Table Blessing – Day of Plenty Produce Exchange, August 28, 9am-12pm

IMG_20140907_103551This Sunday, August 28, The Table is hosting our annual “Day of Plenty” neighborhood produce exchange. Join us from 9am – 12pm at the Firehouse PAC (1314 Harris Ave.). Bring some excess from your garden to share, and walk home with something someone else brought (picture a free farmers market, where all the produce comes form neighbors). If you are unable to contribute, still come and bring fresh produce home. There will be enough (it’s the Day of Plenty after all).

Our next worship gathering will be on Sept. 4, at the Walter. Invite a friend and join us for both of these great gatherings!

Hurray for the Day

Thanks to all who came out to help repaint the intersection of 22nd St and Harris Ave (especially Emily who oversaw all things paint)! It was an awesome day of community! Here’s to many more!

IMG_3259

Willow the designer w/ the finished product

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3239

In Progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3232

The 1st brush strokes

Table Blessing, Saturday, August 20 at 9am

_MG_7206-LThis Saturday, The Table is gathering neighbors to repaint the Intersection Art mural, at 22nd St. and Harris Ave. Come with your painting clothes and get ready for a great time of community! We’ll start at 9am and paint until it is complete. Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

Our next worship gathering will September 4th at the Walters.

Pride and Genesis 14

 

007_LegoKingsCastleReview_MinifigsWHAT DO YOU THINK THE MESSAGE OF THIS STORY IS? It reads:

Former heavyweight boxer James Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. He said: I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, I am going to conquer Chicago. When I looked down, the suitcases were gone.[1]

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MESSAGE OF THIS STORY IS? As I read this Pride came to mind. Pride is an interesting thing. Like we saw in this story, pride can distract us from the realities around us, or skew our focus on what is important. Or in our moments of success, pride can taint our victory, giving us an inflated view ourselves and what WE accomplished. This might have been a temptation for Abram in Genesis 14.

 

Text

This summer, we have been looking at the early accounts of Abram in Genesis. And today we are looking at Genesis 14; so grab a Bible and turn it to Genesis 14. In this study of Abrams life, we have been asking the question: Who are we in relation to God? In Genesis 12, we saw that we are called by God and covered by Him. In Genesis 13, we saw that we are secure in Him. And today we ask the question again: Who are we in relation to God? Consider this question as we read about this victory in Abrams life, in Genesis 14.

[Genesis 14] At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar -four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

13 A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.

22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, I made Abram rich. 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me -to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.

In vs. 1-16 we see a regional war among local kings. This included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And if you remember this is near where Abrams nephew Lot was living. And it appears that Lot was caught up in this conflict, perhaps fighting on the losing side. After the battles are done, the victors plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, and captured Lot. Lots abduction is reported to Abram. And Abram mobilizes 318 men from his house, and defeats the victorious kings. Abram recaptures Lot and all the goods and all captives. After this civilian defeats these kings at their own game, and takes back all their plunder, and saves the day – this is the moment I wonder if Abram was tempted w/ pride. I wonder if he was feeling pretty good about himself. I wonder how many of his men and the rescued people came up and congratulated him on HIS victory. If it were me, I know I would be feeling this temptation of pride. It feels good to have people recognize your accomplishments. That is not a bad thing, but it is also a moment when pride can sneak in. In our moments of success, pride can taint our victory, giving us an inflated view of ourselves and what WE accomplished. So I cannot help but wonder if Abram felt these temptations

