Does God Break Promises?

Originally preached on 2/21/2021

Message Title: Does God Break Promises?
Theme: Record Breakers & Redemption
Season: Lent
Main Text: Genesis 9:8-17
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:9-15
RCL Scripture: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
Focus: God makes a covenant with all creation through Noah.
Function: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.
Other Notes: Guinness Records in Indiana https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 1:9-15 9About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.” 12At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him. 14After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Intro to Series: Record Breakers & Redemption

  1. Over the season of Lent, we will explore passages in the Old Testament that touch on God’s covenants. These are stories of God’s promises with and for humanity.
  2. While we explore these big promises, we will also explore some impressive feats! As we count down to Easter, we will also learn about some Guinness World Records made in Indiana.

AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: If you became famous for breaking a world record, what would that record be?

GUINNESS INDIANA RECORD: Largest Paint Ball--It’s amazing what humans can do when they set their mind to it. Michael Carmichael of Alexandria Indiana is no exception.

  1. In Alexandria, Indiana Michael Carmichael started the world’s largest ball of paint.
    1. The center of the ball is a baseball attached to a hook.
    2. They add about 2 coats of paint every day.
    3. There is over 26k coats.
  2. It now weighs over 2.5 tons & has a circumference of over 14 ft.
  3. Sources.
    1. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9792
    2. https://www.indystar.com/story/life/2014/10/09/guiness-book-world-records-hoosiers/16960841/
    3. https://radio-indiana.com/20151208/all-indiana-it-happened-here-guinness-world-records/
    4. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-layers-of-paint

TRANSITION: In our text for today, God will paint the sky rather than a baseball. Perhaps this artistic expression will give us a sense of purpose, much like Michael Carmichael’s determination to maintain his record.

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 9:8-17 8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, 10and with every living being with you—with the birds, with the large animals, and with all the animals of the earth, leaving the ark with you. 11I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. 13I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, 15I will remember the covenant between me and you and every living being among all the creatures. Floodwaters will never again destroy all creatures. 16The bow will be in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”

EXPLAINATION: God makes a promise with Noah and all creation.

  1. Genesis 1-11 are considered pre-history chapters.
    1. Most historians don’t date this section of scripture because it is in Hebraic poetry form. Some Christians call this our origin myth, while the word myth makes others uncomfortable.
    2. For some Christians it is super important that Creation happened literally exactly as it unfolds in Genesis 1 and that Noah’s Ark literally happened exactly as is. For other Christians, this is a prologue to scripture. Genesis 1-11 sets the stage and introduces you to God.
    3. God created all of creation, and it was very good. It didn’t take long, with human choice, for things to grow corrupt. God wiped the slate clean and start over with a specific family, Noah’s family.
      1. This loss was an enormous cost. God promised not only Noah and his family, but the rest of creation that he would not use a great flood of destruction to bring about redemption.
        1. Did God regret exercising judgement in this form?
  2. What we learn from this account
    1. “am now setting up my covenant,”
      1. Covenant means a commitment or legal contract. This is a vow that has consequences if broken. Though God doesn’t define here what the consequences would be if God didn’t keep God’s promise.
    2. “I will set up my covenant with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters,”
      1. And here we have the specific covenant with Noah, his family, and all of creation.
      2. God isn’t gonna do the flood thing again.
    3. “I have placed my bow in the clouds,”-
      1. “bow”–the word used in Hebrew, think archery weapon not rainbow.
      2. God’s weapon of war and death (the bow) is laid aside in the clouds and becomes the sign of peace and life assured in the covenant. (Footnotes)
    4. “I will remember”- this is a mutual reminder. God calls for justice and holy living, but this is his way of reminding himself of this promise

INTERPRETATION: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Does God need reminders? Why do you think he said “I will see it and remember”?
    1. It’s an odd thing to think that God would need help remembering not to destroy all of creation in a flood again. Honestly, it makes me think of the problem of decorating a nursery in a Noah’s ark theme. Yes, it’s a story with a bunch of animals which is cute. But also, it’s a violent story of God seeing evil people and sentencing them to death by drowning. Not just humans experienced consequences of these actions. Plants & animals also suffered.
    2. I think God places that reminder there because his justice is so strong. He sets down his weapon of war in the sky and reminds himself to hold off on judgement & justice. God does not choose to repeat the form of justice
  2. Biblical Waters
    1. Waters of the flood were violent and destructive.
    2. Waters of Jesus’ baptism were about giving life.
      1. But does that mean OT God is angry and vengeful while the NT God (Jesus) is all about love and peace?
  3. God keeps God’s promises. God doesn’t compromise God’s expectations.
    1. God created the world and made it good.
    2. God created humans in God’s image. They chose not to reflect God’s image.

Back to the Intro:

APPLICATION: To set our minds for the season of lent and a renewed dependance on God.

  1. Traditional practices during the season of lent help us enter the holy life to which God has invited us.
    1. Fasting is most famous! (From ash Wednesday to Easter it’s 40 days of fasting b/c we skip fasting on Sundays.) Fasting could happen continually or perhaps you want to try to do a full day fast (I recommend making sure your doctor says you’re healthy enough for that).
      1. The goal of a fast is to experience the void of that thing and spend that time with God. This could manifest in many ways.
        1. I.e.: giving up 1 hour of television/entertainment a day for mental and spiritual development.
    2. Charitable giving (not just money but acts of service)
      1. Pointing the focus away from yourself and towards others.
    3. Confession & Repentance– owning up to your active or passive sins and changing your behavior. This could look like direct acts of healing with the person you’ve wronged but that isn’t always possible. Confession and Repentance can also be a journey between you and God or you and a counselor.
    4. Incorporate a new spiritual practice: Prayer, meditation, bible study
  2. On Ash Wednesday, I suggested doing something unconventional for Lent. I suggested a Joy Jar: taking time to find joy in the mundane little things in life. We have given up many things in the last year and during COVID.

CONCLUSION: You are invited to find creative ways to remember our hope is in God during the season of lent. You may choose a traditional path or perhaps discover something non-traditional.  Humans can accomplish a lot when they are committed. Imagine what we can accomplish committed to our covenant with God and with each other. Let’s break a record in love!

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