Sunday, 2nd August 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN The Wonderful Cross – Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman.

1 When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

2 See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Oh, the wonderful cross,

Oh, the wonderful cross

Bids me come and die and find

That I may truly live.

Oh, the wonderful cross,

Oh, the wonderful cross,

All who gather here by grace

Draw near and bless Your name.

3 Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small.

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Verses: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Refrain: Chris Tomlin (born 1972) & J.D. Walt

PRAYER

READING GENESIS 21

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

The Treaty at Beersheba

22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”

24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”

25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”

27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”

30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”

31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

SERMON God’s Boy Arrives

Can you remember every detail of that day – the day you gave birth to your firstborn? I can guarantee that none of you waited until your 90th birthday until you had the pain and joy of childbirth.

But here is old Sarah, having been promised many years previously that she would conceive and have a son, seeing that promise fulfilled. It has been a long and nail-biting delay, but the long-awaited birth eventually happens.

You might imagine that this is THE climax of this section of Genesis – the waiting is over. But NO! the ultimate climax is yet to come – when Abraham’s faith is challenged to the limits – when he is commanded to sacrifice this precious child of promise.

What we find in the early part of this 21st chapter are the faithful responses of Abraham and Sarah to the Lord God.

You will remember, back in Genesis 17:19 that God had told Abraham to call this special son “ISAAC” – and now we find that Abraham does as he has been instructed.

You will remember that in that same 17th chapter, God had instructed Abraham to circumcise all the males in his household – and now Abraham carries out the will of God in circumcising his new-born son.

By doing these things Abraham was faithful in his part of keeping the Covenant with God.

Sarah, who has been in the background comes very much to the foreground. Indeed, it is Sarah whose words are recorded in this birth narrative, not her husband’s.

However, if this is a chapter demonstrating the faithful responses of God’s old couple, then it also shows the response of the unfaithful – in this case, Ishmaelhe mocks the new baby – the gift of God.

God instructs Abraham to send Ishmael and his mother away. Abraham responded speedily and faithfully.

And when God gave Abraham Ishmael’s marching orders, He also assured Abraham of two very important things.

Firstly the old man was assured that Isaac was the child of promise – the one through whom God’s blessings would flow to the world.

But secondly, Abraham was given assurances that God would look after Ishmael and make him also into a great nation.

And the rest of the chapter unfolds how Ishmael experienced the Promise of God (vv 13 and 18), as well as the Provision of God (vs 19) and finally the Presence of God (vs 20). God was as good as His word to Abraham.

The last section of the chapter looks at what Isaac was to inherit.

These verses are an acting out of Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Abimelech seeks a peace treaty with Abraham – and Abraham in turn, seeks a treaty ensuring that this Promised Land is for him and his descendants. Isaac will inherit this.

Now there are several issues here which call for our attention.

The FIRST is with regard to the Covenant or Promise of God. We see God delivering on 2 of His key promises to Abraham – namely giving him descendants, and secondly in giving him the land of Canaan.

But we also see covenant faithfulness on the part of Abraham and Sarah. And it is good that we should note that the father of the faithful showed himself faithful to his Covenant God.

Secondly,there is also something in this chapter which Paul takes up in Galatians chapter 4 – namely the supernatural versus the natural. Paul is making the point that Hagar’s son was the natural way – the way of all men – the self-help method – born out of necessity and with human planning and determination. But NOT in the will of God.

In contrast to this, Paul sets forth the supernatural way – illustrated by Sarah – her child a child of promise.

But there is a third theme here – and it it is the theme of the conflict between the two seeds – the child of man’s making and the child of promise. This will be a recurring theme throughout the Bible.

We need to be reminded time and time again that we are in a war – a war for our very eternal souls – an unseen war – a very bitter war and a very real war. And we need to be reminded that our Saviour – the Captain of our salvation, has won the decisive victory over our enemy and His – namely Satan.

And we need to call upon the victory that Christ won on that day – every day of our lives as we engage with and battle with the enemy of our souls.

PRAYER

HYMN Forever (Chris Tomlin)

1 Give thanks to the Lord,

our God and King:

his love endures forever.

For he is good, he is above all things:

his love endures forever.

Sing praise, sing praise.

2 With a mighty hand

and an outstretched arm:

his love endures forever.

For the life that’s been reborn:

his love endures forever.

Sing praise, sing praise,

sing praise, sing praise.

Forever, God is faithful,

forever God is strong.

Forever God is with us,

forever, forever.

3 From the rising to the setting sun:

his love endures forever.

By the grace of God, we will carry on:

his love endures forever.

Sing praise, sing praise,

sing praise, sing praise.Refrain

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