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We’re studying the “Hall of Faith” from Hebrews 11 and have looked at the faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Today we will tackle the faith of Abraham. If someone were to tell me that Scripture had a hall of faith and I read it only to find that Abraham’s name wasn’t in it, I would be asking for some answers. In my opinion, Abraham was a stand-out when it came to his faith. He did make the cut, and we can learn a lot from examining his faith. Let’s see what Hebrews 11 has to say about him.

Hebrews 11:8-9  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.

These verses detail an incredible journey of faith. God made awesome promises to Abraham, commitments to take him and his descendants to a land of blessing and prosperity, promises to build a nation from his lineage, one that would be so large you couldn’t count it. In order for Abraham to experience what God had in store, he had to leave where he was. That was a big ask, especially because he didn’t really understand where God was taking him. It wasn’t a place he had ever been. It wasn’t an experience he could wrap his mind around because it wasn’t familiar to him.  We know, however, that because he left his family of origin, because he left everything that was familiar, because he left his country, he became the leader of the Jewish nation and Jesus, the Savior for the world, descended from his lineage. What kind of legacy is our faith producing? Abraham could only leave a legacy of faith because he left the familiar, he left the status quo, he left what he knew to follow Someone who knew it all.

Point one of this message is that Faith walks. We must never think we can stay where we are comfortable and continue to go and grow with God. We will never see what God wants to show us if we refuse to move from where we are. We will never experience something greater if we are willing to settle for what we can do on our own. I’m not talking about staying in a physical location, but I’m speaking about staying in a space where life is what we make it instead of allowing life to become what God creates for us and through us.

People of faith don’t stand still. People of faith are always listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit and are looking to the horizon for their next God-sized task. On Wednesday night, we heard an incredible testimony from Michelle Vest about how even during a time of intense grief and loss, a time when her joy was running low, God sent her to Las Vegas to a corporate training event where He gave her the opportunity to witness to everyone at the event about the Lord. Her sharing was more than a “God is good,” or “Have a blessed day” moment. She literally got to preach about God’s goodness and talk about how God was present in that moment with all of the people at that corporate event. God stirred many hearts, and the conversations that ensued were an obvious supernatural set up.

It wasn’t a convenient time for her personally. She had two family members pass away that week. She didn’t feel like going. She considered not going. Even after she got there and was faced with a huge challenge regarding the housing situation and told her husband she wanted to fly back home and skip the event, God moved her to stay. She found new housing for herself and the people she had invited to be in her air b and b. God was giving her strength to stay because He was answering her prayer that God would use her to reveal Him to other people.

Listen, Faith follows the leading of the Lord. Faith steps out. Faith steps up. People of faith remain open to and are energized by the reality that God wants to use them to be a blessing to others. People of faith are in constant motion because they have a sense of calling and purpose. They live the sent life even when they don’t feel like it.

Abraham had it good where he was, but he left what was good, exercising faith in where God was leading. The amazing part of his story, for me, is that during his lifetime, he never possessed the Promised Land. It was given to him and his descendants, but the Israelites didn’t take possession of the Promised Land until the time of Joshua. Isn’t that incredible?

Verse 9 tells us that he lived like someone who was just visiting. His family literally lived in tents and so did his son and grandson. They never really settled there. They lived like strangers in a foreign country. Even though God had promised that land to Abraham and his descendants, Abraham and his son and grandson didn’t enjoy the Promised Land in the same way as the people who possessed the land, but that never deterred Abraham.

He never adopted the attitude that his faith should rest on what he could see. He didn’t have to settle in the Promised Land to believe it would belong to his descendants. In addition, his faith saw beyond where he was. What I want us to understand this morning is that not only does faith walk, but faith sees beyond wherever you are. Stay with me and let’s read on in our Hebrews 11 text.

10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abraham never quit looking ahead. As good as the Promised Land would have been to possess, it wasn’t the ultimate, and Abraham knew that. Abraham saw beyond the natural into the supernatural realm, and he looked forward to the permanent dwelling he anticipated in Heaven.

God’s promise to give Abraham’s descendants the Promised Land wasn’t for Abraham himself to enjoy. It was for his descendants, but that was OK because he wasn’t living for himself. His obedience was preparing the way for future generations to possess the land, but Abraham didn’t feel left out. He didn’t cry, “Foul.” He didn’t say, “Forget it, if it can’t happen in my lifetime, it isn’t worth it.” No! His eyes were on a greater prize.

You don’t know how exercising your faith in God will critically impact future generations! Whether you see the results you expect to or not, don’t let it deter you from continuing to look beyond the present moment. 

Abraham never let himself just get too comfortable, too settled in the Promised Land. He lived as a temporary resident, literally living in tents because he knew, by faith, that he had a permanent home in the Heavens. How would you like to live on a never-ending camping trip? Abraham lived in his tents and pulled up the stakes every time God told him it was time to move on. When you study his life, you read that he pitched his tents in Shechem (12:6), in Bethel (12:8), in Hebron (13:18) and in Beersheba (22:19). Abraham’s faith made him flexible. His faith kept him from being tied to the things of the world.  He was always ready to set out at the call of God.

In a real sense, Abraham understood he was just a pilgrim in this world. Allow his faith journey to remind you this morning that you were not made for this world. You were created for eternity in Heaven with the Lord. You are just passing through. You are headed to a better land, a city whose maker and builder is God!  C.S. Lewis said this in his book, “Mere Christianity,” “If I find in myself desires, which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”-C.S. Lewis Believers, we were made for another world.

