Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

05/26/13 Sermon

Hebrews 11:8

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our strength and our Redeemer, Amen


One of the things I’ve always tried to do in preaching a sermon is to try and inject a little humor into the message while also trying to remain faithful to the theme of the text.

One of my all-time favorite sermon illustrations relates to today’s theme of radical faith and trust in God. 

It’s the story of the man who was walking in a dark cave when he tripped and fell off a cliff.

And as he’s plummeting on the way down he reaches out and grabs hold of a tree branch growing out from the cliff.
Holding on for dear life he begins to scream to high heaven,----“Help me, Help me! Is there somebody up there who can help me!”

And suddenly a voice says, Yes, I am here, I can help you.

And the man screams out, Thank God.
And the voice said, “You’re welcome”.
Then the man asked, “Who are you any way?”
And the voice says “I told you, it’s me, God”
Startled, the man thought to himself “I don’t care who he is as long as he can help”.

SO he screams out, “Can you help me, do you have a rope?”

And the voice said, “I’m God I don’t need a rope. What I need you to do is trust me”.

And the man said, “Ok, whatever, I trust you, now please help me!

And the voice said “Great, what I need you to do is let go of the branch and I’ll catch you.”
And the man said,… “What???”

And the voice said, “You heard me right, just trust me and let go of the branch”.

Then after a long pause, the man looks down and around and then screams out--- “Is anybody else up there?”……………

Now our theme today is based on the faith of Abraham who radically trusted God when God told him to let go of everything to blindly follow His call.

As we read in Hebrews, Abraham not knowing where he was going, obeyed and went.
And such is the call to faith. Faith calls us to take a risk; to step out into the unknown.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.

There is no in-between when it comes to completely trusting. You’re either all in or all out.
Years ago, Monroe Parker, a Baptist preacher was traveling through South Alabama on a hot, and humid day.

He stopped at a watermelon stand, picked out a watermelon, and asked the proprietor how much it cost.

"It's $1.10," he replied.

Parker dug into his pocket, found only a bill and said, "All I have is a dollar." 

"That's ok," the proprietor said, "I'll trust you for it." 

"Well, that's mighty nice of you," Parker responded, and picking up the watermelon, started to leave. 

"Hey, where are you going?" the man behind the counter demanded. 

"I'm going outside to eat my watermelon."

"But you forgot to give me the dollar!"

"You said you would trust me for it," Parker called back. 

"Yeah, but I meant I would trust you for the dime!"

Parker replied, "Buddy, You weren't going to trust me at all. You were just going to take a ten-cent gamble on my integrity!"…………….

Faith is not an in-between matter. With faith there is a call to step out of our comfort zones 100%.
Scriptures of course are filled with stories like Abraham where God called people to get out of the boat, to leave their nets behind, to stand up to Pharaoh, to trust despite being outnumbered and outsized.
This call to faith is certainly not easy…You probably have your own stories of being called to faith despite not knowing where you were going.
For me I can relate to this radical call to trust God a couple of times in my life.
Once when I heard God’s call to enter into full-time ministry. It was a radical call and like Abraham; I had no idea where we were going.

We sold our house, I left my career, and we packed up for a journey into the unknown.

And then there was another radical call about 5 years ago. This was the call to leave our homeland in Tennessee to come to a foreign country known as Maine.
We had no idea where we were going but we took that step. We let go of our branch putting ourselves into God’s hands.

And as we have said yes to these radical calls of trust, like Abraham, we have been so abundantly blessed.

As a pastor I have been blessed to be able to proclaim God’s Word and scatter seeds of His love and grace for the past 12 years. I have been honored to marry and bury and baptize individuals including many of you out at Pemaquid Lake.
Cindy and I have been richly rewarded to pray with and get to know such faithful individuals who have taught us so much; friends we have remained in contact with over the years as well those who have gone on before us into the eternal realm where we look forward to seeing them again one day.
Our children have been richly blessed; even as we let go of the materialistic things to enter into the ministry; they have not been without God’s provisions.

Cindy and I have grown ever closer to one another in our marriage, and we have seen miracles in our lives as well as others.

Truly the call to radically go where we didn’t know where we are going has been scary and at the same time rewarding.

And so as we pack up our belongings again and we begin the next part of the journey, not knowing exactly where we’re going, we go with the wisdom and assurance that God is with us and God will provide.

He gives us just enough to take that leap of faith, and as we do it leads to abundance.

I’m reminded of the story of Desert Pete who had written a note next to an old water pump in the middle of the desert for anyone who came upon it dying from thirst.
The note said:

"Dear Friend, 

This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer in it and it should last for at least five years. But if the washer dries out, the pump has to be primed.

So under the white rock to the north I’ve buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and corked up. 

There’s enough water in the bottle to prime the pump, but not if you take a drink first.

Pour about one-fourth of the water and let it soak the leather washer. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll get all the water you can imagine. 

P.S. Don’t settle for only the jar of water, have some faith And don’t forget when you’ve pumped all the water you need, fill the bottle and put it back where
you found it for the next feller who travels this path. 


Desert Pete

God gives us enough to take the next step. And as we take that step of faith, God promises so much more.

Now today my final message to you as a church is a call to you to be willing to let go of the comfortable; to let go of the branch, to risk pouring in that jar of water and radically trust in God who will provide abundantly.  
Abraham’s call to a radical trust in God opened the door for an innumerable witness to God. As God said, your descendants will outnumber the stars in the sky.

And so as you move forward into the future here at DBC, don’t look at this moment on the journey as a sad moment.

For while we will miss each other it is a time to look forward to what God has in store for all of us next.

My charge to you is to be open as a congregation to hear God’s calling; resist the urge to play it safe and trust that God will provide.  

If Abraham had not have trusted in God he would have missed out on the promised land of abundant life that God wanted for him.

A twist to the earlier illustration of the man hanging from the branch on the cliff in the dark cave is the tragedy in his refusal to trust God and let go.

Weeks later the man’s body was found dead. He had tied himself to the tree branch and died of starvation.

The tragedy was that when he was found, they shined a light to reveal that his feet were only 2 inches from the ground. His lack of faith and trust cost him the life he could have had.
As this church moves forward, my prayer is that you are open to God’s leading wherever that may be.

As you come together in prayer, don’t be afraid to go to new places you’ve never been before; Listen to where God is leading you into a new country; a new land, a new way.

Our triune God that we celebrate on this Trinity Sunday is a Father who creates, a Son who resurrects and a Holy Spirit who breathes in new life.

This church is not done yet. God has wonderful plans for you as He does for us.

As God says in Revelation 21: I make all things new!

We simply need to trust in His provisional power and His abundant blessings.
Let me close this morning with a poem that speaks to the journey of faith.
It’s titled, The Road of Faith by M.S. Lowndes:

Shine your light, O Lord
So that I may see
Just where I am heading
And what’s in front of me

Your word is the light,
The lamp unto my feet
It may not light far ahead
Nor show me where it’s steep

But it gives enough light
For each step I take
Just enough to see ahead
Along this road of faith

For this is what it surely is
As we walk with Jesus Christ,
The road that we are travelling on
Is by faith, not by sight

So shine your light, O Lord
So we may see our way,
Though you only show in part,
It’s enough for each new day……
Today and everyday, let us walk in faith even as we don’t know where we’re going or what lies up ahead.

Like Abraham, we have nothing to fear---our God is with us every step of the way.

He can be trusted and He will provide---we need only to have…. faith

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen