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Abraham - Genesis 12:1-9

This is a family service talk by Malcolm Peters from the Riverside Church service on 4th March 2007.

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An audio recording of this sermon is available.

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Song 4:  Our God is a Great big God

Daisy appears towards the end of the song and joins in the singing/ miming!


Activity/ Puppet Sketch


Me:  OK, if youíd like to take a seat. 

Daisy:  Siiiiiiiiit  [with exaggerated head movement]

Me:  O hello Daisy, where did you come from?

Daisy:  Well I heard everyone singing about our great big God and I wanted to join in.  [Singing voice]  ĎOur God is a great big Godí

Me:  OK thank you;  you seem very excited;  whatís up, apart from having a great big God that is. 

Daisy:  [Singing Voice]  ĎIím going to the Deep, Deep, Deep, do you wanna come too, too, tooí. 

Me:  Youíre going to the Deep.

Daisy:  Yep

Me:  Great, whenís that then.  

Daisy:  Next Saturday       

Me:  My daughter, Bethan, loves going to the Deep too.  Whatís your favourite fish?

Daisy:  An Ďsing rayí

Me:  An sing ray;  you mean an string ray. 

Daisy:  Thatís what I said.  One of those funny square fish with a long tail.  I think theyíre so cool.  I wish I could have one in the bath to play with. 

Me:  Not so sure thatís a good idea.  Shall we ask the boys and girls what their favourite fish is?

Daisy:  Yeahhhhhh!   Whose favourite fish is an sing ray like me?

Me:  [Lots of you/ not many etc]  So whoís been to the Deep recently?    

Daisy:  Me, me, me

Me:  Youíre not going until Saturday.  So whoís going to take you?

Daisy:  My granddad Ė he promised.  [Suddenly go sad with head down.]

Me:  Whatís the matter?  I thought you were excited about going to the Deep?

Daisy:  Well even though heís promised to take me, how do I know he actually will?

Me:  What do you mean?  Why wouldnít he if heís promised you?

Daisy:  Well not everybody keeps their promises, do they?

Me:  Like who?

Daisy:  Well, like my friend Hannah.

Me:  What the same Hannah who saw a cartoon with a man was juggling 3 knives. 

Daisy:  Yes, thatís right.  And she promised that me and Chloe could go round last Thursday for tea and watch Tracy Beaker.

Me:  That sounds great.  Whatís the matter?

Daisy:  Well at School on Thursday, she told me that she only wanted Chloe to go round, because Chloeís her best friend. 

Me:  She broke her promise.

Daisy:  [sadly] Yes.

Me:  And now youíre not sure whether your Granddad will keep his promise to take you to the Deep.

Daisy:   Iím not sure?

Thatís really sad isnít it boys and girls?   Shall we have a big Ahhh for Daisey. 

Has anyone else ever had someone make them a promise which they broke?   Hands up

Daisy:  [Putting arm up]  Me. 

Me:  Yes I know all about Hannah.  So tell me, has your Granddad made you any promises before. 

Daisy:  Yes.

Me:  Like what.

Daisy:  Well, heís taken me to the Deep before.

Me:  Anything else?

Daisy:  And swimming at Woodford Ė you know the one with the slide and the waves and all that.

Me:  When was that?

Daisy:  Well loads of times.

Me:  So has he kept his promises?

Daisy:  Well yes.

Me:  Always.

Daisy:  I think so, yes.

Me:  So, if heís always kept his promises in the past, do you think heíll keep his promise this time.

Daisy:  Well I suppose so yes. 

Me:  Just because some people break their promises, doesnít mean that we start thinking everyone does.

Daisy:  Really.

Me:  yes really.  Especially when we think about God.

Daisy:  what do you mean?

Me:  Well God makes promises, and because Heís totally perfect, He always keeps them.

Daisy:  what always.

Me:  yes always.  And in the Bible reading we had earlier, God was making some promises to a man called Abraham. 

Daisy:  [singing voice]  Ďwhat a man, do do do do do do, Abrahamí.

Me:  Thatís right; can you remember any of those promises?

Daisy:  noop!  Wasnít here for that bit  - remember!

Me:  O silly me!  Can anyone else remember any of those promises? 
[Clue:  If you need a clue, then look near beginning of the reading and at this monthís banner]

Thatís right, one of the promises that God made to Abraham was that his descendents would become a great nation, or a great big family as the song put it.  And later in Genesis, God repeats that promise and says that Abraham would have too many descendents to count, just like the stars in the sky.  

So Daisy, have you ever been out after dark and looked up to see the stars?
[slide with starts in sky up]  

Daisy:  yes.    Amazing.

Me:   Itís a bit like [SF:  this picture [holding one up]   Riv:  the picture on the screen].   So, can you count the stars in the sky? 

