Genesis 15 – The Power of Assurance

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I want to invite you to Genesis chapter 15. That’s where we are together today. Genesis chapter 15. And this is one of the, some say, one of the most powerful passages in all of the Bible. And if you don’t agree, all the Bible, definitely in the book of Genesis. This is an incredible section of Scripture. It’s a delight for me to be able to to share this with you together today. A powerful story found in the Bible. And if you’ve been following along in the book of Genesis, the first 11 chapters of Genesis, we cover a large gamut of history to get us to the place of Genesis chapter 12. We’re dealing with a figure named Abraham. Genesis chapter 12 to Genesis. Chapter 25 is about the life of Abraham. And Abraham, we learned, is really nothing special. He was a pagan man from a pagan land, part of a pagan family with a pagan name that honored a pagan god. And God called him out of that. Not because of Abraham was great, but because God was great. And as Abraham journeyed to a land, he was uncertain where he was going. He was willing to follow after the Lord. But when he gets to that land in Genesis chapter 12, we find out he quickly abandons the promises of God because of a famine in the land. And he runs to Egypt. And from there things spiraled down. He ended up losing his wife to Pharaoh.

God had to intervene in the life of Abraham to get his wife back and send him back to the promised land. And in verse 13, that’s where we discover Abraham on his knees, turning his life back to the Lord and honoring God in Mammary and the Lord. From that point, Abraham goes on into a battle. Abraham’s nephew gets captured. Abraham has to take his his men 318 men to to go after his nephew and others that have been taken captive, and he goes and defeats four kings, 318 men, defeating four kings and their kingdoms. And he gets all those that have been taken captive and brings them back. And in chapter 15, now we find that Abraham is struggling. Abraham is struggling in chapter 15 with his faith, but he’s learned from his past mistakes that in chapter 13, when he struggled, he ran away from God into chapter 12, into chapter 13, he ran away from God. And now in this chapter, he’s learned how to to not run away from God and His struggle, but to how to wrestle with his faith before the Lord. And for Abraham. You can begin to understand in this situation why he would do that. I mean, he was a he grew up in of the Chaldeans and in Abraham. That’s where you belonged in his day. You you were born, you lived, and you died all within a 50 mile radius to pack up everything at the age of 75, all by camels.

Could you imagine that move and journeying west hundreds of miles to a place where he is a foreigner, and and in that land he now has had to fight a war, a battle? Abraham didn’t go looking for this battle. This battle came to him. But Abraham is challenged by this. This has been obstacle after obstacle for him. And and he’s at this place where he he’s recognizing his frailty and his weakness, and he wants some security in the Lord. And in that we see the kindness of God made known. And also through the life of Abraham, we start to understand the importance of of how to struggle in a healthy way in our faith. And in Genesis chapter 15, today we’re going to we’re going to talk about the power of assurance. And I really in that assurance, I really don’t want to make for us two points. And then I’m going to answer two questions. At the end, I’m going to answer, how do we find assurance and what does assurance provide for us. So in dealing with the power of adversity, point number one in your notes is this we all need assurance. We all need assurance because we all face adversity and we all have doubts. And Abraham in this story, he certainly has his concerns. And God speaks to his fears. And in Genesis chapter 15, verse one, that’s why you find it says, after these things the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision or a Brahman, a vision.

Fear not, Abram, I am your shield. Your reward shall be very great. You know, one of the things that we typically do as people, we read stories of the Bible. You see these great figures of faith found in Scripture, and we tend to put them on pedestals. But one of the things that we’re reminded of over and over as we start to study their lives is they’re people just like you and me. When they go through challenges in life, they have to figure out how their faith aligns with the adversity in which they’re experiencing. And Abraham’s the same way. It’s why when you turn to Scripture, you find repeated over and over the same promises of God in the midst of people facing challenges, because we all need assurance. There’s some 360 plus promises of God where he states to two faith leaders over and over again that the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. And God, knowing what Abraham has gone through and and the state of his own faith before him, God leads off with this reminder Abraham, don’t have fear because the promises of God is with him. But we we need that type of assurance when we go through life, when we’re relationally facing adversity, we want to know that you have the security of that relationship, whether it be with.

