June 17, 2018 FATHER ABRAHAM HAD MANY SONS

June 17,18 Father’s Day

Gen. 12:1-4

FATHER ABRAHAM HAD MANY SONS

Those of you who have ever been in a VBS setting have sung that old kids song about “Father Abraham had many sons.” I can’t remember all the words these days but there were lots of movements and lots of fun for the kids. The last verse goes something like this, “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham and I am one of them.” May not be quite right, but I think close.

By the way, Happy Father’s Day to you dads out there. As they say, this day doesn’t hit the big celebration that Mother’s Day does, but, let’s make it a joyous day as a dad, and of course, thinking about our dads still with us, or who have gone on to glory. 

Thinking about a Father’s Day message I thought about Father Abraham. He, after all, is the Father of all who have become followers of Christ. He did not just have sons, he had daughters as well. That is what our Scripture lesson is about, found in Genesis 12:1-4.

It is God’s call to Abraham to follow where he leads. It’s a call to fatherhood if you will, to be the father of a great nation blessed forever as being people of God. Hear God’s message to us this morning through his words to us.

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you: I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So, Abram left, as the Lord had told him.”

For our ears today, God’s words of faith.

Did you notice all those blessings if Abraham took the challenge? He would lead him to where he wanted him to go. He would bless him and make him a great nation. Then God promised that not only would he bless Abraham he would bless those who blessed him. And the final blessing is that all people, which include us today, will be blessed through him. What a fantastic thought for us on Father’s Day.

And how about that one promise that you will be a blessing wherever you go? How great is that!

Think of it. If Abraham was blessed by God in all that he did just because he was willing to go where God wanted him to go, just think how much God wants to bless you and me when we go where God calls us to go. Abraham surrendered all. He gave up what was, for what was to be. He gave up what he could see before him, for what was unseen but would be his. He did it by faith. He did it because God reached down to him and promised him promises he could not refuse. He would be blessed over and over if he followed God to where ever he led. 

And then one day, God told him to walk off the land and wherever his foot touched that would not only be his, it would be his families forever. You can read his story in the book of Genesis.

I sometimes think that it is hard to do a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day sermon because we all know every mother or father is not the best. Some might remember a mom or dad who was great. Some would say that was not their mother or father, so they tune you out. On the radio the other day they were asking people to call in to tell them what they learned from their dad. The woman who was asking these questions admitted that her dad had left their family when she was small. But she still had something her dad had taught her. He must have laid the groundwork for her faith. Others called in with their thoughts and I thought, you know, my dad taught me about faith, about taking care of those you love, that you need to be happy. I’ve tried to model that as a husband and a father. When Carole and I married, she had four wonderful boys ages 9-5. How thrilled I was when at the supper table one night when we told them we were getting married they asked what should they call us? I asked what they would like to call me. They said, “Can we call you dad.” I was touched and said yes, and to this very day that is how I am called.  I tried my best to always be their dad, even though some rough spots in our journey as a family. I might not have done it all great, but I hope I’ve left something positive for all my family to remember. It came from modeling what I saw my dad do, even his faith walk with God.

Abraham was someone that God decided would be the father of his called-out people. He called him to go where he led, to trust in him for all things, and to not fear. Abraham was 75 when he left the land of Ur, took his wife Sarah, his animals, said good-by to mom and pop and off he went to follow God. Beside his own family, his nephew Lot decided he wanted to make that trip with him. And for the next 12 chapters in the Book of Genesis you see the story of Abraham, the good, the bad, the ugly. The great faith, the weak faith, the doubting, the lying, the struggles, the joys, the sadness, the victories, the blessings received, the blessings others received through him. You see how God transformed him throughout those years and how God used him in many ways. And yes, though he only had Isaac by his wife Sarah, he did become the father of many sons through that line that leads all the way to Jesus, and on to us as well. Check out the genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew and it begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus. And we followers of God are grafted into that family, for all God’s creation are God’s family. That is why I am reminded of that little ditty, “Father Abraham had many sons….and I am one of them.”

So, this morning we thank God for calling Abraham and we thank Abraham for following God’s call in his life. We come, not just as fathers, not just as mothers, but as brothers and sisters of the faith remembering the greatness of those who preceded us so that we could learn how to walk in the footsteps of those called to follow God.

