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Lent 2, 02/28/2010

Sermon on Genesis (1. Buch Mose) 15:1-12, 17-18, by Jennifer Gold


After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.' 2But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?'* 3And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.' 4But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.' 5He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.' 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord * reckoned it to him as righteousness.

7 Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.' 8But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?' 9He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.' 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, . . . NRSV


Without Vision . . .

Do you have a vision for your life? A plan? A dream? A wish? A hope? An idea? A goal?

For your children, your marriage, your career, yourself?

Do you have something in life that you are moving towards?

God didn't create us for passivity, but for reaching.

There is something in us that has to be reaching, going somewhere!


Even the Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:18, it says:

"Without vision, the people perish."

If we don't have any hope-something to look forward to then we become hopeless, complacent, content - we have no plan, no vision, nothing to look forward to and we die.

You ever seen someone who has given up on life?

Where's the balance between contentment and reaching?

Living in the present (where you are) but always looking forward to the future of where God is calling you to be?

Keep the Vision Before You

When you have a vision, have a dream, a hope, you have to keep it in front of you.

In Habakkuk 2:2-3,

Habakkuk was downright complaining. I'm getting weary. I'm getting tired. When is something going to happen here? I need some good news.

The Lord answered him and said:

"Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.

For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie.

If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay."

Whatever that vision is, write it down!

It could be something as simple as a vision to lose weight, get your house in order, get out of debt, want to see your marriage improve, or it could be something such as considering a career change, a call to ministry, a life change.

Whatever the vision is, write it down!

And you know why?

Because fear is at the root of everything that wants to steal your vision.

What did Abram fear most?

I have no children, no heir.

And how will I know the land you are promising me?

How will I possess it?

How am I to know? Prove it to me!

And God tells Abram, "Do not be afraid" (vs. 1).

Write the vision on tablets and keep it so everyone can see it.

What is the Lord saying to Habakkuk?

Keep the vision in front of you.

Journaling is a way to do that because it enables us to go back and look and see what God has brought you through.

Now, I'm not a person who likes to journal, but I'm beginning to see the value in it.

This week I went back and reread the journal I kept when Pastor Dave went on sabbatical and it was during that time (those three months) that I was seeking a vision from God for my life and for my ministry.

And what God put into my heart then were two things:

Spirituality and Mission.

And I knew that in order for God to enable that in the life of the church, it had to first begin in me, in my life!

Now, I'm not perfect at this by any means, but I can't preach what I myself am not practicing.

So I felt led by God to begin seeing a Spiritual Director once a month and I began volunteering at CAM once a month, which is our homeless ministry downtown.

And from that small step forward into a vision that God has placed before me, it has led to things far greater than I could ever imagine at that time.

Of course it's something I couldn't imagine, but God could because my vision was not my own, but something God had instilled in me.

From there, I have seen God's hand at work -working out the details of this vision.

In that time, the Holy Spirit brought to mind my friend who is a missionary, Grace, whom I hadn't seen in 6 years and together we formed a partnership which led to last years mission trip to Honduras and this year's mission trip to Rwanda, on-going mission trips to El Cenizo, and in between the establishing of Zion's Missions Task Force made up of people in this church whose hearts are spiritually set on fire for missions locally, regionally and globally because of what God was able to do in and through them on these mission trips!

They caught the vision because it was not my vision, but a vision God set ablaze in me and in them!

And that's only what you can see on the surface and there's even so much more that has come out of that but I don't have time to share it all with you!

But I share that much with you to say that when God gives you a vision, write it down and then watch what God does with it!

It will amaze you and it will keep you going when you're going through struggles or when you get discouraged or content or complacent.

And don't let weariness and/or age steal your vision/dreams.

You know age is a number and I am convinced that you're only as old as you feel.

Speaking of the vision that I just shared with you, one of the people going on our next mission trip to Rwanda will be the oldest person that Grace and certainly myself has ever taken on a mission trip!

Evelyn will be 81 years old (or I should say 81 years young) at the time we take this trip!

She was just telling me the other day, "You know my friends all think I'm crazy for wanting to go to Africa at my age, but I told them that it's something I've always wanted to do and even if I were to die in Africa well then I was doing what God wanted me to do!"

