Summary: Obeying God is an act of worship. This sermon explores how we become more authentic worshipers by obeying God's will.
When you think of the word: “Worship”, what comes to mind? What other words come to mind? [Church, singing, Sunday, peaceful, holy, love etc]. When you think of the word: “Obedience”, what other words come to mind? [Submission, doing what you’re told, ‘oppressive’, punishment]
We don’t necessarily think of those two words together most of the time, but there is a vital connection between them.
Let me ask you another question: If God asked you to leave everything familiar, what would you say? If God asked you to leave Toronto, leave your friends and leave what you know as home, and to go some place you didn’t know what might your response be?
What questions might cross your mind? Some questions that might cross your mind could be: “Uh…what now?”, or “How Can I know for sure it’s God?” Or “Who…me?”
Let’s read our first passage today from Genesis Chapter 12:1-4.
This is really our introduction to Abram, or Abraham as he comes to be known in the Bible. Abraham is one of the most important people in human history. We don’t know much about him at this point, so after a brief introduction to his family, and after learning that he starts out this story as an older man – 75 to be precise - we’re let in on a one-way conversation between God and Abram.
How would you express the tone of what God says to Abram? Did He give Abram a suggestion, a recommendation?...Or a command. It is, of course, a command. “Do this!” And attached to this command is a promise, one that is to touch Abram but also ALL peoples of the earth.
The end of this promise is that the Saviour, the Messiah, would come through Abraham’s line, and that…what is it…a few people would as a result be blessed? A few nations?
No…all peoples on earth would be blessed through Abraham. Early, early on, we discover that God is for all people, that God is not a national God or a tribal deity. He is the one true God for all nations.
That of course is hugely important. It’s ultimately why you and I are here today, having heard the gospel and responded in faith to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
But it all began back here in Genesis chapter 12. God spoke. God spoke not easy, comfortable words but He spoke nonetheless.
And Abram, as it says in verse 4, left his country as the Lord had told him to go toward the land that God would show him. One act of obedience on the part of one man led to world altering events.
You know, we don’t know what Abram had been doing the 75 years before God called. But somehow, someway, he was being prepared to say ‘yes’ to God. Something is being cultivated in Abram.
At this point, when God reveals Himself to Abram, Abram didn’t, as far as we know, recite the list of questions and rebuttals that we imagine he might have.
He simply did as God commanded. It’s easy to just say that, but what, really, is involved in doing what God commands. What, really, is involved in obeying God?
And if worshipping God involves more than singing, more than coming to church on Sundays; if worship is a verb and somehow includes but is more than what we do here on Sunday…if worship involves obedience. If obedience to God is a critical part of worship…what is involved in obeying God?
Well, Abram heard what God said. God spoke and Abram knew that God spoke and knew what it was that God said. It doesn’t begin with Abram though.
It begins with God. God starts, He initiates, He shows up and shows Abram something. God reveals His will for Abram. Abram’s response is a response to what God reveals, it’s a response to revelation.
It is much less Abram peeling back the layers until he gets to God’s will than it is God simply revealing what He wants Abram to understand.
And what God revealed, Abram heard. Have you ever had someone annoyed with you because they were talking to you and you just didn’t notice? You were distracted by something else.
Your mind was elsewhere, your attention not on what is in front of you but on something else, some worry, some plan, some conversation in the past or some conversation you had to have in the future. Barbara will tell you this is true of me more than she likes.
It takes presence to hear God. Regularly giving yourself time to listen and hear is the only way we will likely hear what God has to say. Hearing has to be cultivated.
As a young person listening to music, I was only aware of the whole sound coming at me. I would listen to the Beatles or whoever full blast under the headphones, enjoying the big sound, taking in everything at once.