Someone else or with God as you walk through the storms of life to not receive that. Could you imagine if maybe it played out this way where you know, if you were about to get married, let’s say, and you’re you’re headed to the altar to share your vows. And right before you get married, your spouse looks at you and says, all right, I’m going to say this. I’m only going to say this once. So you need to listen up, all right? I love you, okay, I love you. I just want you to know that I love you. And we can just settle that matter right here. Just know that’s forever true. I love you, and that’s it. Right? But that’s the only time they’re going to say that, right? And then any time you ask them, you go through a difficult time, you have some difficulty in your relationship or you had some adversity and you just want the the comfort of knowing that they’re with you. You ask the question, do you love me? And their only response is I, I’ve told you once, right? I have told you. I have told you once. I mean, what more do I need to say? That’s that’s not comforting to the soul. And for Abraham, this is exactly where he’s found himself. I mean, hopefully you’ve never been in a circumstance like this, but you picture Abraham traveling from a distant land, having lost his wife in Egypt, and now he’s had to go to war.

He’s coming back from that. And he wants to know, did I, did I make up the promises of God? Did God really say, you ever been in that place where someone said something to you? And it was very encouraging. And and then a little bit of distance has happened between that promise or that wonderful statement they gave. And you you start to think to yourself, well, did I really hear them say it that way? Was I a little more optimistic than I should have been? Did I did I elaborate upon it beyond the words that actually stated? I’m not really sure anymore, and you start to talk yourself out of it. You think maybe the problem was you? Maybe you thought you were crazy, and then you start to think, well, the only thing I can really do to make sure that that was really what I heard is to ask them again and to find the security of that word again. Is that is that really what you said? Is that really what you meant? Can you just repeat that one more time? I’ve had some hard things happening. I just want to know. And this is exactly where Abraham is. He’s going through the the adversity of life. He wants to know that that he’s he’s not crazy and that the truthfulness of what God said and the promises that he he has given him is real.

That God’s Word is what God says. I mean, even from the Garden of Eden, we’ve seen our tendency as human beings to twist and pervert what God has said. I mean, when Adam and Eve were tempted, the thing the serpent said, Did God really say to get us to to question the truthfulness of God’s word so we don’t rest in the assurance and it gives uncertainty to the soul. But we need peace in our relationship with God in order to move forward. And this is where where Abraham finds himself. And so, since God broached the subject, Abraham goes right after the very promises that God gave him the two promises that God had given to him, he. He just wants to know God one more time. Can you can you say to me? And so verse, verse two, Abraham goes on. Excuse me. Verse two. He says, But Abraham said, oh Lord God, what will you give me? For I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus. And Abraham said, behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir. And when God gave Abraham the promise, remember what God said to Abraham, Abraham, go where I’m going to show you. I’m going to multiply your seed, and through your seed all nations will be blessed, which was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. But, but but to Abraham, he also said, I’m going to give you a land.

And so Abraham makes this journey at 75 years old. You’ve got to think, at this point in Genesis 15, we don’t know how much time has elapsed in Abraham’s life between Genesis 12, when he was called at 75, to Genesis 15, where we are right now. But Abraham is somewhere between the age of 75 and 99, and he just he just wants the comforting thought of God. Are you are you really sure you’re going to give me a kid at this age? Or maybe he’s asking, do I really want a kid? But but he’s he’s really asking the question. God, 75, somewhere between 75 and 99. And Sarah, she’s she’s somewhere between 65 and 89. And he’s saying, God, give me the assurance he’s he’s at a place where he knows how weak he is. He knows the possibility of these promises are only as sure as what God has told him. And so he wants that reminder. And then in verse four, God responds and it says, and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, this man shall not be your heir, Abraham. Your very own son shall be your heir. And he brought him outside and said, look toward the heaven and number the stars, if you’re able to number them. And then he said to him, so shall your offspring be. And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. This passage, a famous passage often reflected in the New Testament, is quoted again in Romans four that Abraham’s faith was not built on who he was, but on the promise of who God was.

