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January 21, 2018 • Rob King

When I was in Houston we had a small group that got together. A bunch of guys, colleagues, friends, we’re going to go through this book; we’re going to study this book. And we’re going to meet every week; we’re going to talk about it. We’re going to grow. I’m excited about this meeting.

So a week later some of the people, some of the guys, they had read the book. Some of them had not. The conversation went kind of here and kind of there and kind of everywhere.

Next week, we meet again. Some guys had read the book, some guys had not. The conversation went here and there. I think it was, about, the third or fourth meeting, one of my friends teases me about this moment, because I had all I could stand. I couldn’t take any more. We met again and some of them had read part of the book and some of them had not. And I said, “Are we going to do this or not?”

Now, my friend, every now and then, will text me, because it’s just part of who I am. I like change. I like move. I like to move. I like to grow. I rearrange furniture just for the heck of it. So that’s a personality trait.

Now, how many of you are not originally from Cincinnati? Not originally from Cincinnati? Okay, so you know, you’ve learned, since you got here, that there’s an East Side and there’s a West Side. That says everything right there because when I say East Side it’s silent, when I say West Side, yeah! And you know there’s a thing about West Siders that we’ve been told, we didn’t create it. They’re offended by the title of the message. They don’t move. Grandma lives here, kids live there, the grandkids, the great-grandkids, you don’t even need to put the address on there. You just write a name on it. Send it. It’ll get there, West Siders. And I’m only picking on you because I love you and because you’re strong enough and you can take it, West Siders.

When we talk about moving, I want to make sure that we’re not just talking about a personality trait. There are people who like to stay and there are people who like to go. There are people who are very active and there are people who’d rather just be at home. I want to make sure that, as we begin, we’re not preaching ourselves or some personality but we’re saying is there something in this that really reflects the character and nature of our Creator? And is this really a part of our walk with Jesus?

The goal for today is that you would simply be open to the Holy Spirit talking to you about an area in your life that you need to move, that God wants to move in. Or maybe an area He’s been talking to you for a while that He wants to move.

So we begin in a part of the scripture that is the beginning that, if we don’t have this part of the scripture, where scripture really could be divided, not just Old Testament and New Testament. But it could be divided in the first 11 chapters of Genesis and then everything thereafter. Because in Genesis 12 there’s a promise made to a man where God is going to create His people. And as God promises Abram that He’s going to create His people, it’s through that promise that we have Isaac and we have Jacob and we have Joseph and we have David. And we even have Jesus Christ Himself. Without this promise being fulfilled, without God making this move and taking the initiative and talking to Abraham, we would not be here today.

