Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 7:1-8 “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 7:1-8 “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
We are forgiven people. Last week, I talked about a person who was released from death’s door and from the prison cell. Let me ask you this question: now, what should the person do for the rest of his or her life? We should not waste our lives doing nothing. We should not spend our precious lives doing worthless things or pursuing desires of the flesh. We can find models for our lives in the Bible. That is why it is important for us to review the stories of our ancestors in the Bible. Their stories are like treasures of the heart that teach us what to do in in response to God’s Grace! I will not tell you “all” the stories about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, I will tell you some of them.
First, we will examine the life of Abraham. Stephen said “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Harran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you [the Sanhedrin] are now living.”
Abraham left his hometown, the place of idol worship. Mesopotamia was the place of worship of the Moon god. The Chaldeans worshipped the gods of wind and storms. They believed that a good harvest came from the marriage of this male god (Baal) and female god (Asherah). The so-called “holy prostitutes” performed sexual activities at the temple of Baal to celebrate their harvests. Our God said to Abraham, “Leave this place!” Abraham left the place with the faith that all blessings, including material blessings, came from God, not from those idols. Many times the world tells us that if we give in to temptation, we can get what we want! That is a lie. Let us confront our temptations with the belief that God will be with us!
Did Abraham have any land or children? No! However, he had faith. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Even though he did not have any children or land, he trusted God and followed Him without knowing where he was going! Not only that, he received a message from God that for four hundred years his descendants would be strangers in a country not their own, and they would be enslaved and mistreated. God would punish the nation in which they served as slaves and afterward they would leave that country and worship God. What kind of promise was that? God did not promise immediate prosperity. God promised discipline and hardship before they were to experience the Exodus and free worship! Let us keep our faith in all situations!
To follow God when you have nothing, when you do not know where to go, and when you have to experience hardship, you should have a strong faith that trusts God alone. This was why Abraham had the covenant of circumcision.
Do you know what circumcision is? You do. Yes, it is a medical procedure that removes the skin of a man’s body part. Why did God want that medical procedure as a sign of the covenant with God? Do you remember the rainbow, the sign of the covenant with Noah after the flood? That was a beautiful sign. Do you remember the Ten Commandments, the sign of the covenant with Moses at Mt. Sinai? That was a solemn sign. You also know the Cross, the sign of the covenant with Jesus. That is an eternal sign. However, why do you need circumcision as a sign of a covenant with God? To understand that sign, we have to read Genesis 16 where Abraham tried to have a son with Hagar, the maid of his wife, Sarah. Abraham did have a son, Ishmael, with Hagar. However, he got his son through his own strength, not through faith. God did not recognize Ishmael as the legitimate heir of Abraham’s faith. So, God wanted put a sign on Abraham’s body to remind him of the fact that every life was given by God. It was God’s humor. It seems that God almost said to Abraham, “Do not use your physical power but wait patiently for my gift.”
Abraham had to wait for another 15 years until he finally had a son, Isaac, God’s gift. When Isaac did not have a child, he prayed to God. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless (Genesis 25:21). That was how Isaac had Esau and Jacob, twin brothers. When we wait for God’s answer, let us pray without ceasing! When we receive God’s answer, let us accept it with joy!
Jacob, however, deceived his father in order to steal blessings from his brother, Esau. There were conflicts and jealousy among the brothers. Later, Jacob was deceived by his uncle Laban in the same way that he had deceived his father. This deception resulted in Jacob having four wives and twelve children. This was a big problem and also the reason the Israelites became slaves in Egypt. Do not deceive others to steal blessings from them. We have our own blessings!
What is the one treasure that we can glean from these three ancestors? They made sure to hand down their faith to the next generation. They prayed and they trusted God. Even though the following generations would have their own problems and issues, they would go through them with the faith that they were taught. Let us use this upcoming Advent season as an opportunity to hand our faith down to future generations. Let us talk to our children, grandchildren, and their children, and bring them to church. That would be the treasure that we can bring to our Lord.
1. What do you do for your descendants who do not have faith in Jesus?
2. When are you going to invite them to worship?

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