September 2021

In This Issue…

  • Are Your Trees Too Tall?

We are pilgrims. But sometimes we put our roots too deep in a passing world!

  • A One-way Ticket

There are some places that beckon the pilgrim, where we must refuse to go.

  • Sometimes It’s Better to Doubt Than Believe

A concept cannot be accepted just because you heard it in church!

Outline No. 947: Are Your Trees Too Tall?

“And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.”  —  Genesis 21:33-34

The problem with planting trees is we will stay around to watch them grow! The text implies this was the case with Abraham. He planted a grove, or tamarisk tree, and stayed in the land of the Philistines for many days.

People put great value on permanence.

The old proverb insists that a rolling stone gathers no moss. But we Christians are not called to gather moss. And we are not called to sojourn.

The faithful, like Abraham are called to travel. We are pilgrims. But sometimes we put our roots too deep in a passing world!

The significance of this tree for us this morning is this: Travellers do not plant trees in foreign lands.

I wonder if like those trees, our own roots in this passing world are too deep.

Is it time to move on?

Pilgrims quite simply do not stay in one place. There are places to go, things to see, and most of all promises to obtain.

As Abraham sat by his tree, faraway places beckoned to him. They were not exotic locations offered by travel agencies. They were places of appointment with the plans and purposes of Almighty God.

1. Moriah Beckoned!

This was the place of sacrifice.

We like to hear about God leading into blessings. But sometimes He may lead us into sacrifice.

In the next two verses God called Abraham to travel to the land of Moriah. The purpose: to offer a sacrifice – and that sacrifice was his only son Isaac.

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”  —  Genesis 22:1-2

We know the outcome of the story. But Abraham didn’t.

The birth of  his child, Isaac, was a miracle. And now he was being asked to go to the land of Moriah and offer his only son – his miracle – on the altar!

Sometimes we must leave the comfort of the groves, and face the horror of sacrifice in the land of Moriah.

When the test is over Abraham returns to his grove.

“So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”  —  Genesis 22:19

2. Hebron Beckoned!

This was the place of suffering.

We like to hear testimonies of God’s leading into joy, but sometimes He may lead into sorrow.

In the next chapter there is a funeral in Canaan. Abraham’s beloved wife, Sarah, dies and is buried in Canaan.

“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”  —  Genesis 23:1-2

As I read the story of Abraham the other day, I cried. I was so sad for this man of God.

Sometimes we must lose a loved one here to keep our focus on Heaven.

Have you lost a loved one, dear friend? A godly and beloved partner? Don’t allow it to defeat you. Make it a milestone – and let it mark your progress towards the promises.

He ran with you.

She ran with you.

Do not fail them now. Stay in the race!

Outline No. 948: A One-Way Ticket!

“And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.”  —  Genesis 21:33-34

Last time we saw that there are new places for the pilgrim to visit.

Sometimes God sends us to Moriah or Canaan. These were places of sacrifice and suffering for God’s traveller, Abraham.

In part two of our notes today I want to show you there are some places that beckon the pilgrim, where we must refuse to go.

3. Beware! The Old Country Beckons!

There were travel arrangements still to make. Abraham needed a wife for his son, Isaac. He recognised two things:

She could not be a local girl!

Abraham sent his servant in search for a wife for Isaac.

“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.”  —  Genesis 24:4

There was no wife eligible in a foreign land. If we want to keep our eyes on the promises we need a family that shares the vision. Only a family that shares the vision, and hears the call, will be willing to travel with us.

And think about this, if we do not have a family that will travel with us, we will not want to go!

Crafty Pharaoh new that for a fact, and suggested that the Hebrews make their pilgrimage into the desert, but leave their children in Egypt. He realised that if the children stayed in Egypt it would not be too long before the parents came back!

If you are going to see this journey through, you must travel as a family.

If one member of the family falls in love with someone from a foreign land, they will eventually love that land and its gods also. That is exactly what happened to Solomon:

“And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”  — 1 Kings 11:3

Paul instructed the Corinthians concerning destructive relationships:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  —  2 Corinthians 6:14

He could not go home!

Christians should never look back, or go back.

Look at Christ’s call to His disciples:

“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  —  Luke 9:57-62

Each of these requests seems genuine:

  1. A dying father.

Is it not permissible and right to wait until he has departed this life?

  1. A loving family.

Is not our family important?

I think the key to understanding this passage is the would-be-disciples’ response to Jesus’ call.

They BOTH said FIRST!

“FIRST – let me bury my father!”

“FIRST – let me say goodbye to the family!”

If we are disciples, He is Lord. And that must mean JESUS must be first!

We are pilgrims and we must go onwards.

Abraham recognised this. And so he sent his servant to look for a wife for Isaac. And he gave strict instructions to his servant about not allowing his son to return home:

“And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.”  — Genesis 24:5-6

Please pay special attention to Abraham’s warning to his servant: BEWARE!

Pilgrim beware.

As pilgrims God will lead us forward, into new adventures, new challenges, new blessings, new crises, and even new trials.

But one thing is certain: God will never lead us back!

“And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”  — Hebrews 11:15-16

God only supplies one-way tickets!

Christians are not called to sit in the shade of a tree.

Like the Hebrews, God’s People today are called to be mobile. Even our trees we must carry with us. Am I saying that we should have a bonsai in our suitcase? No, of course not.  What I am saying is this:

Jesus carried his cross. It was a tree trunk.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” —  Galatians 3:13

And now we must carry a tree – ‘a cross’ – and follow:

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  — Matthew 16:24

That is the call Christ offers. No more – no less. Pack your bags and follow!

Is it time you began to move?

Outline No. 949: Sometimes It’s Better to Doubt Than Believe

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 John 4: 1-6

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Vs 1.

Christians are BELIEVERS!

But the Bible also counsels us to doubt certain things! Sometimes to doubt is better than to believe!

We Should Not Believe Everything!
A person who believes everything is gullible.
A thing cannot be considered correct just because you heard it on ‘Christian’ television. A thought cannot be accepted just because you heard it in church!
The great thing about the Bereans was they did not believe everything:
They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Their belief was not gullibility. They believed. They were ready to receive the Word. But they avidly searched the Scripture for confirmation that the preacher was telling the truth.

We Cannot Believe Everyone!
A person who believes everyone is naïve.
It is bad enough going astray after our own erring ways. But there are those who follow others into error!
This is a trend in these last days:
“…There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Pet 2:1-2)
It is incredible that many shall follow them – but they will do so. Godly pastors are aware of the responsibility to lead the flock into truth.

We Must Not Believe Every spirit!
A person who believes every spirit is foolish.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
False spirits are liars. Satan is the father of lies.
“For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.” (Zec 10:2)
So how do we test the spirits? Verse 3 of our Reading today says we can believe those who confess the incarnation. Those who admit that Christ came in the flesh.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Mat 1:23)
Now that test is not so simple as it may appear, because today there is a kind of reverse incarnation being preached. The emphasis is on the flesh becoming God, rather than God becoming Man. That lie of Eden: “…Ye shall be as gods…” is the cry of every lying spirit!

Demonic activity reached a crescendo during Christ’s earthly ministry. He defeated it on the cross.
Demonic activity will increase in the last days. There will be an increase of lawlessness preparing the way for Antichrist.
In these last days:-
Do not be gullible! Don’t believe everything.
Do not be naïve! Don’t believe everyone.
Do not be a fool! Don’t believe every spirit.