Sermon given in Spanish the July 28, 2019 at El Shadai DC, Manassas, Virginia.
Welcome to El Shadai DC. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a Christian author and volunteer pastor.
This afternoon we continue our study of the assurance of salvation in Christ. In our first week, we talked about John 10 and the nature of eternal life. The following week we looked at Daniel 3 and the salvation of God provided to Sadrac, Mesac y Abednego from the burning furnace. This last week we learned that we are clay in the hands of the potter as described by the Prophet Jeremias in chapter 18.
Today we consider the question: what indicates that our relationship with God is secure? Who has been elected for salvation by God and how do we know? We learn that we are blessed to be a blessing to others.
All praise and honor be to you because you have loved us sufficiently to send your son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and offer us eternal life.
We confess that your standard for love is too high for us because we are by nature sinners.
Draw us to yourself. In the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts, illumine our minds, and strengthen our hands in your service. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
The text for today comes from Genesis 12:1-3. Listen for the word of God:
“Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
What does a good relationship look like? (2X)
Normally human life presents challenges small and great. There are quiet days and days with a lot of background noise. There is always something to do for someone. The idea that a relationship exists only when the sun shines, as many people believe, is childish.
In my case, early in my marriage, we had challenges in work and medical challenges. My wife was an immigrant educated as an engineer and for many years she could not work in her field because of her immigration status. She came from Iran and during the 1980s, as now, there were many political problems between the Iran and the U.S. As a consequence, Maryam worked for many years in a woman’s shop and later began teaching in the public schools because they were desperate for math and chemistry teachers. After our three children were born, she had breast cancer twice.
In the middle of all this and my own challenges at work, our relationship was tested and proven. Poverty and health problems were sufficient to destroy the marriages of people we knew. The ups and downs of life require a relationship that is both strong and flexible. One needs to share common goals and have patience to achieve them. It is the same with our faith. (2X). For this reason, we often describe faith as a journey, one that lasts a lifetime. (2X)
In our text of the day, God talks with Abram. He asks Abram to make a trip leaving his country, tribe, and family. In other words, leaving every source of security in the ancient world. The situation for Abram is analogous to that of Hispanics today here in the U.S.
Interestingly, the Lord does not immediate say where to go, but we know from the previous chapter that his father, Terah, was traveling with the family to Canaan. Terah died in Haran halfway to Canaan. Genesis does not say a single word about Terah’s relationship with God, but we know that Abram continued with the same objective traveling to Canaan.
In general, we know also that frequently God speaks to us through other people, including those that do not know him. (2X) When was the last time that God spoke to you? Were other people directly or indirectly a part of this conversation?
Our text of the day is known as the first covenant between God and Abram. In a covenant, both parties want something. God commanded Abram to travel to Canaan. For his part, God offered Abram a blessing:
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse,”
Who wouldn’t want this blessing?
The last part of this blessing is important:”and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (2X) Here is our key to election. Our salvation becomes obvious when we bless others. There is no such thing as a Holy huddle far removed from the world. The church is blessed when it blesses the world in the name of Christ. We are blessed to be a blessing to others.
This is much like Pastor Julio has reminded us many times. Here at El Shadai DC we love God and other people. (2X) This is the sign of our own salvation when we do it.
It is like the Apostle John wrote:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Because we are created in the image of God, whatever we see God doing, we should do too.
Thank you for you blessing, especially the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Walk with us today and everyday as we share your blessings with others that we meet daily in our families, work, and neighborhoods.
In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us words of grace and hands for service for the people who do not know you.
All glory and honor to you for you have blessed us to be a blessing to others (Gen 12:1-3) and turned a day of judgment into a day of celebration through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Forgive our forgetfulness, our sloth in sharing this good news with others, even those closest to us and have even given us new opportunities to share with the foreigner, the widow, and the orphans among us. Do not condemn us for failing to witness to the Ninevites in our lives, but show us a better way.
Thank you for the many blessings of family, good health, and prosperity and for turning our tight-fistedness into generosity for your name’s sake.
Thank you especially for the saints among us that model the Christian life for our enlightenment and salvation in spite of original sin.
In the power of your Holy Spirit, draw us to yourself:
open our hearts, illumine our minds, and strengthen our hands in your service that we may rest with you today and every day.
Congratulations on winning a unique and difficult election campaign. You are now to become the 45th President of the United States and spokesman for the free world, all of it. May God be with you and bless you so that you may bless many others.
I voted for you. Your appeals to the 80 percent of Americans left behind economically over the past 30 years impressed me. I am convinced that your policies will benefit economically vulnerable groups, like blacks, Hispanics, young people, and women, more than those who practiced identity politics and mainly concern themselves with the affluent members of those same groups. Still, harsh language hurts and I am the only member of my own household to offer you a vote.
My prayer for you is that you will learn to listen, especially to your critics. The president’s job is undoable without the support of many, many helpers. God gave us two ears, but only one mouth, for a reason: Listen. Listen patiently. Listen until it hurts.
Start by listening to God. Begin and end the day in prayer in the privacy of your home. Pray for understanding; pray while you are eating; pray while you are working out; pray while you are deliberating; pray for those you do not understand; pray with your family. As president, the one person who you can always trust is God—look to Christ for your example; ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, protection, and peace.
Listen to those who have gone before you. Invite the living presidents to Camp David on a regular basis for quiet time and reflection. Ask their guidance; apply it when appropriate; gain their trust; and ask for their support.
Listen to other leaders. Invite the Mexican president to the White House as your first foreign visitor and ask his advice on how to deal with immigration and drug trafficking. Invite congressional leaders of both parties to meet with you on a regular basis and let them know that you want them to call you.
Listen to the American people. Appoint a diverse cabinet. Follow Reagan’s lead and delegate responsibility to leave time to focus on key priorities. Take Lincoln’s lead and invite your most able critics into your administration to learn from them and give them a reason to support you. Vanquish your enemies by making them your friends.
May God be with you and bless you so that you may bless many others.