Sermon Series: Genesis, The Book of Beginnings

Preview: November 25, 2018
Last time, we were introduced to the infamous sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau. This week, we see that rivalry take shape over a pot of stew. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob to satisfy his passion, and so becomes a warning to all of us who despise the promises of God. But, Jacob is no angel. He shows a similar kind of callous disregard for his family through his calculated moves to steal the birthright. How will the family of promise survive when there are no worthy sons to carry on the promise? God must intervene by grace in Jacob’s life, just as must intervene in our own. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: November 11, 2018
The book of Genesis is structured around ten different genealogies. This week, we will look at the shortest one, and complete our turn from the story of Abraham to the story of Isaac and his succeeding generations. The genealogy of Ishmael, found in Genesis 25, is remarkable because it shows God’s faithfulness to a man who was not part of the covenant people of God. That faithfulness of God–even to people who are not rescued from the sins and brought into a saving relationship with him–is called, “common grace.” Ishmael is a recipient of God’s common grace, as are you and I. This week, we’ll explore the role and purpose of common grace in Ishmael’s life and in our own. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: November 4, 2018
With Genesis 24 (a chapter some have called the Bible’s greatest romance), the story of Genesis shifts to Isaac, Abraham’s son. The old questions still remain: will God be faithful to the promise he made to Abraham? Will Isaac be a worthy covenant partner with God? How will God fulfill everything he has promised? In this story, God’s provision is made evident in a wife—Rebekah—who along with Isaac will ensure the continuity of the seed of the promise. We can take comfort in seeing God’s hand at work in Isaac and Rebekah’s life because they are an example to you and me of God’s faithfulness to us—even in times of distress and emptiness. Join us this Sunday as we see God at work (again!) in the life of Abraham’s family. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 28, 2018
Abraham and Sarah lived to be very old, but they only lived long enough to see just one of God’s promises come to fruition in their life. They did not live long enough to see all of God’s promises fulfilled. This week, we turn to Genesis 23 and 25 to read of Abraham and Sarah’s deaths. Even in death their lives pointed forward in faith to the promise of God. Their deaths, just as much as their lives, are examples to us of how to live by faith. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 21, 2018
Christians talk easily of “living by faith.” The phrase itself has become jargon, a way of saying nothing of any consequence at all. This Sunday, we’ll be reminded of how scandalous living by faith actually is. In the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, we see Abraham at his best–in the worst possible scenario. From Abraham’s example, we can see our own responsibility before God, and God’s provision for us. Join us this Sunday as we study Genesis 22. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 14, 2018
This week, Abraham acts as a kind of priest for Abimelech. He secures peace and establishes an everlasting covenant with his gentile neighbor. But, Abraham can’t escape his previous encounter with Abimelech. His lie is the elephant in the room that makes the covenant necessary. Join us this Sunday as we consider the limitations of Abraham’s priesthood, and the need for a better priest and a better covenant. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: September 23, 2018
Ever since we were introduced to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 11, the narrative arc of their story has led to this moment: the birth of Isaac. Waiting, as Abraham and Sarah waited, is not easy. Even when we’re waiting for God to fulfill a promise, the wait itself can feel like punishment. This Sunday, we’ll rejoice with Abraham and Sarah at the birth of Isaac and consider our own experience of waiting on God. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: September 16, 2018
This Sunday, we return to the story of Abraham, and (to quote the great Yogi Berra) “it’s déjà vu all over again!” The Father of the Faithful demonstrates his faithlessness; the hero of the Old Testament reveals his cowardice. This odd story is reminiscent of other episodes of Abraham’s life where he sacrificed the good of others to save his own skin. It also demonstrates again, God’s faithfulness to Abraham despite this destructive pattern of sin in his life. Join us this Sunday as we consider how this ancient story still speaks to our messy lives today. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: November 26, 2017
What is sin worth to you?  What is the price of accommodation to our culture?  These are questions that we face every day—sometimes multiple times per day. Genesis 19 is a passage about many things, but at its very center is a graphic contrast between a life lived by faith and a life lived by accommodation.  The contrast is between Abraham (Sodom’s unknown intercessor) and Lot (a foreigner who became all too familiar with Sodom and her sins). This Sunday, we’ll read a tragic tale of sin and misery—one of the saddest chapters of the entire Bible. My prayer is that it will cause us all to look in hope to Jesus, who by his life, death, and resurrection, brought us through God’s judgment to safety.  ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: November 19, 2017
This year, The Benedict Option created a small controversy when its author, Rod Dreher, called on committed Christians to strategically withdraw from society in order to conserve a Christian witness in what he believes are the dark days that lie ahead for the church. If I were ever to write a book addressing the same social factors that Dreher identifies, I would call it, “The Abraham Option,” because I believe that Abraham is a model for our engagement with the wider culture. This week, we turn to the second half of Genesis 18 to see how Abraham bargains with God over the fate of a wicked city. That story is a blueprint for our own calling as ambassadors of Jesus here in Austin. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: November 12, 2017
Living by faith isn’t easy, even when you’re blessed with a special appearance of God like Sarah was in Genesis 18. Sarah’s laughter at God’s promise of a son echoes down through history in our own struggle to believe God’s promises. This week, we’ll see how God—despite Sarah’s unbelief—still condescended to draw near to her, to eat a meal with her, and to create the faith she needed to believe his promises.