We can learn from Abraham to stand on the promises of God. He found that out. He wasn’t perfect in his journey with God. He lied about Sarah being his sister not once but twice. He took his journey in his own hands when he went off to Egypt when there was a famine in his own land. His nephew Lot wasn’t part of the deal with God, but he allowed him to come and we know there were all kinds of family feuds going on, yet, family is family and he bailed him out. And when he and Lot decided to split up their flocks and go different directions, well, he allowed Lot to make the first choice. He chose the area around Sodom, and you know what happened in that city. Abraham went the other direction and was blessed by God.

The only thing lacking from Abraham’s life was a family. Sarah was not able to conceive. But when God visited him one day he gave him a promise that he would have so many children, well if he tried to count all the stars on a clear night, well that would be the amount of children he one day would have. But it had to start with one, and since Sarah was barren, now what. Well, that’s where remembering the promises of God came in. God said it, Abraham had to believe it, and he had to wait for it to happen.  Maybe every night he went to bed thinking about all those blessings God said were his. Listen again to them. “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you. I will make your name great. You will be a blessing. I will bless those who you bless…and all the people of the earth will be blessed through you.”

Maybe, just maybe he went to bed each night thinking about all those blessings coming his way, claiming each one believing God could do all of this. That God wanted to do all of this for a simple ordinary man who left everything to follow God into the unknown. No promise when, just that they would happen. And the promise of many children? Well, it finally happened with the birth of Isaac, and then there were added to his family through that line right down to us today because we are part of the nation God called Abraham to lead. Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham, and I am one of them, and so are you.

Blessed! We are blessed over and over again as we read stories of ordinary people that God called and blessed. We aren’t blessed because of what we do, but because of whose we are. We are blessed because the one who has called father Abraham has called us to follow him as well. He calls us to go forth to where he leads in order that we might bless others.

So, on this day we think of our fathers we can go all the way back to the beginning of time to thank God for calling Abraham to be the father of a new nation, a Christian nation, we would say today. We thank Abraham for saying yes to the calling and he was willing to go where God led and he was blessed over and over again.

Paul writes in Galatian 3:15 and following “Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is the Christ.”

That’s how we have become a son or daughter of Abraham. 

What does Father’s Day mean to us today? Well I’m sure you’ve learned something from your dad, even if he wasn’t the best dad in the world. If he wasn’t, he still taught you something. He taught you that when you became a father or mother you would not be like him. You learned that his ways weren’t always the right ways. You looked for a better model.

Paul tells us that a father should be loving, bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Here is a good definition of fatherhood.

“A godly father is the unseen spiritual submarine who lurks below the surface of every activity of his child’s life. A man who has put on the full armor of God and with that armor, goes to warfare on his knees for his children, is a force to be reckoned with. And since we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day, through our prayers we have the ability to affect situations even when we are not physically present. You may be undetected but that does not mean you are ineffective.”
-Steve Farrar, Standing Tall, Page 199.

Father’s be blessed today and be a blessing to your family. Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham and you are one of them and so am I. Praise the Lord!

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you: I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So, Abram left, as the Lord had told him.”

About Rev. Dick Piscatelli, Pastor

Reverend Richard Piscatelli, (Pastor Dick) has been serving this church since 2006 and has begun his 13th year at Williamsville. Dick is a graduate of Asbury College, 1980, now Asbury University, and Asbury Theological Seminary, 1983, in Wilmore, Kentucky. Originally from Watertown, Massachusetts, he and his wife, Carole, have enjoyed living in the Midwest and have made many friends here. Dick’s first appointment was to Buffalo/Dawson UMCs, a two-point charge, which he served for almost 8 years when he was appointed to Paris Trinity UMC. He served at Paris for 6 years and was then appointed to First UMC at St. Elmo in southern Illinois. Dick’s final full-time appointment was to Roanoke/Secor UMCs, a two-point charge. These churches brought much satisfaction and lasting relationships in each. Williamsville UMC has been a joy to serve as he actually began his first church in “retirement,” and is very much involved in all areas of ministry, as the Lord leads. Pastor Dick has a special gift for doing Celebrations of Life and comforting the family. He prepares uplifting, inspiring sermons in a more casual and relaxed style, using humor when appropriate, yet ever-mindful of the importance of bringing the Gospel message for the salvation that Jesus Christ offers to all.