After Abrams victory, the kings of Sodom and Salem meet Abram. Melchizedek (Salem’s king) brings bread and wine, meaning he threw a feast to celebrate and replenish Abrams men.[2] It also says Melchizedek was a priest of the most high. What does that mean? In v. 22, this title is combined w/ the Hebrew name Yahweh. So in context, the writer is identifying Yahweh as the God Most High that Melchizedek served.[3] So in vs. 19-20 is says this priest of God Most High: blessed Abram, saying, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. To pick apart these verses, we start w/ the term Blessed. To bless in this fashion was to recognize Gods goodness as shown in Gods giving of HIS benefits to His people.[4] Who is Melchizedek giving this blessing from? He describes this God as Creator and Deliverer, saying: Praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Abram is given ZERO credit for this victory over the victorious kings. It is the God Most High who delivered up these armies to Abram. If Abram was entertaining any notions of pride and how HE won the day and rescued his nephew, they are quickly put down w/ this blessing. God is the victor; God is the rescuer. And it is clear that Abram agreed w/ this. b/c it says in v. 20 that Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. By giving the priest of God Most High a 10th of the spoil he had recovered, Abram recognizing Gods role in his victory.[5] It was Gods victory not Abrams. This perspective is confirmed as Abram interacts w/ the King of Sodom. Sodom’s king asks for his people back, and offers to give Abram all the goods the king lost. But Abram gives everything back, because it implies dependence on someone or something other than God alone.[6]

What I see as encouraging form this text is the confirmation that the creator God, who is most high, is victorious. And as part of our relationship w/ Him in covenant, we are beneficiaries / recipients of Gods grace.

 

Today

The challenge w/ that encouragement is pride. In our own victories, big or small, we often claim the credit of victory for ourselves. And like we said, this can distract us from the realities around us, or skew our focus on what is important, giving us an inflated view ourselves and what WE accomplished.

My dad is a huge golfer. And so I grew up watching all the golf tournaments on TV. Including one of the major tournaments called The Masters. One of the guys I watch was the old guy Arnold Palmer. He tells of a lesson he learned about overconfidence. He says:

It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said: Congratulations. I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don’t forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven’t in the 30 years since.[7]

I believe when we misplace who we are in relation to the world and God, we get ahead of ourselves, and can lose focus on what is important, and miss the promptings and callings of God, resulting in a life of unneeded pressure to carry out a battle we were meant to lead.

The good news is that the creator God, who is most high, is the victorious one, and we can simply rest and follow Gods lead, knowing the success is not dependent upon us. So may we remember who we, and who we are not. And may we give God the credit He is due.

 

Amen.

[1] Today in the Word, September 10, 1992.

[2] Mathews, K. A. (2005). Genesis 11:27–50:26 (Vol. 1B, p. 149). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 14:18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Mathews, K. A. (2005). Genesis 11:27–50:26 (Vol. 1B, p. 150). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 14:17–24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 14:17–24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Carol Mann, The 19th Hold,  Longmeadow.

Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, August 14 at 5:30pm

ymj02-300x300The Table is worshipping this Sunday at the Walters (contact us for directions). We will begin with a shared meal at 5:30pm. This week’s meal theme is Mexican food, so bring something to share if you are able. Following our meal, we will sing, pray, and continue our study of the life of Abram, asking “Who are we in relation to God?” Look at Genesis 14, if you want to prepare. Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

Zip Tied – Genesis 13

 

one_way_or_anotherTo the dismay of teachers, and perhaps joy of parents, summer is quickly coming to an end. One thing I look forward to each summer is our annual road trip. If anything epitomizes the blessings of summer for me, it’s our annual road trip – adventure, open country, relaxed schedules. We had a great road trip this year, except for one glaring exception. We had a long day on the road and finally made it outside of Ogden, UT. We pitched our tent in a half full campground and then the boys and I took the bikes to explore and get a view of the Great Salt Lake. I was riding my wife’s very expensive mountain bike she got as a gift from her brother. The thing is super sweet, and probably costs more than our car. We returned to camp, and I locked up K8s bike to the grill, knowing that we would hear if someone was trying to take it. And so, tired from the day, we all crashed out and fell asleep to the noise of the camp. My sleep was interrupted, however, at 1am by k8 saying: Oh my goodness. Oh man. She whispered: Aaron! Wake up someone has zip tied our tent! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Zip ties, if you are not sure, are those strong hard plastic strips that permanently tie something to another thing, only to be broken by a knife or scissors. You use zip ties as a quick fix for a chain link fence or to attach a sign to pole, or the cops sometimes use them as handcuffs for folks in custody. Or in my case, you could zip tie 2 zippers together on a tent, thus trapping a sleeping family of 5 in their tent. Well this did not sit well with me. I am normally quite relaxed and able to think things through, but in that moment I freaked out, thinking someone was trying to take advantage of us. Thinking someone set us up so they could take K8s awesome bike, I grabbed the small space b/t the 2 zippers and ripped our tent open, and jumped out ready for action. I did a quick sweep of our campsite looking for the bad guys. I checked out all our stuff, which was fine. And then went back to check out our damaged tent. For the rest of the night, we were on watch. We were tired. We felt violated. We wondered if we should just remain, sitting and waiting for something to happen. We wondered if we should just pack up and leave in the middle of the night. Simply put, we felt insecure. In the end, we filed a report w/ the Ranger, and figured that it was just a couple brave rascals who were feeling mischievous. And in the end, I figured it would turn up as a sermon illustration some day. Well, today’s that day.