Preview: November 5, 2017
“The devil tempts us to hope in things that we can do.” I read that quote this week and it struck me that this is exactly the temptation that Abraham faces in Genesis 17. In this passage, God breaks a 13-year silence to reaffirm his covenant with Abraham. In response, however, Abraham laughs at God’s promise and puts his hope in Ishmael, his son by Hagar, Sarah’s slave. He was tempted by what he had done when God called him to trust in his work for Abraham. Do you find yourself tempted to trust in your own efforts, abilities, and works instead of the promise of God? I know I do. That’s why God gives us signs and seals of his promises. For Abraham, it was circumcision. For you and me, it is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This week, we turn to Genesis 17 and see how God renews his covenant with Abraham (and with you and me) with God’s sign of salvation. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 15, 2017
Genesis 15 is one of the majestic peaks of Scripture. In it, God reiterates his covenant promises to Abram, using a bloody ritual whose significance will stretch all the way to the cross of Calvary. In Genesis 15, Abram is reckoned righteous because he had faith in God’s promises, and that new reality will also stretch all the way into the New Testament as Paul and others use Abram as a model for our own righteousness that comes by faith alone. In this anniversary year of the Protestant Reformation, we may be tempted to celebrate important history without remembering the intensely personal challenge of living by faith and the comfort that comes from believing God’s promises. Join us this Sunday as we worship our God who was faithful unto death, for Abram and for you and me. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 8, 2017
Genesis 14 marks another high point in Abram’s pilgrimage. He leads a small army into battle and emerges victorious, rescuing his nephew Lot and all the wealth of five pagan kings. Abram’s victory is also a test: having been so successful in battle and now having acquired so much wealth, will Abram establish himself as a king over the Promised Land? Will he seize by force the promise of God? This week, Abram teaches us another important lesson about the way God works in our lives and the way that we can acknowledge his blessings. Join us this Sunday as we turn to Genesis 14. ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: October 1, 2017
The singer Kelly Clarkson reminds us, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and this week we see Abram return to the Promised Land stronger after his potentially deadly choice to flee to Egypt. But once he is in the land, a new crisis emerges within his own family. The choices that Abram and his nephew Lot make will shape their lives forever. This week, we turn to Genesis 13 and learn that the world’s pleasures and treasures (while pleasing to the eye) cannot compare to God’s promise of a heavenly inheritance.  ~Pastor Eric Landry

Preview: September 24, 2017
With astonishing regularity, reports that some celebrity has converted to Christianity fill our news feeds. Invariably, the newly baptized actor, musician, or sports star is invited to speak at big churches and write a book about his or her conversion. Soon, videos of them “preaching” are shared by people who long to find some sense of confirmation for their own belief in their newfound hero’s faith. It all comes crashing down, of course, when news of infidelity, drug use, or a profanity-laden video emerges. The Bible is more realistic about its heroes. It doesn’t shy away from revealing them in all their glory and in all their sad frailty and sin. None more so than Abraham. This week, we return to Genesis and begin the story of Abraham, which will dominate the rest of the book. This Sunday, we’ll see his rapid rise and just as rapid fall as he struggles to believe God’s promises. The way God brings him back to faith is a great comfort to me, and I trust will be a great comfort to you, as well.c~Pastor Eric Landry