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Who’s ready for the word of God? I love you guys. You’re great. We’re going to read from Genesis 13. We’re reading Genesis 13:14. And a little backstory towards this story is you have Abraham. He’s got his wife. He’s brought his nephew Lot along with him to the land. And there’s a bit of a quarrel between him and Lot. Where they have so much possessions between the both of them. That all the shepherdsmen are now kind of having a bit of a tiff. And it’s causing a lot of issues. Eventually Abraham out of the goodness of his heart points to Lot and says you can choose anywhere you want to go. You can take any land you want. 

So he moves towards the plains of the Jordan because they know they need to separate. They know this isn’t tenable. And so you could understand Abraham being like this isn’t fun. This isn’t a good experience for them. He probably hoped for something better. And from that moment God speaks to him in Genesis 13:14. The Lord said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him, look around from where you are to the north and south to the east and west. All the land you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth so if anyone could count the dust then your offspring could be counted. Go walk through the length and breadth of the land for I’m giving it to you. 

So Abraham went to live near the great trees of Mumrei at Hebron where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord. So God promises him land but he doesn’t just promise him land. He promises him fruitful land. That is not just occupying a little block and that’s good. But actually he’s going to claim land that is going to have ripple effects for generations. That kind of blessing. That kind of fruitfulness. Who would love that right? I think back to when Jess and I were first buying a house. Actually first we were kind of looking at a block of land in Mackay that we were going to buy a few years back. We were a bit nervous about buying it because of our experience in Mount Isa. Who loves Mount Isa? Who doesn’t care? I’ll win you over eventually. When we were looking for our first house in Mount Isa we found this huge house that was for cheap. We thought we were on to a winner. We thought that because there’s all of these typical Mount Isa houses that were all kind of the same. 

We found this unique house and it’s going to be incredible for us. And so we bought it thinking we’ve got like the secret here and when we sell it one day we’re going to sell it for a mint because we got it for a great price. Little did we know the neighbourhood. We were on a corner block. We bought the house. We moved in. I’m just going to illustrate for you. Like imagine a corner block. This house right here. The guy who lived there wasn’t dealing with a full deck and so he would throw rocks at our house occasionally. 

The house next to that house, the girlfriend and boyfriend got in a fight so the girlfriend burnt down the house as you do. This house kind of over in the corner here was a drug dealer’s house. The house next to that was also a drug dealer’s house. And then the house next to that also got burnt down. So that was the neighbourhood we moved into. There was a lady who was going to our church at the time who was a cop. And one day she came up to Jess and I after church and said, oh I was by your house the other day and I actually was going to drop in and say hello. Um but I didn’t. And I was like oh what were you doing driving past our house? And she said oh no I was parked in front of your house surveilling your neighbours. It doesn’t fill your heart with joy when you hear things like that. So when we were looking at buying some land in Mackay, Jess drove into this estate and saw a block of land. She loved it. Fell in love with it. Kinda came to me and said let’s buy this block of land. And it turned out in that estate the whole buildings that have been made there, the houses, they’ve been made by a really dodgy building company. So, one that kind of lived on the Sunshine Coast, flew up, did their work, and then flew back and left the damage to someone else. So, every house in this estate was terrible. Not only that, the guy who owned the estate died and so all of the land got put into a trust and they were slashing the house prices because they just wanted to sell it off and said, we are not going to make any more stages of this estate. Stage one, stage 2 is good, we’re not going to do stage three, stage four. We’re getting out while the going is good, right? So, we bought a house and built a house in that estate and I was very concerned. I thought, did we lump ourselves with another dud here? But this interesting thing happened where we built the house on the land and then suddenly, no, well, not with the same building company by the way, FYI. 

You’re a little concerned about that but we built this house on the land and then suddenly, all these other houses start springing up on the other and then suddenly they say, oh, we’re going to make a stage three and a stage four and a stage five and that estate got completely transformed because we put our stumps down and built. I want to talk this morning about territory because I believe as I was praying about what to speak about this morning, that God really laid on my heart the word territory. That actually this year is one of new territories that we’re stepping into something new and as we do that, we put our stumps down in the ground and we will see fruitfulness in the land. Are you with me? That is why we are going to do a walk around the school later. A prayer walk because we want to claim territory for God. 