And Abraham trusts in what God says. But one of the things I love about this passage is just recognizing how patient God is, and the weakness of Abraham’s faith. God could have responded any way. Abraham is learning anecdotally about his relationship with God. What kind of God are you? How patient will you really be with me? Especially when I’m struggling and in these obstacles. Having just gone to battle and now returning, I just want to know, God that I can really depend on this. I just want to be reminded of the truthfulness of who you are. Because if I’m going to put my weight on this, if I move my family across the country, if I’m really if I’m really going to see myself established here, just remind me you are who you say you are. And God, he could in this moment, he could have looked at Abraham and been like, Abraham, I told you once, right? What more do I need to tell you? How pathetic is this going to be? Do I have to remind you of this all the time? I’m done with you, Abraham. God. God could have responded that way. But what does God do? His patient. I love this about the Lord, that we don’t have to run away from him in our struggle.

That we’re not here to prove anything to him, but allow himself to prove himself to us. God, show me who you are. Give me reason to believe more and more. God, help me with this challenge. And Abraham goes right after it. God, you promised my seed would multiply. God, how can I know? And God takes him outside. And he and he and he shows him the stars. And and then Abraham comes back and he asks God a second question. And he asks in verse seven, and he said to him, I am the Lord who brought you out of, out of ur of the Chaldeans to to give you this land to possess. And then here’s what Abraham said. But he said, oh, Lord, how am I to know that I shall possess it? Not just the seed. But, Lord, we’ve already been attacked once. We’ve already gone through a famine once. How do I how do I know, Lord, that we’re going to have this land? You know, one of the things that’s incredible about Abraham, as he’s asking this question of the Lord, he’s not just asking for himself. He knows that God has promised him his his, that he would multiply in this land. So he he’s thinking of a dream beyond himself that would ultimately truly be fulfilled in Jesus as we come to know the Lord. But he’s thinking much more beyond himself. It tells us.

And in Hebrews chapter 11. And what’s incredible about the life of Abraham is, as you look through Genesis 12 to 25, if you read about his story, is that Abraham wandered in this land as a nomad for years. It wasn’t until his wife passed that Abraham ever bought any plot of land in this area, and it was only to bury his wife, and it was where he was buried as well. And so Abraham by faith trusted that the Lord would provide. Which brings me to point number two in your notes, then, is this God’s response to our apprehension is covenant love. We need to know the power of assurance. One we all need assurance, but two God’s response to our apprehension or our uncertainty is definitely its covenant love. And by covenant love, we’re not just meaning a verbal declaration, but God. Also in this story gives us a demonstration of his covenant love. And in chapter 15, this is one of those most profound things I think, that happens in all of Scripture. It’s a picture of what Jesus will ultimately do for us. But in verse nine he said to Abraham, 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. And he brought him all these, cut them in half and laid each each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.

And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abraham drove them away. I started to laugh because I thought, I told you this is one of the most profound passages, but right now it just sounds crazy what is happening here, right? Let me show you. Let me demonstrate covenant love and these animals into what is he doing here? Well, what Abraham is establishing with the Lord is what’s referred to as as a covenant. And literally it would translate as a cutting of the covenant, a little different in an oral tradition society than a than a written or contractual society. Today, if you want to work in agreement with someone, you set aside a contract. One party agrees to one half, you agree to the other half, and 5050. If one of you doesn’t fulfill the end of the contract, the other person is not obligated to fulfill the end of the contract. And in oral tradition, if they wanted to take the seriousness of agreement together, they would do what is called a covenant. And a covenant is, I would say, a further step than than just simply a contract. A covenant is giving all that you are for the benefit of someone else and vice versa. The best comparison we have today is to that of marriage and a marriage covenant. When you enter into that, you’re giving all of yourself away for the benefit of someone else and vice versa. And here in this passage, you’re seeing this with Abraham.

He’s entering into a covenant with the Lord and in an oral tradition, rather than a written contract. They would do this through the participation of animals. And the way this would work was the animals became a demonstration. There was only two ways to get out of a covenant. One was to fulfill it, the other one was to die. And and when they would separate these animals, the two parties that would agree upon that covenant would pass through those animals as if to say, if I do not fulfill my promise in this covenant, may what happened to these animals happen to me? This is a very serious and sobering act of a covenant being made known, but it shows the depth of a commitment from one to another. And God is saying this to Abraham, and maybe you could take a piece of this as a lesson, like the next time you have to hire a contractor in your house, go grab your dog, right? Just kidding. You need your cat. I shouldn’t say I should not say that, but God doesn’t accept cats, so we know that. So I’m just kidding. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But. But you see this? The seriousness. You see the seriousness of this covenant that that God is bringing to to Abraham and this oral tradition that’s being practiced. And then and then, as if to add to to help us recognize how serious this is, it then goes on to describes the demeanor of Abraham.

