The Hall of Fame Of Faith Series: Abraham (Part 1)
Dear Visionary Leader:
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” How would you like to have great faith? When we came to Jesus Christ, God enrolled us in the School of Faith. Life is the classroom, the Bible is the textbook, the prophets and the apostles are the professors, and Abraham would have to be the Dean in the School of Faith.
Abraham was an amazing man. His name is loved and revered by Jews and Christians alike. He’s called the “father of them that believe.” In Hebrews 11:8-15, we read:
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.”
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of faith. We’re not talking about something that is incidental. Remember that Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Without faith it is impossible to please Him. If you please God, it doesn’t matter whom you displease, and if you displease God, it doesn’t matter whom you please. There is no way to please God without faith. Faith is the mark of a Christian. Christians were called believers before they were called Christians. We will never succeed in your Christian life without believing God.
Abraham was a pagan and an idolater. He lived in a place called Ur of the Chaldees when God spoke to him and he himself enrolled in the School of Faith 2000 years before Christ. He was 75 years of age when he enrolled in the school. We are never too evil or too old to begin to walk with God.
Pause and ponder this: Abraham packs up his bags and leaves the land of the familiar to go a strange land. He leaves it all, as we’re going to see, to go to a country he has never seen. He has sealed orders as we’re going to see. God doesn’t tell him where he’s going. God doesn’t tell him how long he’s going to take to get there. God doesn’t tell him what he’s going to do when he gets there or how long he’s going to stay there. God just says, “Get up and go.” Abraham left and enrolled himself in the School of Faith. The Scripture that we read said Abraham and Sarah were strangers and pilgrims in the land of Canaan.
Abraham was not a fugitive. He was not running away from home. Abraham was not a vagabond. He was not looking for home. He was a pilgrim heading home.
As we continue walking in the hall of fame of faith, I want us to learn many faith-powered principles. These life-changing principles will come out of our passage to help us to have that dynamic faith that will bring heaven to our soul. I am calling this teaching The Disciplines of Faith.
Message Continues In Visionary Coaching
I want us to learn many faith-powered principles. These life-changing principles will come out of our passage to help us to have that dynamic faith that will bring heaven to our soul.
The Voice Principle
We must hear God. In Hebrews 11:8, we read, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whether he went.”
The operative phrase here is he heard the voice of God. In Romans 10:17, we read, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We must hear God. In Genesis 12:25, we find the expressions, “The word of the Lord came to him.” I want you to notice now how God comes to Abraham.
In Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram…” (There is the phrase again), Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, into a land…” God is going to give four “I will” to Abraham. “And I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee; and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
He hears the voice of God. God says, “I will, I will, I will, I will.” We are reading about the root of faith. That’s where faith comes from. In Genesis 11, we find the people who tried to build a massive tower to heaven called the Tower of Babel. I want you to notice the difference between Genesis 11:1-4 and Genesis 12:1-3.
In Genesis 11:1-4: “And the earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar [that’s Babylon]; and dwelt there. And they said one to another, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build that again, let us build us a city and a tower; whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
Compare Genesis 11:1-4 with Genesis 12:1-3. In Genesis 12, God says, “I will, I will, I will, I will.” In Genesis 11, man says, “let us, let us, let us.” Let us make us a name. God said, “Abraham, I will make your name great.”
Now I submit to you that most of the people in the cities around the world are in the “let us” do this. We’re trying to build our high-risers to hell. We’re trying to build our utopias. But faith hears the voice of God, when God says, “I will.” These people were going to make themselves a name. Anybody know one of their names? We all know the name of Abraham because God to Abraham, “I will make your name great.”
We are learning aboutvoice principle. How can we hear the voice of God?
Often when we pray like this: “Lord, if it is Your will.” Do you ever pray that way? Lord, if it is Your will, heal; Lord, if it is Your will, show us what to do; Lord, if it’s Your will, keep us safe.” If you don’t know the will of God, that’s a good way to pray, but that’s not the best way to pray. The best way to pray is saying Lord, this is Your will and I thank You for it and I stand on it.
In 1 John 5:14, we read, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask him anything according to his will, he heareth us.” Do you have the confidence to say, “God, this is Your will”? That’s where great faith comes. Great faith does not come from guessing at the will of God.