That the enemy will not prevail. That he has good things in store. We are going to go walk the land. And actually I want to encourage you that there’s a line in that verse there where it says go walk the land I am giving you. Walk the length and the breadth of it. This morning for every single one of us in this room and us as a church individually and as a church. I believe God is telling us to go walk the land. There is land to be claimed this year. There is territory to be walked into. If only we would see it. If only we would walk the length and the breadth of it. Are you with me church? Are you with me church? Yes. So I want to talk a little bit about what we do when we walk the land. The first thing is if we’re going to walk the land we need to part ways. We need to part ways. 

Now I’m a dad with three kids. An eight year old, seven year old and a four year old. And my kids used to love playing board games and whenever you play ball games with them you would play their ball games. So you would play snakes and ladders, hungry hippo, Kids Monopoly where you let them win. And you kind of usually just kind of let them win because there’s always one kid that can’t handle losing well. Now my kids are getting older and they want to play our games. They can’t necessarily use them well though. And so the whole time we’re playing board games with them. Any board game fans here? Oh gosh. Yes. Yes. We played a game last night called Dutch Blitz with our kids. It’s like a card game. If any of you love Dutch Blitz, hit me up. I’ll play you. Anyway, we were playing this card game with my kids and the whole time, I’m having this internal struggle and Jess could read my face where she’s like, Sean, let them win. Let them win.

At one point, I was playing and I was on a good streak and she’s like, no Sean, you need to slow down and let them win and there’s almost like this thing of, oh do I, what is the right thing to do here? Is the right thing to teach my kids that you can’t always win? Actually you need to be up to daddy’s level sometimes to win. Or do I do the nice thing and let them win the game? Can we have a group consensus? Who thinks I should let them win? Who thinks I should teach them a lesson? Hey. Okay. This is why you’re my church. This is why I love you guys. Okay anyway. You can chat to Jess later and say let Sean win. Come on. Anyway, there’s almost like this parting of the waves between who they were. They were kids where I would let them win but I’m starting to negotiate. Is that what I’m going to do? 

What I love when I read that passage from Genesis 13 is it starts with God speaking to Abraham after he parted ways with Lot. So that’s where it brings it to. God doesn’t swoop in and say to him, hey do you want to unpack what just happened? It was probably a bit messy. Was probably uncomfortable. Do you want to talk about that? It’s almost like when he had that clean break and let him go. That’s when God spoke. And I feel like for us in this room, we may actually need something to kind of draw a line in the sand to delineation in order for God to speak in the new fresh thing for us. We probably wouldn’t hear it back then. We probably wouldn’t hear it back in the old season. We don’t want to carry the old into the new. Are you with me church? 

You know there’s another story in the Bible which we read in Joshua 7 which is after the Israelites have kind of conquered Jericho. The walls have come down. They’ve had this stunning victory. And you would think they would go from stunning victory to stunning victory to stunning victory. That they learnt an incredible lesson there. But in Joshua 7:2, we see them make a fatal strategic error. It says now Joshua sent men from Jericho and told them go up and spy out the region. So the men went up and spied it out. When they returned to Joshua, they said, not all the army would have to go up against them. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the army, for only a few people lived there. So about 3000 went up but then they were routed by men who killed about 36 of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. 

At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water. There’s a couple of strategic errors they make in this chapter but one of them is that they kind of entered the land probably how they would usually do. Two or 3000 chuck them in. We can take this over very quickly. That’s how you do it. That’s how you get it done. Don’t weary or bother the men who’ve just been through a lot before in the last battle. Let’s just throw the minimum at it and accept that that’s good enough. They weren’t fully committed to it. But the tone changed. They entered the land and 36 men were killed and they melted like water. Oh gosh that’s an awful example to read about yourself in the Bible right? If you read that hearing you melted like water. This tribe of people who had such a roar to them that it brought down the walls are now melting like water. What happened? They didn’t enter the land with full force. It’s almost like the weariness or the battle plan or the strategy that they had from the last season. It didn’t work anymore in the new land. It doesn’t work. There is some new territory to claim. Joshua thought he was playing catch up there. I believe for some of us here we need to part it a lot in order to enter the new land. We need to part with some specific things. It could be the way that you approach God in the past. It’s not good enough this year. It’s not good enough. 