It says in verse 12, and as the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, a dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Now I’ll let you know. I’ve read several commentaries, and none of them really spoke to verse 12 the way that I wanted to. So I’m going to give you the Nathaniel Wall commentary of verse 12. All right. Take it for what it’s worth. If you don’t like it, you can discard it. All right. But, but, but you come to this passage and you see the weightiness of this moment on Abraham. And let me just give you a thought as to why I believe Abraham feels this way. When you enter into a covenant, it’s all that you are to fulfill this covenant. When you enter into a covenant with God and you think about who could mess this up, I promise it’s not God, right? And the weight of that in that moment when you realize, as Abraham is laying these pieces out, he knows. He knows what this represents. He knows what could happen here. And Abraham’s thinking in his mind. Am I am I about to promise something to to the Lord like I’m going to be? I’ve already demonstrated in my life that I would run away, right? He did that in Genesis chapter 12, and now he’s thinking, now God wants to to fulfill this covenant with me, and he wants me to do this with him, right? He’s like, okay, God, I’ve already asked you about you like, God, how do I know you will fulfill this seed? And how do I know you will promise this land? But when I think about in terms of this covenant, if you’re expecting anything from me, there is this, this weightiness to that, that I realize that the only person that’s going to disappoint this moment is myself.

And if you read in the book of Genesis, if you consider this is the first book of the Bible, right? In this book, the only other time that you have seen up to this point, someone experiencing this type of feeling around the Lord, it’s it’s Adam, right after he sent in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter three, verse ten, the weightiness of that sin, Adam runs and hides. And now Abraham knows this. This is a serious commitment I’m about to make. And there’s only one person that’s going to mess this up, right? You ever been in that place in life where the weight of whatever happened that day has so much you just you’re tired and it’s just worn you out emotionally. Maybe you didn’t do a lot physically, but you can’t put a measure to how much emotionally. You just feel drained. And then even when you go to bed, it’s like you carry that weight on you.

But but something interesting happens in the story for Abraham that that brings this, this great assurance in the Lord. And it goes on verse 13. Then the Lord said to Abram, know for certain. Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in the land that is not theirs, and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterwards they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace. You shall be buried in a good old age. Here’s what he’s saying is, Abraham, I’m going to tell you exactly how it’s going to play out. And for generations, from the time of you to Moses, this 400 years, this is what it’s going to look like. And also Abraham. No concern. Look, I have you right in my hand. I know you’re going to live and you think you’re old. Now just wait. Right. You’re going to get really old. That’s what I’m going to say. And you’re only as old as you feel. But. But for Abraham, he’s going to get much older. And he’s saying in verse 15, I’ve got you right in my hands, Abraham. So, so you can rest in peace, because this is dependent upon me. And in verse 16, and they shall come back here in the fourth generation. For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

And then something incredible, verse 17. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. I should just warn you in this passage, like this is a narrative in Scripture, which means this is not prescriptive for everybody. Okay? If anyone else walks out of here and happens to see a floating, smoking pot and a torch, come see your pastor so we can get you help. All right. But but for Abraham, this is unique. This means something I’ll talk about in a minute. Verse 18. On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying to your offspring, I will give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the parasites, and the Rephaim, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites and the Jebusites. The God’s promising this to Abraham. And here’s what’s powerful about this passage is this, this, this flame. And the smoke that appears in this passage is the representation of God the Father. And you have some verse references here at the bottom. And the reason this is important is get this in the Bible over and over again. It tells us God does. God the Father does not have a physical body. In fact, the only member of the triunity who takes on a physical body is Jesus.

