Rev Bill\’s Sermons

June 15, 2008

Genesis 12:1-9

Filed under: Genesis — revbill @ 11:04 pm

Genesis 12:1-9

Stepping Out – In Faith

June 15, 2008

This summer we are spending some time looking at stories from the book of Genesis that make up a valuable part of our faith tradition. These are stories of folks like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – folks who were called by God and touched by God in certain ways – and – while they were not perfect – were used by God to bring His will and His love into the world.

As we look at these stories I believe we will discover that God is at work in our lives and in our world – and that God can use us – as imperfect as we may be – to do His work and will in the world – if we will let Him use us.

Last week we looked at the story of Noah in Genesis 6-8 – and saw how he was obedient to God – even when it was costly and messy to be obedient – and discovered a blessing for himself and his family – and all people – because of his obedience to God.

Today we are going to begin the story of Abraham – or Abram as he is referred to in our passage for today – as we look at Genesis 12:1-9 – and as we look at this passage we will see how God – many times –

calls us to do new things –

calls us do away with things we may be comfortable with —

calls us to do things we have never done before

or –

calls us to do old things in new and different ways –

and – even though we may not know exactly what will happen when we try doing new things as individuals or as a Church –

or we may not know exactly what will happen when we try – as individuals or a Church — doing old things in new ways –

we need to step out in faith and follow God.

Listen to God’s word in Genesis 12:1-9

Read Scripture

In the book Chicken Soup For The Soul, there is an article entitled, “The Great Escape.” It tells about Wendy Marston and the time she moved away from her home in Colorado to attend Columbia University in New York City. Her story is like thousands of other young people who have moved away from home in order to get an education. And, like many others, Wendy didn’t find the experience easy.

She didn’t seem to fit in with the insanity of New York City.

Joining the Rowing Crew at the University seemed like a good idea – but the thought of getting up at 5:30 AM for practice didn’t appeal to her. She dated an actor for awhile, only to have him dump her for someone else. She even tried throwing herself into her schoolwork, but that didn’t seem to work either. Finally, she started waitressing at a local coffee shop and things began to turn around for her. There she met a new friend and the two of them worked on their schoolwork together. Inside the coffee shop there was a casual atmosphere and Wendy had the opportunity to interact with some of her college professors on a one-to-one basis. She made a close circle of friends and that helped her throughout her career at Columbia and beyond.

Now – what impresses me that Wendy Marston is that she learned she could take risks and try new things until she found something that worked.

But what impressed me more was her personal discovery. She realized that her journey wasn’t about becoming some new person. Rather, it was simply figuring out that she could be comfortable with the person God called her to be.

A lot of times we have to try new things – take risks – try new things or try doing old things in new ways – to truly discover the person God is calling us to be.

In all my research about Abraham in preparing this sermon – all the information I gathered from scholars and preachers — no one gave me as much insight about the story of Abraham than the story of Wendy Marston. She helped me realize that Abraham’s step of faith was not just about leaving his parents. It was about trusting God enough to step out in faith – to try new things – to sometimes try new things and sometimes try old things in new ways – and discover who God was calling him to be.

The story of Abraham is a story of stepping out in faith.

The story of Abraham is about taking risks.

God calls Abraham to leave his country – his people – and his household. Notice the progression from things not as important to things very important here. His country was important – but leaving his country was not as big a deal as leaving his people – but even leaving his people was not as big a deal as leaving his father’s household – especially in a society where family took care of each other and your family was your “safety net” if you had troubles. There was no government welfare system for those “sown on their luck” – only family. So leaving his father’s household would have been gut-wrenching for Abraham.

But – what did Abraham do?

We find the answer in verse 4:

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him

He stepped out – in faith.

He tried to new thing – in faith.

He learned how to do old things in new ways – in faith.

And – he was blessed and discovered the person God had in mind for him to be all along – and became a blessing to many – because of his faith.

By stepping out in faith — as instructed by God — Abraham was able to break away from the things he was used to and the way he had always done things — and put his trust totally in the hands of God. His life was now a new adventure—and he had no choice but to trust in God and – and proceed with faith.

The story of Abraham is a story of stepping out in faith

There are times when all of us are afraid to step out in faith. We are accustomed to our safety net. We get used to doing the same things in the same ways and don’t want to even consider doing them differently. We like to remain in our comfort zones where everything is predictable and known.

But — notice that when God tells Abraham to leave his country – his people – and his father’s house — He is also promised Abraham would be blessed. Had Abraham remained in his safety net – doing everything the same way he always did them and never trying anything new or different – he would have missed many blessings during his journey with God.

