June 14 2020 New Beginnings Genesis 16

Lord, thank You for the opportunity to broadcast this service and for those of us here, to worship You – we need Your love, and sometimes we forget how much You love us and what that means. Help us to focus on that this morning. Speak to our hearts today – minister to those needs that we have. Take these words and direct them into our hearts through Your Spirit.

An email was sent out – our plan is to reopen on June 28. This will be a process. We are all on a learning curve – so we ask for patience – we may change this or that – as we see some things are better than others…

This will be a time for dialogue –

If we go back to the beginning of this – there was a lot of uncertainty, questions, and fear and anxiety. BUT – for me and probably for you – there is this weird feeling that this whole thing is moving us forward – and moving us into things that maybe needed to be different about ourselves, our church, our ministry, maybe even our marriages. And this has been a disruptive force – but sometimes disruptions can be used to turn things into things that are positive. I’d love for us to look for positive change. The chairs are set up for proper social distancing. We’ll continue our online presence.

So – I will begin a series – and it will focus on New Beginning.

God provides us opportunities – people who had to start over again – who had to have a new beginning in their lives. Some had multiple new beginnings.

This morning we will start with Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) – When Abraham was 75, he was called from Ur to have a family and an amazing life.

He made a number of mistakes.

The first – was probably taking his nephew with him… He was told to leave his relatives. When he gets to Canaan – there is a famine in the land – and he goes to Egypt – and he makes a big mistake – He tells Pharaoh that Sarai is his sister (which is half- true – she was a half-sister) – and Pharaoh takes Sarai into his harem – and it causes problems – and God tells Pharaoh what’s what – and Abraham is told to leave…

Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, "Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

She is called an Egyptian servant. Some translations call her a maidservant. This is not like we would think of a maid – she had been the property of Pharaoh, and now she is the property of Sarai. We might think of Downton Abbey – But it is closer to slavery.

This was a huge mistake. But we read this, as it is also a sign of God’s mercy – that one can have such an enormous failure and God is still gracious…

3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.

This is one of those hyperlinks. This goes back to the Garden of Eden. Eve saw the fruit – she took the fruit – and she gave it to her husband – and that is what Sarai does. And because of this failure, there has been conflict and rivalry between these peoples for thousands of years.

The results of our sin can last a long time.

And the plan works:

5 And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done to me be on you!

Where is the injustice in this story? That is easy. Who is the injustice done to? Hagar! She had no voice. Sarai says she has been treated without justice! The way of humanity. This is the story of human history and it is our story today!

I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!" 6 But Abram said to Sarai, "Behold, your servant is in your power (This is unreal language, as we think of what he is saying!); do to her as you please." Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

God comes to Hagar and takes care of her – and her son becomes a mighty nation that will be in conflict forever.

Now time for a new beginning:

Genesis 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. 2 "I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly."3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,

4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 "I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.

So God initiates this new start. And that is what God does with us. God is initiating something new for us – in many ways. We all have times when we need a new beginning. We will focus on our spiritual life – and maybe even our ministry – but this can relate to your marriage, career, and other relationships.

First – we tend to drift. We neglect things that keep us moving forward.

In our spiritual life – it might be neglecting our walk with God – and find ourselves unconnected with God – and in that time, we need to start up again.

Sometimes we grow tired and weary – and that is usually because of heavy responsibilities that consume us and steal energy and time from our walk with God or our relationships with our families.

We get so much pressure upon us that it wears us down. So we set aside things that are priority because we are tired.

Third – distraction

Sometimes I think we want to be distracted – whether it is binge watching or joining five fantasy football leagues – no reason to do that – in case you were wondering – one should suffice!

We have so many distractions right at the tip of our fingers.

Another way – Failure moments. Our own bad choices cause us to start over. Abraham had a bunch of them – we just looked at three! And in one sense, that should encourage us! We look at him and say, HIM?! But he is known as a friend of God – failed and flawed – as are we all!

In another sense, this could be discouraging – Oh no, I might do one of those Abraham deals – BUT – just like Abraham – I can start again.

Then the final reason we might need a new beginning, Stuff happens to us. VCOVID-19 – it just happened. Now what do we do with it? . That is what really matters.

People say – let’s just get back to normal – I say, Really? I would think we want to move past normal! Normal isn’t always that pretty.

There are some things that prevent us from moving forward – Guilt, fear, and shame. These will keep you from moving forward – they will hold you down – tie you up – leave you defeated. Just because you failed doesn’t mean you can’t move forward.

As God moves us forward, He reminds us first of our original calling. We tend to forget the purpose God called us to. It is easy – while doing ministry – doing church, being spiritual, to forget why we are doing all that!

For Abraham and for us – it is so that we might be a blessing. The people of the Bible regularly forgot that.

God uses our struggles and difficulties to bless others. We think – God can use that – but wouldn’t God use me better when I am wonderful?

No – your biggest blessings to others will come through your struggles! We want our struggles to go away for God to use us – and God wants to use us through our struggles.

15 Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 "I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"

Sometimes, God fulfills His promises and gives us a new start when we think it is total impossible to start again. Maybe it is a marriage that is just about done – or maybe it is something you have struggled in for forty years – and God can come into that situation.

The house across the street from us has gone up for sheriff’s sale. One of our neighbors bought it to flip it. One thing that happens – to remodel – they have a lot of deconstructing to do.

Before you can reconstruct something – it must usually be deconstructed.

You see someone with a health issue? A deconstruction of health – and their life really changes. They have to take the bad stuff out before putting the good stuff in.

Emotional deconstruction – Something I am always going through.

Spiritual deconstruction. We all need that – to tear apart our spirituality to rebuild it stronger.

When you lift weights – you are deconstructing muscles – so that when they rebuild – they are stronger. And then – theological deconstruction – All of us will, at times, have to go through a tearing down, because not all of our beliefs or way of looking at things are the best.

We have all been through that! I HOPE you have been through that – and I hope you are willing to continue – it is how we grow and learn.

If you don’t like the word deconstruction – too cool or uncool – think of remodeling! You can’t even go in and paint the old house you bought without ripping down 5,6,10 layers of wallpaper!

Here is what I think – in marriage and family life – this sheltering in place has positive and some difficult things for marriage and family. Hopefully, the difficult stuff would show us – remodeling needs to be done. Then think about how this has affected your walk with the Lord – Your practice and devotion – and where does remodeling need to take place. And this is crucial: thought patterns. I think this has probably revealed some thought patterns that need to be remodeled.

Finally – in our speech with one another. It is very clear – with all that is going on in our world – it is all revealing. Revealing the massive need for tearing down and remodeling. The way we as Christians communicate – especially with one another.

20 "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21 "But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year."

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