23 May 2021

The Déjà vu Message [Genesis 20,21]


People say, "once bitten, twice shy". Sadly, Abraham didn't learn from his sin 25 years ago in Egypt, for he repeated his deception here in Genesis 20. The story is like a deja vu- how Abraham sinned, how God stepped in, and how Abraham was enriched despite his sin. But there are important spiritual lessons God and the author intend for us. We will learn about the sharp contrast between man's faithlessness and God's faithfulness. We will learn about the faithfulness of God based not on man's worthiness, but on God's worthiness. We will also learn about the works of the flesh versus the works of God.


Sermon Transcript

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Well, once again, thank you for joining us on our ... in our online service today. A big welcome to friends and guests who may be joining us online for the very first time.

Now, as many of you would already know, we are in a heightened alert phase here in Singapore with regards to COVID-19 battle. What this means is that the whole nation is in a tightened security mode.

I'm sure you will recall when this phase was first announced about a week ago, there was quite a lot of panic buying, people were going to the supermarket and emptying out the shelves. And of course, the most popular item seems to be still the toilet paper, somehow people love to hoard that and store, that in case they run out of toilet paper.

But besides this panic buying, the government has also given us rules that say, "There will be no more dining at dining establishments." Whether it's restaurants or hawker centers, food courts, we are not allowed to eat there anymore, we can only buy away or take away. And so I see pictures of even people eating at the back of the taxis, because they can't eat at the food courts and hawker centers anymore.

And of course for those who have children, you would be going back to home-based learning, that is a ... going to school online. Students will do that every day, parents will now have to supervise and invigilate them in a sense. And all these things are difficult, they are quite inconvenient, but yet again they are not unfamiliar to many Singaporeans. Because we had somewhat similar experience about a year ago during our circuit breaker as well.

So all these seems to be a lot of a déjà vu. It's about reliving what we have experienced before. Now, I share all that because the story before us here in Genesis, chapter 20 and 21 is a kind of déjà vu as well. It's a kind of reliving what we have seen before.

You see, 25 years ago, before chapter 20, in chapter 12 of Genesis, we read of Abraham. There was a famine in that land and Abraham decided to move his family, his entire family to Egypt. And when he was going to Egypt, he knew that his wife, Sarah is a beautiful lady, and men would want to take her for themselves, especially Pharaoh, especially the king of Egypt.

So he cooked up this plan, and this is what he said, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they would say, "This is his wife." Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. So Sarah, say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake." [Gen 12:11-13]

Now, Abraham decided to kind of speak a lie. Actually it's a kind of half-truth, because we're told that, "Sarah indeed is his sister." [Gen 20:12] Just not from the same mother, same father, different mother, in Chinese we say, "同父异母" (tóng fù yì mǔ) - same father, different mother.

Nevertheless, we know this is a lie, because he deliberately hid the fact that she is also his wife, and that would endanger her to adultery, if she is to be with another man. So this was his compromise, some 25 years ago. We have seen that story, we've studied that. So when we come to chapter 20, 25 years later in the story of Abraham, it is very interesting, this is déjà vu. Because Abraham now goes to Gerar, a different place, "And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah."' [Gen 20:2]

So it's almost like, wow, I thought it's once bitten twice shy! But not for Abraham, he repeats the same mistake, he repeats the same sin. It is déjà vu! And so today's sermon is simply called 'The Déjà Vu' message.

Now, this is a simple story because it's very similar to what we have experienced in chapter 12, but still I think they are important spiritual lessons for us to glean. So please bear with me, I hope this will be a short, sharp, succinct message that would help you understand some spiritual insights.

[1] The Folly of Abraham
First of all, I like us to be reminded again about - the folly of Abraham. What he did was foolish, it was wrong, it was a mistake. And you may ask, "Why did he do this?" Well, he gave an insight of his thinking in verse 11. "Abraham said, "I did it because I thought there is no fear of God at all in this place, and they would kill me because of my wife."'

Well, he didn't count on godly men in that place called Gerar, but at the same time, you could say, "He did not count on God." He did not believe that God would preserve him. I think he obviously made a mistake, he obviously was foolish, he obviously did a faithless choice or took a faithless decision in his life. And I don't think any one of us would be able to excuse him from that.