By faith, Abraham could see beyond where he was, and he didn’t view himself as a resident of this world. That meant every time God said to move it was just another step toward that better place that awaited. Abraham didn’t argue that moving was a lot, that having to get re-established in another place was too much work, that making new friends was going to be too taxing, that finding a new hairstylist and gym was too great of a challenge. He just stayed on the move because that is what faith does!  Faith stays on the move. 

Speaking of Abraham and his son and grandson, Hebrews 11:13-16 says this: 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Heaven is the only true city with permanent foundations. That is the city Abraham had set his sights on. As someone once said, “God often post-dates his checks!” The promise is there, and the money is in the bank, but sometimes you have to wait for God’s time of fulfillment. Church, sometimes the time of fulfillment of God’s promises takes place in eternity and not in earthly time.  Do you have faith to believe that?

Can you believe that sometimes the prayers you have prayed are answered when a person reaches Heaven? Sometimes ultimate healing, what we pray for to happen on earth, takes place in eternity instead of in time? Can you believe for that? Can you trust God is working out a plan in eternity that eclipses anything He would seek to do in time? Can you believe that your prayers outlive you? That God continues to work on your behalf even when you depart from this world? Can you get a pilgrim mindset this morning? It is the mindset of faith. It is the mindset that will help you keep pressing when you are constantly being uprooted by the cares of life.

Hebrews 11:11:  11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

I love the “as good as dead” phrase in this verse. The Bible just keeps it real, folks. Abraham was probably 85 when God reiterated to him that he would have a special son. If he was 85 that meant that his wife, Sarah, was 75. And right after God reiterated that promise, Genesis 15:16 says, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

I think we would all agree it falls into the impossible realm for us to think about a woman who is 75 and a man who is 85 having a baby, but the Scripture says that Abraham believed God and that faith in the impossible was credited to Abraham as righteousness. It was faith in what God was telling him that imputed righteousness to Abraham.  What a reward for his faith to believe the impossible! He was so sure that God would keep His Word about giving them a son in their old age.  If he could believe God to do that, he could believe Him for anything!

So, faith walks. Faith sees beyond wherever you are, and faith believes the impossible.

If you think 85 and 75 sound old to be starting a family, try 100 and 90 because that is how old Abraham and Sarah were when Isaac, the Son of Promise was born.

Hebrews 11:17-1817 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c]

Let me share the backstory for these verses. God allowed Abraham’s faith to be tested. Faith has to be tested once in a while to demonstrate that it is genuine and to grow. If we never find ourselves in a situation that tests whether we trust God or not, how do we know if we really do?  God put Abraham through what I would call an ultimate test. It’s probably in the top five most dramatic and passionate accounts in Scripture.  God actually asked Abraham to take Isaac, the promised son, and sacrifice him to God as a burnt offering. Are you getting this? God actually asked Abraham to kill his own son and then set him on fire.   

That request was off the wall, bizarre, and inconsistent with who God was. Why would God ask Abraham to kill Isaac? It made no sense. It didn’t seem right on any level, but Genesis 22:3 says that Abraham got up early the next morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his servants and his son Isaac and got the wood cut for the burnt offering. He set out to a place that God said he would show him.

At one point, Abraham instructed the servants to stop and hang out with the donkey. He told the servants that he and his son were going to go worship God and then that both of them would come back.  That, right there, was an expression of faith. He was going to follow through with executing his son, as an act of worship to God, something that seemed completely wrong, something you would think God would never ask, let alone approve of, but then somehow, someway, they were both coming back after the sacrifice had been offered.

So, Abraham and Isaac walked on to the worship site and started talking. Isaac asked where they were going to get the sacrifice to put on the wood to then be lit on fire, and Abraham said something else in faith. He said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Genesis 22:8

Abraham didn’t know what God had up His sleeve. He didn’t know what would happen next. He just knew God could be trusted, and His words were an expression of His faith.

Point four is simply this: Faith speaks confidently about God. Abraham could have bad-mouthed God to Isaac. He could have said, “I can’t believe God is demanding such a sick and psychotic thing.” He could have stopped walking in talking in faith in that moment, but he never wavered in having the highest of regard for God. He told the servants they were both coming back. He told Isaac that God would provide.

I can’t imagine the level of faith a parent would need to strap their child to a bonfire, but Abraham had that kind of faith. He even reached for his knife to slay his son, to kill him before burning him as a sacrifice. (I know this is a lot, y’all!)

Abraham was fully obeying, not knowing what would happen next. This leads me to the last point about faith that was demonstrated in Abraham’s life. Faith is willing to sacrifice it all to obey God. We don’t have to know what happens next when we know that God does. That was the position of dependence and vulnerability that Abraham’s faith allowed.

And God stopped him from killing Isaac. Verse 12: 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Faith trusts God to provide. Faith moves forward even when it potentially costs us the dearest thing to us. We get a glimpse into Abraham’s thoughts in Hebrews 11:19 when we read,

19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Abraham didn’t know if he would actually have to kill his son, but if he did, he believed God would raise him from the dead and that they would both return home alive. In the burnt offering test, the test of Abraham’s faith, God was literally asking Abraham to give God his all, and he willingly demonstrated that he had.

I want to say one last thing about Abraham’s faith. It wasn’t perfect. He relied on himself at times. He didn’t always trust God’s timing and methods, but He trusted God’s promises and trusted God to provide when it counted.  Friends, you don’t have to have a perfect faith, but you have to have a persistent faith in a perfect God. You have to live as if you believe He cannot and will not fail. And as you do, you will see Him create a lasting legacy of faith for you. You will find contentment you could never experience by establishing a life on your in terms in the place you determine to be most comfortable. You will experience an exhilaration that comes from looking forward to the more that awaits and you will be provided for in ways you could never imagine.

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