And he doesn’t do that until the New Testament. And the reason he does that is so that he can become a sufficient sacrifice for you. He lived a perfect life as we are relating to us, in order to be a sufficient sacrifice for you. God the father does not have flesh and bones. God the father is not in a body. Only Jesus took on a body. And in fact, when you read the when you read the Old Testament, you see that picture of God over and over again as fire and smoke. When when God led Israel out of Egypt in Exodus chapter 13, the way he directed them was by cloud by day and fire by night. When they built the temple, God’s presence was made known over the temple. The way that you saw God’s presence was cloud by day, fire by night. This this cloud and this fire became this representation of God’s presence with his people. And so it’s God’s representation of being with Abraham. And the Bible tells us in multiple passages over and over again that God the Father is invisible. In fact, in Matthew chapter three, when Jesus was baptized, it tells us the spirit descended like a dove. The father spoke from heaven and Jesus was baptized. The father has a voice, but no, no physical bodily presence. In John chapter four verse 24, it tells us God is spirit, and Luke 24, verse 39, it tells us a spirit has no flesh and bones.

And Colossians chapter one, verse 15, it tells us Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And first Timothy chapter one. It says the same thing that God is invisible. In fact, at the end of Timothy chapter six verse 16, it says, no one has seen God and no one will ever see God. In fact, in Exodus 3320 it says, if anyone has looked upon God or the presence of God, you will die. That when when God was made known by fire, by light, it was it was masked in a glory cloud, because if someone looked directly at that light, it would kill them. In fact, even in the New Testament, when Jesus was at the Transfiguration, it tells us Jesus was in this transfiguration, this glory state because he was God, yet he was captured within a cloud as his disciples. His three disciples stood there, and it was as if to protect them from from death. When you walked into when a priest walked into the temple before you could get to the Holy Rooms, there was the the altar of prayer, which incense would burn. It would as if to cover or mask the presence of God. Sacred. And holy. And so God’s presence is made known in this covenant. But here’s, here’s what’s so powerful about this story. That it’s God alone who walks through this covenant. Abraham had this concern, knowing if anyone fails in this story, it’s going to be me.

If anyone fails in this covenant, it’s going to be me. But God causes this sleep to fall on Abraham and it’s God alone who passes through this covenant. What God is saying to Abraham. Abraham, the reason you know that what I’m telling you is going to be true is not because of you, but because of the faithfulness of me. It’s the consistency of his character that makes this possible. And so it’s because of that God is the only one who enters into this covenant. The reason you can trust in what I’m telling you, Abraham, is because it’s not contingent upon you. But the promise that I’m giving you is contingent upon me. And. And the profound thought of this covenant is that during Abraham’s day, and even even after Abraham’s day, when someone would establish a covenant, two people would typically walk between the covenant of those animals as if to establish it together. On rare occasions, only one person would walk through the the aisle of establishing a covenant, but in those occasions, the way it would work out would be a king would go to a new land, he would conquer that land, and he would cut the covenant with with the people of that land. And he would cause the people to walk through that covenant, to promise to the king. But the king would never walk through it. But here in that story, it’s the exact opposite.

It’s the King of kings and the Lord of lords who makes his covenant known. And so the the promises that God’s giving to Abraham are completely based on the faithfulness of who he is. And God, Scripture tells us, is unchanging. This passage provides Abraham Assurance. And because Abraham has assurance, when he finds himself secure, he knows he has hope for tomorrow. Because God takes care of me today. I have a future. So so the question for us is twofold here. One is how? How then just like Abraham. Right. And this is great for the story of Abraham. But there’s nobody go home. Do this to animals for sure. But but you’re not going to see any smoking pots or flaming torches, right? Like how how how can this relate to you? This is great for Abraham. But. But how do you find this kind of assurance, like Abraham, where he knows the the certainty of his life? What what does this story mean for you when you need solid hope, when life is rocking you, when things are hitting the fan and you just need something to cling to, something that you know, just like Abraham as God was his rock. That God is is your shield and your rock. Can I can I tell you in Hebrews chapter six, that’s exactly what the author was thinking about. And Hebrews chapter six, check this out in verse 11. The author starts it like this.

