Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church

Risking Faithfulness

Genesis 12:1-9

In the beginning God created the world... and all people were to be his people... serving and loving him. But almost immediately people rebelled... and so God began again with Noah and his family. But it wasn't very long before people began once again to trust in their own abilities... and they tried to build a tower that would protect them from future floods. It was never finished... and it became know as the tower of Babel... because God confused their language. They couldn't understand each other... and so they scatter out in different directions. That's the story... in a nutshell... told in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

Things really haven't changed much since that ancient time, have they? God continues to be bring new people into the world... with the intention that they should love and serve God. But it's not very long before we rebel against our God given purpose... and set out to accomplish things on our own. And... like those ancient people... we are busy building our own towers for security. We have our levies to protect us from flood waters... our evacuation routes to get us out of harms way... our guns to protect what rightly belongs to us... our military to protect us from aggression. Soon we will have a police force in Kosovo to keep the Surbs from killing the Albanians. We go to work every day in order to make enough money to keep our body and souls together. We build... and maintain our homes... in order to have shelter from the storm. The list could go on and on.

It's true that we must do a great many things to take care of ourselves... and that we look askance at those who fail to provide adequately for themselves... but I can't help wondering what we would do if we heard the Lord say...

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."

Abram was a successful... and wealthy man. Why on earth would he want to pack up everything he owned and leave his home town... where he was well established... and go wondering off... who knows where? Howard, how would you feel about that prospect? How about you, David? I can answer for my husband... he wouldn't budge! Of course... any of us might go... if the prospects were great enough... a better job... a better house... more money... more prestige... a better life... but you can bet that we would be weighing the odds.

The Lord did make several promises to Abram... if he would obey him. Number one... he would become a great nation. However... this seemed highly unlikely since Abram and Sarai didn't have any children... and he was now 75 years old... and Sarai was past her childbearing days.

The second promise was that he would be blessed... that is to say that he would prosper. Considering how well he had done up until this time... I think he might have replied, "I've been blessed enough, thank you just the same."

Promise number three was that his name would be great... in other words he would become famous! Now there's something we might fall for in this day and age... especially if it could happen in our lifetime.

Next God told Abram that he would be a blessing... that is to say that he would bring good things to others. That sounds nice, doesn't it? I sometimes pray, "Make me a blessing, Lord." But I'm not so sure just how far I would go in order to allow the Lord to answer that prayer!

Then we read that God promises to bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse Abram. In other words... those who treat Abram and his family well will be favored... and those who don't will be God's enemies.

And finally, God promises to bless everyone on earth through Abram... and we know how that promise has been fulfilled. But Abram didn't have a clue about how that would come to pass. How much would we give up to prosper the rest of the world?

Those are some pretty high-minded promises... but just how much would they mean to any of us? Fame and fortune... will, maybe... if it came in our lifetime. But what about all those promises that Abram will never actually see? I guess, maybe... we would all like to be remembered... we would all like to leave our mark on the world. But I suspect that most of us would still prefer to live our quite lives of desperation rather than venture out into the unknown... even with the promise of God's blessing going with us.

This is a story about going on a journey... a journey in which Abram leaves the familiar... and comfortable... setting in which he had prospered. God asks him to leave all that and move to... well, he didn't actually know where he was going! And you know what... each of us is on that same kind of journey... whether we know it or not!

God brought us from our true home in his presence... and placed us in this world where we too have the chance to obey him... to love and to serve him. And... like Abram... God promies to love us... and to be with us... and to bless us... on our journey through life. You may believe that you are secure in the life you are living... most people seem to have that attitude... as long as the stock market stays high and keeps rising. But in all honesty... we must admit that life is very uncertain... and most certainly is beyond our ability to control. So who does accompany you on this most uncertain journey through life?

Once there was this very wealthy young man. He lived in a great, elaborate house with dozens of rooms. Each room was more comfortable and more beautiful than the one before it. There were paintings and sculptures. Crystal chandeliers, golden, ornate railings on the stairs. More beauty than most have ever seen.

One day he decided to invite the Lord to come and stay with him. When the Lord arrived, this young man offered him the very best room in the house. The room was upstairs and at the end of the hall. "This room is yours, Jesus! Stay as long as you like and you can do whatever you want to in this room, remember Jesus, its all yours."

"Thank you" the Lord replied, and with that the man shut the door and went about his daily business.

That evening after he had retired for the night there came a loud knocking at the front door. The young man pulled on his robe and made his way downstairs. When he opened the door he found that the devil had sent three of his demons to attack the man.

He quickly tried to close the door but one of the demons kept sticking his foot in the door. Sometime later, after a great struggle, he managed to slam the door shut and returned to his room totally exhausted.

"Can you believe that!" the man thought. Jesus is upstairs in my very best room sleeping while I am down here battling demons. "Oh well, maybe he just didn't hear." He slept fitfully that night.

The next day things went along as normal and being tired as he was, the young man retired early that evening. Along about midnight, there came such a terrible ruckus at the front door that the young man was sure that whatever it was would tear the door down. He stumbled down the stairs once again and opened the door to find that there were dozens of demons now trying to get into his beautiful home.

For more than three hours he fought and struggled against the demons from hell and finally overtook them enough to shut the door against their attack. All energy seemed to fail him. I really don't understand this at all. Why won't the Lord come to my rescue? Why does he allow me to fight all by myself? I feel so alone. Troubled he found his way to the sofa and fell into a restless sleep.

The next morning he decided to inquire of the Lord about the happenings of the last two evenings. Quietly he made his way to the elegant bedroom where he had left Jesus. "Jesus," he called as he tapped at the door. "Lord,, I don't understand what is happening. For the last two nights I have had to fight the demons away from my door while you laid up here sleeping. Don't you care about me? Did I not give you the very best room in house?" He could see the tears building in Jesus' eyes but continued on, "I just don't understand. I really thought that once I invited you in to live with me that you would take care of me and I gave you the best room in my house and everything. What more can I do?"

"My precious child," Jesus spoke so softly. "I do love and care for you. I protect all that you have released into my care. But when you invited me to come here and stay, you brought me to this lovely room and you shut the door to the rest of your house. I am Lord of this room but I am not Master of this house. I have protected this room and no demon may enter here."

"Oh, Lord, please forgive me. Take all of my house--it is yours. I am so sorry that I never offered you all to begin with. I want you to have control of everything." With this he flung open the bedroom door and knelt at Jesus' feet. "Please forgive me Lord for being so selfish."

Jesus smiled and told him that He had already forgiven him and that He would take care of things from now on.

That night as the young man prepared for bed he thought to himself, " I wonder if those demons will return. I am so tired of fighting them each and every night." But he knew that Jesus said that he would take care of things from now on.....

Along about midnight the banging on the door was frightening. The young man slipped out of his room in time to see Jesus going down the stairs. He watched in awe as Jesus swung open the door, no need to be afraid. Satan stood at the door this time demanding to be let in.

"What do you want, Satan?" the Lord asked. The devil bowed low in the presence of the Lord, "So sorry, I seem to have gotten the wrong address." And with that, he and the demons all ran away.

We are on an uncertain journey... and we have been blessed on this journey far beyond our wildest imagination. You see... the destination is definite... we are on our way to be with God... the protection is present... God is present with us on the way... God's grace has been granted... we are counted righteous... not according to our deeds... but according to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ... and we may walk willingly with the Lord... if we choose to love... obey... and serve him with our whole being. Amen.

A Sermon Preached on June 6, 1999
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA

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