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14 Mar 2021

When We Mess Up [Genesis 12:10-13:4]

Overview

The life of faith is not without its ups and downs. As someone said, spiritual life is often 3 steps forwards and then 2 steps back. In the case of Abraham, we thought that his life will be on an upswing after he followed God in faith to the Promised Land. But before we know it, he messes up spiritually! 1. Difficulty. Abraham faced a severe famine, even when he is in God's will. Peter tells us we must not be surprised by fiery trials. The Christian life is not a bed of roses. But we can trust our Father who knows best why we need trials. Rejoice, not resent! 2. Decision. Abraham decided to take things into his own hands, knowing he'll have to compromise in Egypt. Maybe a good question to ask is when have we fled to Egypt ourselves? 3. Deception. Abraham lied hoping to escape death. It's ironic that the Father of Faith will be unfaithful. Our apparent strengths are not what we can depend on. We are frail beings made of dust. Only God is truly strong. Let's take heed, and let's not worship mere man. 4. Deliverance. God unilaterally and supernaturally rescues Abraham and Sarah out of pure grace. It's out of love for them and most of all, out of His unflinching commitment to see His promise of the Messiah through. He is most committed to His own glory. 5. Devotion. Abraham now returns to the altar of worship. True grace does not lead to more sin. It should melt our hearts in grateful devotion.


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And we are looking at Genesis, chapter 12 this morning. We have been looking at the book of Genesis, and we have taken a world-wide view of things because for the first 11 chapters. God is in a sense, speaking about His dealings with humanity as a whole. But from now onwards He is going to zoom in, He's going to narrow the focus on one man and his descendants. We're going to look at, Abraham, and how this father of faith would be blessed of God.

We recall that God gave a promise of a Savior during Adam's time. And that promise of a Savior will be perpetuated during Abraham's time as well. God said to Abraham, "Come out of the Ur of the Chaldees and I will give you a great nation. I'll make your name great. And through you, all nations of the earth will be blessed." And then we read of Abraham, responding positively with faith. He did leave his country; his kindred and went to a land he did not know where. He just simply just followed God.

And we would have expected, Abraham to be embarking on a great; positive adventure of faith with God. However, as the Chinese saying goes, '好景不常在,好花不常开' [hǎo jǐng bù cháng zài, hǎo huā bù cháng kāi]. There's even a song you know,"好景 ... [hǎo jǐng]" OK, I won't sing it! It's an old-fashioned kind of a song. But what that means for those who are not Chinese speakers, means: good sceneries do not last forever, and beautiful flowers do not bloom forever. And we are going to see the case of Abraham, stumbling; falling tragically into sin and compromise here.

So, what a blow! This man was on the upswing and, and suddenly he would fall into sin. So this morning, we're going to look at this theme of - what happens when we mess up. Because the Christian life is not one of an upswing all the time. We all, who have been in the faith long enough will realize, yes, we do take three steps forward, but sometimes we also take two steps back, and then another three steps forward, and then another two steps back.

So what happens when we mess up! Let's learn some lessons in this story, about Abraham.

[1] A Difficulty
The story presents us first of all, with a difficulty that Abraham had to face. He faced a trial, he faced a difficult predicament.

The Bible tells us that, "There was a famine in the land." [Gen 12:10] He followed God to the Promised Land and lo and behold, famine strikes, not enough food. And this is not just an ordinary famine because the Bible says, "The famine was severe in the land." [Gen 12:10]

Now, I've never been through a famine. Many of you have not! We live in a very, very prosperous nation. We have abundance, we have plenty here. So when we read these words, we kind of skip over, isn't it, at least for me, unless I have to preach it? I look at these words, then I say, "Okay, famine; difficulty, let's move on." But I think it's probably worth the while for us to settle a little bit and just imagine how trying this might be!

It's not enough food - hungry, starving! And Abraham by the way did not just have to take care of himself, it's also his family and his servants; and his livestock. That's a lot at stake! He uprooted everybody who followed him with God, into the Promised Land. And now, he's stuck with family, and you could imagine how difficult this must be for this man.