He says, and we desire each of you to show the same earnestness, meaning you have this hope, you live for this purpose and to have the full of assurance of hope until the end. Wanted to have assurance. And so thinking about the assurance, the author of Hebrews goes all the way back to the story of Abraham. And in verse 13 he said, for when God made a promise to Abraham talking about this covenant promise, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, surely I will bless you and multiply you. And thus Abraham, having patiently waited to obtain the promise, but then thinking about the story of Abraham, he then jumps in verse 19 to you today. And he says this. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Now, we’ve already talked about Melchizedek, but let me let me tell you what he’s saying. He’s saying, do you want covenant promise of God? Do you want to experience what Abraham had in the midst of adversity? Here’s what you look to. It’s the cross of Christ. You want. Not not just the words of God, but the demonstration by God that he loves you and he would give his life for you.

The answer is look, look, look to the cross of Christ, because that becomes the tangible expression and demonstration of God’s love on your behalf. It’s not just a declaration, but it’s lived out that Jesus would become flesh and give his life for you, that you may find freedom in him. The place that you find yourself resting is rooted in the cross of Christ, and I love the way he compares it to the idea of an anchor. Meaning, look, if you want to solidify your faith in the Lord, ask questions. Especially when you go through adversity. Definitely ask questions. Seek the Lord. But to really root yourself in the truthfulness of Christ on the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection. That’s where we see the hope of what God has done for us. And the more you as a Christian plunge the depth of that, the more you find yourself secure in the difficulty of life and comparing it to an anchor. I can tell you, as a kid, I spent time in high school on in the Gulf of Mexico, on Gulf Gulf Shores in Alabama, and my dad was he is a daredevil. He still is, but he definitely was as a kid. We did some things my mom would not be happy for, but, but, but sometimes we would go out in adventures. We’ll say we would go out and and at risk to our lives. We would go out in high tides and big waves and and have a fun time in a boat.

And sometimes we would even take the fishing boat in the ocean during high waves, which that was scary. But but one thing I learned when we would travel around in this boat, especially when we would face high tides and strong waves. That we are as only secure as the anchor would allow us to be. If you just have an anchor but you never put it in the ground, you’re going to get tossed around. But the minute you put your anchor in what’s trustworthy. It can hold you. True. And this is what he’s saying about the cross of Christ, that for us, there is no other faith in this world where you will find a God more personal than the God of the Bible, who pursues you with his life and and gave his life for you. And it’s not because of what you’ve done, but because of who he is, that we can rest assured in the promises of God, because he, by grace became our substitute. He walked the path of covenant, and he did it alone so that we could have have freedom in him. And so this this becomes a very important, crucial point to think about when we consider covenant, because I know sometimes in some of the traditions or way we have been raised in different faith ideas, the word covenant is something that can be tossed around.

But when you study the word covenant in the New Testament, here’s what’s extremely important for you this morning is to know this. The covenant in the New Testament is only one. There is only one covenant in the New Testament. And it’s not God asking you to make a covenant with him. It’s God making a covenant for you. It’s God alone walking that path for you, and it’s you being called by faith to receive the covenant that he alone has paved for your life. And so the question then is. What does this assurance provide? What does this assurance provide? Can I can I just tell you, as a pastor, one of the greatest joys I have? Is seeing the hand of God’s grace made known in your life. When you find freedom in Jesus and what he has done for you on the cross. I mean, again and again I get to see that redemptive story told over and over in your lives. Given your heart to Christ not because of what you’ve done, but he by his grace, what he has done for you. And in that you find freedom. So when we think in terms of what does assurance provide for me, it provides you the opportunity to dream beyond yourself and to live freely for the purpose which Christ has created you in him. That God not only made you in his image, but he redeemed you in his image, that you could be free for him forevermore in our lives.

If there’s ever a place where you don’t feel secure. When you say to yourself, does this even matter? Do I even matter? Do I have worth? Do I have value? Am I even loved? When you get to those places where we feel a lack of security, all of a sudden everything becomes internal in our world. We just focus on us because we want to know we matter, and we want to know we have what we need in order to take the next step forward. But when we find ourselves secure. We find peace in our heart and in our lives because of what Christ has done, we find purpose and meaning and value. Then it gives us the opportunity to live for something beyond ourselves, because we’re not as concerned with what’s happening within us, because we know what Christ has done for us, and because of everything that Jesus has done for us, there’s no greater value that can be placed on my life, and therefore I get to live for his glory in this world. I have purpose and meaning and worth, and God has called me on mission that I can participate for his kingdom and his glory in this world. Which leads me to this. In your seatbacks, there’s a card on on mission. And the only reason I want to end talking about missions today is because of the beauty of his covenant love. His covenant love as a church gives us the opportunity to live for something more.