Now that, my friends is vision! God's vision instilled in Evelyn!

Listen and learn from Evelyn and if not from Evelyn then from Abram who was very old when God gave him a vision!

God's Vision Instilled in Abram

Here is a biblical example of the power of keeping the vision before you physically as well as spiritually.

Our reading for today begins in Chapter 15, but the story of Abram really begins in Chapter 12 when the Lord says to Abram (vs. 1) "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you."

Vs 4, "So Abram went as the Lord had told him... Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran."

And Abram takes with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot and all his possessions.

Abram trusted the vision that God had instilled in him and he set out on the road that was to open up a whole new world in spiritual history!

In Genesis 13, his nephew Lot was with him, but Lot and Abrams employees didn't get along and to prevent strife between one another, they separated.

Lot took the best part of the Jordan valley-the best part of the land- and Abram didn't have much left.

But the Lord says to Abram (vs. 14) "raise your eyes and look from the place that you are, look north, south, east, west and what do you see?"

What do you see for your life?

Notice what Abram sees is not for himself but for someone else!

The Lord says (vs. 15-16), for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your descendants forever.

And I will make your descendants as numerous as dust of the earth.

You can have all that you can see, so Abram walked the land and then settled his tent by the Oaks of Mamre.

Then God said I'm going to give you your own child not the slave child whom you think is going to be your heir, but your own child.

Abram was in his tent with Sara when God tells Abram this.

Now, the Bible says in Romans 4:19 that they both considered their own bodies as good as dead.

So Abram says, yeah right. I'm old. Life has passed me by and Sarai too.

Where's this vision you were telling me about God?

Get Outside Your Tent and Look Up

Gen. 15:1 Fear not! Do not be afraid!

Read v. 1-7

And the Lord brought him outside his tent and told him to look up and count the stars, so shall your descendants be.

Friends, sometimes you've got to get outside your tent and look up and get some vision, some hope, some perspective.

As long as a person relies upon him/herself for hope, than we are doomed for bitter disappointment!

But hope comes when we turn from looking inward to looking upward!

So get out of your tent, look up, count the stars and go take a walk.

We have a choice, we can sit around and whine and whine and whine because nothing ever changes or we can allow God to change us-

To lead us outside our tents and give us new perspective, new vision!

It's easy to settle ourselves in our tents of complacency and say

"O God, life has passed me by! My body is as good as dead!"

Have a meltdown in life.

Get depressed. Give up!

Friends, if this is where you are in life, you cannot get a break through while you're sitting in your tent!

Listen and hear from God about what to do.

God frequently spoke to Abram and God wants to speak to you!

Get away if you have to and pray and listen to God.

Sometimes we need to get away somewhere to get perspective.

Get your Bible and just talk to God. Listen to God.

Sometimes we have to get out of the tent to seek a plan for life, to seek a new direction/new vision that God is calling us to go.

You remember how the story of Abram and Sarai ends?

Sarai conceived and gave birth to a child 15 years after the Lord had told them it would happen.

Hebrews 11 says that "Living by faith when they died, they did not receive the things promised. They only saw and welcomed from a distance."

The vision that God instilled into Abram, whose name was changed later to Abraham, gave birth to a people and a promise from God that would not be fulfilled until 400 years later when the Promised Land was finally settled by the people after the exodus, and the promise continued generations later as these are the people who became the descendants of Jesus who would save them and us from our sin!

God's Vision for Your Life for the Sake of Others

It began with a vision that didn't seem possible, but nothing is impossible with God!

So what is God's vision for your life?

Does it seem impossible?

When you feel like you're going under, get out of your tent, look up at the stars, and let the fresh wind of God blow on you!

It's time to get out of your tent!

See what God wants you to see!

Can you get with God and shut your eyes and see the vision that God has for your life?

As the prophet Habakkuk reminded us, keep a vision/a dream in front of you and not just once but over and over.

There is creativity and the impossible happens when you get with God and dream!

What do you see for your life for the sake of others?

Get out of your tent, look up in hope, and see what God wants you to see!


Rev. Jennifer Gold
Pastor, Zion Lutheran Church of Helotes
San Antonio, Texas
E-Mail: jgold@zionhelotes.org