Sunday, April 03, 2005

Beginning the Journey

Intro: Sermons get their start at different places.

  1. My wife would tell you that I began writing this sermon on Saturday morning. She would be wrong.

  2. Vicky knows this – I mean I told her what my sermon would be on Wednesday night when I sent her an e-mail listing this week's sermon and hymns. But she too would be wrong.

  3. I suppose if I brought a cyber forensic specialist, he would open up my computer and look at its files and tell you I started working on this sermon the week before Easter. But he would be wrong.

  4. Now I suppose you might want to contact Wayne Richards. Oh, of course, you have no idea who Wayne Richards is. Wayne is Director of FLAME, FLAME is the continuing education program I have participated in Indiana three of the last four years. You see, Wayne will tell you that last summer I took a course on Genesis. And I would guess he might assume that I started this sermon after taking the class on Genesis. He would be wrong.

  5. You see, this sermon had its start when I was a freshman in college. For the first time in my life, I was teaching a Sunday School class. It was a class of 5th grade boys and the study was on the great men of Genesis. My appreciation for the patriarchs of the Old Testament began at that point.

  6. Over the next few weeks we will look at the life of the men who founded Judaism. The men, their families, and their history will provide a great many lessons for us as we seek to follow God.

Read Genesis 12:1-9


Tran. Abraham's initial contact with God, provides a set of lessons for us make a part of our own lives.

  1. Abraham's Call

    1. Much of Genesis 1-11 sets the stage for the remainder of the lessons of scripture – we are a fallen people, we are broken people, we find that we do need a savior, we find we do need a blessing

    2. And in Abraham, God begins the process of bringing us that blessing.

    3. I don't know how many of you have moved around a lot.

(Ill.) I can document 10 moves in my first 20 years of life. That means (and I never thought of it this way until I was writing this sermon) we moved on average once every two years. With one exception, each move meant a new school, each move meant having to find new friends.

    1. I have some idea of how Abram (God will change his name to Abraham later) felt when God tells him, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

    2. This is not going to be easy – Leave your country, leave your people, leave your father’s household. Give up all the security that you know. Give up whatever safety that you may feel – and go.

    3. The command to go is accompanied by a series of seven promises:

      1. I will make you into a great nation,”

      2. I will bless you,”

      3. I will make your name great,”

      4. you will be a blessing,”

      5. I will bless those who bless you,”

      6. whoever curses you I will curse,”

      7. all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” i

(Appl.) But before Abram can go, something has to happen. He has to hear God. Too often God does talk to us – through our conscience, through His word, through the circumstances around us – but we either do not hear or refuse to listen.

  1. Abraham's Compliance

    1. But Abram does hear and he does go.

    2. Don't miss the fact that this is going to take a great deal of faith.

    3. He knew what he was giving up – home, family, and familiarity.

    4. He had no idea where he was going.

(Ill.) Pete had become lost in the desert and had been chasing mirages. He thought to himself, I’ll follow this last one. It was a deserted town with a well in the very center. His mouth parched from the intense heat, he ran to the well with his last ounce of energy. He vigorously pumped the handle only to find that no water came forth. Then, he looked up to a note nailed to the post. It instructed its readers to “look behind the rock where a five-gallon container of water will be found” and warned against drinking or using it for anything besides priming the pump. Every ounce was needed, and not even a drop could be spared, the note emphasized. “After pouring the water down the pump, pump the handle vigorously and all the water you desire will come forth,” the note said. One last instruction was to please fill the water can and place it behind the rock for the next weary soul who might happen to come along. How hard it is for people to give up a “sure thing” for something they cannot see at the time. Pete had a sure thing in the bucket of water and yet was instructed to pour it “all” down the pump.ii

    1. Abrah was able to give it all up – for the privilege of following his God.

(Ill.) St. Augustine of Hippo understood where Abram was coming from when he wrote, “Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”iii

(Appl.) Are you willing to give it all up, for the sake of getting all that God wants for you?

  1. Abraham's Commitment

    1. Our obedience deepens our commitment to God

    2. As Abram moves to the Southwest toward Palestine, he stops twice and builds altars as reminders of what God has done.

    3. They represented milestones in Abram's life, points at which he was able to recognize God at work.

(Appl.) Each of us have those points in our lives. Points when we know that God has reached down and touched us in some special way. We will find milestones in our lives where God reached down in the middle of our broken lives and touched us in some special way. At those times we need to build our own altars. They may or may not be physical – but they will be points that we will always remember God's presence in some special way.

    1. In a few moments we will be serving communion. As you approach the altar this morning, I pray that this will be a day that you will meet God i n some special way.

    2. I trust that communion will never become just something we do – but it becomes an opportunity to meet God. I pray that

iSee “Genesis 12:2-3” NIV Study Bible Notes

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

iiiQuoted by Edythe Draper (19920. Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World. (Electronic Edition) Quick Verse 2005.

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