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The Journal

A heart for the lost

Dear Friends,
Last week in the first half of chapter 18 we learnt about God’s friendship with Abraham and Abraham’s boldness through exercising faith to take hold of this opportunity. Now in Genesis 18:16-33 we see how the friendship between Abraham and God develops further. As the Lord leaves Abraham he says within his hearing that he should not hide from Abraham what he is about to do. God reminds Abraham of the call on his life to become a great nation and to direct his children and family in the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just 18:19. The Lord is inviting Abraham to express this willingness to do what is right and just by interceding for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham approaches the Lord 18:23 which is a word used for him bringing a legal case. Essentially he asks the Lord if he will destroy the city if there are 50 righteous people, then 45, then 40, then 30, then 20 and then even 10. What is amazing in this encounter is that Abraham is asking the Lord to preserve the city for the sake of righteous people. He doesn’t mention his nephew Lot. Abraham is engaging in theological exploration to discover the extent of God’s justice and mercy. When Abraham seeks the Lord’s mercy for 10 righteous people he stops. We know that in the NT that through Jesus God will preserve the unrighteous for just one righteous person and that one person is Jesus. The Gospel teaches us that Jesus died for the unrighteous - see 1 Peter 3:18. Is Abraham concerned for the righteous or is he also concerned for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that a righteous person may intervene on their behalf so judgement doesn’t fall on them. . Abraham is God’s friend - James 2:23 and this involves growing in understanding what concerns the Lord. Christian maturity is more than following rules. Rather in our relationship with the Lord as we grow we learn what He is concerned about and this becomes our concern also. We should not be surprised at this because in Ezekiel 36:24-27 the Lord promises His people a new heart and this is a heart which is soft and compassionate and is concerned for the Lord and His priorities and concerns. Abraham is concerned for the people who live in Sodom and Gomorrah. Let us pray that the Lord will give us a heart for the people of the inner west that leads us to intercession. Tonight at 5pm we continue our series in 1 John 2:18-27 & 4:1-6. John is building confidence in the Christians that their knowledge based on the teaching of the apostles is the truth. In particular the key issue about knowing truth and being able to discern error is clarified by your view about Jesus and who you think he is. Biblical faith believes that Jesus is the Christ and has come in the flesh. To counter this view is to be liar and have the spirit of the anti-Christ. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Friendship with God

Dear Friends,
In Genesis 18:1-15 the Lord appears to Abraham and sits down and has a meal with him. It is an extraordinary encounter. In the first 8 verses it is unclear about what the Lord’s purpose is except to hang out and that is the point. The Lord takes an interest in Abraham. In James 2:23 Abraham is called the friend of God. Jesus in John 15:15 explains to his disciples that he calls them friends. This theme of friendship is connected to a meal. We see that in the NT Jesus celebrated many meals with his disciples and especially the last supper. He left us the last supper as a reminder of what His death achieves for us. The death of Jesus as symbolised by the last supper brings forgiveness of sin but also is a picture of our friendship with the Lord. In Luke 14 we are told that in heaven there is a great banquet which we are invited to. Heaven is a place of celebration and friendship. Abraham’s meal with the Lord is fulfilled in Christ and the meal and friendship He offers us. This friendship with Abraham also extends to Sarah his wife. In Genesis 17 God reaffirmed his promise to Abraham to bless him with an heir and now he also visits Sarah to help her believe the promise. She is struggling to believe and laughs at the promise and God gently rebukes her. It is very encouraging that the Lord meet us where we are at and helps us to believe -see Philippians 2:13. We should be encouraged that when we are struggling in our faith God comes to us through

Honouring our faithful saints who have passed away: Dulcie Jones - this year we received a generous gift from her estate for the work of All Souls.

His word to build faith because faith comes from hearing the word of God - Romans 10:17. I am very struck by Abraham’s boldness to seize this opportunity. In 18:3 he begged the Lord and his visitors to not pass by. So often we shrink back in faith and don’t reach out for the blessings which the Lord wants to give us. We need to be bold. The blood of Jesus has opened access and dealt with our sin and we need to take hold of the blessings of faith boldly. So much of our society encourages us to be victims and to allow fear and discouragement to take hold. We are quick to catastrophise. whereas what is needed is that throw off fear and discouragement and cling to God’s promises and keep serving the Lord. Tonight we continue our series in 1 John 2:3-17. This speaks of the need for our fellowship and walking in the light to be expressed in obedience. John speaks repeatedly about “knowing”. He is dealing with false teachers who thought they knew better than anyone else

about faith ie the gnostics. But the gnostics disconnected faith from obedience which is an expression of love. In 2:15-17 we see the pressure of the world which includes our cravings and our boastings which lead us away from Jesus. We do well to guard against these false paths to true knowledge and friendship. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Walking by faith

Dear Friends,
It has been very interesting to follow the life of Abram as he learns what it means to live and walk by faith. In Genesis 17:1-27 God comes to Abram and institutes the covenant of circumcision. The relationship with Abram has already been established by God’s call in Genesis 12 and then in Genesis 15 this call is reinforced by God reassuring Abram through a promise and a covenant ceremony where the Lord takes responsibility and will pay the cost to ensure that the covenant is kept. Importantly Abram believes the Lord and is credited as being righteous. Faith in God’s promises is the basis of being right with God. Now in Genesis 17 God reveals more of Himself to Abram and His purposes for Abram and also his responsibilities. IN 17:1 God uses a new name for Himself which is God Almighty. This revelation reveals His power and ability to make the covenant happen. God confirms the original promise that He will greatly increase Abram’s descendants and his name is changed from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of multitudes). Sarai which means princess is changed to Sarah which also means princess and these new names are appropriate because God promises that kings will be numbered amongst their descendants - 17:6. God then tells Abraham that He expects obedience and that every male in Abraham’s family will be circumcised. This is a sign of the covenant and it is interesting that it involves blood.The importance of blood for our entrance into the covenant is a huge and central theme which develops in the Bible. We see the need for the sacrificial system in Israel which climaxes in Jesus’ death and shed blood. Abraham immediately obeys the Lord. The covenant of circumcision was a sign that Abraham and his family belong to God. We know that in the New Testament Paul says that the sign of the covenant of circumcision is fulfilled in the circumcision of the heart - see Romans 2:29. This is what the message of Jesus’ death for our sins does as the Spirit works in us and as we respond in faith. Our hearts are set apart for the Lord and by faith we obey Him as His saved children. The sequence of Genesis is important and it teaches us that God’s promise of salvation comes first and that obedience is a response of faith. At the 5pm service we continue our series on 1John (tonight 1 Jon 1:5-2:2) and John teaches that those who are God’s children walk in the light of God’s Word and truth. It is expected that as we follow Jesus He will expose areas of sinfulness and we are to bring these to Jesus and repent of them and seek His forgiveness and cleansing. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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