Genesis 12:1-2 says this, “The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Abram, go.’” Later He would call him Abraham. “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. And I will bless you. And I will make your name great. And you will be a blessing.’” There’s something that we learn from God when we think about how He does what He does. He has His ways. And when we see His ways we know something about His character and His nature. You have your ways, don’t you? Oh, you have your morning routine. And if you’re married your spouse knows your ways, don’t they? They know exactly how you chew your food, right? You have your ways. And it says something about you. I’ve told you something personal, weird things about me. You have weird things, too. You just don’t have a microphone. We’d hear your weird stuff. I like a clean garage floor. Why did it get so silent? You already know I’m weird. And, yesterday, when the weather was nice, you get the bike out and then you clean the garage. I have my ways, a little OCD in areas. It’s okay. And if you know my ways you know something about me. My point is that as you see what God does and how He does it you learn about Him. So I immediately ask the question, when I read this, why did He do it that way? Why did He say, “Go,” to Abram? Why did God Almighty, Creator of the universe, say to Abram, “I’m going to make a promise. Here’s what you have to do. You have got to leave. You have got to go. We’re going on a journey.” He could’ve very well said to him, “Abram, stay put. Bloom where you’re planted. I’m going to bless you right where you’re at.” But He did not. I think, many times, God will do what He does to show us who He is and to, also, speak to us, knowing we later would read this. I’ll give you one example. When the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt, when they were brought out of Egypt, the last plague was that the death angel came and took the firstborn. You remember this last plague? But the death angel didn’t go to the children of Israel’s homes. Why? Because God told them to take the lamb, kill the lamb and take the blood of that little lamb and put it over the doorpost. And you put the blood over the doorpost and the death angel will pass over your house and you won’t die. And then every time, every year thereafter, they celebrated what? The Passover. Why? Because God, through ritual, wanted to demonstrate and put on display who He is. I want you to have this meal and I want you to remember I’m a God who delivers. I’m a God who will deliver you from bondage. And we look forward, too, where He’s saying, “I’m a God who will deliver you from sin. I’m a God who will deliver you from death if you take the blood of the lamb and put it on the doorpost.” And then thousands of years later, “I’m a God who will deliver you from death if you trust in My Son, who is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. You put His blood on the cross, on the doorpost, as it were.” He’s saying something about who He is right now. But He was also pointing to us so we can look back and say, “God is a delivering God. God is a God who keeps His promises. God is someone who is willing to give His one and only Son, that if we believe in Him death has lost its sting in our life. We have eternal life through Jesus Christ.” And all of that is seen in this one ritual, if you will, this one act of God. And He puts it on display so we’ll know who He is. I’m making the case to say that the way that He called Abram says something about the way we should live for Him today. There was a move, sorry West Siders, there was a move that God wanted him—I want you to think about your walk with Jesus Christ and the idea of movement. Movement often means leaving something behind. This is one of the reasons I struggled so mightily to give my life to Jesus. I don't know about you. Surrender didn’t come natural to me because I knew that I was going to have to leave some stuff behind. Have you left some stuff behind to follow Jesus or not? I hope you have. I’m not going to have a show of hands to say how much more stuff do we got to leave behind. It’s a feeling like—thanks for being honest over here. God bless you. When we give our life to Christ there’s stuff that we leave behind. Sometimes there’s friends that we leave behind. It happens. There are habits that you leave behind. Man, I struggled to surrender to God because I had this feeling, even as a young boy, that I had this weird idea about God. I didn’t really know Him and I was, kind of, afraid of Him. And I didn’t know if He would take care of me or provide for me or protect me, keep me safe. And then I had this weird feeling that He’d probably going to be real mean to me and He’s going to make me a preacher. And who wants to be a preacher? I mean, think about it. I was sitting at Dunkin’ Donuts this past week and there was some guys that came in who were a part of a classic car deal. And they were driving all these classic cars from Florida up to Detroit.

And I struck up a conversation with one of the guys. And really interesting fellows, you know. And then he asked me what I did for a living. There’s that moment of truth, as a pastor. Sometimes, I’m not kidding. Sometimes, I will say, “I lead a large nonprofit down in Springdale.” Because, listen, if you say you’re a preacher it kills the conversation. All of a sudden, they’re, like, “Oh, put in a good word for me with the guy upstairs.” I’m, like, “That’s not what it’s like.” And they stop cussing. I’d rather you honestly cuss than be a hypocrite and use clean words. Are we alright? Dang, be yourself. You’re trying to act all holy. I know you’re not holy. But you hear I’m a preacher and then it changes everything. It changes the whole dynamic. So I’m sitting there in Dunkin’ Donuts and these guys come and sit with me. And we’re just chatting it up and talking. And then the guy blows my cover. He says, to his friends, “Oh, it’s good that you’re sitting here,” he nudges me, “these guys need a preacher in their life.” I’m, like, “Well, there it went.” Not going to talk about cars now, which I really wanted to talk about. Now they’re going to be awkward, I’m going to be awkward. Who wants to be a preacher?

Well, come to find out, I actually wanted to be a preacher. I didn’t know that. I was afraid. But the Creator of the universe knows what you need to leave behind and has greater things out in store than you could ever imagine, since He made you and designed you and put you together. You think you know where you want to be in ten years but you may not know. This suits me all the way down to the ground, absolutely thankful and love it. But I would’ve never thought that God has plans for you, a future and a hope for you, a promise for you. And He knows you and knows exactly why He made you the way He designed you, the way He created you. When we give our life to Christ, there’s stuff that we leave behind. We find out later, it’s all stuff that needs to be left behind. And there is something out ahead of you. Do you have this sense in your walk with Christ? There’s always something more of Him that’s out there. It’s not that you’ve attained it. It’s not that you have arrived. It’s been great so far but He gives this sense by His Holy Spirit, and your spirit. There’s something more out there. There’s some things that we leave behind. Luke 9:62 says, “No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We press forward in this upward call. It was Sodom and Gomorrah, when they were leaving, when Lot’s wife turned and looked back. And she turned into a pillar of salt. And you read the Bible and say, “Well, geez, she didn’t deserve that. What’s the deal there? I mean, she just looked back.” No, it was a longing in her heart for what was. And God says, “I’ve got something for you out in front. Your best days are ahead of you.”

