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August 1, 2021 | Javan Shashaty
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Continuing our “Origins: The Promise” series through Genesis, this past weekend we were joined by Pastor Steven Khoury, vice president of Holy Land Missions for a powerful word from Genesis 21. In this message, we explored God's covenant with Abraham and how that not only impacted him and his offspring, but New Testament followers of Jesus Christ.
Watch the video below to see a few highlights from the teaching and share it with your friends via social media. To watch the message in its entirety, click here.
FOR THE NOTE TAKERS
Let’s recap some of the key talking points from Pastor Steven’s message this weekend:
In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham and his offspring. Later, in chapter 17, we see what that covenant looks like for Isaac and Ishmael. In the following chapter, we read as God makes another covenant with Abraham and his wife Sarah. And, as we read in chapter 21, we see that promise that God made 25 years later come into fruition.
Pastor Steven Khoury, vice president of Holy Land Missions, born in Jerusalem and raised in Bethlehem, grew up in both a Jewish and Arab culture. Like the apostle Paul, who had two cards in his pocket—his Jewish and Roman citizenship cards to preach the gospel—Pastor Steven uses both his Israeli and Arab cards whenever he needs to be in either a Jewish or Muslim crowd to preach the message of love, forgiveness, and grace.
He grew up in a church where his father started a Bethlehem ministry, and today, it is the largest evangelical Arab ministry in that area. It is not unusual for church service to be interrupted by someone opening the church doors and throwing in a bomb directed at the pews. There are Sundays when people walk out of church only to have rocks thrown at their heads. Still, they continue coming to church because they want to know how to be a true follower of Christ.
In his message, Pastor Steven emphasizes the importance of not just being a Christian, but a true follower of Christ. However, he warns us to be careful as we conduct ourselves, as today’s world is watching closely, looking for Christians to be more like Jesus rather than what they call themselves.
God’s covenant is a contract made on a solid foundation. (Genesis 15-21):
In his experience as a follower of Christ, Pastor Steven recalls that emotional moment when years ago, he was beaten severely in the streets of Jerusalem for being a Christian. And yet, as he cried to God for help, he immediately felt His comfort, like a warm blanket covering him from head to toe. In that moment, he understood what it meant to serve a covenant God. Covenant means a contract, a commitment, and when it comes from God, it is a promise that cannot be broken because it was made on a solid foundation—His Word.
Set aside whatever is weighing you down. The Messiah is coming soon. (Genesis 17-18):
Just like God had a different plan for the half-brothers, Isaac and Ishmael, He has a different plan for each and every one of us. In both chapters 17 and 18, we see Abraham’s troubled heart. He loves his sons, equally, while Sarah wants Hagar removed because her presence is weighing her down in the flesh, and she needs to purify her heart. But, God reminds Abraham of the blessings He has in store for both Isaac and Ishmael, and He comforts Sarah’s heart, too. This is why it is so important to free ourselves from things that weigh us down by giving it to God and letting Him work the details of our lives.
According to Pastor Steven, the Middle East today will be bringing a new revival to the West. God is using Arab Christians to make Jews jealous, to have them return back to Him, their first love. In his travels in both Jewish and Arab circles, he has presented the case of giving Jesus back His Jewishness. By doing so, not only would they be solidifying His teachings and His Word, but more importantly, advancing His return!
God’s promises are real. He is a covenant Father who will never leave us or forsake us. (Genesis 15-21):
God is at work in our lives, just as He was in Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar’s. Twice, God spoke to Hagar, bringing comfort to her heart by reassuring His love for her and her child and the plans He had for both of them. That not only pacified her inner turmoil, but also inspired her faith in Him.
This is a great reminder that when we are tempted to cry out to God, "Where are you, where are you, where are you?" we can be encouraged by the promise He made to Abraham and to others, "I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV).
Quote to Remember: I know Jesus has risen because I am from Jerusalem. The tomb is empty!—Pastor Steven Khouri
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
As you think about this weekend’s teaching, here are a few questions to reflect on and consider on your own, with your family, or in your group.
1. What is the promise God made Abraham? And why should we find comfort in this covenant?
2. What sets us apart from the rest of the world?
3. How can we be true followers of Jesus Christ and demonstrate that to the world?
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Join us this Wednesday as Pastor Bill Schott joins a panel of leaders to dive a little deeper into Genesis 21.
Then on the weekend, we'll continue our "Origins: The Promise" series through the life of Abraham as Pastor Doug shares a powerful word from Genesis 22. In this message, we'll break down one of the most fascinating and profound stories in the entire Bible: the binding of Isaac. Be here as Pastor Doug explains how this story points to Jesus and how we can walk in faith as Abraham did.