Maybe it might help for us to kind of recall, how you would have felt and how you felt when Singapore first announced 'circuit breaker' or 'lockdown'. 'Kang chiong' [in panic in Hokkien dialect] plus plus. Everybody was panicking! Everybody before PM Lee is going to speak on the TV, you have already gone to the hairdresser. 'Tiobo'[isn't it true in Hokkien dialect]? Cut hair, right, because you fear that cannot cut hair? You've also rushed to NTUC, long queues there, and you have packed your trolleys with plenty of canned food; groceries and toilet paper.

Can you remember how nervous you were? How fearful you were? And yet, we never really lacked, but they are really suffering now. Now, it is so bad I read in the papers this week, that there were people in Hong Kong during the ... the 'circuit breaker' or 'lockdown' periods that they robbed people not of money, you know, but of toilet paper. Can you imagine? I was thinking, "If you really like toilet paper, use money also can what! What so, what's the big deal!" But they were so panicky that wow, toilet paper was so valuable that robbers, robbed you for toilet paper, not money!

So my point is that Abraham was struck with a severe problem. I hope you can see it is severe. It is a severe famine! And this is the ironies, isn't it? Here is a man who believed God, who obeyed God into the so called 'Promised Land', and he is now facing difficulty; pain and suffering.

You know, there are preachers today, who tell you that, "If you become a Christian, if you follow Jesus, if you come to church, your life will be a bed of roses." There are people who tell you today, "Follow Jesus and you will strike it rich. He will bless your business. You will be very successful. You will never get sick and even if you get sick, you pray He will always heal you. Your life will be fantastic!"

And there are many Christians, so called Christians maybe, many churchgoers who believe that! So when adversity strikes, they start to wonder, "Hey, why like that ah! I thought I believe God, I thought God is all powerful, I thought God is all-wise, I thought God is all-loving, why am I having a job loss? Why am I have economic ... why am I facing economic problems? Why is my wife leaving me? Why am I struggling with emotional depression? Maybe God is not real."

And there are people who are very surprised with difficulties, but the Bible tells us in 1st Peter 4:12, "Beloved ...", he's obviously speaking to Christians who are loved by God. "Beloved ...", Peter says, "...do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you. "Well, the Bible is saying, "Don't be surprised! There will be fiery trials, extremely hot; heated positions; predicaments that will befall you. And this is nothing out of the ordinary!"

The Bible never promises an easy life, to those who follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus says, "If you follow Me, you will suffer many tribulations." It's part of the Christian life! So Abraham followed God and here he meets with a trial. As Christians; as people who believe, if you say you believe God, if you really believe in God, I think as Christians, we need to understand that God has His purposes for difficulties in life.

The Bible tells us many reasons - it's to test you; to show you what you are made of. You don't really know if you believe in God until sometimes you go through trials. We say in Chinese, I'm sorry, if there's too much Chinese, but that's just what comes to my mind. We say in Chinese, "患难见真情 [huàn nán jiàn zhēn qíng], right?" The real affections are seen in difficulties.

Do you really love God? See what happens when stuff is stripped from your life. That's exactly what Satan is saying about Job. "Job doesn't love you God, he worships You because You gave him so much." "Well, take everything away from Job, just don't take away his life and see what he is made of." So God gives us trials, perhaps to show the reality; or the hypocrisy, in the other case of faith.

Sometimes God gives trials, according to the Bible so that we might be strengthened, we might be growing in character. Perhaps God gives trials so that through a positive reaction to trials, we might increase in hope. Sometimes God gives trials so that we might be humbled, so that we are not dependent upon ourselves, we know we are weak. Sometimes God gives trials, so that when you go through it, you can empathize with someone who will go through a similar trial in the future. God has many beautiful reasons for difficulties.

So, instead of feeling resigned and resentful, instead of rejecting pain in life, the scriptural response to trial is rejoice. "Count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, or trials." That's the Biblical response! It is so sad, therefore, that when I talk to people who are struggling, having trials, and we feel for them it's painful; it's difficult. But it is also very painful when they share a victim mentality and will not turn around and understand that God is sovereign, and God is love.

