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Barefoot Ministries® Message Outlines: The Call of Abram Topic/Theme: This text deals directly with teens who are searching out their identity. Teens often have a very fragile self-esteem or identity. They often feel like they have nothing they can offer to God. This text is very helpful to show that God values them not for what they can or can’t do, but for who they are. God chooses to use those who realize that the call of God is all about Him. In addition, many teens wonder about God’s will for their life. God’s will is much bigger than a mystery map of future events. Rather, God’s will for their life can be found by daily being obedient to God. Do you want to find God’s will? Love God and your neighbor each day and much of life will fall into place. Furthermore, when the big decisions of life come, God will be a natural part of the process. Sometimes there is a right and wrong choice. Other times, God could really bless multiple paths. He just asks that whatever we do, it be for Him and His glory. Scripture: Genesis 11:27—12:9 Get to the Point: Out of barrenness and despair God calls us to find new life in living for Him. Context Commentary: Chapters 3-11 of Genesis depict an unending escalation of human sin in God’s creation, until it reaches a point in Noah’s story at which God feels forced to destroy (nearly) everything and start over again. After recounting the story of The Flood and the Tower of Babel, Genesis leaves us with a most significant question: Would God again align himself with creation? Indeed, God does decide to work with and within human history and culture to bring His message of holiness and life to the world. God does so by starting small—God chooses an elderly, childless couple as the new beginning. God comes to this couple in their barrenness—just as He comes to the world in its barrenness. This is a bridge in the narrative from the history of humanity to the history of Israel. We must not read the story of Abraham in isolation; it is intentionally connected to the stories Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. of Jacob and Joseph. The promises of land, descendants, and blessing to the nations are only partially fulfilled in the story of Abraham. The promise of divine protection appears to have been fulfilled in much larger measure, though Abraham so often acts in fear that at times he seems to have forgotten it. Walter Brueggemann says there is no more significant section in Genesis than Genesis 11:27—12:9. It serves both as an introduction to and summary of Abraham’s career. It looks forward through the patriarchs to the kingship of David. Abraham’s obedience to the divine call, forsaking his homeland and family for the worship of the Lord in the land of promise, stands as an example and an incentive to all his descendants to follow suit. This story begins a series of narratives in which God speaks and the patriarch usually responds in faithful obedience, a pattern repeated many times in Genesis. Abram, like Jacob and Joseph had to leave his home to find God’s blessing in a foreign land. *Works Referenced: — Wenham, Gordon J. Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 1 Genesis 1-15 (wenham), (Nashville: Nelson Reference, 1987). — Brueggemann, Walter, Genesis: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1982). Outline and Options: Icebreaker: Scavenger Hunt Split the teens into four or five groups for a scavenger hunt. The teams need to be sent to different corners of the room. For this scavenger hunt, they may only use things that they have on them (ie: things in their wallet, in their pockets, etc.); they are not allowed to go to other people or places. Each team must select a designated runner. The youth leader will then say one item at a time (ie: dollar bill, comb, a shoelace, drivers license, piece of unchewed gum, student id, 1990s penny, etc.). Once the team acquires the item, the “runner” takes it to the leader, who should be stationed in the center of the room equal distance from the corners. The first team to get the item to the person in the middle gets one point. Play to as many points as you’d like. Outline: 1. Wrap up of icebreaker a. How many of you were surprised at how much you actually had on you? Often our first reaction is to discount what we have. It is easy and natural to assume everyone else has more to give. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. b. In life, we often think that God will only use those who are the most talented. Yet God also wants to use those who think they might not be good enough. Illustration Option 1: Ever get a phone call when you just sit down after a long day at school. You have finished your homework in time to watch your favorite program or game, and then the phone rings. Even though you really like the person, the conversation comes as a bother?? “Uh-huh, yeah,” you mutter in response, trying to act like you are listening. You really don’t want to be bothered. You have planned out these next moments of your life, and any change in it is annoying. 2. Do you try new things or are you happy with what you know? Illustration Option 2: When you go to a restaurant do you order something different or do you order the same thing? Some order something new because they love the adventure and excitement of trying something new. Others order the same thing because they want to make sure that they are going to like what they ordered. If they order something new, it might be good, but it might also be a disappointment. 