There are entire seasons for all of us when we feel like I did that night. We feel insecure or unsafe, fearful of the unknown. Scenarios of fight or flight go through our heads. We feel tempted to either stay in familiar but contentious situations; or, we feel tempted to simply take what we think would benefit us, while forgetting others. Either way, there are seasons where we feel anxious or fearful about what is around us.

I think that was potentially how Abram felt in Genesis 13. So grab a Bible and turn to Genesis 13. We have been looking this summer at the early accounts of Abram, and have been asking the question: Who is God, and who are we in relation to God?

 

Text

Genesis 13 comes after Abram and Sarai are returning from Egypt, where through some selfish scheming, Abram has acquired a great wealth from Pharaoh. Pharaoh discovers he has been tricked, and then has Abram and family escorted out of Egypt. So as we read Genesis 13, consider how secure Abram was feeling in the midst of this context and what he is now navigating. Was he feeling secure in his position or insecure?

13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abrams herders and Lots. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

8 So Abram said to Lot: Lets not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Lets part company. If you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him: Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.

It is hard to say exactly how Abram was feeling in this passage. In the 1st part of chapter 12 we see that Abram encounters the living, powerful God, who initiates relationship w/ him. He calls Abram to leave his homeland and go to a place only known by God. Abram responds in obedience and he goes. God then promises Abram the land he is in, and Abram responds w/ worship. Abram is trusting his God for his security. In the 2nd part of chapter 12, it is as if Abram forgets his faith and then depends on himself. b/c of famine, Abram takes his family to Egypt. And knowing that powerful men often took the wives of lesser men, Abram has his wife tell a half-truth that she is his sister. Upon entering Egypt, Pharaoh sees her beauty and takes her into his harem, giving Abram a generous dowry of wealth. But God will not allow His people to be taken advantage of, and sends plagues upon Pharaohs house. And Pharaoh figures out what is going on and has Abram and family deported, w/ all their new wealth. But the famine is still happening. So what are they going to do now? Abrams security is slowly slipping away from him.

In our chapter we see Abram and clan return to the place of calling in the Promised Land. They return to Bethel. Bethel means House of God, and it was the region where God had promised the land to Abram in Genesis 12:8. This was a significant place. And I do not think that it was a coincidence that Abram landed in Bethel after his deception in Egypt. John Calvin says: That Abram should take such care indicated his desire to recover his experience with God; the fact that the old altar remained suggests the permanency of the promises. The patriarch’s newfound wealth did not distract him from his worship of the Lord.[1] Abram returns to the place where he encountered God, b/c he desired to reconnect, to refocus himself on God. And so in v. 4 it says he called on the name of the Lord. He returns to the altar and he worships. And by doing so, he plainly testified what God he worshipped. He worshipped the God of Promise, not the idols of the land.[2] We can imagine that as he worshipped, Abram recommitted himself to the God of Promise.