But it is a reminder, isn't it, that there is no such thing as great men in this world? Today, we like to idolize, we'd like to put people out on the pedestal and then say, "Wow, what a great guy! What a great holy, godly man! What a wonderful pastor!" And well, there are many people who have lived out godly lives but I don't think we can call anyone a great man because at the end of the day, we are all weak men; broken men who desperately need the grace of God.

If Abraham, the father of faith could fail in faithlessness, if David could slip into sin, if Peter could deny the Lord Jesus Christ, I think the Bible is very clear, there is no such thing as a great man, we are all weak men, broken men in need of God's grace.

Remember Apostle Paul, even when he was a great apostle in our minds, he said, "I am a wretched man," in Romans chapter 7. So I think it is arrogance to think of any one of us as great, when we are actually broken and desperately in need of God's grace.

I also think that this story reminds us that there is no such thing as cruise control in the Christian life. You know, some of you, you may have cars that allow you to press a button called cruise or cruise control. And your car just goes at the same speed without you having to step on the pedal. That's comfortable! That's easy! That's nice! But let me tell you, "There is no such thing as cruise control in the spiritual life."

You remember in the earlier chapters, we read of Abraham as a wonderful man of faith. He pleaded with God, he ... he prayed and he had a wonderful compassion for the people at Sodom and Gomorrah. He was a man of faith. He did well there. There's no question! But just because he did well, that doesn't mean he will continue to do well, it doesn't mean that he will go on a cruise control mode.

So we see him sadly falling into sin, right here in chapter 20. A reminder for all of us to be sober and vigilant at all times. Just because you're walking with God yesterday, doesn't mean that you do not need to keep walking with God today. Doesn't mean you can take your foot off the pedal, spiritually speaking.

[2] The Forestalling.
Well, Abraham slipped into folly and unbelief, faithlessness and sin, but I don't think this is the main point in chapter 20 and chapter 21. We're going to see next, God's actions. We're going to see the real stuff here. And I think we can maybe call this - the forestalling.

Before Abraham's sin will explode in his face, and create terrible consequences, God supernaturally and God unilaterally steps in to prevent further damage and disaster. So the forestalling of God is seen here, and this is very reminiscent of what happened 25 years ago, again, déjà vu. Because 25 years ago in Genesis 12, after Abraham lied about Sarah, God afflicted, you would have thought, Abraham, because he sinned, he lied! But no, God did not afflict Abraham, but, "God afflicted Pharaoh and his wife with great plagues because of Sarai, Abraham's wife." [Gen 12:17]

So God protected Abraham and Sarah, and their marriage, and their chastity in a sense, and dealt a hard blow on Pharaoh. And 25 years later, it's the same deal in Genesis, chapter 20. Here, God supernaturally and unilaterally stepped in ... in a dream. "God communicated with Abimelech in a dream, "You will be in trouble if you take Sarah to be your wife, because Sarah is already married."[Gen 20:3] Well, God communicated that because Abraham would not communicate that.

And not only that, "God also closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah." [Gen 20:18] So this is interesting, is déjà vu, same sin. And instead of dealing with Abraham, God dealt with the kings. Abraham seems to get off quite scot free.

The question is why? Why would God do this? Is it because Abraham is such a godly man, great guy, that God would now always save him because Abraham deserves it? I don't think that should be the way we read the Scriptures, because the Bible is very clear to put the blame and the fault upon Abraham. He did wrong, there is no excuse! And God is in no way endorsing the sinful acts of Abraham.

But I think we ... as we look at the whole narrative of Genesis thus far, I would suggest to you the reason why God stepped in, is not because of Abraham, or because he's so great a guy and that he deserves it, but because God is committed to His own purposes and plans, and God's own promise to Abraham.

God had promised Abraham, over and over again that he will have an offspring via Sarai. We read for example in Genesis 12, verse 3, "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." What do you mean by that? "To your offspring, I will give this land." [Gen 12:7] "Abraham, I will give you an offspring." And He repeats that in chapter 13:15-16, "For all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever."