You know what's the victim mentality? They lament and moan, "Oh, so terrible! So sad! So 'suay'[unlucky in Hokkien dialect]!" There is no 'suay' with God by the way! God is sovereign and He is good and He's our Father. And when you go through trials, it's not because he messed up or He forgot or He doesn't care about you. But that ... He's a ... He has a beautiful purpose and plan. So don't be surprised but rejoice. Trials; difficulties are a part of the Christian life, God uses it to mold and shape and to grow you and for His glory.

So, we see, number one, the difficulty that Abraham had to face. To you it's a surprise, but actually when you read the rest of the Bible, Abraham being in ... in a severe famine, should not be a surprise, God has a purpose and plan. Just as it might be for you, when you have a famine in your own life.

[2] The Decision
But secondly, let me move on, I like to see, I like you to see that when he meets with this difficulty, he felt he had to do something and so we see number two - the decision Abraham made.

He could not just sit around. He must have thought this is too much, "I needed to do something." And he came to this decision to leave the Promised Land, to leave the land of Canaan and to go down to Egypt.

Now, I know that Egypt in the Bible is often portrayed as a picture of the world. And it would be very tempting for us to read, whenever someone goes to Egypt, it must be that he's backsliding; or that he's compromising; or that he's sinning.

Now I want to say, "First up, first off, that I don't think that is always the best way to read the Bible. That when we read someone going to Egypt means he must be sinning and he must be compromising." The reason is because, at least two incidents I can recall where people going to Egypt doesn't necessarily mean that they are backsliding.

One, later on you read about Jacob and the entire family. 70 of them going down to Egypt, and staying there. It was not portrayed in a negative light whatsoever. Second example, you would think about Joseph and Mary. Herod wanted to kill all the male babies under two and Joseph and Mary were instructed by God to go to Egypt.

And in both cases, I don't think that is compromise at all. Certainly, I don't think that would be true, otherwise, if you had to, or if you wanted to go on a holiday and go to the Holy Land tour, you cannot go to Egypt anymore. "It's compromise!" Now, nobody thinks of that anymore. But, having said all that, alright, don't automatically equate going to Egypt as sin or compromise. Having said all that, I think, in this case, it is compromise.

Okay, I know I confused you somewhat, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say. In this case, judging with all the facts, I think it is compromise for several reasons.

Number one, God did not tell him to go to Egypt at any point as far as we are told. Number two, he was told to go to the Promised Land, not get out of the Promised Land. Number three, we never read of Abraham, coming to God, praying; seeking; asking for guidance. But most conclusively number four, later on you'll see that when Abraham decided to go to Egypt, he knew that he would be put into a position where he had to lie; he will have to compromise, but he still decided for it.

And you know this is a ... this is a kind of a description of maybe, of our lives. When we meet with a famine in our lives, when we meet with a trial in our life, we rack our brains and we sometimes decide on situations that may be very compromising. Perhaps you are meeting with an economic difficulty, you've just lost your job or your salary has been reduced because of COVID. And it's easy for you now to make some decisions to maybe go to some Egypt, to make some shady deals; to enter some kind of shady jobs; or to make some tough lies in your business dealings. It's easy to rationalize that way!

Or maybe some of you are single, I hope I do not single you out singles in an unfair way. But some who are single do not want to be single, and you want to be attached to someone. You meet with a difficulty because people laugh at you, you feel kind of a, not viewed in a positive light. And so you say, "I need to, I need to marry! I need to be with someone!"

And by the way, the Bible, whilst it celebrates marriages also celebrates singleness. There's nothing inferior about singleness. But then, there are people today who do not want to be single and ... and they try to think of a way to get attached. So they go to applications - Tinder, they swipe, swipe, swipe. And they find someone who looks good, fits him or her and says, "I want to marry that person! Doesn't matter if he or she is not a Christian, I just want to get married!" They go to Egypt.

And we can state examples over and over again. But isn't it true in our lives, we can make compromising decisions when we meet difficulties. When the heat comes, the real stuff comes up sometimes.