And at this point we are reminded that Lot was w/ Abram. Lot was Abrams nephew. When Lots father died, he was put in the care of his grandfather Terah. After the death of Terah, he joined his Uncle Abram in the journey to Canaan and subsequently to Egypt and back to Canaan.[3] By this time, Lot was growing up and acquired his own wealth. In fact, Abram and Lot each had so many things that the dry land could not support them all. And so disputes began b/t their houses. Lot and Abram were cool w/ each other, but b/c of the lack of resources during this famine, those directly under their houses got territorial, and fighting ensued. We are also told in v. 7 that the Canaanites and Perizzites were also there, meaning that even in the midst of this internal struggle, potential external enemies surrounded this great family, as well. Abram is getting pressure from every side. And he has to decide, will he stay in this familiar but contentious situations. Will he take the passive approach and allow both internal and external pressures to increase, for the sake of familiarity? Or will he feel tempted to quickly take what he thinks would benefit he and his family only, driving Lot away or raiding neighboring people unnecessarily? He was stuck b/t a rock and a hard place. Do you ever encounter those tough choices – to stay in conflict for the sake of familiarity? Or take a quick solution that would temporarily fix the situation? Abram must have been tempted to rely on his own wit to ensure temporary security.

But I think b/c Abram had reoriented himself to God in worship, having called out to God again in v. 4, he was able to wisely offer a 3rd solution. In vs. 8-9, we see Abram propose them splitting to save their relationship. And he graciously offers Lot the 1st choice. As Lots elder, he says: If you go one way I will go the other, thus relieving the tension, and maintaining good relationship. Lot surveys the land and chooses the fertile plains and settles among the cities, while Abram settles in the land of Canaan. So what was the difference of the 2 lands? In v. 10, the plains are compared to the Garden of Eden; they were perfect. So in contrast, the land of Canaan must have been viewed as the opposite, as a parched land plagued in famine. In accepting Abrams offer to choose the land 1st, Lot indirectly disrespects Abram. It is sort of like snagging the last piece of pizza at a hungry party, after Grandma (who has not eating anything) asks if you want it. That is a bad example but you get the point. Lot, in choosing this land, acts as the superior one, and places himself above others, above his elder. Calvin says that there is no doubt that this injustice pierced the mind of Abram, but Abram silently bore it, lest he should give the occasion for a new offence. As Lot jumps ahead of Abram in this manner, we get a picture of Lots character, which is contrasted by Abrams humility.[4] And so they parted ways.

God then honors Abram, and in v. 15 gives Abram and his seed the land as a permanent possession, promising to give him endless descendants. And how does Abram respond? In v. 18, Abram sets up camp and builds another altar and worships. In the midst of surely feeling insecure, splitting his family up for the sake of unity, surrounded by potential enemies, heading into a drought filled land -Abram chooses to worship.

The good news we see here is that in the midst of insecurity, God blesses His people w/ protection, provision and security. So, who are we in relation to God? We are secure. Even when we are surrounded by threats and resources are dry, we are secure b/c our God is good and is looking out for us.

 

Today

But the problem is that in the midst of those threats and dry resources, we cannot help but feel insecure. We feel tempted to take charge of our situations selfishly, whether passively or actively. We feel tempted to either stay in familiar but contentious situations, or we feel tempted to simply take and forget others, making sure we get what we think we need. When stormy waters surround us, we cannot help but feel insecure.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the great Scottish writer, tells of a storm that caught a vessel off a rocky coast and threatened to drive it and its passengers to destruction. In the midst of the terror, one daring man, contrary to orders, went to the deck, made a dangerous passage to the pilothouse. Once he got there the man saw the steerman, at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly, and inch by inch, turning the ship out, once more, to sea. The pilot saw the watcher and smiled. And then, the daring passenger made the dangerous trip back from the pilothouse and went below deck. All the other passengers gathered around the man, anxious for the news. And the man gave a note of cheer, saying: I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well. Despite the surrounding storm, the captain of this ship smiled at the worried passenger, b/c the captain knew that all was well. And the man, having total trust in the capabilities of this captain rested and had peace.