And even after Abraham and Sarah was [sic:were] maybe hopeless, or maybe they felt hopeless, they suggested that Eliezer of Damascus, his son, this servant's son of Abraham will be the offspring. God said, "No, not this boy! Not this son of Eliezer of Damascus, your very own son shall be your heir." [Gen 15:14] "Sarah, indeed, your wife shall bear you a son." [Gen 17:19]
So God is very specific, that He will bless Abraham, he will have a son from ... with his in his marriage with Sarah. "And you should call his name Isaac." "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." [Gen 18:10]

So God repeatedly says, "I will bless you, Abraham. You will definitely have a son with Sarah." And therefore, if Abimelech was to have Sarah as his wife, and she becomes pregnant, you will not be able to say, "Oh, Abraham is now having a son via Sarah, because it might be Abimelech. No one is going to know!" In those days they don't, they do not have DNA testing, and you cannot ascertain the paternity of the child anymore. "And therefore that promise in your seed, shall all nations be blessed," will be cast into dispute and doubt.

Therefore, I believe for the sake of God's fulfillment of His promise, He stepped in supernaturally in a dream, and in this disease upon the household of Abimelech. And again, very déjà vu, very reminiscent of what happened in chapter 12, God, in a sense, used Abimelech to bless Abraham with substance. [Gen 20:14]

I mean it was the same thing, in chapter 12. Abraham sinned, God stepped in and he was blessed with more than when he entered Egypt. And likewise again, God blesses Abraham, not because Abraham deserved it, not because he was a great guy, but again it's all because of God's commitment to His own promise to bless Abraham.

So let me just quickly summarize this, what we have looked at. Why did God bless Abraham, protect Abraham? I believe it has nothing to do with Abraham, or what he has done. It has nothing to do with, he deserves it. No, not at all! But it has everything to do with God and His promises to bless Abraham. God is faithful to what He has said, in spite of what Abraham has done.

So Abraham has only attempted I think to mess things up. But, even his failures, could not mess up God's faithful commitment to His promise to Abraham. God's promise to Abraham to bless him is in spite of Abraham and not because of Abraham.

And if you think about this for yourself, I think this is a powerful important spiritual lesson. We often think that, "God blesses me, God blesses you, because I am a great guy, or you are a great person." But do you realize that actually God's blessing on us, has nothing to do with whether we deserve it or not. Because the fact of the matter is that we are all an undeserving bunch of sinners.

It is all because of God's amazing, unconditional, sovereign choice to set His love upon us, that we experience His blessings. So God does not bless us because we deserve it, God blesses us, because He has chosen simply to love us and to bless us, in spite of what we have done.

We have messed-up so often. I think about my own life, I'm such a messed up person, I sinned against God, I failed Him over and over again. But in spite of what I am or what I've done to grieve Him, God is so amazing in His grace, to still bless me with the Gospel, and with the hope of eternal life.

God's blessing on His people, ultimately it's not because of who we are, but because of who He is. And that in so generously magnanimously blessing us, He manifests His amazing glory.

I see this over and over again, that God does all things, first and foremost for His own glory. For example, we see in Ephesians, chapter 1:5-6, "The reason why we are saved, the reason why we are predestined, the reason why we are adopted is so that this will bring praise to His glorious grace."

We see that again, Paul repeats in verse 12, "We were the first to hope in Christ, might be to the praise of His glory." Why are you saved? "Oh, I want to get out, get out of hell," you say. "Oh, I want to be, not going to the fires of hell." Well, that's a ... that's a great blessing and benefit to us. But the reason why you are saved, let me say, "According to Scripture is first and foremost, for the glory of God." Yes, we enjoy the benefits of being saved, but the real ultimate purpose, I think is always for the glory of God, repeats here, three times in Ephesians, chapter 1.

See, from God's point of view, there are men and women who will be saved, and there'll be men and women who will not be saved. To us, it seems like a random selection of people. To us, it seems quite cruel and sad that some people will not be saved. But you must understand that from God's point of view, everything He does is purposeful. And even in salvation, He's trying to manifest His grace and mercy and love. And even in those who will not be saved, He's manifesting attributes of His character of wrath, and power and holiness and judgment.

Now, I am not the one who comes up with the idea, I think God Himself said so in Romans 9:22, "What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction." So, there will be men and women who will not be saved. Why? Because God has determined that they will be vessels that will manifest His power and wrath.

