Second Sunday in Lent – Sermon 210

10.00am Holy Communion

2nd  Sunday in Lent

4th March 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

INTRODUCTION

 

Inheritance –

 

we all inherit something –

 

whether its our ancestor’s nose – our mother’s smile – our fathers hair –

 

a family house – or car – or money – or that old set of China – we keep up in the loft –

 

we all inherit something of our parents or our grandparents –

 

Something passed on because of who we are and where we came from –

 

But imagine – as Paul says  –  inheriting something through faith –

 

receiving something not because of what we are or what our families have done  – but because of who we trust –

 

Point 1        Abraham – Faith

 

In our OT lesson we have the story of Abram – the father of faith – ‘the Father of all who believe’-

 

In this passage we are reminded of where it all started – the covenant between God  and Abram – which was made as a result of Abram’s faith –

 

Abram and his wife were late starters as far as begining a family was concerned – God called them to pack up their life and home – and go where He called – and with it He made a promise that although they were elderly – they would have ancestors that would be as ‘exceedingly numerous’ – ancestors that would become kings – and a multitude of nations.

 

Abraham trusted God – He bowed down with humility before Him – and did as He asked –

 

and although -the great decision of faith was instantaneous and irreversible – the life of faith was a prolonged struggle – with many faults and lapses –

 

His road to maturity of faith was often two steps forward – and one step back – and although at times he proved faithless – God remained faithful –

 

Abram’s faith was fixed on the God of creation – and resurrection – who gives life to the dead and brings things into being –

 

His faith was against all the odds –  and over the years it grew stronger in adversity – and shone through the tough times – as he remained confident that God would eventually deliver His promise –

 

Its 15 years after his arrival in Canaan – and after the first promise was made –  and Abram aged 99 – and Sarai aged 90 are still waiting for the birth of Issac – but here we see that promise renewed – and the covenant re-affirmed – and this time Abram and Sarai receive a change in name – an event of great significance – symbolising a new character and a new destiny –

 

A year later Issac is born – and God’s promise is fulfilled –

 

The Christian faith is more than a vague belief – it centres on God – who has revealed Himself in creation – in scripture – and supremely in Jesus Christ –  God has the power to fulfill His promises to us no matter what our circumstances –

 

Abraham’s journey of faith – was a journey that took more than five minutes – he waited many years between receiving God’s promise and the day of Issac’s birth

 

We too need to remember that – God’s clock can run slower than ours – but still it keeps perfect time – and in our instant quick fire world – we need to make sure like Abraham that we respond to God’s beat and not the world’s

 

Point 2        Jesus – with his disciples

 

Which brings us on to our Gospel reading – and another story of faith – the experience of the Disciples at Ceasarea Phillipi-

 

We take up the story – after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah – the Christ –

 

The time of trial and crucifixion was approaching –  and Jesus needed to bring them to the next level – and prepare them for what was to come –

 

He began to tell them – why He was sent into the world – how He – will be rejected by the church authorities –  and suffer and die a criminals death –

 

It wasn’t just that there might be danger ahead – the new lesson was that Jesus had to walk straight into it

 

but the idea of a suffering servant was not what Peter and the other disciples wanted to hear –

 

Immediately Peter – started to dictate what Jesus should or shouldn’t do  – he must not die – He must not go to Jerusalem –

 

The Jews were looking for a political leader to free them from the Roman occupation and restore their national pride – and now they had found that leader – the idea of Jesus suffering and dying was not on the agenda –

 

Too often – like Peter – we try to change the image of Jesus to suite our own convenience – so that we don’t have to follow the road of suffering with Him – we lose sight of the fact that Jesus’ death is really a gift from God to reunite us with Him –

 

Peter’s reaction was understandable – from a human perspective –  but Jesus reminds them – they must think as God thinks –  that the Son of Man must have all this happen to Him  – in order that evil will be defeated  –  and – so that the kingdom will come – through His own suffering and death –

 

Jesus came to set up the Kingdom of God into the hearts of ordinary people – like us – through dying on the cross – He made it possible for our sins to be forgiven – and for our hearts to be made clean – and fit for a king

 

Peter and the disciples were acquiring their faith bit by bit – as we are –

 

Peter thought he understood – everything about Jesus – but was proved wrong – He was to imagine the same again later – when Jesus asked to wash his feet – only to deny his faith afterwards

 

Peter’s faith was never a  finished article – but always being shaped and added to  – refined and polished –

 

Like Peter – we may know the truth – but like Peter – in this life at least – we’ll never know the whole truth –

 

point 3        Our journey of Faith

 

So what about our journey of faith – What does all this mean for us – and our inheritance?

 

Well – Coming to faith is not a one off event – but an ongoing process  –  Our faith and the faith of others – will always be on the production line –there will always – be a need for us – to learn and to grow –

 

A little boy was taken to his first church service  – although he had seen services on television – After it was over – his mother asked him what he thought of it – ‘The music and the singing were alright – he said – but I didn’t think much to the news –

 

Faith is something that starts from zero – when we are born –

Our parents can tell us about their faith – and their knowledge of God and Jesus – they can plant seeds – like the church – but they can’t give us any of it – our faith is something only we can develop – ourselves – something that grows and develops within us  – because we nurture and feed it  –  and make it something important to us  – and to our lives –

 

As Charles Kingsley once said – I do not want merely to possess faith  – I want a faith that possesses me –

 

Our way to salvation is shown to us by Jesus  Christ – and only by trusting and following Jesus can we reach our destination –

 

Through faith in Jesus – we are transformed into His likeness– and as children of God –  we will receive the inheritance and promises Jesus made when He called us to follow Him –

 

As Paul reminds us – our faith is our passport into heaven – we have no legal right of entry – what we receive from God –  depends solely on God’s grace  – and if we had to obtain it – by any other means – we would fail completely

 

Our earthly inheritance has no value in heaven – and as with every one way ticket – we must – give up everything else to get there – only our faith in Jesus is recognised as righteousness – and His death on the cross- justification for our inheritance

 

Conclusion

 

Abraham’s and Peter’s stories are stories of slowly maturing faith – and as we too – journey forward trying to be blameless – trying to always walk with God – like them we should always be assured that  – God will fulfill His promise –

 

Jesus is the way – the truth and the life – and by accepting and following Jesus  – we will be shown the way – receive the truth – and we will be given life – and there can be no greater inheritance than that –

 

Prayer to finish

 

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

 

AMEN