In God, we live and move and exist. Acts 17:28
Context: Paul the missionary/Athens…pedestals… Zeus, Athena, Apollo…”the unknown God.
In God, we live and move and exist. Acts 17:28
The whole of who we are centers on God. The God of the universe (and there is no other) is at the core of all of our motivations our actions, feelings and decisions.
Simply – we don’t even exist without him.
Let me ask you a key question on this the first weekend of 2018…
· Can you say that with all sincerity? In God I live, I move and I exist!
o …to what degree is that true?
o How would you assess the depth of your relationship with God?
o How healthy is your relationship with God? …right now.
I know that that is an incredibly overly broad question.
· It’s like a doctor asking how’s your health? Or your boss asking – how’s the job going?
· It requires some follow up questions…more specific…more targeted.
And in a few moments I’m going to do just that. I’m going to get to 4 key questions that will help you and me assess just how much of our life is centered in God.
Genesis 11:31 __________
2000 BC... What is today Iraq what was then the land of the Chaldeans (later became the people of Babylon)
· They were quite an advanced people for the time
· They represented the height of human capability for the day
· Their driving ambition was to be center of the world of humanity.
o So they built a great city with an amazing tower.
o They used their Ingenuity / Skill/ power and unity
o They may have worn they wore Baseball Caps – MBGA - Make Babylon Great Again
God, of course, was watching all this unfold and once again faced a dilemma. Their motto was NOT…In God we live and move and exist.
Babylon’s motto: In us we live and move and exist!
They were humanism at its height ….humanism completely unhinged.
· So once again …God had hit the reset button – not with a flood but confusion and interpersonal misunderstandings/ languages …and everybody scattered.
· And then he picked a family to relaunch his mission to save the world.
31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. 32 Terah lived for 205years and died while still in Haran. Genesis 11:31-32
We have no record of Terah’s interaction with God but reading between the lines and the fact that he targeted Canaan…implies God called him and his family there.
· They made it as far as Haran where Terah died and God turned his attention to Terah’s son – Abraham
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1
Thus begins the time of the Patriarchs – a 300 year period (captured in Genesis 12-50) where human beings learned how to walk with God again.
· Side note: We are continuing a relook at the story line of the Bible. As we did a number of years ago with Legacy.
So, the Patriarchs…Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob …the Fathers of Israel and the people of God.
· Do not assume though that the word Patriarch means spiritually mature – they most certainly were not!
· When it came to God Abraham was a novice
o No bible
o No church
o Very little oral tradition
o His notion of God it was likely primitive
§ God may have been his regional god
§ Or…he may have dabbled in Moon worship like other Chaldeans
So, all this said…One of the cool things about the stories of the Patriarchs is that we get a ringside look at a person’s faith growing from virtually nothing.
· Through Abe/Sarah/Hagar Isaac/Rachel, Jacob we will learn the essence of faith – by the end of the Patriarch period they will have learned to say In God, we live and move and exist. Acts 17:28
On this first month of a new year you need these stories!
· As ancient and antiquated as they are…
· As bizarre and head scratching as they come across…
They are rich with insights into God and human beings and navigating life at its most confusing and cruel.
· You need this stuff! You who moan with pain, you who are not sure of your next steps, you who and scared, you who are lost, you who are on the fence about God.
Among the many insights we’ll study are 4 of the most essential questions about us and God.
4 questions that will help determine if you can say with a straight face…
In God, I live and move and exist.
Question 1 – Do you see God anywhere in your life?
Is there any evidence of his activity? PAUSE – this is a serious question…
Do you recognize God’s appearances in your life when it happens?
Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said…Genesis 12:7
Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him…Genesis 15:1
The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre.
These are just a few of the appearances of God to Abraham and the others.
· I so wish that God would appear to me like that…but he doesn’t. He is physically invisible and largely audibly silent.
So, what do you do with that who claim to believe in God?
· Where do you experience Him to confirm the reality of his presence?
Let’s do a little exercise…Where did you experience him last week? Month? year?
· Circumstance? IL – Severn Cider
· Through other people?
· Impressions? Peace?
· Scripture or other readings?
You must practice paying attention to be aware of the presence of God!
Then…make sure you acknowledge it…don’t just move on!
And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the LORD, who had appeared to him. Genesis 12:7
· Tell someone
· Start a journal
· Make a pile of stones…and watch for more appearances.
Question 2 – Do you believe God?
Chapter 15 - Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” 2 But Abram replied, “OSovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” 4 Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” 6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. Genesis 15:1-6
· Do you believe God….or better Do you trust God?
o Do you believe he has your best interest in mind?
o Is He for you?
o Is he good and is he reliable?
o Do you believe the promises he makes?
This takes faith from the merely intellectual to the visceral. From Knowing to trusting.
· Is your faith a head game…or a heart game?
· Do you know God or do you entrust yourself to him?
Question 3 – Are you talking with God?
Do you actually spend any time at all talking with him? Do you know how to?
How are your conversations with God going? In Abraham’s story is one of the most fascinating interactions between God and a human being ever.
Context – God visits Abram and Sarah and then decides to tell him of his plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah
23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” Genesis 18:20-25
He negotiates with God! He questions God! He seeks to convert God to his thinking! And…seemingly convinces God to alter His plan!
And though God’s original plan comes to pass – God allows for this kind of prayer!
Are YOU interacting with God?
Quote from The Meaning of Prayer
Only a theoretical deity is left to any human being who has ceased to commune with God. H.E. Fosdick
This little statement - In God, we live and move and exist. Acts 17:28 is simply impossible without regular, systematic practiced communion with God – prayer.
· Your body will not be well if you choose to eat poorly and refuse to exercise
· Your mind will not grow if you refuse to read
· Your relationships will diminish if you refuse to love
Your walk will God will be non-existent if you refuse to pray!
Stop and review:
The life of the Patriarchs help us focus on 4 essential questions that gauge the depth of our walk with God…
Question 1 - Do I see God?
Question 2 - Do I believe God?
Question 3 - Do I talk with God?
For the last question we return to where we started and first met Abraham…
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
To me these are 4 of the most important verses in all the Bible. Because they contain the essence of the very heart of God…that thing that gets him up in the morning. …to bless all of humanity
And…they contain the essence and hunger of every human life…to fulfill the calling for which we were made.
Side note: these verses lie at the heart of the reason this church exists…
· To expose you God’s mission to bless the world by healing the 6 Broken Places
· To help you to find your personal calling and destiny in healing to the world.
Which brings me to the 4th question…
Question 4 – Are you pursuing the call of God?
Are you, like Abraham…going where God is sending you? We’ll pick up there next week.
So here are the 4 questions I hope you will chew on in the days ahead:
Question 1 - Do you see God?
Question 2 - Do you believe God?
Question 3 - Do you talk with God?
Question 4 – Are you pursuing the call of God?
May I make a suggestion? It’s actually more than that…may I provoke you a bit?
· Why not draw a line in the sand about this whole topic of your walk with God
· You can do that right now…Submit yourself to the most powerful ceremony there is about you and God – baptism!