Now, at the same time I would say that, "These people are also those who will not seek after God, who will not repent and believe in His Son." But hey, it is equally true that God has also determined some to be vessels of wrath and power. At the same time, 'He has also prepared vessels of mercy, vessels that will carry the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy."[Rom 9:23] What I'm saying here is, "God is always committed to Himself, to the praise of His Name, to His own glory."

Isaiah 48:9-11 tells us, "For My Name's sake I defer My anger; for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you. For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it, for how should My Name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." God is most committed to His own glory, that's who God is, because creation is most satisfied when we see God glorious for who He is.

So, let me come back to this story, why did God step in? Is it because Abraham is a great chap? Is it because he's such a wonderful guy, that God is obliged to help him? No, he's a sinner like you and me! But God stepped in, because God is faithful to His own promise, and He will glorify Him, glorify Himself through the offspring of Abraham. And He will see to it, even if Abraham tries to mess it up, God would see to it that it will be done.

I hope hearing this, you would not think that this is about how we can be encouraged to sin. "Hah, since God will always bail Abraham out, oh, Abraham can continue to sin! And if God is always going to bail me out, then God is going ... I ... I ... I'm encouraged to sin." I hope you will never walk away with that idea, because if you are someone truly touched by grace, you understand the love of God, you won't want to sin against God, you won't want to grieve Him. I believe your heart will not want that, if you have been born again.

But what this is, is to remind us and to show us that God's faithfulness is ultimately not based on our worthiness, but on His worthiness. And I think that is such a rock-solid foundation to understand God's faithfulness to His people. He is anchoring, I think the Scriptures is telling us, "We can hope in the faithfulness of God, not because we are worthy, but because God is worthy. And because God is absolutely worthy, and God is absolutely committed to His own glory, we can be confident that He will always be for us, those whom He has set His love upon."

That's a tremendous thought, that God will never forsake us, will never abandon us, but He will always be working all things together for good to them that love God! Why? Because He is most committed to His glory. And if He has chosen you as vessels of His glory, then He will work His beautiful works through your life.

My friends, this is the amazing reality of the Gospel. God's love is not set on us because of who we are, but because of who He is.

[3] The Fulfillment
Well, let's move on. After the forestalling however, after God stopped this tragedy from developing, He did not end there, because He went on to make sure that the promise will be fulfilled. So let's look at the fulfillment of the promise of Isaac, the birth of Abraham's own son with Sarah.

So we read that, "The LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as He promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his own (sic:old) age, at a time of which God had spoken to him." [Gen 21:1-2]

I love the way the author puts this across. I mean, there's no fuss. We had already read that Sarah and Abraham had envisioned all kinds of difficulty. They are old, Sarah is postmenopausal, there is no way that they can have a child anymore, and so they had all these struggles and that's why they said, "Let's get Eliezer's son to be the heir, or let's get Hagar to have ... have a relationship with you, Abraham, so that she will bear you a son."

They came up with all these kind of humanistic plans because they couldn't see beyond the difficulties. But we come to this passage, all these difficulties seem to melt away. God doesn't bother to tell us how it was done. That's it! What we thought were difficulties, were no difficulties for God! It was exactly as God had told Sarah, "A year later, you will have a son with Abraham." And lo and behold, it's done!

And I love the way the author emphasized the faithfulness of God and the fulfillment of God's promise, "As He had said ..." "As He had promised ..." "As God had spoken ..." [Gen 21:1-2] That's God's style! We often wonder, "Oh, is ... is it even possible for this to happen or is this possible for this to take place?" And we are often trying to come up with our own plans, humanistic fleshly schemes. Or we are impatient, we say, "Why can't it come earlier?" Well, in God's own time, in God's own style, He sees to the fulfillment of His promises.

[4] The Foreshadowing
Finally, I like to end off, in looking at the foreshadowing in this story. There's a kind of a picture lesson, seen in Abraham's household, that will be important for Christians like us in the future to understand.

So this story is interesting, we read, "As the child, [that is Isaac], grew and was weaned, [maybe three, four years old]. Abraham made a feast on the day that Isaac was weaned." But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, who she had borne to Abraham, laughing." [Gen 21:8-9]

So Ishmael, a teenager now, looked at Isaac, and laughed and mocked at Isaac. And then we read, "So Sarah being upset that Ishmael should mock her own son, said to Abraham, "Send her out, Cast out this slave woman with her son, send out Hagar with Ishmael, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac."' [Gen 21:10] There will be no confusion, she says, "He has to go."