Shortly after moving here I began a new morning routine of going to the store around 7:30 every Monday – Thursday morning for coffee, a devotional time with a group of guys, and fellowship. By around 8:30 I’m in the office at the Church. To do this, I had to change some things about my routine. I was used to getting up around 6:00 – having my devotional – reading the paper – checking my e-mails – eating breakfast – then maybe getting to work around 9:00 – sometimes later. But now I get up a little earlier – eat a quicker breakfast and have my devotional time – then go to the store. I check e-mails later and read the paper at night. Getting used to a new routine was not easy for me – I can easily get locked in to routines and habits – but adapting my morning schedule and adopting a new routine has been a blessing for me. I have been blessed with new friendships – gotten to know people I would not have normally met had I not changed my routine – and gotten to know folks in the community in a new way and on a much deeper level. I also am at the Church working earlier than I would have been!

It can be difficult to make changes in our lives – to begin doing new things or old things in new ways — even when we know that making such changes are good for us. I’m still struggling with finding the time to exercise on a weekly basis – even though I know it would be good for me to do so. But – like a lot of people – I use the feeling that I don’t have time to exercise as an excuse. If we’ll just make the time to do new things – or make the time to figure out how to do old things in a new way – we just might discover God’s blessings for us and plan for our lives.

Stepping out and doing new things.

Stepping out and doing old things in new ways.

Stepping out in faith.

Maybe part of the problem we have with stepping out in faith – doing new things – or doing old things in new ways — is the fact that we expect instant results.

That certainly wasn’t the case with Abraham. There were years of hardship as he proceeded on his journey. But, there were also moments where Abraham realized the goodness of God praised and worshipped God – who was with him all the way.

Why don’t we leave our comfort zones and try new things?

Why don’t we try doing new things – or try doing old things in new ways?

Is it because we lack faith?

Do we not trust that God will bless us?

A lot of times it’s because we get stuck.

We might have the resources — and even have the faith — but we might have a perception of reality that is no longer valid. We might believe that what worked in the past will continue to work in the future.

I have a friend whose father had his own business. He was very successful — and sold his business in the early 1980’s. He then started a new business in Florida – but this time he business struggled. The reason he struggled was that he wasn’t keeping up with the competition. He was using sales techniques that worked in the past but not at that time. He also resisted the use of computers which would have enhanced his ability to be competitive in the marketplace. In other words, his techniques and sales strategies were outdated – and his business suffered.

Now — I have to admit that computers are sometimes frustrating. They at times “have minds of their own” and are usually “smarter than we are”. On the other hand, life with computers has given me many blessings. Desk top publishing has made writing a lot faster and reduced the number of errors. E-mail and the Internet has opened up a whole new world of resources. All that came about because I was open to a new way of writing and adapting it to my work in the church. It’s hard to believe – but when I first began my ministry in 1984 I didn’t have a computer at the Church and did not have one at home. I either handwrote everything or typed it on a typewriter – or handwrote it and got Sally to type it for me. I had to either buy books and commentaries of go to the library to research things. Things are much different now! I can type things on the computer – research things on the internet – and e-mail someone – in a matter of seconds.

Yea — trying new experiences and making changes in our lives doesn’t come without difficulty. It isn’t easy sometimes to try new things or try new ways to do old things – but we can expect that blessings will come when we are willing to learn new things – learn new ways to do things – and step out in faith.

Stepping out and doing new things.

Stepping out and doing old things in new ways.

Stepping out in faith.

Now – some of you might say that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. You know what?

Abraham wasn’t middle-aged when he responded to the call of God.

Abraham was old.

Yet, age was no barrier for him in stepping out in faith. He listened to God’s challenge and went, trusting that God would be with him and believing he would be blessed. Had Abraham not listened to God and stayed where he was, he might not have received the blessing God later gave Him. Age does not have to be a barrier when it comes to accepting change and new perceptions. I heard recently about a 98 year old man who graduated from college. He did it for no other reason except for following through on a personal goal. Now he is being blessed as the news of his academic achievement has become a national story.

Stepping out and doing new things.

Stepping out and doing old things in new ways.

Stepping out in faith.

That’s the story of Abraham.

It can be our story also.

We can’t let ourselves – as individuals – become so comfortable with the way things are and the way things have always been – and the way we have always done things – that we refuse to follow God’s call to try new things and new ways of doing old things.

