Go Out Fearlessly Page 1 Chapter 12 in Genesis begins the story of Abram and his first encounter with God is a call to go. God tells Abram to leave everything you know and go out into the world to a place I will show. Now I know guys don’t like to ask for directions, but I usually like to have an idea of where I’m going. But Abram, who will become Abraham, goes without a question verbalized. He journeyed in stages, a little bit at a time, until he reached the Negeb, a desert country. We understand Abram’s confidence to be an act of faith. In the children’s Sunday School lesson, Luke tells Theophilus about the Ascension of Christ. The disciples are told to go out fearlessly into the world and be Christ’s witnesses. They are to share their faith not only in Jerusalem, but in all Judea, and even the strange land of Samaria, and all the way to the ends of the earth. In Acts, we discover that going out is faith empowered by the Holy Spirit. For the last three weeks, our sermons illustrated our stewardship theme, Fearless Giving in Fearful times. Abram faced a fearful time, leaving behind all that he knew to go only God knows where! The first disciples lived in a fearful time, just 40 days after Jesus had risen from the grave, and he was leaving again. And they were to wait, for an unknown gift of God, the Holy Spirit, and no one knew what that meant or how long they would have to wait. We live in a fearful time. Our economy is tenuous at best. One day we hear the recovery has started and the next we hear about another job loss statistic. The fear of the flu season is intensified by the additional threat of H1N1. Every funeral reminds us that we are not as young as we used to be. In an instant we are aware of natural disasters on the other side of the globe with the earthquake in Indonesia and tsunami in Samoa. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to shake our Go Out Fearlessly Page 2 world and threats from Iran demonstrate the air of unrest and mistrust which plague our times. We gather today, on World Communion Sunday to remember the gifts of God for the people of God. We remember that the Creator of the world still interacts with those who trust in the Lord for all things. While the whole world may not celebrate communion and God’s gift of grace revealed in the cross of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead, we gather at this table to celebrate with the Holy Spirit. Today, we bring our stewardship pledges of time, talents and treasures to demonstrate our faith in God to use us, our time, our God given skills, and our financial resources to accomplish awe inspiring ministry. Stewardship is an issue of faith. We say, in God we trust and if we do then, we will go out fearlessly in Christ’s name, empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness to the resurrection. Now, Abram stepped out in stages, a little at a time. The disciples began close to home and as they gained confidence, and as they experienced the Holy Spirit, they reached the world. They took one step at a time learning along the way the power of God and growing in their understanding of the Holy Spirit, trusting the next step and experience to Christ as well. Your pledge is an opportunity to step out in faith where God will lead you and this congregation to do a mighty work in Christ’s name. From Janesville, we can witness to the world when we receive the power of the Holy Spirit. I challenge you to make a commitment for Christ. I invite you to the Table to be blessed for the unknown journey that we take because we have faith in the Triune God. Go out into the world fearlessly and serve the Lord our God. Amen Go Out Fearlessly Page 3 FIRST SCRIPTURE READING Acts 1:1-11 1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” SECOND SCRIPTURE READING Genesis 12:1-9 The Call of Abram 1 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. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and invoked the name of the LORD. 9And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
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