Half heartedly reading our Bible sometimes, saying the odd prayer here or there. It’s not good enough for the land God has in store for you. Maybe we’ve been people who haven’t been pressing forward in faith. Reaching towards something. We’re quite settled. And if we have to take a step forward we take a half step. Maybe just a toe forward. But God says I need the full force of you this year. I need you to lean into what I am doing here. It’s time to part ways. It’s almost like within our spirit. We need to have our “I’m done now with that”. And for some of us in this room we may have something that we have battled. We’re exhausted. We felt like the rug has been pulled out from underneath us. But God says it’s done now. It’s done and it’s time to get your head in the game of 2023. It’s time to get your head in the game of the land. I have for you. It’s time to get up and go walk the land. If you need to walk the length and the breadth of it to get it in your heart then do it. Because that’s what we need to do. Are you with me church? What is your approach to the presence of God this year? Is it the same as last year? Or is there something fresh and new? Is there a new vigour to us? Is there a new excitement? Have we parted with some stuff? I want you to consider that. The second thing is if we’re going to walk the land what do you see? 

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 says this. There was a man named Jabez who was more honourable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel. Oh that you would bless me and expand my territory. Please be with me in all that I do and keep me from all trouble and pain. And God granted him his request. Now poor Jabez, I feel like any mums in this room, the time to name your kid isn’t probably not immediately after birth. Okay? You’re not really with the program maybe. Maybe some of you were so in love with your kids and knew it but in this instance I think there was kind of just a little bit of trauma there. A little bit of baggage when she named Jabez. For me if we named our kids based on the trauma they’ve inflicted on us. 

Our eldest daughter I would name Reflux. Because when she was a baby we were part of the room outside where they kept the towels at the hospital and we had to keep going and getting towels and going and getting towels. It was not a pretty sight. So we’d name her that. My second child, we would probably name ‘did not let us sleep for 18 months straight’. Or screams with all the passion of a mighty warrior right? And then our third one, we would call human tornado because he’s a boy and he just gets into everything, right? Um you probably have names for your kids but Jabez was named basically Bore from Pain. So, time someone called out to him to go fetch some water or go clean this up. He would be reminded of his name again and again and again. And it would just fence him in that he was his trauma. This is his definition. This is who he is. But he looked up and he saw that there was more territory beyond the borders of what he thought. He wasn’t fenced in. You know, we even had a new family come to the church a couple of weeks ago and we went out for lunch with them. They moved from South Africa and if you’ve moved from another country to Australia, we love Australia but I know there’s a culture shock sometimes and it can take its toll on people to adjust and they were adjusting but they were looking for a place to live and they saw on Real this house in Robina that they wanted and they just believed with all their heart that it was theirs and so we’re sitting at lunch. 

And they’re saying, we’ve you know, put in our application. It’s a rental, we’ve seen it. It popped up at one stage and then disappeared and we put it in again and she said to me quite confidently, tomorrow, I’m going to get a call from the real estate agent. I just walked through that house and I knew that house was ours. I could see us living in it. I knew this was our place and we kind of said to them, well, if you are going to get this house, if God calls you tomorrow and you got the house, then that surely means you are called to the Gold Coast. Anyway, the next day, Jess and I are just walking around together and I get a message on Messenger from them and she said, we just got a call from the real estate agent. We got the house. And I was like, well you’re definitely called to the Gold Coast as are all of us, right? Yes. Yes. I loved that feeling of, no that’s our territory. I see it. It’s mine. That’s mine to claim. Amen? Amen. You get what you see. Yeah. You get what you see. When God got Abraham to walk the land, he saw it for himself and it’s almost like a claiming back then is what you do. You know why there are some churches that out there who you know, they’re stagnant, they’re going through the motions, and then a new pastor comes in or a new leader and suddenly, that thing springs to life and they have the same building, they have the same congregation, they may even have the same vision, but when a fresh leader comes in, they come in with fresh eyes. Don’t try to replace me if that’s where you’re going with that. I still got fresh eyes, guys. Okay? 

