Sam has moved on from children’s Bibles and we are doing a reading plan together….NIV Bible…We are working through the giants of the Faith…Adam…Noah…..Job…..we are onto Abraham… What do we tell our children about Abraham?Ten generations from Noah to Abram… then we stop and spend many chapters on this character…he is the beginning point of so much of our Bible…of history itself….Hebrews 11 reduces the life of Abraham down to a few beautiful sentences….. I have tried to highlight the best bits,,, but it is all good….By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashoreWhat a giant… what an example….. thousands of years after the fact Paul holds him up as an example for us….. and then 2000 years after that, his journey with God reveals so much still of the character of God and a faithful, yet fallible man…These writings are so good for us we look to understand who God is….. God is of course unchanging and is the same today as he was then….As we look to the future for Medway in 2020… what better example do we have than Abraham?I would like to be clear here…our theme…our vision for 2020 is GROWTH…very specifically numerical growth,,,,, a scary thought, because this vision is so easily measured… at the end of the year we will know if we have been successful or not…..As we look at this passage…. It starts BY FAITH…. Let’s come back to this…When called…Abraham was so lucky…imagine…called by God….if God calls you it is obviously really easy…go go go …unless you’re Jonah of course….Have we been called?Called to do what……2020?... what does God want us to do?John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will lastWe have been called as Abraham was called…by the same God….. The God of Abraham has not changed..We are at an advantage though as we have more details about what is required of us….we have experienced God’s faithfulness….Abraham had very little to work from….it says here that Abraham did not even know where he was going… God called him and all he had to do was to ‘go’…… one step in front of the other until he got there…. How scary is that?As we look forward to 2020 and set a target of growth in our church……We worry about whether we will grow or if we can pay the bills or will God send workers to do the work…… Abraham had no idea where he was going….I suppose we don’t know where we will end up either, but at least we have some kind of direction…..At Medway have been called to bear Fruit…. What kind of fruit?19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.What was Abraham’s response to being called….?He obeyed and went…… let’s get back to this ant the end…He made his home……Like a stranger in a foreign country…. This is probably one of the more difficult aspects of living out God’s calling…..Abraham had to live in the land God had promised him as if it was a in a foreign country… a place where he did not belong…. Following God’s commands will lead us to places which are not comfortable…… we need to know this before we head off into 2020….. Perhaps we may even feel like foreigners in our own homes….Church culture in the western world has quite blatantly become about being comfortable…. People are happy to tell us that they are moving from their church because they don’t like’ their church anymore……. Their needs are not being met…. There is no place for this in the Bible at all…… It is not our duty to find a church we like…..If we come to Medway just because we like the church, this is a poor and dangerous reason for church attendance…..I would like to suggest that being a Christian should not be comfortable….sure we should/could love coming to church….but God’s way is so different to the world that we should be countercultural… we should find ourselves on the uncomfortable side of conversations…. We should at least not be overly comfortable…..If growth is going to happen at Medway…..Sometimes we will need to attend carol concerts in the park, or speak to new people who come in on a Sunday morning….. give a testimony or give up a Saturday afternoon to set out chairs…..Not only did Abraham live in a foreign country, but for three generations they lived in tents…. In tents?As difficult as it is to live in a tent it is the symbolism of a nomadic life style which is important….. Abram was a wealthy man, he could have built a house I am sure, but he was always ready to move where God wanted him to be…..People ask me which school I would like to teach at next, but I am very comfortable in our home…I have invested time and money into making it a place which we can call home…. I can’t move too far from there….. What this does to my career is it stunts the possibilities as any new school has to be close to home…….Abram could have built a house, but as soon as you build a house the chances of moving forward are limited…..As a church we have to be very wary of setting up an institution which isn’t flexible…… very often our ministries remain the same many years after they have become redundant….. we have to be ready to move into new areas……Three generations in tents? They must have been questioning when God would give them rest…. When would his promise come through…..Very often we expect God to work now…. To answer now to reward our faith now…..but these guys were in tents for three generations waiting for God to reward