You know, it is real easy for me to stand here and give you the pat answer that all is well, when I have no idea what season you are in. I do not know the struggles you are facing, or the things you have to put up w/. When it is 1am and your metaphorical tent has been zip tied, and you are feeling insecure and fearful, and you are faced w/ easy temptations of temporary self-preservation, sometimes an encouragement of Gods security may feel insincere and naïve. It is true, I do not know what storm you are in, but I know my own season of insecurity, not knowing if certain income streams and housing will remain, not knowing what the future will bring, but only knowing the potential enemies of discouragement and temptations of easy, but temporary self-preservation. I do not know the storms around you, but I know the ones around me, and my community, and I am here to tell you today that I have seen the face of the Captain, and He is smiling. In the face of our insecurities and fear, the good news is that God blesses His people w/ protections, provision and security. We ARE secure in Jesus Christ. And as we choose to ignore the temptations of going our own way, and instead choose to worship the God of Promise, in the midst of it all, we have peace and can trust.

My prayer for us is that we would not see this as a naïve, pat answer. But as the trustworthy, genuine gospel of grace. My prayer is that in the dark morning of a zip tied tent, you would choose to trust in the God of Promise, fighting to keep faith, praying for the dawn to come, knowing the dawn will come. Our God is good, and may He bless us w/ His peace and security.

Amen.

 

[1] Mathews, K. A. (2005). Genesis 11:27–50:26 (Vol. 1B, pp. 133–134). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] John Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis, p. 368-369

[3] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 826). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 13:13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, August 7 at 5:30pm

dispute-resolutionThis Sunday The Table will continue its study of the life of Abram, looking at Genesis 13. We will begin with a shared meal at 5:30pm at the Walters (contact for directions). This week’s meal theme is “comfort food.” So wear some comfy clothes, bring a dish to share, and join us for worship! Everyone is welcome!

Ahhhh Yeah! We’re Painting August 20th

_MG_7206-LAhhhh yeah! We got the permits to touch up the street mural at the intersection of 22nd St. and Harris Ave. Mark your calendars for August 20th from 8am-1pm. Let your friends/neighbors know we need their help! should be a sweet party and time to connection w/ folks in the hood!

Table Worship at the Walters, Sunday, July 31 at 5:30pm

beni-hasan_semites468X167Join us this Sunday at 5:30pm at the Walters (contact for directions) for a table worship gathering. We will begin with a shared soup/salad meal (bring something to share if you are able). After we eat we will continue our study of the life of Abram, looking at Genesis 12:10-20. Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

The Know It All – Genesis 12:1-9

 

tarrants_kneelHow would you describe a “know it all?” Do you enjoy being around a know it all? Is there a part of you that desires to be a know is all? As I think about that last question, I think deep down I want to be a know it all. Not in the sense that I annoy people w/ my authoritative opinions, or I-told-you-so attitude. Rather, I really desire to know what is going on. As I consider the different things going on around me, I really do wish I knew it all. And I think we all do at some level. As we think about the challenging decisions or situations ahead of us, we wish we knew how to exactly we should navigate them. The problem is that we want to know the entire plan, but we are limited. We do not know how things will end up. We do not have the privilege of history of things in the future. We are limited, and yet all too often we live our lives as if we know what will happen. We live as if we are all-knowing know it alls.

Today we start a new summer series, looking at the early accounts of Abram. So grab a Bible and turn to Genesis 12. In this series we are asking 2 questions: Who is God? And, who are we in relation to God?

 

Text

The latter half of Genesis 11 gives us a background to Abram, his family and location. In Genesis 12, God Himself meets Abram. Lets read Genesis 12:1-9, and as we do, ask yourself: Who is God, and who are we in relation to God?