The resistance to trying new things or new ways for doing old things finds it’s way into the Church many times. We become comfortable with the way we do things – we become comfortable with the things we are doing – and we don’t look for new things to do or new ways to do what we are doing. We resist change. We resist doing new things or new ways to do what we are already doing.

You’ve probably heard the old joke –

How many church members does it take to change a light bulb?

And the answer –

“Change? What do you mean change? My granddaddy gave that light bulb and if it was good enough for him it’s good enough for us!”

Yea – we don’t like change.

We get stuck doing the same things the same way – over and over – and don’t realize that those ways may have worked at some point – but don’t work any more. Like my friends father who failed in his second business by trying to do business in the 1980’s the same way he did it in the 1950’s – we fail to reach people and fail to be the Church God is calling us to be because we are try to do things like we always have – even when they don’t work any more.

Like Abraham – there are time we need to try new things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to try new ways to do old things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to step out in faith.

Some of you have heard me give my definition of the word “insanity”:

Doing the same thing the same way but expecting different results

That’s insanity!

Like Abraham – there are time we need to try new things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to try new ways to do old things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to step out in faith.

You also may have heard me give what I call “the 7 last words of a Church”.

“We’ve never done it that way before!”

There is also a variation on that:

“This is how it’s always been done!”

Yea –

Like Abraham – there are time we need to try new things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to try new ways to do old things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to step out in faith.

Just like God called Abraham to go to a new place and do a new thing – God calls us to be willing to do new things – or find new ways to do old things – so that we can discover how to be the Church He is calling us to be.

Abraham stepped out in faith – and found a blessing.

If we will step out in faith – look for new ways to do the work of the Church – look for new ways to do what we are doing – we can discover a blessing also.

God doesn’t call us to sit back and rest from His work. God calls us to be willing to step out in faith – to be always be willing to look for new things to be doing – to always be willing to look for new ways to reach others with His love. God is always calling us to look for ways to change – to look for new ways to do the things we are doing – ways that might reach new people in new ways.

God was not satisfied with Abraham doing what he was doing all his live.

God called Abraham to do something new – to do a new thing.

And – Abraham stepped out in faith.

I don’t think that God is satisfied with us resisting change – or doing the same things over and over and expecting different results – or doing things like we did them in 1950 when it’s 2008.

God calls us to do new things.

God calls us to do things in new ways.

The question is – do we step out in faith – and find the blessing God has in store for us and for all we will reach – if we will step out in faith?

This week you are going to have many opportunities to try doing things – or old things in new ways. I pray you will take advantage of them.

This week we as a Church are going to have an opportunity to step out of our “comfort zone” and reach the community in a new way — as we prepare for Community Day. I pray that we will take full advantage of that opportunity. But – to do that – we are going to have to do things in a different way. Instead of seeing it as one group doing one thing and another group doing something else – let’s think about it as everybody pitching in and helping each other. Maybe that’s not the way it’s always been – but it’s the way it can be now.

Maybe – in the way it’s always been – you waited to do something until you were asked.

Why not step up and volunteer – and do something – without being asked?

These are just a few ways we can step up and do – and step out in faith — as we do new things and do old things in new ways.

Like Abraham – there are time we need to try new things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to try new ways to do old things.

Like Abraham – there are times we need to step out in faith.

Are you ready?

Let’s step out – try God’s new things – try God’s new ways to do old things – and discover God’s blessings.

Come on – let’s step out – in faith! Amen.

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5 Comments

  1. […] You can read the entire sermon here.  « Capacity For Change     […]

    Pingback by Rev Bill » Blog Archive » Sermon: Genesis 12:1-9 — June 15, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  2. […] 2 weeks ago we began the story of Abraham as we looked at Genesis 12:1-9 – and saw how God – many times – […]

    Pingback by Genesis 22:1-18 « Rev Bill’s Sermons — June 29, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  3. […] weeks ago we began the story of Abraham as we looked at Genesis 12:1-9 – and saw how God – many times […]

    Pingback by Genesis 25:19-34 « Rev Bill’s Sermons — July 13, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  4. […] We have seen the story of Abraham – and seen how God – many times – […]

    Pingback by Genesis 32:22-30 « Rev Bill’s Sermons — August 4, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

  5. […] have seen the story of Abraham – and seen how God – many times – calls us to do new things – calls us do away with things we may be comfortable with – calls us to do things we have never […]

    Pingback by Genesis 45:1-15 « Rev Bill’s Sermons — August 24, 2008 @ 7:38 pm


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