God Chooses a People

Pastor Kim Gilliland
Lent 2
SCRIPTURE: Romans 4: 1-5 and Genesis 12: 1-4a
“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.
Genesis 12:2 (NIV)

ADAM & EVE

In the church, we call this time of year the season of Lent. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Easter. Easter is the most important time of the year for Christians. It’s even more important that Christmas. On Easter weekend which is coming up in April, we remember that Jesus died on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven. But we also believe that he rose to life again on Easter Sunday. In doing that he defeated death and opened the gates of heaven so that all who put their faith in him will have eternal life. That means that when we die, we do not stop existing. Death is a not the end. Rather it is a time of transition between our mortal lives on earth and our eternal lives in heaven. That’s basic Christianity and that’s what we really emphasize during this time that we call Lent.

It all started in the beginning of the Bible, in the Garden of Eden. Eden was a perfect place. It was a place where there was enough to eat all of the time. It was always warm. Even the animals got along, all of them. The dogs got along with the cats and cats didn’t eat the mice. It was like one big happy family. It was perfect.

Into the Garden of Eden, God placed the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. They were perfect too. They got along with each other and they got along with the animals and they even got along with God. They were so close to God that God would come down and visit them just to see how things were going. And how were things going? Things were going very well because everything was perfect. And as long as Adam and Eve continued to follow God’s commandments, everything would continue to be perfect. And that’s how things went until one day they decided to disobey God. Let’s find out what happened.

Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuLRzlMtcpU

We see in the video what happened. God created a perfect garden where Adam and Eve had everything they ever wanted or needed. They could live there forever. All they had to do was obey one rule. They could not eat from one of the trees that was in the middle of the garden. They could eat apples and pears, oranges and bananas, peaches and pomegranates. They could eat from any tree at except one. And guess which fruit they decided to eat? It was from the one tree from which they were told not to eat. They blew it. It doesn’t really matter that they were tempted by the snake. It was still their decision.

Things were no longer perfect which meant that Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden. And the animals didn’t all get along anymore and God stopped visiting Adam and Eve. The friendship that God had with Adam and Eve was broken and a gap existed between them. And that gap exists even today.

That’s a rather sad story but it’s good that it happened at the very beginning of the Bible because the rest of the Bible is about God trying build a bridge so that we can come back to him again, so that like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we can walk with God and be with God and God can be our friend. In short, the rest of the Bible is about God trying to make things perfect again.

And that’s what the season of Lent is all about. It reminds us that, more than anything else God wants us back. God wants to walk with us and talk with us and be our friends. And we believe that God did that in Jesus. He loved us so much that he died so that the bridge between us and God could be complete. That’s why one of the most important symbols of Jesus is the cross. The cross is the bridge that brings us back to God.

ABRAHAM & SARAH

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves because God started to lay the foundation for the cross not long after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. One of the things that God had to do was decide what upon a nation through which he would work. They were called the people of Israel. Of all of the people of the world, God choose this people and today we’re going to find out how God connected with them.

This story begins in Genesis 12 with a man named Abraham. Abraham was a good man. He wasn’t perfect but of all of the people on the face of the whole earth, God choose him and said that he would give him many children and that he would have so many descendants that it would be hard to count them. That was pretty amazing because Abraham and his wife Sarah were both pretty old. But God said, “Trust me.” And they did because they believed that God could do anything, even give children to really old people which, when you think about it, is rather funny.

Let’s see how that story unfolds.

Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdqrwGJYePQ

God always keeps his promises. And that’s part of God’s story. Do you believe that God always keeps his promises? I do. I believe that God can do anything. I also believe that God always wants the very best for us and works in our lives to make that happen, just like God did with Abraham and Sarah.

I also believe that God made a good choice when he picked Abraham and Sarah because he knew that they would trust him. It takes a lot of trust to pack up and move to a strange land when you’re old. They had to leave their family and go to someplace where they didn’t know anyone. They could have said, “No, that’s asking too much. We don’t want to move to a place far away. We’re quite happy here were we are. So God, maybe it would be best if you choose someone else.” But they didn’t do that. I imagine that they put a lot of thought into it but, in the end, they said, “Okay God, if you want us to go to a new place, then we will go because we trust you.” I think God made a pretty good choice when he chose Abraham and Sarah.

Eventually, Abraham and Sarah did have a child. His name was Isaac. They only had one child but that was all God needed. When Isaac became a man, he married Rebekah. Rebekah and Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. That’s still not very many but then Jacob got married and he had twelve sons and one daughter. And when you have thirteen kids, all of a sudden the family starts to explode and it did. And in every succeeding generation, they had more and more kids and pretty soon there were hundreds of them and them thousands of them and, after a few centuries, there were millions of them.

And guess what? There are lots of them around today. They are the people that we call the Jews. The Jewish people are the descendants of Abraham and Sarah who believed God and trust him enough to leave their families and go to a new land in the hope that God would give them so many descendants that it would be hard to count all of them. And it came true. Today, there are still millions and millions of Jewish people on the earth and they believe in the same God that Christian believe in. And so, in a lot of ways, we are related to them. Christians and Jews are sort of like brothers and sisters because we all believe that God is our heavenly Father.

ROBERT & AGNES

So what does this have to do with Jesus and what does it have to do with the gap that separates us from God and what does it have to do with the cross? Guess what kind of a person Jesus was? Jesus was a Jew and because of that he was a descendant of Abraham and Sarah many generations later. He’s part of the people through whom God chose to work to bring us back to him again.

