Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Great People Of the Bible- Week #3- Abraham & Sarah


In Abraham, God begins a covenant people who will bless the world. This promise would find its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Abraham and Sarah want to believe in God's purpose for them but they have some problems with how it works out in the present.

We all know that there are consequences to any action we take. What we do can set into motion a series of events that may continue long after we're gone. Unfortunately, when we are making a decision most of us think only of the immediate consequences. These are often misleading because they are short-lived.

Abraham was called by God and he had to decide weather he was going to pack up all he owned and follow God's call to an uncertain future or to stay put and live in the security of what he already knew. All he had to go on was God's promise to guide and bless him. Abraham could hardly have been expected to visualize how much of the future was resting on him, but his obedience affected the history of the world. His action set into motion the development of the nation that God would eventually use as his own when he came to this earth as a baby.

You probably don't know the long-term effects of most decisions you make, but God does. His plan is perfect and we should seek his council in all things.

Both Sarah and Abraham knew what it was like to wait. There probably isn't anything harder to do than to wait, whether we are expecting something good, something bad, or an unknown. One way we often cope with a long wait is to begin "helping" God get his plan into action. Sarah tried this approach. She was too old to expect to have a child of her own, so she thought God must have something else in mind. From Sarah's point of view this could only be done by giving Abraham a son by another woman (a common practice in that day). The plan seemed harmless enough and seemed to work-- at first. But as you read the story you are struck by how often it seems Sarah regretted her decision.

Another way we cope with a long wait is to gradually conclude that what we're waiting for is never going to happen. Sarah waited 90 years to have a baby! When God told her she would finally have one, she laughed. How could God possibly make this happen! When confronted about her laughter, she lied (as she had seen her husband do from time to time).

We find ourselves in these two characters. We can learn from their mistakes and their successes. May God bless you as you discover the greatness of Abraham and Sarah.

Read Genesis 12:1-13:4
-What challenge and promise did God give to Abraham (Abram)?
-Why would God's words be a special challenge for Sarah at her age?
-What kind of priority did Abraham establish for himself and his household in Canaan?
-How was their faith tested?
-What were the consequences to Sarah, Abraham, and Pharaoh as a result of this plan?
-How did the Lord intervene for all of them?

Read Genesis 15:1-6 & 16:1-6
-What suggestion did Sarah make to her husband?
-How cooperative was Abraham in the plan?
-What was missing in their discussion of her idea?
-After Hagar became pregnant, what happened to Sarah's relationship with her? To Sarah's own sense of self-esteem? To Sarah's communication with her husband?

Read Genesis 17:15-19
-What special reassurance did God give to Sarah? (Sarah means "princess")
-What do you think Abraham's laugh meant?

Read Genesis 18:1-15
-Why did Sarah laugh to herself as what she overheard?
-When do you think she realized who her guest was?
-What would it have taken for God's promise to be fulfilled?

Read Genesis 21:1-13
-How did God answer the question Sarah had asked in Genesis 18:13b?
-What was different about Sarah's laughter on this occasion? (Isaac means "laugher")

Read Hebrews 11:8-19
-What attitudes enabled Abraham and Sarah to live by Faith?
-What does it mean to be an alien and a stranger on earth?
-How would a commitment to these roles affect your daily life?

Have a great week everyone! I will be in Alaska next week but I will still post the study on Wednesday. Please pray for us as we are teaching VBS next week. Next weeks study = Joseph!


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