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Message Monday: Handling Conflict God’s Way – Does it Matter What Bathrooms Christians Use?

16 May

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I delivered this message to our congregation yesterday May 15, 2016. As you read it, pray for school administrators, teachers, parents and students. Pray for those who struggle with gender confusion and those in their families. Pray that our nation would remember the importance of a person’s religious identity even as they recognize the importance of every person’s unique sexual identity.

Intro:

  • On Friday our government chose to advise every school in the United States that they must accommodate the desire of a student to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender they identify with most.
  • This move of course came to the lament of Christians who see this kind of action as a overreach into an area of privacy and modesty that Christians are commanded to protect and share with their spouse.

Hook:

  • Some Christians reacted immediately to say that they were going to pull their children out of public schools.
  • To be honest most of us probably had that knee jerk reaction.
  • The question for us today is how God wants us to respond to this situation and to the number of situations that occur as our government makes decisions that conflict with our faith.
  • Even though our county’s First Amendment ensures that we have right to freely exercise our religion, such a right has no power if we cannot practically live out that right.
  • Our passage today shows us how Abraham dealt with a similar situation in which he was given an expansive right from the king of his land.
  • From this passage we will learn four strategies Abraham uses to sojourn in the land of a foreign king.

Message Points:

  • 1: Abraham lives so that Abimelech takes note of His God (21:22-23).
    • Abraham likely invited many local leaders to the feast for Isaac’s weaning. The birth of a baby at 100 was big news, but even bigger was the fact that God has promised all of this!
    • “At this time” indicates that Abimelech and Phicol were already there.
    • In spite of not owning any land, and just now having an heir, Abraham has wealth, servants, herds, and relatively good relationships with his neighbors. His prosperity, posterity, and promises from God openly testify to God’s blessings.
    • Abraham’s life became so evidently attractive that Abimelech came to ask him for a covenant. Notice that Abimelech recognizes Abraham’s prosperity (underhanded, kind implying dealings); posterity when he points towards future generations; and promises when he recognizes a right to sojourn in the land God promised.
    • For unbelievers, the openness of Christians about their relationship with God may annoy your, but at times does it not make you curious about what that kind of relationship is like.
    • Christian, if someone were to take note of your life would the main thing they noticed be God’s blessing upon your life?
    • One of the key ways that Abraham put on display His God was to publically worship him. When you worship do you publically seek to express your genuine love for God?
    • As we think about how a Christians deals with our nation or any nation, we must remember that we are only sojourners in these nations.
      • Read Philippians 3:20-21
  • 2:Abraham advocates for the practical ability to live out the rights he is granted (21:24-26).
    • Abraham agrees to swear an oath with Abimelech so he is not opposed to making an agreement with governments.
    • Notice though that Abraham reproves Abimelech because without water access, the right to sojourn is worthless.
    • Abimelech immediately recognizes that he did not know about this problem.
    • As sojourners in this land, we need to be ready to advocate for the practical ways that we will can live out the rights that our country gives to us.
    • Parents – With this bathroom situation, you may choose to remove your children from school. That said you may also choose to advocate for unisex bathrooms, or the option to keep your children from having to dress out. Those practical steps will keep both the government’s concerns as well as your Christian conscience.
    •  Friends, we all have the freedom to exercise our religion, and we have the responsibility to advocate for those ways we practically live out that right. One of the ways our freedom is most under attack is the attempt to limit our religious expression to this time and place. Jesus tells us that we must take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23)
  • 3:Abraham uses his rights to bless those who live around him (21:27-30)
    • Abraham brings all of the sacrifices to seal the covenant.
    • Abraham brings an extra offering for Abimelech.
    • Abimelech asks about this unusual addition.
    • Abraham explains that this is a witness to their agreement.
    • The ewes would be the gift of most worth.
    • Christian, how often when we have been on the right side have we ostracized those who are different or ridiculed their identity and lifestyles publically.
    • Families we get a chance to practice this at every family dinner or celebration that we have to winsomely bless those  who disagree with you most.
    • Church I must confess that I have on several occasions delivered messages that reflected my theology, but did not reflect God’s heart to bless the sinner. In biblical counseling one of the first tasks of a counselor is to give people hope for salvation, change, and peace available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Church, shouldn’t that be the first task that we have in every service, program, conversation, and meeting?
    • And one more thing. Do you notice people that do not have your beliefs or that are caught up in sin when you go out in public? Do you think about how you can bless them in spite of their differences from us or do you think about how you can dismiss them?
  • 4: Abraham establishes practices that honor God with his life (21:31-34).
    • First notice that Abraham names the place after their sworn covenant and seven lambs.
    • Now notice that Abimelech goes home.
    • It is then in his privacy that he seeks to worship God.
    • He plants a tree, a task that requires much water.
    • He then in the shade takes time to call upon the name of the Everlasting God.
    • For the first time God’s each have a fulfillment in his life.
    • Christian, what have you done to make sure that you have practices in your life that honor God.
      • War Room
      • Schedule your time to make time for devotions or for church.
      • What activity do you do that allows you to slow down and give glory to our Everlasting God.
      • Church, we similarly need to make sure that the practices we have in our church give glory to God instead of men.
      • That which you win someone with, you must keep them with. Mark Dever.

Conclusion: So how should you handle conflict? If I were to sum up Abraham’s approach: Live like a sojourner in this land from Heaven!

  • Point Out the ways God blessed you beginning with salvation.
  • Advocate for practical ways to life out your faith within the law of the land.
  • Use your rights to bless those as God has blessed you.
  • And establish practices that Honor God.
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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