Faithlife Sermons

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*Abraham: Fortunes of Faith*
 
One of my favorite stories that I used to read to my girls over and over again goes like this…
I am Sam \\ I am Sam \\ Sam I am \\ \\ That Sam-I-am!
\\ That Sam-I-am!
\\ I do not like \\ that Sam-I-am!
\\ \\ Do you like \\ green eggs and ham? \\ \\ I do not like them, \\ Sam-I-am.
\\ I do not like \\ green eggs and ham.
\\ \\ Would you like them \\ here or there?
\\ \\ I would not like them \\ here or there.
\\ I would not like them \\ anywhere.
\\ I do not like \\ green eggs and ham.
\\ I do not like them, \\ Sam-I-am.
\\ \\
\\  
I love that story.
It is fun to read even when your kids say , “read it again, Dad.”
But you all know it’s not real.
Unfortunately when it comes to living daily for the Lord we sometimes give about as much attention to the Story of God as we do Green Eggs and Ham.
Sure we make all kinds of claims, and can even quote verses.
We understand the concepts of love and forgiveness.
But when life comes at us too often the Story of God has no more impact on our lives than the story Green Eggs and Ham.
What we have been talking about in this series is not a fictional children’s story.
It ought not be about “well this is what I do on Sunday morning”, or “Maybe I can learn some interesting facts about Abraham.”
If you walk away with the only thing in your pocket being “wow, that’s cool that Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac in the same place where Jesus, years later, gave himself as a sacrifice” then you have an interesting fact, but you have missed God completely.
Sam and his friend are not real, but the story of God is!
The story of God matters!
Even bigger…God matters!
What we are talking about is not a waste of time, it is not just fulfilling our Christian duty, it is not just an interesting exercise.
This is life.
This is what life is about.
God and His story.
You miss this and you miss everything!
 
*Chip Illustration (Put God First)*
Let me show you what I mean…Every other week I lead one of our Breakout groups.
This group is made up of 3rd grade boys.
When our group time started the boys raced to the library, where we meet, and quickly saw the snacks on the table.
The snack for that night was “Sun Chips” 3 bags of original flavor, 2 cheese flavor, and 1 sour cream and onion flavor.
Now which flavor do you think they all wanted?
That’s right, everyone wanted the 1 bag of sour cream and onion.
And in fact, one boy, without my knowledge, stashed the sour cream and onion bag with his stuff so he could save it for later.
Well, come snack time, another boy swiped the sour cream and onion out of his friends stuff…and so ensued a conflict.
So here we had one boy holding the prized bag of chips who stole it from the other boy who greedily stashed the chips prior to snack time.
The ironic thing, was that our Bible lesson for the week was called “Put Jesus First”.
So how would you have dealt with the situation?
As I saw it we had several options.
We could have given the bag to the one who snagged it first, or we could have given it to the boy who took it out of his friends bag and was now holding it, or we could have given it to someone else, or I could have eaten it myself.
But instead, I wanted to help the boys see that the time we had spent studying the Bible was not just busy work.
It was important.
In fact, it was vitally important and ought to make a difference in how we live our lives.
Learning to put Jesus first in our lives ought to impact our everyday life, even those ordinary choices we make regarding what we should do with our  (use hands) “chips”.
The ordinary is were we live.
We may be faced with big tests of faith only a few times in life.
But everyday, in seemingly insignificant ways, our faith is challenged significantly.
You see, God is not blowing hot air when He says, “Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness.”
Or “Have this attitude which was also in Christ Jesus”  Or “Love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.”
Or “Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
He tells us these things in His story because, point #1, we need to
 
*1.
Know that God is real and life is about Him *
 
Just sit there for a moment and take that in.
Close your eyes if you must.
God is real and life is about Him.
There really is a God we cannot see, who created everything.
He really is out there.
And in fact He is right here.
Right here in this place.
God is real and life is about Him.
Hebrews 11:6 /Without faith no one can please God.
Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him./
14 times in the story of Abraham, God comes close showing himself as real.14 times God makes Himself known to Abraham through a voice, a vision, coming as a person, or as the Angel of the Lord.
So close Abraham could hear Him, see Him, feel Him.
Abraham’s story starts off with these words…Genesis 12:1 (NCV) /1 //The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you./
Don’t miss those very ordinary words… “The Lord said to Abraham.”
Oh how we long to hear those words.
Isn’t that right?
If God would just tell me what to do, who to marry, what job to take...  If only we could *hear* those words.
Or what about Genesis 12:7 (NCV)7 /The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.”
So Abram built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
/
 
How many times have you said in the midst of a trial or crisis…”Where are you God?”  Are you really there?”  “Do you really care?”  God doesn’t come to us in the same way He came to Abraham.
He comes to us through His Son, and through the truth He has given us in His Word.
Maybe I’ve shared this before, but I can remember when my mom was suffering tremendous pain due to a failed cancer surgery on her spine.
I remember returning to seminary in Dallas after visiting my mom in the hospital in Orange County, I remember being in my dorm room, angry, furious, that God would let this happen.
Where was he now?
Why wasn’t he doing something?
Was He really there?
Months later, the Sunday after my mom’s memorial service, my family and I were in church together when the congregation started to sing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, A bulwark never failing”.
And there He was.
He had been there all along, but at that moment His presence overwhelmed me.
And I knew He was real.
I knew that He knew what He was doing even if I didn’t understand it.
That same God that I experienced is the same God who appeared to Abraham.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
He doesn’t change.
Think about it,  If God really is real, and  if He really is the Creator of all things, then our right response to Him is worship and faithful living, living in light of who He is and what He wants.
He is significant.
He is sovereign over all creation.
Nothing happens outside of His control.
He is most powerful,
the Almighty,
King of the universe.
All of life is held together with His hands and without His intervention life would cease to exist.
Do you believe that!?  Do you see that our response to the story of God cannot be cavalier?
The things we learn in Sunday school, Breakout, Refuge, Praxis, Small groups are to lead us to respond to life in godly ways because God is real and life is about Him.
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