Claiming the Land Through Worship
As Pastor Jonathan pointed out in the first sermon of the Abraham series, one of the primary promises to Abram involved the land of Canaan. God called Abram out of his father’s land in Ur and promised to give him and his offspring the land of Canaan. And it’s important that we stress the offspring part.
In Genesis 12:7, God promised to give the land to Abram’s offspring (though as we shall see next week, Abram has no offspring). And again in 13:14-17, God reiterates this promise and tells Abram to walk the length and breadth of the land. Now, as we shall see in coming chapters, the fulfillment of that promise is a long way off. Which is why Abram’s response to the land promise in both Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 is significant. Both times, after God makes the promise, Abram builds an altar so that he can call upon the name of the Lord. He builds an altar at Moreh, then a little later between Bethel and Ai, and then later at Hebron. In other words, God makes a promise, and Abram claims that promise through worship.
Abram owns nothing in the land. He is a nomad, a wanderer. But, he believes that the land belongs to him because God says so, and so he claims the land through worship. And Abram’s response is an exhortation to us this morning. Like Abram, God has promised to give, not just the land of Canaan, but the entire world to Jesus and those who belong to him. And like Abram, the complete fulfillment of that promise may be a long way off. And so we ought to respond like Abram, by claiming the land through worship.
Make the application more specific. The Twin Cities belongs to Jesus. He bought it with his blood, and it will be included in the inheritance that God promised to him. So what should we do in light of Christ’s ownership of these Cities? We should build altars to claim the land. We should establish places around these Cities where we call upon the Lord and worship him in spirit and truth, as a way of expressing our faith in God’s promises and as a way of bringing about God’s promises. In other words, because God has promised us the land, we should plant churches that worship Jesus, that serve one another, and that seek the good of these Cities.
Last week the pastors met to discuss our vision and process for church-planting. We talked about everything from our leadership pipeline to church-planting assessments to financial commitments. It was a very fruitful time, and it renewed us in our commitment to make disciples, multiply community groups, and plant churches. In the coming weeks, Lord willing, we’ll continue to cast vision for the coming years as we seek to be faithful at our post and do our part to claim the land for Jesus by establishing worship in these Twin Cities.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let us seek his face together.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, you have designed the world so that worship and mission go together. Faithful worship is the heartbeat that fuels all of our efforts to spread the good news of Jesus. Our weekly worship is a confession of faith that we believe the world belongs to Jesus, and is our plea that your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
But we confess, Father, that we have not worshiped you in spirit and in truth. We have gone through the motions; we have checked the box of worship, but we have not sought our deepest satisfaction in you, nor have we esteemed and honored you as we ought. What’s more, we have loved our ease and comfort more than your mission. We confess that this is a great evil. Forgive us, we pray, when our hearts are far from you and our zeal for your mission wanes. Have mercy upon us, for we are miserable offenders.
And we know, Father, that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual. So we confess our individual sins to you now.
Father, we thank you that you are constant in your mercy and grace to us. You are always ready to make the fire fall on our feeble altars. You bend your ear to hear us when we call upon your name. And so we ask that you would remember the multitudes in these Cities who have been created in your image but have not known the redeeming work of our Savior Jesus Christ. Grant that, by the prayers and labors of your holy Church, they may be brought to know and worship you as you have been revealed in your Son; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.