Daisy:  One, two, threeÖ..  fifteen, O Iíve lost count.  But I think youíre right;  thereís too many to count anyway.

Me:  Thatís right.  But thereís a problem. 

Daisy:  Whatís that.

Me:  Well Abraham was already 75 years old when God made that promise, and he didnít have any children. 

Daisy:  So how could he have a great big family.

Me:  exactly.  But he did.  Because God always keeps his promises.


Daisy:  what even when itís difficult.

Me:  yes always.  But what about people?  If someone keeps a promise, then next time they make a promise, youíre more likely to believe them arenít you? 

Daisy:  So Granddad will definitely take me to the Deep.

Me:  well I canít guarantee it, because your Granddad isnít God, but Iím pretty sure he will, yes. 

Daisy:  great [getting excited again + singing voice];  Iím going to the Deep, Deep, Deep, with my Granddad too, too too.  In fact I think Iíll go and get ready right now.  Bye. 

Me:  Bye Daisy,  Say goodbye Daisy boys and girls. 


Well whatís Godís promise of a big family to Abraham got to do with the story of the whole Bible? 

Well remember the mess Adam and Eve made by disobeying God?  And remember that God had a plan to sort out the mess.  And that's why one day a long time later, as we saw in our reading, God made some promises to Abraham.   Those promises were the start of God's plan to sort the mess out.  And God keeping those 3 promises is what the rest of the Bible is all about. 

So as well as a big family, who can remember what the other three promises were?  If you need a clue, then look at the banner [back on screen] or look back to that reading from Gen 12.    [engage]

Many descendentsóa great nation

The promised land of Canaan.

Bless youómake you happy

But thereís a problem with Godís promise to Abraham about having children.  When I was talking to Daisy, I mentioned how old Abraham was when God made the promise.  Who can remember?  

Thatís right, Abraham and His wife Sarah were already really old  [75].  And they didnít have any children.  Sarah wouldn't be celebrating Mothersí Day in a fortnightís time.  So how could they have loads of descendents?  So you see it must have been difficult for Abraham to believe God's promise when it seemed likeóno way.

Itís like if youíve been promised something that you know is really difficult or even impossible.  No way.

But with God everythingís possible, so Abraham believed God.  Even though it seemed impossible, Abraham trusted in Godís word.  And just as God has promised, they did have a baby called Isaac.  [Picture from p53]

And Isaac grew up and got married [picture p59] and his descendents grew into a massive nation called Israel [picture p69].  So God had kept promise no 1.


Who can remember promise number 2?  [Banner Part III on screen]

[Weíve done the big family represented by the picture in the middle;  whatís the picture at the top with the trees all about?]

Yes, God promised he'd give them all a special place to live in. It was going to be a beautiful place. In some ways it would be just like living back in the garden again. And one day God was going to take them there, and make it their home.

The nation of God's special people would be living in God's special place all over again!

And what was promise number 3 which is what the bottom picture is all about?

Yes God said he'd BLESS THEM. Which means they'd be happy again.  Happy on the inside not just smiling on the outside.  Truly bless.  It was just like another chance. Adam and Eve were in God's special place right back at the start, and they disobeyed. Now Abraham's family were going to be in another special place. And they'd be God's friends again.   God was going to bless them.

And just like God kept His promise to give Abraham lots of decedents.  He also kept His promise to give them the promised land; and God also kept His promise to bless them.   because God always keeps His promised.  But how?  How did God keep those promised?   Well youíll have to come back next month on 1 April to find out in detail.

But for today, the main thing to remember is that as well as promising to bless Abrahamís descendents, God also promised that, through them, through the nation of Israel, Heíd  bless lots of other people too;  people who weren't Abrahamís descendents, people who werenít Jews. 

How did God keep that promise?  Well by sending His son Jesus to die on the cross taking the punishment for all the sins of His people.  And Jesus has promised us that anyone who is truly sorry for the wrong things they've done and truly believes that Jesus died for them on the cross is forgiven.  Anyone who believes in Jesus can be certain of eternal life;  anyone who believes and trust in Jesus can be sure of living for ever in the heavenly new Creation; a place like Eden restored, but much better.  

And if youíd like to know more about how all that fits together, then like last month, Iíve got some leaflets called ĎWho will be Kingí [cover on screen] which are on the Information Stand at the back of church.  Please do take one if you want to find out more about how God fulfils His promises in Jesus.

What a man, Abraham.  Trusting God when he couldn't understand.  Abraham believed Godís promises, He trusted Godís word even when it seemed impossible.  And itís the same for us.  Godís promise of eternal life might seem a bit incredible, but thatís why we need to ask for Godís help to trust him.  Do you want to have faith like Abraham?  Do you want to trust in Jís promise of forgiveness and eternal life. Do you?  [I canít hear you!] 

Well if you do, then the best thing to do is to pray for Godís help.  So letís pray. 

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