In these days of division and uncertainty, I found a sermon about Abraham as our model for the only thing we can really trust. I delivered this on the day we honored our high school graduates.
HOLY SECURITY: HEBREWS 6: 13-20
I. ABRAHAM NEEDED A BETTER STORY
A. I found a list of signs that it was time to retire
.1. Your wife gives your favorite polyester leisure suit to Goodwill and a teenager shows up at your door wearing it on Halloween night.
2. You throw away your alarm clock because your bladder wakes you up at 7:00 am every morning.
3. You mention Pearl Harbor and your grandson says he heard of her. Didn’t she used to wing in a big band?
4. All you ever watch on TV is the History Channel and Turner Classic Movies.
5. You discover that the lifetime guarantee on everything you own has expired.
Do you trust guarantees? It probably depends on the level of trust that you have for the one giving the guarantee. If a person or a company has always kept promises in the past, then you probably accept it as dependable. I know ads for stock products come with the disclaimer: “Past performance does not guarantee future success.” And just because you took a hit at the black jack table with 16 and drew a five that does not mean that is a good strategy in the future.
B. But what about things you can really depend on? It’s not politicians or the economy. Hebrews show us a model of trust. And that is found in the person of Abraham. OF all the Old Testament figures, Abraham is the one we turn to when we want figure out how to trust. You may remember the story. Abraham left his ancestral home in Ur because God had promised him a land of his own and many offspring. But now he and his wife Sarah are old. She is way past the age of child bearing and they are still nomads. What Abraham needed was a better story. And that is what God promised him. John Lennon said, “If the ending is not OK, then it probably isn’t the ending.”
. God says, “I swear by myself that I will make good on my promises.” In other words God is saying I will stake my reputation on it. And the promise is kept. He ends up with a land and countless offspring. The writer of Hebrews holds up Abraham as a prime example of a God who ALWAYS keeps promises. God has a better story ready for Abraham and God makes that story reality.
II. WE NEED A GUARANTEE
A. That was great for Abraham, but WE need something more than just blind faith. don’t we? WE need a guarantee that God has a better story in mind for US. WE want to believe that. We really do. But what do we base that on?
B. On this day when we honor our graduates I remember a terrible sermon given by a black preacher to the graduates in his congregation. They had all excelled in school and were off to great colleges. The old preacher stood and said, “Children, some day you gonna die. You gonna die and they will carry you out back to the cemetery and put you in the ground and then they all gonna come back to the church and eat potato salad.” Now I know what he was trying to say. He didn’t want them to begin to think that they could trust the world or to be overcome with pride or to forget that their mortality left God in charge of their lives. But still, potato salad?
C. Sometimes we just need a better story than the one we are living now with all of it’s uncertainty. This church has an interesting history. It almost closed during the depression. We shared leadership with the Myersville Church. WE could barely pay the bills. We had to sell the manse. It would have seemed reasonable to shut us down. But God and some very faithful people had a better story. They persevered by trusting God and eventually came out stronger than before.
D. I have these little sheep figurines lined up in my office. Some are moving forward. Some are moving backward away from the faith, but as long as they are on their feet, they can always turn around. The ones that concern me are the ones who are sitting down. I wonder if those sheep represent people who have become indifferent to the call of Christ. I think they need a better story.
III. THE DEPENDABILITY OF GOD
A. God is the maker of promises. God has made promises in the past and God has ALWAYS kept those promises. So when God promises us a better story for our lives, we can trust God to keep those promises like he did with Abraham. in the world around us sometimes promises are kept and sometimes they are not. How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving. Promises are like babies. They are fun to make, but difficult to deliver. Well God ALWAYS keeps God’s promises. Of all of the characteristics of God there is none more important to us than God’s dependability. The fact that God has always kept the promises of grace and love and second chances gives us a security we can find nowhere else. We are able to live our lives in security. The past is prelude to a better story.
B. The writer of Hebrews tell us that God is unchangeable in the midst of an ever changing world. God is immutable amidst efforts to drown out the message of grace and love. And the Word of God is irrevocable amidst all of the broken promises around us. In a Nazi concentration camp a group of men put God on trial. In the midst of all the evil and murder, the charge against God was perjury. God had not kept His promise. On man, a Rabbi asked them, “Why do you blame God for human evil?” Paul says nothing, not even holocaust, can separate us from the love of God.
C. Later, in Chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews goes through a litany of Old Testament heroes who saw the promises of God fulfilled. But here the writer brings in the New Testament. Jesus Christ was the forerunner that was behind the curtain and led the way for all of us to be in the presence of God. The curtain used to keep the Holy of Holies off limits to everyone except the High Priest. But Jesus is the eternal High Priest who tears down the curtain and paves the way for all. The eternal promise of God is kept. How do we know that? Check the record.
IV. GRADUATES: CHECK THE RECORD
A. Graduates, hang in there. I am almost done. You have accomplished something very special in your graduation. Your parents and your church family are very proud of you. This is a real time of transition.You are all off to college and a taste of the real world on your own.
B. And in times of transition, we need to be reminded of the promise of God’s presence. God has been with you through all that you have experienced so far. And we are here to tell you that God will continue to be with you no matter what lies ahead. How do we know that? We’ve check the record. You can have confidence in God’s love and grace no matter where life takes you or how much life shakes you. There may come a time when you are all caught up in things that are far from God. You may decide to be one of those sheep that just sits down spiritually. You may even break the promises that you made at your confirmation. But hear this: GOD WILL NEVER BREAK A PROMISE TO LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT!
C. From the looks of the colleges you are going to, you have really made the grade and worked hard to be where you are. But there is another level of success that is beyond academic success or financial gain. It is that part of God within you that is your true essence as one of God’s children. That is who you truly are; created, redeemed and loved by God. You probably don’t like people telling you what to do. But here is my only imperative. Grab on to the anchor which is Christ. The world will toss you and turn you this way and that. But hold fast to the promise that God has made. Hold fast to the anchor of faith. I believe that God has for each of you a better story than the potato salad one. You have been chose to make a difference in the world for Christ in whatever path you take. Check the record. Stay secure in the God’s presence in the future. God’s love and our love and God’s grace are guaranteed. And that is a guarantee you can count on.
JOKE OF THE DAY
An attractive woman fell from the balcony in church. But her foot caught in the rail and she hung upside down with her skirt up by her chin. The preacher said, “Any man who turns and looks will be struck blind!” One old fellow said to his friend, “I think I’m gonna risk one eye.”