In Christ Jesus, you could always, confidently, say your best days are out ahead of you. You can look back and you can give thanks but you’ve got to move on. This is the nature and essence of following Jesus Christ. Look back, give thanks, but there’s a new season ahead. It’s always like that. See, movement is the way that God prepares us for more. He prepares us for more. God has more for you, more love that you don’t yet know. Have you plumbed the depths of His love? Do you really know? Paul prayed that you would know the depth, the height, the width. You don’t really know all that. You’re at a certain point with Him. But there’s further to go. Do you know the depths of generosity or caring for other people? None of us would say, we read Matthew 5-7, we haven’t arrived there. But every day we’re taking another step in Him and we’re becoming more like Him and we’re growing. And that’s a wonderful, I mean, that’s a beautiful thing about life. Nothing is worse than being stuck and nothing better than being refreshed and renewed and moving forward and growing. There is more, there is more that God has for us in Him. And that movement shows us that He’s preparing you for something. When you get prepared to do something, you know, it’s interesting because when David, we’re all familiar with David and Goliath. But the way that David came after Goliath was he mentioned what he had already won before. God prepared me for this moment, for this giant. See, I was faced with a lion and I was faced with lions, tigers and bears but I’m not scared anymore because God was with me then and He’s going to be with me now. Isn’t that your experience with Him? You go through something and He increases your faith, and He gives you strength and here comes another obstacle. But you look at that obstacle and you say, “He delivered me from the bear. He delivered me from the lion. And He’s going to deliver me now.” I remember, for me, personally, if you’ll indulge me, it was 1996. We had just gotten married. And I felt like the Lord wanted me to teach this junior high Sunday school class. I thought it was the devil. I didn’t know if it was the devil or God that wanted me to do this. There was three kids in there. And none of them had any fun and I didn’t either. It was tough. And I quit the ministry that day. I wasn’t even in ministry yet. But I felt the Spirit of God say, “There’s growing to be done here. If you don’t do this, I have nothing else for you. You do this small thing and we’ll see.” The first sermon I ever preached, I was filling in for a youth pastor. I was so scared. I was so nervous. There was 15 kids in the room. Man, I thought I was going to die. Yeah, I’m sure it was a terrible sermon. I said everything I knew in five minutes and then filled the rest with who knows what. Things haven’t changed much, have they, over the years. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” You are moving along with God and He tests us in small things. Don’t look for the big things. Don’t look for big things. God’s not in that big thing. He’s in the small thing of being faithful today with Him and He’s preparing you for the next thing. That’s how we move with Him. He prepares us. You face what you’re facing now and it prepares you for what He has ahead. Aren’t you glad He doesn’t tell you every detail? You think you want every detail but you don’t. You couldn’t handle all of the details. You couldn’t handle to see the entire journey. So He gives it to you a piece at a time. Moving forward with faith is the essence of salvation. You talk about, what do you talk about when you talk about your relationship with Jesus? You talk about your walk, right. It infers movement. You’re walking with Jesus. And He shows us this with Abram. I’m going to give you this promise but you’re going to have to leave where you are, he was in his 70s, and you’re going to go on, at least, a 600-mile journey. But the journey, actually, went up along the Euphrates River and down by the Jordan and the Fertile Crescent and was 1100 miles. Now, Abram didn’t know the details of that when God sent him. He didn’t know where he was going. Aren’t you glad you don’t know all the details in your 70s, 1100-mile journey, tough terrain. You started off in Ur, I did a lot of Bible research on this and found out, do you know who was in Ur at that time? Urbody, okay. It has gotten absolutely no better since I was talking to 15 kids, all those years ago. Urbody, okay, sorry. He asked him to go on a walk.