[3] The Deception
Well, he made a decision, a compromising decision. And well, he is now in a no-choice situation. We see the deception. And what's the deception here? "When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai, his wife, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say "This is his wife." They will then ... they will kill me, but they will let you live."' [Gen 12:11-12]

So Abraham knew very, very well, this is what he will need to do when he arrives at Egypt, but he still chose to go Egypt, you see the point? And the problem revolves around his wife, his wife is very beautiful. Now, you say, "How old is Sarai here?" She's 65. Wah, 65, also very beautiful ah! But ... but you must re.., okay ... okay 65 can also very beautiful, alright. But ... but, you must remember that in those days they live longer, right? Abraham, for example, died 175, so maybe double of what we are used to, so 65 maybe 32. So you can say, "Ah, still very beautiful! OK! OK! OK!"

But this is the thing, he knew that his wife is so beautiful that the people of Egypt will be amazed and enthralled and want to curry up favor with Pharaoh, and will therefore grab her forcefully and bring her to Pharaoh. And in order for her to legitimately marry Pharaoh, for example, they will kill her husband, which is Abraham himself.

So Abraham knew all that. And so he said to her, "Say ..." "Enter this conspiracy with me, 'pakat'[conspiracy in malay] with me. "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 12:13] "So when they see you and when they seized upon you, just tell them, "We are not married, you are my sister." You can go marry that pharaoh, that old man for all you want, at least I'm safe."'

Abraham, are you crazy? "But I treasure my life." Wow, this is totally unexpected of this man! By the way, what Abraham is saying is not absolutely a lie. As in, it is not absolutely false. Later on, he will reveal in Genesis, chapter 20:12, "Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife." So in essence, Chinese again, '同父异母' [tóng fù yì mǔ] - same father, different mother. But they are married.

So what Abraham is saying is, "Sarah, just speak half-truth. Tell them you're my sister, but don't tell them we are married. Let it be like so, so that my life will be spared." Whether you think this is half-truth or not, this is I think at the end of the day - deception.

And so it is really ironical, don't you think, that Abraham, who is the father of faith would sinned by unfaithfulness? And let me show you some other names. The Bible also tells us Moses, the meekest of all men. Numbers tells us so, that he was sinned by anger. He would be so upset and frustrated with Israel, that he will take the rod and strike the rock twice, when God only told him to speak to the rock, to the rock. He was angry, but he was the meekest man! And that was the exact sin that kept him out of the Promised Land.

You will recall how Solomon said to be the wisest of all, would sinned by folly. He will be so foolish as to allow his heart to be drawn away to other gods, by his thousand harem women.

You will recall how it was Elijah, who was a bold; fearless preacher who would cower in fear, when he heard Jezebel wants ... wanting to take his life. It's amazing! It's amazing, Peter, who is one of the boldest, who would sinned against Christ by cowardice!

So when I look at the Bible, I see that the often-celebrated virtue or strength of a man becomes his downfall. It's ironical, but extremely instructional! I think the point is this, there is no one who is that strong, there is no one who we should set up as an idol as if he's so invulnerable. The only One who is truly strong is the Lord Jesus Christ. And none of us, whether you're Abraham, Moses, Solomon Elijah or Peter, we can fall, and we can fall at where we thought we were the strongest.

So I think this is a wise saying by Paul Washer, "People who only listen to preachers have a tendency to put them on the pedestal ..." "Wow, he preached so well!" "Wow, he's so knowledgeable!" "Wow, he looks so godly!" Well, we have a tendency to idolize men. But he goes on to say, "... those who live with preachers recognize that they are just common men." I think my kids could affirm that, my wife ... wife could affirm that and I think this is something we all have to take to heart.

We all here, I've shared also about Ravi Zacharias and, and there are people all the time, just found out to be not as consistent as what they appear to be. And I just want to say, "Not that I celebrate any of these collapses or failures but I think this is just reality check. And this is wisdom, that we do not idolize men, who all of us have been corrupted spiritually by sin, but that we would realize that only God and only His Son is worthy of our worship, worthy of being on the pedestal." Alright?

