‘THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN’ – John 1:19-34

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 25, 2012 under PM Bible Study | Be the First to Comment

PM Home Bible Study Group; January 25, 2012

John 1:19-34

Theme: The testimony of John the Baptist is that Jesus is the Son of God.

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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 24, 2012 under 2012 | Be the First to Comment

Preached January 29, 2012
Jeremiah 24

Theme: God delights in those who submit to His loving discipline.

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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 22, 2012 under 2012 | Be the First to Comment

Preached January 22, 2012; Sanctity of Life Sunday
Matthew 18:10-14

Theme: Jesus teaches us what our attitude should be toward the littlest ones among us.

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Our Pastor

Posted by Angella Diehl, Webmaster on January 19, 2012 under About Us | Be the First to Comment

Pastor Greg Allen was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1957; and grew up in Seattle, Washington. He placed his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord in 1973 as a result of a Billy Graham crusade on television; and shortly thereafter, began attending Riverton Heights Presbyterian Church in Seattle.

He graduated from The Burnley School of Art (now The Art Institute of Seattle) in 1980. In 1989, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Biblical Education from Multnomah Bible College in Portland, Oregon; and in 1995, was awarded a Master of Divinity degree from Multnomah Biblical Seminary in Portland.

Throughout most of his vocational life and ministry training, he worked full-time both as a staff designer and as a freelance graphic artist and illustrator in Portland for various graphics studios. In 1985, he began serving part-time as an assistant pastor at Haven Bible Church; and became part-time pastor of Bethany Bible Church in 1992. He served as a teacher’s assistant during his course of study at the seminary, and, following graduation, taught as adjunct faculty on a college level. In the winter of 1997, he and a colleague taught a preaching course in the former Soviet Union through International Leadership Academies. He began serving Bethany Bible Church full-time in fall of 1997.

Pastor Greg and his wife, Marilyn, were married in 1979 and have two teenage sons. Greg enjoys music, cartooning, reading, antiquarian book collecting and hiking. He draws his sense of mission in ministry from Colossians 1:28-29 — “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

Photograph courtesy of The Oregonian

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Abram & Sarai

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on under Ask the Pastor | Be the First to Comment

A visitor to our website asks:

“In Genesis chapter 16:5, why was Sarai angry with Abram when it was her idea in verse 2 to give her maid to Abram in the first place?”

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear friend,

I suggest that, in answering it, we consider the broader context of this story.

God had made a promise to childless Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3—specifically, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This was a promise that, in the immediate sense, Abraham would have a son; in the larger sense, a nation would come from him through that son; and in the ultimate sense, the Savior—the blessing of all the families of the earth—would come from that nation.

Abraham and his wife Sarah waited a long time for the fulfillment of the promise of a child. And after a while, Abraham thought that perhaps God would allow it to be fulfilled through human means. In 15:2-3, Abraham proposed to God that Abraham’s servant Eliezer of Damascus become his heir and the fulfillment of the promise. But God said that Eliezer would not be his heir, “but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir” (15:4). If we look ahead to chapter 18, we find that God makes it clear to Abraham that it would be through Sarah that the promised child would be born (18:10). And, of course, by 21:1-7, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. But in the middle, we find this incident in chapter 16. Abraham was eighty-five years old; and his wife Sarah was seventy-five. They were growing impatient. And so, they crafted a plan to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise through strictly human means.

From the standpoint of the customs of that day and culture, there was nothing wrong in what they did. It wasn’t considered inappropriate for a childless man with a barren wife to have a son through his wife’s handmaiden—through a “surrogate mother”, as we would say today. But in this case, it was a matter of becoming impatient with the amount of time God was taking to fulfill His promise, and choosing to take things into their own hands and use means that were not a part of His will. We always get into trouble when we do that.

So; in answer to your question, I think that Sarah’s anger toward Abraham may be attributed to several things. First, Abraham did not serve as her ‘leader’. You’ll notice that it was Sarah’s idea to seek to fulfill God’s promise through Hagar—saying “perhaps I shall obtain children by her” (Gen. 16:2). And we’re told that “Abraham heeded the voice of Sarai.” The first time we read of such words is when God rebuked Adam for his sin of eating the forbidden fruit. God told him, in almost the same words, the reason he was cursed: “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’ . . .” (Genesis 3:17). Now; understand—it’s not a sin for a man to heed the voice of his wife. In fact, very often, it’s the best part of wisdom to do so! But the sin of Adam was in the fact that he knew the right thing to do, but he heeded the voice of his wife when she told him to do the opposite of what God had said. Similarly, Abraham knew God’s will in this matter; but he heeded the contrary counsel of his wife. God’s good ways for us make for peace between us. But whenever we prefer human wisdom over the expressed will of God, it almost always leads to conflict between the people involved.

Another reason I think Sarah was angry with Abraham was because this effort to ‘solve problems for God’ resulted in making the situation worse. In response to Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham had relations with her maidservant Hagar; and the Bible tells us, “And when she [that is, Hagar] saw that she had conceived, her mistress [that is, Sarah] became despised in her eyes” (v. 4). Not only was Sarah still essentially childless, the pain of her childless condition was compounded by the haughty looks and snide comments of her handmaiden. That’s why Sarah said to Abraham, “My wrong be on you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me” (v. 5). Perhaps we should have expected that Sarah would have acknowledged that this was a bad idea, and take responsibility for the problem she created. But sadly, when we get impatient with God, depart from His will, and take things into our own hands, we created a cycle of sin that brings its negative impact into our attitudes and relationships. Rather than repent, we often fall into the blame-game. (Adam did this, too. Remember how, when God confronted him, he blamed the sin of eating the fruit on the woman God had given him (Genesis 3:12)?

In closing, let me suggest that this serves as a good spiritual lesson for us today. The Bible warns us, “Do not be deceive, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9). God makes good promises to us in His word. But those promises are a test to us; and we must “inherit the promises” through “faith and patience” (Hebrews 6:12).

In Jesus’ love,
Pastor Greg
Bethany Bible Church

(All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version.)

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KEEP THE COVENANT! – Deuteronomy 29:1-29

Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 18, 2012 under AM Bible Study | Be the First to Comment

AM Bible Study Group; January 18, 2012

Deuteronomy 29:1-29

Theme: God—speaking through Moses—presents a renewed appeal to His people to keep the covenant He has made with them.

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