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(as we begin) A reminder of who God is

You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!

For the wages of sin is death, 
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And a reminder of who we are

Let's take a moment of quiet to pause. Would a video of our life this week show we loved God as He should be loved and that we love others in the way we should love them? And what if that video also had access to the insides of our head?! 

In quiet spend a moment saying sorry to God. And then let's say sorry and be assured of our standing as God's forgiven and loved children because of Jesus in these words below. [If you are with someone else one of you could do the bit in normal type and both/all join together for the bit in bold]

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the person against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When we hide our sins, our souls shrivel up. We internally groan all day long. You will lay your hand of discipline on us, and our strength will dry up if we do not turn.

Acknowledge your sin to God, and do not cover up your iniquity!

We will confess our transgressions to the LORD, and he will forgive the iniquity of our sin.

Let everyone who is godly offer prayer to God at a time when he may be found. Surely in the Day of Judgment, it will be too late!

You are our hiding place, O Lord. You preserve us from trouble; you surround us with shouts of deliverance. Forgive us of all of our sins.

The Lord does forgive you and tells you, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Instead, listen to me."

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the person against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

A song to help us rest in the comfort God gives in Jesus!

Speaking to God asking for help to listen to Him

As we prepare to hear God's word read for us, from Genesis 20, and the message preached, let's pray: 

Heavenly Father,
give us faith to receive your word,
understanding to know what it means,
and the will to put it into practice;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Listening to God speak to us

Responding to what God's said to us. Whether we're more of an Abimelech or an Abraham - His mercy is even more!

Speaking to our Heavenly Father

1. Take a moment to give thanks for something you've been helped by or challenged in from Genesis 20 and ask for help in trusting Him in your situation.

2. Read this and turn one or two things into prayer as we partner with BCM during this strange time not just with plants (thanks Garden Codger!) but also in prayer:

Birmingham City Mission's Latest (May) Update

3. Ask God for opportunities to speak to others (on the phone, online or over the fence!) about Jesus. 

4. Lastly, as we pray for those among us who are ill - please do that! - let's also pray for those caring for the sick, either professionally or in families:

We come to pray for those who are caring for the sick.
It takes a kind and selfless heart to care for those who are sick, and so we pray that You would be their source of rest, their source of replenishment when weary, and their source of hope in such overwhelming times.
We also pray for their health that they may not fall ill. Father protect them with a hedge of protection against the germs of coronavirus and help those who are giving to be protected as they nurse others back to health. Bless them, oh Lord.

In Jesus’ name,

God is faithful. As we close, let's rejoice in this for our journey (or lockdown!).

We lift up our eyes to the hills - 
where does our help come from? 

My help comes form the LORD, 
who made heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot be moved; 
he who keeps you will not slumber. 
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. 

The LORD is our keeper; 
the LORD is our shade at our right hand. 
The sun shall not strike us by day, 
nor the moon by night. 

The LORD will keep us from all evil, 
He will keep our life. 

The LORD will watch over 
our going out and our coming in
from this time on and forevermore. 

What now?

As a church family we have a WhatsApp group where we can share news and encourage one another as Christians to live for Jesus this week. So, do share what helped you from our 'meeting together' today. 

We can also Zoom one another - it's most effective done between 3-5 people I think, so think who you could invite to chat (see it like a little group chatting over refreshments in the back room or still sat on the chairs in the main room!) - or why not phone someone or send an individual WhatsApp message.

These are the ways (at the moment) we can do the 'one anothering' that God want us to (loving one another, encouraging one another, being patient with one another etc.!)

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This passage in Genesis 20 raises a number of questions - none of which I had time to address in the message without making the message all about them (which I didn't feel would have been the most helpful for us all).

So, instead, I've boxed them up here and you can unwrap any that you want to pursue. Do get in touch with me if you want to raise any other questions or issues from the passage. 

The Bible is our authority, not me, so I love to be helped to understand Scripture better and long to help you to do so too. 

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