At the same time, this is not just about others, not just about Abraham, I think this is a warning for all of us not to be complacent in our spiritual lives, "To take heed lest we fall." [1 Cor 10:12] If Abraham could fall, you could, I could. And we should be sober; we should be vigilant. Spiritual warfare is real. Satan wants to eat your soul for breakfast. And we've got to always be on a guard.

What I mean by always be on the guard? I think in a very simple way, in a very practical way, this is what we need to pray daily, constantly, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil." The dailiness of it, I think is found in the word, 'and'. Because the word, 'and' is connected to the previous statement which is, "and forgive us our debts", which is also connected to the earlier verse, "and give us this day our daily bread."

We pray for daily bread, we pray for daily pardon, we pray for daily protection, alright? That's what we all need.

[4] The Deliverance
So Abraham faced a difficulty, made a compromising decision, ended up with sinful, deception. But this is the real amazing part, God swooped in with deliverance. God would rescue Abraham and Sarai and the family.

So what happened? "When the princes of Pharaohs saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh ..." [Gen 12:15] It's amazing, right? The whole of Egypt, no one of great beauty like Sarai. "... And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house." And this would be absolutely disastrous ... disastrous! Think about it if you were the husband, right?

And we read, "But the Lord afflicted ..." [Gen 12:17] And when I read this, I thought the Lord would afflict? Abraham. "See lah, Abraham, you do such a stupid thing, let me punish you." I thought that will be the case, but you know what, the Bible says, "But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house of with great plagues because of Sarai." [Gen 12:17]

Wah, pharaoh must be thinking, "Wah, 'see ay suay' [very unlucky in Hokkien dialect] leh! What did I do wrong? I just want to marry this woman, but wah, now my whole family 'kena' [someone who receives something unpleasant in Malay]!" Don't know what plague lah! Maybe some skin disease, I do not know, but he must be thinking, "This is terrible!" And he knew that this was because of Sarai. He knew it, later on we'll see.

But this is the bizarre, amazing thing, Abraham was the one who sinned but the plague did not come to Abraham, it arrived at Pharaoh's family, so that Abraham and Sarai might be saved. "Now then, Pharaoh said ..." He knew, "... Here is your wife, take her." [Gen 12:18] "Go, go, go. Please go!" "And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had." [Gen 12:20]

Wow, so God supernaturally; unilaterally stepped in to stop disaster or sin from going further!

There are two questions. First question is - Is God endorsing Abraham's sin, with God saving Abraham unilaterally, is God saying then, "That it's okay for Abraham to deceive and to lie?" I hope that will not be the conclusion you take. Just because we read of incidents in the Bible, doesn't mean that, that is God's will.

For example, just because we read of Abraham and David and Solomon having many wives, it doesn't mean it is right for you and me to say to our wives, "Let's have many wives. Let's have other sisters with you." "Jason, you 'siow' [crazy in Hokkien dialect] ah! The Bible has already said that the marriage is between one woman, one man and one woman and two shall become one flesh. That's the principle God laid down, and even though we see exceptions, violations, that doesn't make it right."

You say, you're ... I say, "You're absolutely right." And so it is here, just because God rescued Abraham, doesn't mean that this is an endorsement for deception, alright? That is not the way to read the Bible.

But another question that is even more fundamental is this - is there no punishment for Abraham's sin? Oh, sounds like he gets away scot free, man! "Where is the fairness in all this?", you say. How can Abraham who sinned, not be punished for sin? Now, in a way, some of you will say to me, "But Pastor, you do not know, Abraham was punished. He had consequences because Isaac will be a liar, Jacob would be a super liar. His lies will be perpetuated and that is just deserts."

I ... I say, "Maybe, but still, the fact of the matter is that Abraham sinned and there should be greater punishment for sin, rather than just your descendants following the same footsteps."
Well this, believe it or not, is the great question of the whole Bible. Okay? This, if you think about it is the great question of the whole Bible - how can sinners not be punished, but be received back to God, and enjoy eternal life?

This little case of Abraham, spared the consequences of sin, is the same question we all have to answer - how can sinners be saved? So, I think one of the best places to look at this answer is found in Romans, chapter 3:23-26. Bible says, "All have sinned ..." not just Abraham. It includes you, includes me.
If you are a believer, if you believe in Jesus, if you are a Christian, the Bible is saying, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God but we are justified ..."