But they come in and sudden things spring to life and the story and the narrative of that place changes because they can see it. They can see something new. The very first word that God says to Abraham after the messiness of Lot is he says, look, look. He reframes where to look. He says, the north, the south, the east, to the west. I need you to press beyond where you are right now. I need you to get out of the fence line, out of the territory, and see the enlarged territory that is there for you. You know, even my kids’ times. They come to me. I pick on my kids a lot when I write the sermon. But my kids come to me. And they say daddy I don’t know where the hairbrush has gone. And I say look it’s over there by the couch. And they say where? And I have to point it out to them. And then they’re still struggling to find it because they can’t look beyond their nose right? I believe God actually wants us to expand our territory to truly see. To truly see. And sometimes that means letting go of that phrase of “I’ve seen it all”. You know, there are people a part of our church even who’ve been a part of this church for decades, who have all kinds of stories across all kinds of pastors and all kinds of leaders and remembers a kids ministry like this and the youth ministry like that and we could easily say, I’ve seen it all but I believe God is calling us to not have cynicism in our life or be jaded but to actually have fresh eyes and look and look again. Look for our church, look for ourselves. Maybe you’ve been through a ringer. 

And it’s the story of your life again and again and again. But I believe God says look. Look. Yeah that happened. Yeah maybe that was a hard season or a difficult season. But I need you to look. Look beyond the territory. Look beyond the borders. North, south, east, west, get out of your own little space and see what I have for you. Amen.

There’s even a story which has a Soviet leader who I’m not going to pronounce his name. Used a telephone when there was a wave of petty theft in the Soviet Union to curtail this. The authorities put up guards around the factories. At one Timberworks, the guard knew the workers in the factory very well. The first evening, out came Peter with a wheelbarrow and on the wheelbarrow, a great bulky sack with a suspicious looking object inside. Alright, said the guard. What have you got there? Oh, just sawdust and shavings, he replied. Come on, the guard said, I wasn’t born yesterday, tip it out. And out came nothing but sawdust and shavings. So he was allowed to put it all back again and go home. When the same thing happened every night of the week, the guard became frustrated. Finally, his curiosity overcame his frustration. He said, I know you. Tell me what you’re smuggling out of here and I’ll let you go. Wheelbarrows, my friend, he said. Wheelbarrows. Sometimes it’s right in front of our face. 

And it’s not actually a land issue that we have. It’s a site issue. We can’t see what is right in front of us. Because we’ve got poor eyesight. We can’t just look. The land is still there. There is opportunity and new territory for us if we would get out of our rut. If we would look. Are you with me church? And the final thing is if we are going to walk the land move your tent. Move your tent. A number of years back but not too far back. I was a youth pastor. It’s actually getting further and further away now. I’m getting older. I was a youth pastor and I remember one time we had a guest minister come to speak at our youth camp and we were doing a legitimate youth camp. We were camping. So we had tents. We had stuff that we were going to cook over the fire. The guest ministry was not getting put up in like a hotel for the night. They were getting a tent too. The thing you always kind of worry about is you want to make sure when you’re inviting someone to come speak that they have a great experience. Because if they’re fantastic you want them to want to come back again right? So we tried as best as we could to create a tent for him that was way better than our tents. So he got the Taj Mahal of tents. It was like a three room tent and there’s only one of him. We put little snacks in there to make him feel welcome and happy. I assembled a tent and just made sure it was really good. And so he was put kind of a little bit away from all the teenagers because any youth leader knows the teenagers will be up until 3 AM in the morning chatting and mucking around and you’ll hear the youth leaders say go to sleep constantly. So we wanted him to have a good night’s sleep. So I went to bed. I wake up the next morning. I come out and his tent is not a three room tent anymore. It is barely like a quarter of a room tent. Because the wind had come overnight and it shook so much and because I was the one who assembled the tent it was not particularly strong or well put together. He tried his best overnight to repitch the tent and get it going again. But he kind of slept with the wall and the roof of the thing kind of almost leaning on his head. He was so nice about it the next morning saying oh it’s not a big deal. It’s fine. It was a fine night but he looked like death warmed over. He did not have a good sleep. 

So basically my very wise youth leaders came along and said we’re going to take it from here Sean. So they took the tent and they moved it closer to where we were so he wasn’t surrounded by wind. And they pitched the tent. Okay so anyone in the future who wants to go camping with me, you’re going to have to help me out. Okay? Um but the interesting thing is when we read in Genesis 13, it ends with after he has been told to look after his parted ways with Lot. After he hears this great vision of what God wants to do through him. It says he moves his tent. And it says he moves his tent to Marmre at Hebron. And Marmre actually means vision or seeing. And Hebron actually comes from the Hebrew word Hebar which means to bind, join, or team up. So it’s not enough for us to just see it. To see the land. We also need to join or team up with the vision of what the land is. Are you with me church? We need to be people who. We see the vision of what God wants to do in our lives. And we don’t just go, that’s a nice image. But we actually move our tents. Put our pegs in the ground. Put our stumps in the ground so fruitfulness can happen. We need to move where the vision is. And God is calling us to walk the land this year. To claim the land for ourselves, for our church. And we need to move ourselves to it. Amen. You with me? 