This is what Jesus is asking you to do, to not know every detail, to not know exactly what’s coming, take My hand. Come with Me. You remember when the rich young ruler comes up to Jesus. He was rich and he was young and he was wondering how to get in on this Jesus thing. The Bible says Jesus loved him, loved him. But He knew there was going to be a problem. He knew there was going to be a problem because in this rich young ruler he loved money. It’s not just that he had money, there’s not a problem with having money. There’s a problem with money having you. The root of all evil is not money. The root of all evil is the love of money, and God knows not many rich will enter the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because there’s this alluring part to money that we want to make it our God. I want to stack it up and make sure. And it’ll protect me and it’ll provide for me and it’ll be everything that God only wants to be in my life. So Jesus looks at this rich young ruler. And He sees that in his very heart of hearts the king of his life was money. So for this young ruler He gave him something that He didn’t ask anybody else to do. To this man, He said, “Here’s how you can get in on following Me. You have to sell everything you have, sweep off all of that money that you have on the very chair at the center of the throne of your life and let Me sit on that throne. All of the safety and all of the feeling of love and protection and all of the worship that you give to money, wipe that all out.” And can you imagine this young ruler? And Jesus said, “Then, after you do that, come and follow Me.” How empty is that? I’ve got barns filled with money that make me feel secure. And I’ve got this Jewish guy asking me, in the Middle East, I’m pretty sure He was a carpenter, to follow Him. Isn’t this what Christianity feels like to you? You have the Savior of the world calling you, “Give up everything else, trust in nothing else like you’re going to trust in Me. You seek Me first and all these things will be added to you. But they won’t be on the throne of your life. I will be.” You say, “Man, I’m going to step out in faith on this. Man, I’m going to trust You in this.” And this is interesting because this is the very place in the New Testament where this passage is mentioned.

The author of Hebrews writes about faith. And he writes about faith in the 11th chapter and he gives this really weird definition at the beginning, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And I’m, like, “What?” Then the author of Hebrews gives us examples of what faith actually is. You say, “What is faith? What actually is…” So he goes through this list of people that expressed faith. You want to know what faith is? Check out Noah. Before the rain had ever fallen he had a word from God and he built a huge boat. Have you been to the Ark Encounter? It’s a huge boat. How did he build it? By faith. Are you sure you want to know what faith is? Because then he goes on to say about Abraham, Hebrews 11:8, “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went.” Everybody say, “Obeyed and went.” That’s faith. “Even though,” I hate this part, I love this part, I hate this part, “even though he did not know where he was going.” How do you feel about faith now? You hear from God, you obey God and you step out. And you don’t know all of the details of where you are going. And this one guarantee I can give you, you will have times where you fail. There’s no perfect faith.

Abraham is an example of faith and the faith is the example of movement. He heard and he went. But even then he messed it up. He lied about his wife multiple times. You remember this? When they were afraid they weren’t going to get pregnant he slept with the maid. I mean, what could go wrong there? He didn’t have perfect faith and neither to do you, neither do I. We step out and trust God. And then here’s the beautiful thing that happens with God’s people. Even when you mess up, even when you make a mistake, you’re saying, “Lord, I’m trusting You. He works all things out together for the good to those who are called according to His purpose. He’ll even take your mistakes and make them right.

But you got to be moving. You’ve got to be moving with Him. Oh, the temptation to stay in the land. If I stay I won’t be hurt. If I stay I have the comfort of family. If I stay there’s no risk. If I stay it’s all familiar, it’s warm, it’s cozy. And that is not the Christian life. What about Jesus? I mean, did He step out from His comfort? Didn’t He walk with a cross? And didn’t He lay down on it? Did He risk it all or not? That’s our picture of Christianity. Lord, I’m going to go where You want me to go, do what You want me to do, say what You want me to say, be who You want me to be. And I’m not going to always know where I’m going. But I’m going to trust You. Listen, as a church, we don’t always know what’s out there. But we know the one who’s leading us. And I want us, as a church, to step out in faith and say, “God, as imperfect as we are, we trust the one who is perfect. You’re leading us and You tell us and we’ll say yes and we’ll go. So I guess my last statement is this: are we going to do this or not? Would you stand with me and we’ll pray?