"Huh, I'm sinful, but I'm at the same time, if I'm a child of God, I'm justified! I'm seen as if I have not sinned." That's justification - just as if I've not sinned. How? How can it be so? How can a sinful person be justified? Where's the punishment that his sins deserve? Well, the Bible goes on to say, "He is justified by God's grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." So he is justified, not because he got himself out of the mess, or he could pay for it, but because Jesus Christ paid for your sins.

And this payment is given to you as a gift, that's what grace means. So the author continues to say, Paul continues to say, "Jesus is set forth as a propitiation by His blood." In other words, Jesus pays with His blood, Jesus pays with His life. The word, 'propitiation' means appeasement. Jesus appeases the righteous wrath of God.

So I am sinful, I deserve to be damned, I deserve to be judged for all eternity for my sins against an infinitely glorious God, but I'm not, because Jesus was set forth as an appeasement of God's wrath, when He went to the cross and shed His blood to die for my sins. And what Jesus did on the cross is sufficient appeasement for the wrath of God. And now, God gifts that to me, a sinner, as a gift, out of His grace.

So, the author continues to say, "Jesus set forth as the appeasement, as the propitiation, it was to show His righteousness, at the time, at the present time, so that He, that is God might be just and the justifier of the one who believes." This is a fantastic statement! Jesus had to die; Jesus had to suffer, so that God can be both just and the justifier of sinners.

You see, if Jesus did not die and if God justifies sinners, the scandal through all eternity will be, "Ee ... look at this God! He says He's serious about sin, but those sins are not paid for. He simply swept them underneath the carpet. He was not righteous to deal with sin. So even if God were to justify sinners, He is not a just God." But in order for God to be both the justifier of those who believe and just at the same time, He must deal with sin on His Son. So Jesus died, so that God might be both just and the justifier of those who believe.

If I may say this, "Jesus died for God. He died for God to be both just and the justifier." Well, those are amazing realities, but they all stem from this question - is there no punishment for Abraham's sin? The answer is yes, but it is taken by Jesus Christ, who will come 2000 years after Abraham. In the meanwhile, according to Romans 3, I did not show the verse, in the meanwhile, "God forbears that sin till Jesus' arrival and death and resurrection, where that will be fully paid."

So here is the amazing thing, not only was Abraham spared, Abraham was given a lot, you know! These are like the equivalent of your BMW; Mercedes; condo; houses. He gave that to Abraham because of Sarai, kind of a dowry, I suppose. But he did not take back, He just said, "Go! Go! Go! Go! Take all that you have. Go! Go! Go! Go!" And we are told, "Abraham became very rich." [Gen 13:2]

Now, I tell you this is amazing ... some people use the word, 'scandalous' in a ... in a great way, or this is prodigal grace, this is amazing radical grace. Not that God endorses Abraham's sin, not that the sin is going to be unpunished. It will be dealt with on Jesus Christ, but this is a wonderful, amazing story of undeserving grace to His child, Abraham.

[4] The Devotion
What will be the outcome of all this? Well, we are taught finally about - devotion. This devotion is seen when Abraham, after this sad episode and after this gracious episode of God, "He went up, out from Egypt, and all that he had into the Negev. And he journeyed on from the Negev as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning between Bethel and Ai." [Gen 12:3]

Why did he do that? "He went there to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abraham called upon the Name of the Lord." [Gen 12:4] He got back to the place of worship. It is I think, therefore important for us to grasp that there was no mention of any altar was when he was in Egypt. But after his mess up, and after God cleaned it all up, and God graciously spared him; saved him; gave him so much, the grace of God melted, I think, Abraham's heart.

Instead of saying, "Ha, so good to sin, God will always clean up, let me sin more!" He says, "I'm going to worship God who delivered me and saved me." And I think that is the heart of every child of God. You don't take God's grace for granted and say, "Oh, now that God is so gracious, I can have the license to sin!" No! When you really know God and you have the grace of God in your life, you say, "I want to worship Him and it is His goodness that leads us to true repentance." And that's the case for Abraham.

