August 12, 2018
Title: Life is ….
Scripture: OT Genesis 12:1-9
NT: Hebrews 12:1+2
Narrative: Let me ask you this question three times: “Where will you be when you get to where you are going? “Where will you be when you get to where you are going?” “Where will you be when you get to where you are going?
At first we might think of Willie Nelson’s song, “On the road again. I can’t wait to get back on the road again. The life I love is makin' music with my friends, and I can't wait to get on the road again.”
What I want for us to think through together this morning is that your life and my life is a journey, and that Jesus is our guide.
Our NT Scripture passage from Hebrews establishes the challenge before us. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance (endurance) the race marked out before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. “
Unless we are going to settle for standing still, collecting, barricading or protecting ourselves; we will be going from one place to another: our two choices. The question is where we will be when we get to where we are going?
Some people keep moving for the wrong reasons. Satchel Paige was a famous baseball pitcher. He was the first black American league pitcher attracting huge crowds whenever he pitched. One of the books he wrote was entitled, “Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever.” He had several sayings one of which was “Don’t look back. Something may be gaining on you.”
Some people characterize their journey with a fear that something might be gaining on them. Other people move aimlessly with little or no purpose searching for their next bed, meal, or fix. We here in NH see all the time on Channel 9 now stories about the heroin problem: sad cases of people moving with no purpose or direction. It’s easy in our godless world to move without a direction. There is no anchor to ground us. There is no road map to follow.
When I was a high schooler several of us made a trip to Florida with each of us taking turns at the wheel. My turn was the late shift. We were all sleeping (except the driver) when I was awakened at a rest stop to take my turn. I was told we had crossed over into Northern Florida from Georgia about an hour ago. By the time I got behind the wheel and began to drive everyone was asleep. About one hour later I came to a sign that read: “Welcome to Georgia.”
I was heading with purpose and determination, just in the wrong direction. We can be moving out of fear, we can be moving aimlessly, and we can be moving in the wrong direction. Have you ever noticed how sheep can move from one plot of grass to another and before too long they are far from the shepherd and the main flock. Like sheep, we don’t intend to get lost. But we allow ourselves to slip (you fill in the blanks) little by little until we find ourselves a long way from God. It just kind of happened.
Our passage from Genesis tells us an important message about our journey. God spoke to Abraham and Sarah. “Leave behind your old way of life. Leave your country, your people, and your Father’s household, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.” The message about our journey is that God has a dream for us, for each one of us. Our dream is out there in front of us. To move from where we are now to fulfill our dream as individuals or a church community; we must move in the direction of that dream. We are to leave the “safe place” and move in the correct direction.
Like Abraham and Sarah discovered, we too must understand that our God wants an hour-by-hour, and a day-by-day relationship with His people, and that our God is amazing. God tells Abraham and Sarah the great plans he has for them. But to fulfill the plans they must sacrifice/leave behind much: sell their house; leave their business, and their family. They were to bring Lot and his family with them, yet given no directions to a definite destination and no road map where x marks the spot. Day –by-day, God would guide them. This journey was the beginning of the faith journey of Abraham and Sarah.
God’s style of the journey in the OT is consistent with the NT. When Jesus calls His disciples; what are His first words: “Follow Me.” Leave your jobs, and leave your families, leave your homes, leave behind your old way of life, and about the most directions they are given is that Jesus will make them fishers of men.
Life is a journey for all of us. You are on a journey, and I am as well. Even the most cynical, secular, and non-believing person is on a journey. It is a journey from birth to death and cradle to grave. But for believers in Jesus, the journey is much longer. Our journey begins in the heart and mind of God. Before creation existed, God thought of you. He knew your name and set in motion the gene bank that would produce you. You and I were born at a particular time and a specific place. And it is life freeing to remind ourselves that our destination is not death. No, You and I are traveling from the mind of God to the city of God in heaven to be with Him forever and ever free, whole, and forgiven.
So, if you accept that your life is a journey, then we have some choices to make about that journey.
First is what we will leave behind. Remember what the Hebrews passage stated? “, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance (endurance) the race marked out before us. What is hindering you this morning from the dream journey God has in store for you? Perhaps you and I do not feel confident in our knowledge of our Christian faith, or we do not have confidence in our abilities? Perhaps we are in love with money or some idea we have about our position in life? Perhaps we are deep down inside of ourselves still in love with the things of this world. Perhaps we are fearful of what others might say if we stood up for Jesus in the midst of a godless world.
What sin might be entangling us: pride, lust, self-righteousness, greed, or idolaters i.e. placing anything at the center of our lives other than God? Have you ever seen a lobster trap? It’s easy to get in but entangles the lobster so it’s difficult to escape. But if we call upon Jesus he will show us the way home. We must leave behind an attitude of half-heartedness and run the race with endurance by fixing our eyes upon Jesus who will walk with us each step of the way on our journey and set us in high places as God’s child.
The second choice we make is not to travel alone. Many years ago now I spent a Thanksgiving by myself. And you know what? It wasn’t much fun. Traveling alone isn’t much fun either; but worse than that destructive habits can sneak up upon us before one is aware of it. But on the other hand, a journey with other people who love you, support you, and believe in you makes all the difference in the outcome. The FFWBC is a place where we can find traveling companions. John 15:12 reads, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The third choice we make about our journey is whether we want a map or a guide? The Scripture is our guide for faith and direction. It is God’s word. But Scripture is intended to point us to one who is our guide: Jesus our Lord and Savior. Our guide is Jesus and His Holy Spirit who often says to us if we listen, “Move over Gary, It’s time for me to drive now.” “I am the truth, the way, and the life.” It just makes sense to have Jesus be our guide. He will show us the way because he has gone before us anyway.
Life is an adventure filled with everything. God has an adventure for you and me. What will you leave behind, travel light? Get rid of all that hinders you from your journey. Trust your Guides: Jesus, Scripture, Holy Spirit, and our church family.
So, let’s get going. Don’t dawdle, just do it!!!