Now Abraham, of course, was very sad because at the end of the day, this is his own son. This was difficult for him. Nevertheless, "God said to Abraham, "Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tell you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named." [Gen 21:12]

Now, when you read a passage like this, you might think this is just a family squabble, nothing much. And probably that will be what I think as well, until I also read in the New Testament, that God actually intended this episode to be a kind of foreshadowing, a kind of a picture lesson. You say, "What lesson?"

Well, we looked at that some weeks back. In Galatians, chapter 4:22-23, Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, looked at this story and said, "There is more to this story than just a simple family conflict." "For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman, [Ishmael is by Hagar], the slave in the family, and the other by a free woman." Sarah was not a slave, "And the son of the slave was born according to the flesh."

Ishmael was born according to man's own fleshly idea. It was not what God said He would do, it was what man tried to accomplish. That's why, Ishmael was born according to man's idea or the flesh, "But Isaac the son of the free woman, was born through promise." It was born through the supernatural; unilateral work of God.

Now, we therefore compared Ishmael with Isaac. Ishmael was born of the flesh - man's work. Isaac was born of promise. So man's work, and God's work. You could divide it quite clinically that way.

And then we see that Ishmael was a slave of the Law. That's what Paul is trying to allude to, "Yes, he was a slave woman's son." But Paul says, "That is a picture of how he is, or he is to be a picture of those who are slaves to the Law." People who feel like they have to fulfill all the Law in order to get right with God. But Isaac is a picture of those who are free from the Law, people who realize that they do not need to obey the Law, in order to get right with God.

Ishmael: Born of the flesh/Man's work/Slave of the Law
Isaac: Born of promise/God's work/Free from the Law

So the intent of Paul in Galatians is to say, "Ishmael represents man's futile slavery to the Law," in order to get right with God. You know what, that is not God's idea! That is not God's idea! God did not intend the Law to be given, so that people may obey them to get right with God. He did not give the Law to as a means to salvation, but God gave the Law as a mirror to show you your hopelessness."

But there are people who are like, Ishmael, they're slaves to the Law, they are stuck there! But Isaac represents God's grace, to save apart from our fulfilling the Law. So God is saying in the Bible, "Hey, there are many people in this world, who are trying to be a goody two shoes to get right with Me, That is actually not from me. That is actually a hopeless situation, because no one can obey the Law perfectly to get right with me. The reason why I give you the Law is to exactly show you your hopelessness and not get you to try to fulfill it."

"So how do I get saved, God?" Well, the Bible says, "You can only be saved by grace. Grace is what I will do for you when you can't earn it. I'm going to save you by grace. Look at how Isaac is born, I mean when it's impossible, when it's beyond human hope, I will step in. Because in that way, when Isaac is born, all glory will be mine."

"So I'm going to save people in this world, but not those who think they are deserving, or those who think they are good. I'm going to save unworthy sinners, purely by grace, when I send My Son, Jesus Christ to die, and to rise to save them from their sins. Isaac represents that, and these are people who realize they can never be good enough for God, who realize that they can never obey the Law enough to be right with God. These people who are humble and broken, I will save." That's grace!

So this I think, is what we looked at the last time. But today we look a bit further, because Paul says, "Just as ... but just as at that time, he who was born according to the flesh ..." Who is he? Ishmael, according to man's humanistic ideas. "... Ishmael persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit." [Gal 4:29] Who is that? Isaac.

When did Ishmael persecute Isaac? Remember the story, he mocked Isaac; he laughed at him. And so this seemingly small matter, well, is actually a big one in the eyes of God. Because that is a picture, a foreshadowing of how those who are self-righteous, who try to fulfill the Law in order to be saved, will always persecute the children of God.

"And what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." [Gal 4:30-31] Hagar has to go! Ishmael has to go! They have no place in the Kingdom of God, cast them out, even though it's difficult.

"So brothers, Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, we are not the children of the slave, but of the free woman." [Gal 4:31] In other words, realize today, you don't earn favor with God by obeying the Law. That's a stunning statement! You don't earn favor with God, by obeying the Law. Why? Because you are the children of promise, you are recipients of grace.