We say as a church, we don’t exist for ourselves. God created his church for a mission. We. We exist for a purpose greater than ourselves, for the glory of God to the benefit of others. And in so doing, it has been a privilege to see how God has nurtured within our family a people that care. Even this past week, I walked in for our food pantry on Tuesday, and on the counter there was just all the names of people that volunteer, and I just snapped a picture of it real quick because I don’t think all the names could even fit on the counter. There are so many people participating in that. And then even the the church planning conference this week to watch how people volunteer. And this last year, our church gave 18% of our budget towards missions. $75,000 went out of our church to to carry out this mission. Because of what Christ has done in us, we desire for God to do through us. And so as we think about this next year, and this isn’t the only way to live on mission, but let me just encourage you in a few ways. Number one church, can I just encourage you to continue to pray? Yeah. Seeing what God is doing in our family. It’s wonderful to pray for our church, but also beyond us. If you want to know what we’re doing in the area of missions, on the back of that card you’ll see a QR code or a website.

It’ll take you to a website that will list the areas of missions that we’re supporting. I’m going to show you a picture that’s not going to appear online real quick, but this picture represents a few missionaries that we have, we have taken on this year. In 2015, there were a group of 18 indigenous workers undercover in Asia that went out to do ministry. Today there’s there’s only, I think, ten of them pictured in this picture, but today there’s only 12 of those guys remaining. The reason for that is because six of them have been martyred. And you as a church, we don’t publicly share their names with you, but because of what God is doing in you, God is also doing things through you, and you’re a part of helping things all the way around the world that you may not have even been mindful of until now. But but knowing we have people that we support undercover in, in areas of Asia gives you an opportunity to pray for them. So you can you can pray for for the needs that we’re supporting around the world, beginning with these guys, and also even for our church locally, our our heart is to see a healthy church in every town in Utah. But we can pray ministry to that end. The other thing that you can do is you can give our missions goal this year.

We always start off at a 10%. We want to at least raise 10% towards missions. And and we have typically commonly done more than that. But this year we set the standard goal of meeting meeting the mission demands by by giving 10% starting off at 10% of our budget. And on the back, you’ll see that that QR code will take you to a link to not only share with you the missions that we support, but also an opportunity to give towards missions. And so if the Lord leads you to give you can you can also give to support our mission work around the world. The third that you can do is go. You can go in the sense that you can act locally and declaring the gospel. Here in our valley, you can serve in our food pantry ministry. You can go for the Lord. We have we have a missions trip coming up late July early August. If you’re interested in, there’s a information table outside that you can speak to Kara about that. But but you can go and serve and some of the areas of the world that we’re a part of. And I know politically, across the world, things are getting a little tumultuous right now. So we’ll have to keep an eye on that. But we’re making plans end of July, beginning of August to go on another trip.

But the other thing I want you to know is we’re also bringing mission to you. And one of the ways that we’re doing that is through a young lady named Hope. Part of the ministry that we have supported as a church has been in Uganda. And I want to ask, Is Harriet in here? Pastor Peter, you come up here for a minute. Is Harriet still in here? Harriet, if you’re in here, come up. Well, somebody go grab her real quick. Out of the nursery. Here we go. Thanks, Dylan. Grab Harriet. Tell her to run. I want to bring Pastor Peter on the stage with you. Because, Pastor Peter, one of the beautiful things there are. I hear you, one of the things I love. Pastor. Three years ago, I did not know Pastor Peter, but the Lord had some divine circumstances. Allow our families to meet and. And you as a church. I know some of you have gotten to know Pastor Peter. He started a church in Uganda. He’s from Uganda, started a church in Uganda. The same year we started ABC and he started the church in the capital of witchcraft in Uganda. And when he started the church there, he began to see how children had suffered from child sacrifice. And some children were survivors of that. And the first child that the church took on to then build a rehabilitation center was a little girl named Hope. And Hope. Hope’s story has become more than just about hope.