In Psalm 1:1, it says, blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his Lord day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever they do prospers. When we walk in step with God’s vision whatever we do prospers. We’ll be replenished. We’ll have streams. We’ll be good. We’ll be fruitful. If we stay closer to God and not to operate on opposing visions. Are you with me? Let’s be people who separate from Lot. Who has time to part ways? Let’s be people who see. And let’s be people who pull up our tent pegs. Move it. Go that tent where it needs to be. Let’s partner with the vision of what God is going to do this year. Amen? Amen. I want everyone to close your eyes and bow your heads. And there’s just a few things I want to pray for this morning as we bring this service to a close. 

One is, if you’ve come into this place and maybe you’ve come into church for the first time or you’ve been for a few times and one of the things is, you recognise that you need to make your life right with God. It’s one of the first steps you need to take really, as you walk into new land. Maybe you’ve never known what it is to walk in step with Jesus. You’ve never known what it is to have a relationship with him. And I give you that opportunity this morning or maybe you are someone who you are weary, you are, it is almost dry in the land, it feels like your relationship with God is non existent. You walk in this place and even though everyone in this room may think that you’re this Christian who has it all together, you know, deep down on the inside, your relationship with God is not there. And as you enter this year, as we walk into this new territory, you want to do it the right way, you want to do it with God, and you want to make things right with God in your heart. 

So, if you’ve never made the decision to be a Christian before or you have and you feel like you’ve walked away from him and you just want to make things right this morning I just want you to respond right now. Just lift your hand in the seat where you are right now. I see, yes, I see that hand. Yup. Is there anyone else that wants to make that decision this morning to make things right with God? Okay, how about we pray together churches, people in here who’ve lifted their hands? And it’s a wonderful decision to embark on this life with God. And I want us as a church family to surround these people with support. So they’re going to pray this prayer and repeat this prayer but we’re going to pray it with them. We are so excited for them. We’re going to stand in faith with them this morning. So everyone if you could repeat after me. Jesus. I thank you for this life. I turn from living life my own way. and I turn to you. This morning, I am a Christian, Christ is alive in me. The old is dead and gone. And the new is born. And I thank you for it in Jesus name. And everyone said, amen, amen. For those people that made a decision this morning, yeah, let’s give them a hand. Come on. 

I want to encourage you to do two things. One is we have our hello card located on the seat around you. We’d love for you to fill that in. So we could walk the journey with you. We don’t want to just leave you to it. We want to help you strengthen your relationship with God. But not only that, we have our Alpha Course available. And in a week or two it’s starting. I forgot the date. But you can put your name down for it and you can learn more about faith and what it is to follow God and your relationship with him. So I encourage you to sign up for that. But why don’t we stand together? I wonder if we could just close our eyes and just fixate on God right now. I believe we just gotta pray in this house, that God is going to impart new vision and fresh vision. The thing that stirred Abraham was the fruitful land. I believe in this place there are people who God is stirring something new within them. And it’s almost like a fresh vision for where you’re heading. For some of you you’re like I can take it. I can walk on that land. For others of you it’s daunting and it’s overwhelming and it’s scary. It’s almost like you don’t allow yourself to believe and hope for that and walk that land because it’s overwhelming. if that’s you right now, I just want you to lift your hands where you’re at right now, where you’re like, I just sense that, I sense that there’s new land for me this year. I sense there’s new territory. I need to walk in right now. Now, that’s good. That’s good. Okay. What I want to do is, we’re going to worship. 

We’ve got a fantastic worship team. I love our worship team. I want us to press into the presence of God and I just want to linger just a little bit longer. And I’m going to open up this right now because I want to pray for some people and I believe God has a prophetic word for some people this morning too. So, as we worship, if you raise your hand and said, yeah, that’s me. I really feel that strong call of the new season, the new territory. I wonder as the worship happens, if you could make your way to the frontier and our team are going to pray for you and we’re going to believe in faith that you’re going to hear from God, that you’re going to feel the anointing of that new season you’re walking in right now. So, lead us in worship, guys and we’re going to pray.

Ps Sean Casey

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