai you know when she was thinking of the idea, won’t it be great, she’s this old lady. And she’s like won’t it be great to have a child, just have a child you know? I think when you get older, like my mom and dad, we didn’t have a child for like four, five years, and my mom and dad were just dying “Just have a baby! Come on, give me grandchildren!” They were just dying, you know? And I’m just like “Mom, I don’t know if we’re ready to raise a child, I just don’t know.” “Just give me a baby! Please!” That’s my parents, so finally we have a child and everything, my mom’s just like. Child is peeing everywhere, crying everywhere and this is my mom… Because sometimes the overwhelming desire to have a child…Its like having a puppy. I wanted a puppy for so long, so I had these fantasies about running through the field with my dog. And my dog is a perfect dog; he’s like this looking at me, saying ‘yes master, I will run’, hair just flowing like that. In my mind that was it , it pooped right in its place, it was a nice hard poop, not like the diarrhea, where you have to pick up all the time. And in my mind, that was my dog. And if you know my dog, that is the furthest thing from that. It chewed through four leashes, it chewed through a harness, everything. That’s the reality of it.

Now the reality sets in for Sarai. Sarai discovers this child that’s going to come out is not my child, it may be my husband’s child, but its not my child. This woman who is my slave is treating me not just like my equal, but that she’s above me. And Sarai is devastated, we kind of have a heart for Sarai, but the thing is when you start looking at it, it was her fault. She’s the one that egged this thing on, and ultimately Abram just said ‘Okay.’ And that’s it. And what happens is the consequences of, the ugly thing about sin is the fact that it affects people. And so Sarai confronts Abram and complains to Abram and Abram just goes ‘Hey, she’s your servant. She aint my servant. She’s your servant, just do with her what you will.’ And what Scripture says is that Sarai just made it an awful environment for this girl. And so she was conceiving a child and Sarai was brutally bullying her, just made her life terrible, to the point that this pregnant woman would run away. In other words, a sinful act produced a relationship where it was just easier to throw that person away. It was easier to just get rid of that person, to just put her to the side. Don’t we do that a lot of times? We just don’t want to deal with our consequences or we just don’t want to deal with the reality of what our relationship is, so we kind of brush that person to the side. Sometimes we make jokes about it. ‘That’s my weird uncle. Yeah he just comes out on family holidays and such. Just ignore him.’ We somehow kind of ignore the problem.

Here’s the beautiful thing about God. Here’s the amazingly beautiful thing about God. You know the people that we reject, the rejects of society that’s because of our sin. God comes up behind us and loves the crap out of them. Just loves them. Scripture says in verse 6 “But Abram said to Sarai, ‘Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.” Where did she flee to? She fled to a spring water. And who was there? Scripture says in verse 7 “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.” And here’s what so amazing about our God, so beautiful, we dealt with the good, the bad, and the ugly, here’s the beautiful. And this is what the angel of the Lord said and the angel of the Lord goes out of his way to find Hagar, just like a wonderful shepherd and this is what he says “Hagar, servant of Sarai.” How about if Sarai told us to go find that Egyptian servant, you know what we would say? We’d say, ‘Egyptian servant, Egyptian servant. Hey Egyptian servant. Hey hey slave. Where are you slave?’ But the angel of the Lord this is what he says “ ‘ Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress and submit to her.’ ” Although she doesn’t deserve it, submit to her. And “The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her ‘Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.’ ” And here’s the amazing part. Listen to this, listen to what kind of God he is. “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.”


Here is what one commentator says, “It is rather amazing that instead of reacting to the content of Yahweh’s message, Hagar marvels. That God knows about her and cares about her at all. And in her joy, she becomes the only character in all of Scripture that actually names God man or woman.” An Egyptian slave girl. See its in chapter 16:13-14 “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.” Do you realize that’s the kind of God that we have? Whether you are on one side of the fence or the other side of the fence, you know sometimes we are the ones who are really rejected sometimes. But a lot of times we are the ones who are rejecting. Isn’t it good to know that number one: that God... the things that you don’t care about, the people that you hurt, the people that you just ignored, the people that you just look down on, that God actually loves them, that God actually cares for them. To what degree? That God would let, just expose himself to a servant slave girl from Egypt. A pagan slave. And if you find yourself on the other side of the fence, where you’re the one who is rejected. You are the one who feels left out, cast away. That God is there for you, that God is in search of you, that is what it says in Scripture. And in fact do you know what the whole point of this thing is? The whole point of Abram’s life, do you know the whole point of this is? It’s God in search of you. Saying “You know what you guys are all running away. You know guys are all lost and I am coming and I want to find you and call you by name.” And the way he does that is through his one and only Son. Where the one and only son comes. And you know what he says? “Come all who are weak and heavy laden and find your rest in me.” Jesus Christ comes into this world and says, you know what, all that sin that we have, all that sin that makes us throw away people, makes our feelings hurt and all that stuff, it says all of that leads us to death, all of that will finally lead us to death. And what God said is I’m going to take all that. I’m going to pay for all of that. And so what we’re able to do is love one another. Are you feeling weak? Are you feeling heavy laden? Are you feeling stressed out? Find your rest in Christ. Believe in God’s Word. All because you believe in God’s Word that does not make you perfect. It in fact shows you how imperfect you are and it shows you how weak we are, and it shows you how much more we need Jesus. Jesus Christ came to seek and save the lost.