test vimeo video
Dear friends in Christ,
Graduation time has come. In the subdivision where the parsonage is the customary sign honoring all the grads from high school and college is hanging. Our subdivision has been part of a high school rezoning twice in the last few years. There are parents who are not happy about how the subdivision was treated. We have grads that went to Northview andChattahoocheeHigh School. Since the rezoning caused bitterness with parents, the high school grads are listed by where they are going next year to college and not the high school that they graduated from this year. We have lived there eleven years. We can tell the subdivision is getting older. The number of college grads is going up each year. The little children we saw years ago aren’t little children anymore.
While many graduated from college this year, statistics show the job market is still not good for graduates. I wonder how many have jobs. While she isn’t a college grad this year, I know a person who has a PhD in theater arts, but she is working in a gift shop.
I thank God that most of our members are doing okay…even well. That’s probably the reason you live on this side of town. As we join Abraham in his life’s journey today, we can see how life has many twists and turns, but yet for the child of God He Has a Basic Plan for your Life - 1) You are the Lord’s wherever you go; 2) Leave behind testimony wherever you go.
Let’s get the chronology of Abraham down again. He lived in the city ofUr with his father Terah and his wife, Sarai. WhenHaran, his brother died, Abraham took care of his nephewLot.
The martyr Stephen gave us some details on Abraham’s life. He preached to the people of Jerusalemand said, “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ Abraham and his father and wife and family had lived inUr. But God said get up and leave and they went to city ofHarran. While there Terah, Abram’s father, died.
God made it apparent he wasn’t done with Abraham. He spoke to Abram again in Harranwhen he was seventy five and Sarai his wife was sixty five. “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Abram, I’m not done with you. No, Abram, you’re not retiring!
This was a big step. It was time to leave all the family members behind and go to thelandofCanaan. Not a short jog or hop, skip and jump. This was a move that might be only one way, never coming back toHaranagain.
For the last few years Judy and I have gone to be with my brothers at a family reunion in September. We plan on doing that again this September. While there we have a reunion of my cousins and remaining aunts. Dad was part of a family that had nine children in it, so there are plenty of cousins. Of the nine brothers and sisters in my Dad’s family they all stayed around the same place where they grew up. My Dad moved 50 miles away which in the 1930’s was along way away. My cousins haven’t moved far away from there either, except my family. We could get the coming the farthest distance away prize every year. In 2100 BC Abraham was asked to move away from family that he would probably never see again. He did so because God said he needed to. Yet the Lord assured him that he would go with him. The Lord would not stay behind.
Our church has evolved in the last eleven years. I remember right after Judy and I had arrived in July of 2002 we were invited to go to a sports bar to watch a Green Bay Packer game. Judy and I met a lot of members that day. I know that we had a few Falcon fans here too and probably thought, and still think, Packer fans are pretty obnoxious. Many of those obnoxious Packer fans are still here and maybe we have even more, but I know we have really obnoxious Viking fans and Lion fans and Redskin fans and Patriot fans and 49er fans, Raider fans and Brown fans too. You know what else is true? We have people here who think football is played with people who play in shorts and kick a round ball and have nets as goals instead of an end zone. We have people who are here who have come from other nations or are the first generation children of immigrants from places like Colombia, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Laos, Russia, India, Korea, and Canada. Why are we here? Certainly not because of football but because the same God Abraham had is our God too. Here we are today worshipping under the same roof on June 9th 2013 listening to him speak to us and worshipping him.
The city of Haranwas only a steppingstone city for Abraham and his family. In Haran God spoke a second time to Abraham and said, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Two tiny verses contain seven blessings that Abraham carried with him. They really relate to us too.
“I will make you into a great nation.” The Lord did exactly that. There was just Abraham and Sarah and nephew Lot. But from Abraham and Sarah the nation of Israel would come forth. Abraham’s grandson Jacob would do his share. He would have twelve sons. So began the twelve tribes of Israel. 400 years later the two was better than two million. Four plus centuries later as Moses prior to their entry into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of the promise God had given to Abraham, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Moses also reminded them, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”
This was the hand of God on Abraham and his descendants.
Yet Abraham is not just the father of the Jewish nation, but the father of all the faithful - all who have faith in the person of Jesus. The holy apostle Paul wrote, “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” That makes Abraham our father too. We are part of the holy nation that has been called out of darkness into the light. Blessing one! Blessing two! “And I will bless you.” The good Lord certainly did that for Abraham. Abraham was given much. He was a wealthy man. While he lived at a different time he was probably richer than us all us, he lived out of a tent. While God promised him the land to which he was called to be for his descendants he didn’t own it except for his family’s burial plot. Yet God blessed him with lots of animals and servants and a faithful and loving wife, his faithful wife and servants and flocks. God blessed him with His presence. God blessed him with faith.
Think you’re missing anything? The Lord Jesus gives us something to think about. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Jesus went on to promise, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I will bless you – another promise of God that is kept.
He continues. “I will make your name great.” How true of Abraham! How many people do you know lived 2100 years BC and we are talking about him in the 21st century? How many people have their names prominently mentioned in Hebrews 11, the have 11 chapters of the Bible dedicated to their lives? Take this with a grain of salt, but even the Muslims claim him as their spiritual father.
Being famous is not a priority, is it? In fact, that can be a sin. We need to spend more time on our knees in repentance. While it isn’t our aim to be honored and praised, we do have some great names - Abraham’s child, saint, believer, member of the body of Christ. How about Christian and a host of others because we have been cleansed in Jesus’ blood!
“You will be a blessing.” Abraham was a blessing. He went to war against those who had allied themselves againstLot and his family. He was an honest man and dealt with people fairly. He teaches us a lesson on faith. He was 100 years old and knew that he would have a child by his ninety year old wife. He teaches us the faith is being persuaded that God will fulfill whatever he has promised. God gave us Abraham to be a blessing. He gives us the kind of example of faith that we need to imitate.
We will be a blessing when we imitate Abraham; when we lives as a light in this world; when we let shine all the time, all the time.
God told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Jesus said it like this, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” As God’s ambassadors we are given the opportunity to represent Jesus. When people listen to us tell what the faith of Abraham means, we are speaking for Jesus. If we are they are listening to us they are listening to Jesus. When they reject us, they reject Jesus and our Father in heaven.
But the greatest blessing given to Abraham is left for last. This is the blessing that all can enjoy if they believe like Abraham, “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The Lord promised that all the earth would be blessed by the family of Abraham. The reason? What the world needed was given to us through his family – the serpent crusher, the Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Savior, the Lord our Righteousness. He is the Redeemer of all but benefits those who have the faith of Abraham. That promise is yours and goes with you wherever you go.
So give testimony about that gift wherever you go. “Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem.” You know what Abraham found when he arrived in Canaan? Abraham found the land was not vacant. He found plenty of people there. Not a one knew the LORD. At Shechem the Lord spoke to Abraham again. “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” He built an altar to mark the place where God gave this promise. The altar marked the place where Abraham worshipped the Lord. Abraham was announcing to the Canaanites their gods were imaginary. The Lord was real. There was a new God in town and Abraham was his representative.
From Shechem, “he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.” He built another altar and called on the name of the Lord. Public worship was now being done. While the Lord had led him to the land he would show him, there was another land, a Promised Land that God wants all people to know. This new man in town was Abraham who was there to show the way to the true God whom the Canaanites needed to know. We are called to imitate Abraham in this way too. Wherever you go and whatever you do, give testimony about Jesus.
Learn from Abraham that you are the Lord’s wherever you go; leave behind that testimony wherever you go. That’s God’s Basic Plan for Your Life.