The Lord had said to Abram, Go from your country, your people and your fathers household to the land I will show you. 2 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. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said: To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there 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. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

So, Who is God? And, Who are we in relation to God? In this passage, we see a “call and response sequence” b/t God and Abram. OT scholar, Walter Bruggermann says: As the Bible has it, the God of the gospel bursts into the world w/ an utterance of promise and summons. It is a word of summons. Abram and his kin are summoned to depart their comfort zone in obedience to a God they do not know, toward a zone that remains unidentified. God said leave your native country, family, and go to a land I will show you. God did not tell him where. [This of course is spoken of in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”] Bruggermann continues: The utterance continues as a promise. Abram is required to leave the old regime of his life. Abram is promised by this divine utterer a future, an heir, a land, and a material bodily well-being in the world.[1] That is Gods call to Abram. Abrams response is seen in v. 4-6. What does he do in response to the call? Abram left (as he was told), taking everyone and everything w/ him. In other words, Abram is obedient to this God he has just met. Then God speaks again. In v. 7, God gives another promise, saying: I will give you this land. And Abrams response is cool. He responds by building an altar. In other words, in response to this unknown Gods promise, Abram commits his 1st formal act of worship. Then in v. 8, Abram continues traveling, and continues this posture of worship by building a 2nd alter to worship his God.

Abram is encountered by God. God initiates a relationship w/ Abram. And not knowing the complete plan, Abram responds to this God w/ obedience and worship. God gave Abram just what He needed in the moment, and is blessed as he responds. And I think the same is true for us. The good news is that the all knowing God calls us to follow Him, and gives us just what we need for the moment, and as a result we are blessed. We do not know everything; He does. But we are called to trust this God who desires relationship.

 

Today

But the problem is that we still want to know the entire plan, even though we are limited. We want to know how the chapter will end before we start reading. We want to the best path to take in an uncertain situation. We want to know it all. For K8 and I we feel like we are living w/ a certain amount of uncertainty. Our land lord told us that our place will be put on the market in April. We do not know if we can afford to buy it or if we want to. We do not know if another unit will open at cohousing. We do not know, and I wish I knew what would be the best avenue to pursue. At the café, the business we enjoy operating, the facility is up for sale and we are doing a month to month lease. We do not know if the place will be sold and our café will cease to exist. We do not know if it will be sold and a new owner will allow us to continue. We do not know, and wish we knew the complete story of how things will play out. I wish I was a know it all.

The challenge you and I have is that we have a call from God to follow Him into areas we do not know. Like Abram, we do not know where we will end up. But we are called to follow. And like Abram we have a choice. How will we respond to this uncertainty? Abram responded w/ obedience and worship, and God gave him just what he needed, and he was blessed. God initiated a covenant relationship. And God was w/ Abram throughout his travels and encouraged him. And I believe the same is true w/ us. In the face of uncertainty, God calls us to follow, and gives us just what we need. And He is w/ us as we go, encouraging us.

And so picture what is would be like if we lived into this reality. The picture I see is one of peace – peace in the midst of uncertainty. Knowing God is the know it all (in the best sense), while knowing we are not, we are invited to rest in who He is. We live into a true covenant that declares: He is God and we are not, and we find peace. Bruggermann says:

Covenantal existence eventuates [or is seen as] a community of uncommon generosity and mercy, a community of fidelity/loyalty and freedom, a community that is not seduced by absolutism and that is not restrained by autonomy. It is a congregation of conservative covenanters and liberal covenanters, all of whom are covenanters before they receive other labels. So imagine a community of covenant, set down in a society of forceful absolutism and self-indulgent autonomy come to give itself away, ready and able to receive more life from those who are unlike us, ready for fidelity that takes the form of freedom that is disciplined, ready for sign and acts and gestures of forgiveness and hospitality and generosity, more ready to support than judge.[2]

As I look at this quote from Bruggermann, I see a picture of freedom in JC.

As we rest in the covenant relationship of Gods goodness and strength, we have peace. We are called to act and respond to His initiatives, but we have the space to give grace and peace to others, knowing He is God and we are not. So we need not be know it alls.

So we have our series question: Who are we in relation to God? And from this text we can answer: We are called, called to be in relationship w/ a sovereign God, and called to follow in obedience.

So, may we be found faithful to this call. And may we extend grace to other, b/c of the grace given to us.

 

Amen.

 

[1] Walter Bruggermann “Disruptive Grace” Fortress Press, 2011. p 17-18

[2] Walter Bruggermann “Disruptive Grace” Fortress Press, 2011. p. 33

Page 1 of5612345»102030...Last »