So these are all the verses we've looked at this morning. Please don't squint. Please don't complain, "Pastor, you always put like that, I can't see!" It's not meant for you to see, so please don't squint. I just want to show you something, alright? These are all the words we saw, but I want you to observe a certain structure in this story, the author presents you with.

The first word I'd like you to observe is the word, 'now'. Abraham followed God into the Promised land but 'now'. This is what happened, he is man at best, when faced with trial, he chose a compromising decision that led him to sin. 'Now', Abraham fell.

However, that's not the end, because the next one I want you to see is the word, 'but'. 'But' God swooped in and saved, Abraham, cleaned him up. 'Now', is disastrous. 'But' it's deliverance. And then we see the word, 'so'. 'So' Abraham went back to worship. That is the ... that is the pattern of Scripture.

That is the way God deals with us. So often we think, "It is when we mess up, then I need to make myself worthy of God by doing the right things again, so that perhaps He might love me." But really, the story of the Bible, is that we are incapable of really cleaning ourselves, but God is so gracious to step in to help us when we can't.

This can be applied to the story of the whole Bible. "'Now', Adam and Eve fell into sin, 'but' God did not wait for them to come back to Him, God promised the Messiah; the Savior, and God gave His Son. 'So' that when you realize His grace, you realize His goodness, it leads you to repentance. 'So' that you might repent, believe, and come back to God."

Maybe today you're living in sin, you're living in Egypt, I pray today, even as the 'now' describe the situation, you would realize that there is a 'but'. God is gracious! He is willing to forgive, if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. 'So' come back and worship Him.

This is a story of how we might mess up, and how God steps in. We've looked at it from the life of Abraham, but just with two or three sentences, let me turn it all around and say, "Whilst God certainly cares for Abraham and Sarai, we must not forget the main narrative of the book of Genesis. Is not so much just about Abraham and Sarai, it's about God's promise of the Savior."

What God promised to Adam, or promised in Adam's days is perpetuated in a life of Abraham. God will send a Savior, through Abraham, through Sarai. And you know what it would be if Sarai was impregnated by Pharaoh instead of Abraham? That would absolutely mess up the promises, isn't it? But God who is sovereign will never allow that to be messed up. So God is most committed to His purposes. God is most committed to Himself, you can be sure He will never mess up.

And my friends, God has given you precious promises in life. You can count on the fact that He will always fulfil His promises, because He is most committed to His own glory. Not because you deserve it, but because He is God, who is always working to glorify Himself. His promises will never fall.

This is who our God is, and we can learn about that in a simple story like this. Many lessons, and I pray you will apply them diligently to your own hearts and lives.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Like I said this is a story with many, many lessons. Perhaps some of you today are facing a famine, a severe famine. Famine in your relationship; famine with your finances; famine in your health; famine in your emotional well being. I pray today you will not take up a victim mentality, and just blame it on your circumstances, or even be angry with God. I pray today you will recognize that He is sovereign and in a way that is sometimes beyond what we can even understand. He is still working all things together for good to them that love God.

I pray today you will not end up with a compromising decision, that is not backed up by the Word of God; that is not backed up by prayer, but one that is made out of sheer fear and cowardice.
I pray today none of us will be taking our spiritual walk for granted, thinking that we are impervious to spiritual attack, but we will be sober; vigilant; always praying for God's protection.

And my friends, if God has been gracious in your life, to deliver you, I pray you will not take that grace and use it as a license for even more sin. But I trust, if you really know Him, it will melt your heart, And this morning lead you to true; humble worship and praise and adoration of your God.

If you are here today and you do not know Jesus. 'Now', realize you are in sin, 'but' realize God has sent His Son, 'so' I implore you repent and believe.

Father, thank You for this morning we can hear Your WordS. Bless these spiritual lessons to the hearts of Your people. We are so unfaithful, so many a times, but thank You, you are always the faithful God - faithful to us, faithful to Your promises. Great is Thy faithfulness. We praise You. We thank You. We ask all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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