If you have been saved by grace, don't think that you have to maintain your salvation by your works. Realize God's generous; lavish love and grace set upon you, and let that fill your heart with joy. Then and only then would you really love God and obey Him in your life, not to earn favor, but because you truly appreciate and love God.

So if that was what we ended the last time, we add on to this comparison, when we realize, Ishmael prosecutes. Religionists persecute, those who are self-righteous will persecute the Christians. And the Isaacs will always be persecuted, the Christians will be persecuted. That's God's foreshadowing in this family. And then we see that Ishmael ultimately will be rejected but the Isaacs will be accepted.

Ishmael: Born of the flesh/Man's work/Slave of the Law/Persecutes/Rejected
Isaac: Born of promise/God's work/Free from the Law/Persecuted/Accepted

This is the stunning thing, it's not the goody two shoes who will get saved, it's not those who are very pious, in a lot of what they do externally, in order to earn favor with God who will be saved, but it's those who are humble and broken who will.

Maybe the classic story again, the Pharisee went to the temple and boasted of his own works, and then there's this sinful tax collector who just said, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." And Jesus says, "The Pharisee is not justified, he's a slave to the Law, he thinks that he is earning his way to God, he will be rejected. He will be cast out like the son of the slave woman. But this man who humbles himself who receives My grace, He will be justified."

I know I've gone very fast, I know they are quite complex ideas. But let me just summarize them and I hope these two chapters, though difficult would be memorable for you:

Number one, I think the emphasis of this entire story is to contrast men's unfaithfulness, with God's faithfulness. Abraham blew it, if I may say, "Over again, déjà vu! Same problem. Same mistake. Same sin." But in spite of what Abraham did, God remains faithful. This is the amazing story of the Bible.

In my own life I sin, like I said, "Over and over again against God. Not that I want to, not that I do not try, but I do slip into sin." But this is the amazing grace of God, that He still sets His love upon those who believe in Him. God is faithful.

Number two, God's faithfulness is not predicated or based on our worthiness, but on His worthiness. The reason why He is still committed to you and to me, who are believers today, is not because we're such great guys, but because He will see to it that we will be blessed, so that He will be glorified. That's who God is, most committed to His own glory.

And then finally, the Isaacs will stay, the Ishmaels will go, because God's glory is by grace alone.

I hope today if you are a new follower, a new worshiper together with us, you will realize that the Christian message is entirely different from every other religious message. Every other religious message is the way of Ishmael - do good, be good, don't sin so much, obey the Law, be a goody two shoes, so that you will be accepted by God.

But the Bible says, "No, the Ishmael will go! The only way you can be saved is by My grace. If you believe in My Son, Jesus Christ who died and rose again to save you." "So easy," you say. "Nothing I need to pay for?" Yes, because Jesus paid it. But mind you, He commands you today to repent, to turn your life around and to believe in His Son.

Believing in Jesus is not just what you say in your lips, it's a whole heart and life attitude change. That I will not live for myself, but I'll live for God, for Jesus Christ, because I believe He is my Lord, who gave His life to save me from my sins. I pray this will be something you will take away and think about.

And dear church, life is challenging today, but I want to remind you about Romans 8:28, He is still working all things together for good to them that love God. You say, "Why? I ... I blew it in my life, I've sinned against God many times in my life." But let me remind you, His commitment to bless you, is not because of you, but in spite of you. His commitment to bless you is because He is worthy. And if He has set His love upon you to glorify Himself, you can trust Him through the ups and downs of life.

Profound thoughts, not thoughts I think we would come up with, but I think these are from the Scriptures, and I pray you will be encouraged in this season because of God's faithfulness.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we want to thank You today that we could know You, even from a story like this, to know You more, because so often, we have too high an estimate of ourselves. We think that You bless us, because we are deserving. But O God, help us to realize today we are but worms, we are but sinners saved by grace. And that You are such a magnanimous and generous God, that You bless us in spite of how we mess things up.

We take great comfort that God, Your faithfulness is anchored in Your own commitment to Your own glory. And how we rejoice today, out of millions, You have chosen to set Your love upon us. May Your people take great comfort in this reality. And may we, in gratitude then live out godly lives to Your praise and honor.

Please also work in the hearts of those who are not yet believers, may they go the path of Isaac, may they realize salvation by grace alone. So thank You, We pray all this now in Jesus' Name. Amen. God Bless.

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