3. The unlikely people: a. Think of individuals in the Bible whom God chose who thought they were not good enough for God to use them. b. Think about people He used that everyone else thought were not good enough. i. Joseph—a Hebrew slave who was mistreated, falsely accused, and betrayed by his brothers. Yet God raised him up to the second most powerful person on the earth. ii. Moses on Mt. Sinai declared to God all the reasons why God should not use him. Yet God used him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. iii. David, who was not Samuel’s choice, was picked by God to become a great king. Further Study: Have the teens chart the beginnings of Joseph, Moses, and David. Have them look at how they began: How did they or their world view them? How did God use them despite poor circumstances or how they measured up in their world? A good resource is Discovering the Old Testament, by Alex Varughese, et. al., (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2004). iv. Gideon was from the defeated nation, his tribe was the lowest, his clan was the most disgraced, and he was the lowest of his family. Yet God choose him. v. The 12 uneducated disciples who helped spread the Gospel of Christ all over the known world. Interactive Drama: Have the students act out the text. Then have the students’ dialogue about things that God has asked them to do. Talk about the times they thought they could or could not do those things which God was asking. If you have ambitious teens, ask several of them ahead of time to prepare a present-day skit where God asks a teenage girl named Abby to do something that seems impossible. Let them have fun with this. The key thing is to make Abby a down and out teen whom every one else has overlooked. It will be important that God’s blessings to her come only after she leaves what is comfortable. 4. Abram was another unlikely fellow. He had no land, no heirs, and no country. a. He received a mandate from God to leave his country and go where God would lead him. i. God begins this new history with a hopeless context; He speaks His powerful word directly into a situation of barrenness. 1. Abram and Sarah were without resources. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. a. Sarah was infertile. b. Without children the man had no one to perpetuate his name and the wife enjoyed little prestige and much frustration, for she had no alternative career to motherhood. c. In old age, childless couples had no children to care for them, and after death, had no one to carry out the funerary rites regarded as vital to the soul’s well-being in the afterlife. 2. God’s word carries in itself all that is necessary to begin a new people in history. b. Abram received a promise of blessing from God i. The three things promised were 1. To bless Abram 2. To bless those whom Abram blessed and curse those whom Abram cursed 3. To bless all the peoples on earth through Abram ii. This blessing is a commissioning. Israel’s well-being carried potential for the well-being of other nations. 1. The barren ones are mandated for the needs of the others. iii. The main reason and entire point God chose Abram was so that Israel could be a blessing to the world. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. 1. This is a great reminder for the Church: that we exist not for ourselves but to be salt, light, and ultimately, a blessing from God to a dark and bland world. c. Abram would not be able to bring about this blessing on his own; it would have to be a God thing. Interactive Questions: Have your students get in groups and discuss their answers to the following questions: * Why did God choose Abram to be the father of His special people? * If you were Abram, what would be most attractive to you about God’s promises? * If you were Abram what would be hardest to believe about God’s promises? * Why do you think Abram built altars in Canaan? * How have you learned to hear God’s call in your life? * Who has gone with you on your journey of faith? * What does this story teach you about God’s call on your life? * What might God want to do through you? 5. The reality is that all the characters in the Bible’s story line were insignificant. a. God often uses individuals who are aware of their complete dependence upon Him. b. It is not what talents or gifts you do or don’t have, but if you are willing to let God use you. 6. We must recognize our complete dependence on Him, so God will be able to use us. a. God calls the hopeless ones into a community with a future. b. The only way out of barren life is to leave one’s security behind. c. The whole Abraham story is premised on this irony: to stay in safety is to remain barren; to leave in risk is to have hope. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®. d. This begs the question: do we want to be out of our barrenness? Media Clip: Les Miserables. Use this movie clip, which is near the beginning of the movie, to illustrate how we are all unlikely candidates and how we all must eventually face our own sinful selves, and realize there is forgiveness and we can move on. Sometimes, this is very difficult to do—strangely, it is even more difficult when there is someone who believes in us. It is hard to bear our shame when someone else believes in us more than we do ourselves. Start: When the guards bring Jean Val Jean back to the bishop’s house. End: When the scene goes black. In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo brings us the character of Jean Val Jean. Val Jean is a thief who has been imprisoned for 18 years. He is wretched and filthy, and a danger to society and he knows it. One night he asks a bishop for some food. The bishop invites him in. Jean Val Jean refuses. “Don’t you know who I am? I am a prisoner.” The bishop replies, “I know who you are.” During dinner, Jean Val Jean sarcastically thanks the bishop for dinner and a place to sleep. Val Jean then tells the bishop, “Tomorrow I will be a new man.” That night Jean Val Jean steals some silver from the priest. The bishop catches him in the act and Val Jean violently strikes the bishop who crashes unconscious to the floor. Val Jean then leaves. The next day Val Jean is caught by the authorities and brought back to the bishop to face his accuser. The priest later offers him complete forgiveness, absolving him of the crimes. This grace transforms Jean Val Jean. 7. Cost of hope a. Jesus Christ has looked at your life, at every level of your brokenness and has brought a word of hope and life. b. But like Jean Val Jean you must own your redemption. The gift of eternal life and purpose comes to you freely. But to except it, will cost you everything. Permission to photocopy for local church use granted by Barefoot Ministries®.