them…..Who were heirs with him of the same promise…. As we go forward with the work at Medway we have to be intensely aware of the fact that this work is not about us…it is about those who will inherit the fruit of our works…in some ways it is about the next generation…our children and in others about those in the church who will be the fruit of our labour…….Everything we do has to have this next group in mind…. There are short term plans we can put in place to grow our church, but if we are to build for the next generation then it is important that we grow in a more sustainable way…… A charismatic leader attracts congregants….. but Bible study builds people…. A team of full time workers may grow a church quickly, but engaging everyone in the church in ministry futureproofs the body against any changes in personnel….Then verse 10 says 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. So here you are at Medway…part of a nice little church….perhaps you are involved in service here…. What are you looking forward to? Why are you involved/ you want Grant or Jeanette or one of the other leaders to thank you?.... am I hoping they will name the kitchen after me?If we are looking for praise from men or wealth or a legacy… this will end in disappointment..The only thing worth looking forward to is God’s kingdom….Looking forward has to be where our eyes are… there are so many reasons why we cannot grow at Medway…if you need a list I can give you one….. there are lots of excuses….lots of obstacles…. There will be many times when our heads are down and we want to give up, but our eyes need to be on God’s kingdom..We need to have the faith that our work and effort will come to flourish in God’s grand scheme…… this not just in the realm of our spiritual work…Grandpa…..whose architect and builder is God. This is a kingdom which is designed by God…… there is no pressure for us to come up with the design…we just have to listen to him and his leading,… we have to get to know him and we will learn to recognise his style of building as we learn more about his character… if we are to be successful workers in this grand project…. We have to get to know the ways of the architect….. there is very little to substitute the study of God’s Word……But notice further that it is not just his design, but he is the builder…. So often we take on the responsibility of making sure that the work is done and completed. That we don’t follow the intricate design and we don’t trust the master builder so we end up making something much smaller than was intended…What does God want built here at Medway?.... What has he designed? I don’t know ….sorry… Is the work going to be completed any time soon? No… probably not…. This is the great thing about God being the builder… we just get to do the little bit that he has given us to do……..Nothing needs to work out… we are just the workers… the architect and the builder are great at their job….. just follow instructions…..Mr Buchanan….As we approach 2020, we are insisting that every person at Medway be involved in the work… This is completely unfair right? After all some of us have very good excuses… we are busy… we are alone… we don’t have any talents…..Sarah has been barren her whole life and now she is past child bearing age…she probably has other talents…but the one thing she cannot do is to bear a child…what a great excuse for not being able to do something…..absolutely impossible…..So why then did it happen? How did this impossible thing come about? This is important because many might say that it is not possible for us to grow our numbers at Medway…other churches are in decline after all….The impossible was made possible in Sarah because she considered God to be faithful to his promise…. She believed that God would do what he said he said he would do in order to complete the work he had planned.….This has very little to do with Sarah of course… and of herself it is quite obvious that she could not provide a child as the first son in this great nation God has promised….This is not our work but His,… I do the best I can and allow Him to do the work….Have we been promised anything? A baby? What have we been promised?Many things of course, but specifically around the great commission.All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”All power has been given to me……….I will be with you alwaysAs we look forward to 2020…we have a vision to grow our church…. Are we big enough? Do we have enough resources to be successful in this work?No No No…..but all power is given to Jesus and He has promised to be with us always….. so then the only question is , do we like Sarah have the faith required to believe that God is faithful to his promise?vs 1212 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashoreOne man….. God took one man and through him he made a nation with enough people that their numbers are unknown….they cannot be counted….God has called us too and if we have the faith that Abraham had in a God…we started our reading with BY FAITH…Let us remember together the response of Abraham when called….He obeyed and went…. if we look to his kingdom and rely on his design and power then we too here at Medway can play a greater part in fulfilling the plans of God…. We will talk a whole lot more this year about GROWTH