Jesus did a lot of good things in his life. He taught us how to live together in peace. And he taught us about God’s love for us. He also said that he will come back again and that, when he does, things will be perfect again, just like they were in Eden with Adam and Eve in the beginning.

The two people we are remembering today believed in Jesus. Robert Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell were Christians and they knew all about the story of Abraham and Sarah and how two people because a great nation.

Most of us know that Lord Baden-Powell started the Scouting movement in England in 1908. I guess that he saw a need and God said to him, “Robert, these boys need help and I’m choosing you to do something about it.” Lord Baden-Powell saw the need, trusted God and took up the challenge. So he gathered twenty boys for a weekend camp to see how things might work out. Remember that number. Twenty isn’t a very big number but it’s what he had.

That original twenty turned into many more. Just a year later, Lord Baden-Powell had a gathering of thousands of Scouts in London, England. But in amongst the boy Scouts there were several hundred girls who wanted to be included too. So God put a bug in the ear of Lord Baden-Powell’s sister Agnes, that she should start a movement for the girls. She too trusted God and started what is now the Girl Guides.

Do you remember how the Jewish people started off with just Abraham and Sarah but eventually turned into millions of people? The same thing happened with Scouts and Guides. God called two other people, Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell, to do something amazing. Those original twenty Scouts in 1908 – that’s 112 years ago – turned into many, many more. There are now Scouts and Guides all over the world. I was trying to look it up and discovered that there are over sixty million Scouts and Guides worldwide. And it all started with two people who had a dream and trusted God.

God can do the most amazing things through people who are willing to trust him and step out in faith. So don’t ever think that you are too small or too insignificant to do something important. Look at the Abraham and Sarah and look at Lord Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes. God took their work and changed the lives of millions of people. You may not change the lives of millions of people, but each of us can do something help others, even if it is just one. And that’s important.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

God of Life and Awesome mystery, we come to you our Creator on this second Sunday in Lent. The reality of life surrounds us. We see our sin and we experience the pain of the world. Yet, in the midst of suffering, there is your great mercy for all people. Remind us, once more of the forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ. Thank you for giving yourself to us and for us that we may have the great gift of eternal life. We acknowledge your greatness and your grace.

We give thanks for the Guides and Scouts who are with us this morning. Thank for this movement and the millions of lives it has touched over the years and continues to impact even today. And thank you that we can partner together for the benefit of our community.

We lift up in prayer those who are sick at home or in hospital, remembering especially Jacqui, Mark, Mary and John and pray your Healing Spirit upon them. We continue to pray for our world as the Coronavirus spreads around the world. We pray for good health practices and that people will be smart in their preparations. We also pray that you would calm the irrational fears that have infected some people’s lives. We also pray for those who are most vulnerable, the elderly, the very young, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

We remember, today those who will miss Ruby Archer. Bless them with your peace. Bless us all with your peace. Thanks you for over 100 years of faithful service and thank you that she is resting safely in your arms.

Holy God, it is our desire to use wisdom in everything that we do and say. We know that in some situations, the greater wisdom is in what we do not do and do not say. Enable us to reach out to you and to others in all of our actions. Keep us patient for we are tempted to be headstrong and to charge ahead.

Heavenly Father, when we begin to feel overwhelmed help us to remember the struggles of those who have gone before us. We are part of a great parade of Saints who have lived faithfully throughout the generations. Because of their faith, courage and persistence, we have the opportunity to know you today. Give us such strength and wisdom that future generations may look back and call us faithful. We are grateful for the assurance that you are with us and that your promises never fail. We lift these prayers to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

WORSHIP RESOURCE PAGE

March 8, 2020 / Lent 2

SCRIPTURE

Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; John 3:1-17 or Matthew 17:1-9; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

CALL TO WORSHIP

We come as sinful people, seeking our Merciful God.

We come to seek forgiveness, from the God of All Compassion.
Come, let us worship God, our Creator and Redeemer.

PRAYER OF APPROACH

Creator God, we offer our sincere thanks for the life you’ve given us. In return we promise that we will not die as lives un-lived. We will not live in fear of falling or of catching afire with the Spirit. We consciously choose to inhabit all of our days, to allow our living to open us, to make us less afraid. We choose to be more accessible, to loosen our hearts until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. We choose to risk our significance; to live so that which came to us as seed, goes to the next person as blossom; and that which came to us as blossom, goes on as fruit – fully alive! Amen.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Even though we know that your mercy is great, we come before you with uncertainty and fear. We are deeply aware of our sins. We say that we are willing to follow Jesus but part of us would rather just live comfortable, secure lives. We say that we want a stronger connection with you yet we so easily settle for surface-level living. Enable us to resist the temptation to be less than you have created us to be. Forgive us and open our hearts to your compassionate Spirit.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

Hear the Good News; God’s desire is to be compassionate with us. Be assured that God forgives us, believes in us and trust us to grow in wisdom and faith. We can give thanks that we live in the presence of Christ Jesus our Saviour and Lord .

DEDICATION OF OFFERING

We are surrounded by your many gifts, O God. You bless us in so many wonderful ways. As a recognition of your generousity, we give back to you a portion of our wealth. Keep us mindful that all that we have comes from you and enable us to use all of our resources for your glory. Amen.

COMMISSIONING

We are a new creation in Jesus Christ. Let us go forth in the strength of God’s love to live and serve in newness of life. May the peace of Jesus be with us always.

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