She has become a symbol for change in her own country. In fact, there’s events that are done in Uganda to end child sacrifice. It was outlawed finally two years ago. It’s still practiced. In fact, it’s spreading beyond Uganda now to other countries. And a hope has become a symbol of ending that movement and the the gatherings they have to honor the end of that movement are often called hope. Whatever hope events, hope galas. And so hope has become that symbol. And a few months ago, I got a phone call and I was taking Harriet somewhere to her from. She doesn’t like it when I share this story, but I’m going to share it. Harriet is over the rehabilitation center in Uganda, so she cares for somewhere between up to 100 kids at one time in the rehabilitation center that the church runs. And one day I got a phone call and they’re telling me hopes, hope situation has severely deteriorated. She was kidnapped as a young girl at 18 months. She was missing for over a year. She had been held in a shrine and tortured every really every day. And because of the injuries that she suffered, she’s quadriplegic and she’s 16 years old now. And because of that, her her body, it’s taken a toll on her body. And she needs some emergency medical help. And I’m on the phone with someone in Uganda. I can’t remember if I was talking to you or not, Pastor Peter, but it was a dire situation talking about the needs urgently.

And I’m just I’m just being very blunt and frank back and forth about this. As a pastor, you know, sometimes you get from one thing to the next and trying to move on. And I forgot, Harriet is sitting right beside me and I hang up the phone and I look at her and tears are just running down her face. And it just was a reminder to me that while I’m just talking about this practically situation, that these these are children that she has loved and helped cared for for a number of years and hope special to her heart. And Harriet is here because she’s going to UVU now, getting a master’s degree in social work to better serve the kids in Uganda and and her people. And so I’m very thankful for both of them and what they represent. And how bold and brave they are in the gospel and the care for for their country and for these children. But one of the things that they need, we’ve Pastor Peter, this has been a part of your hope for a while. That hope would be able to get the help she needs. And we did not know. We’ve been praying for, well, you longer than me, but for the last three years. And finally, we’ve seen some answers to that. And some funds have been raised for her, her surgery.

But when she comes here, she’s going to come with a few social workers or a few helpers that are going to be with her during that time. And we as a church are going to get the privilege of being able to care for her personal needs. And so we’re going to have opportunity to run them to rehabilitation centers, doctors appointments, even take the caregivers out for respite, to enjoy their time while they’re here. So they’re not every day having to do the same things. But we also have an opportunity to raise some funding for that. And so we’re going to as a church, we may need to raise a little more than this. We’re going to start off shooting to raise $12,000 to help the hope, but not just hope. Hope the symbol that hope represents. Because when hope gets help, she’s a symbol of hope for other children in Uganda. And so we want to help hope during that time and her caregivers that are here. So we’re going to raise $12,000. And we had a a generous donor come forward and say, hey, if your church hits that mark, I’m going to throw in another 6000 on top of that. And so if you want to give towards hope, who will be here in a few weeks on the back of that card will also take you to that website where there is a link in order to give to to the needs that hope has.

If you want to help with transportation, with hope or respite care, with hope or anything related to that, we have a packet for that. And you can talk to Carol at the at the missions table when you leave. But, Pastor Peter, is there anything that you would like to add or share with the church? Before we let me grab this mic in case you can. Or Harriet. Harriet. You guys know Harriet? If you know Harry, you know Harry is painfully shy. All right. But, but but I’ll let Pastor Peter speak for you if there is something you want to say here. Okay. I don’t know how shy. I just want to say thank you. When I was here, I remember Pastor Nathaniel asked me to say anything I could do for you. And the nature of our ministry is there endless needs? You know, feeding 1000 children every day and. And others. So. But the Lord brought my focus on hope. And because she’s worth fighting for. And and of course, it was a big ask. And we prayed, and it’s been a pleasant joy for my soul to see how God has worked miracles that hope will be here. And I’m. I have a lot of peace and joy that she’s coming with you because you’re going to be blessed by her. She’s blessed our soul. She’s inspired us. We fight because she’s fighting. So I just want to say thank you.