In some ways, God spoke to Abraham and others in ways that He may not speak to today. God appeared to Abraham and spoke to Abraham. He appeared through an angel, the angel of Jehovah, but the Lord appeared to him. In Genesis 12:7 we read, “And the Lord appeared unto Abram and said, unto thy seed will I give this land: and there built an altar unto the Lord, who appeared to him.”
God never appeared to me like this. God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. I’ve never seen a burning bush, at least not one that burned supernaturally like that. I read in the Bible that God spoke to Saul. Saul, who became the apostle Paul, is on the Road to Damascus to put Christians to death. The Lord appears to him in a vision. I’ve never experienced this. Simon Peter in the Bible was on a rooftop. An angel comes to him. He has a vision. All of these people have heard the Word of God is a supernatural way.
Is that what we’re waiting on today? No. That is not the norm for us today. Does that mean we cannot hear the voice of God? No. Does that mean that we are less? No. It means that we are more. Do we have less advantage? We have greater advantage to know God and to know the will of God
In Hebrews 1:1-2, we read: “God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” How does God speak to us? By His Son. The Bible teaches that we have three things: We have the written Word of God, the mind of Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have a greater advantage.
The Old Testament characters, before they had the Bible, before they knew what we know by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, had to wait for God to break in with open revelation or vision. We can open the Bible and hear the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. When we born again, we received what the Bible calls the mind of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:14, we read: “But the natural man [that is, the unsaved man] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto them, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things [that is, he weighs things and makes appropriate decisions], yet he himself is judged of no man [that is, people can’t understand us; we understand them]. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
How can I know the will of God? When my heart is clean, my motive is clear, and I’m walking in the Spirit, I can assume that what I think and what I desire is the will of God. Yet, when we walk out of bounds, the Person of the Holy Spirit will blow the whistle and encourage us to get back in bounds. When we want to go to a particular place and it is not God’s will, He can whisper to us like He did to the Apostle Paul and direct us to another place. If we are puzzled, we need to wait on the Lord to give us clear direction. In Proverbs 4:18 we read: “But the path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
The Word of the Lord came to Abraham, and God will speak to you.
God is speaking to you. And before you say, “I don’t know the will of God,” let me ask you this question: Are you living by what you already know in the Bible? If you’re not, and you’re asking God to guide you, you’re being hypocritical. Why should God give you more light when you’re not obeying the revealed Word of God that’s right here in this book?
The Venture Principle
We must hear the voice of God and obey what He says. In verse 8: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” He didn’t know where it was going to end. Our responsibility is not to totally understand, but to readily obey. He was leaving all that he knew and all that he loved and was going out in sheer obedience. God gives us the choice. If we do not obey what we know, we should not ask God for more light. God is not going to give it to us.
Are you having a faith problem? If you’re having a faith problem, you’re probably having really an obedience problem. Is there a confession that you need to make? Is there restitution that you need to perform? Is there a gift you need to give? Is there a testimony you need to offer? Is there a place you need to go? Do you want faith? The voice principle – hear from God. The venture principle – obey God.
What is amazing about this story is that Abraham did not know where he was going. I do not know of many people who venture out and have no idea where they are going. We surely don’t take vacations this way. We don’t take a flight on a plane without knowing where we are going. We don’t even usually leave the house in the car without knowing where we are going! Yet, Abraham did not know where he was going and he was leaving everything and everyone he knew, except for his wife.
However, you don’t have to know where you are going, if you know who you are following. If you know who you are following, he/she can make sure you arrive at the right place. In this case, Abraham did not have to know where he was going, but he knew he was following God. If you are following God, He will make sure you will get to the right place on time!
The Value Principle
You must establish priorities. In verse 9 we read, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Abraham was a stranger away from home and he was a pilgrim heading home. Canaan was not his home at that time. He’s looking for a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And he’s living in a tent, and he won’t put the tent-pegs down too deep, because his motto was “This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.” He had a different priority.
The reason so many of us don’t have faith is because our priorities are wrong. We think that faith is some way to get our will done in heaven when faith is God’s way to get heaven’s will done on earth. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” So, Abraham is living in a tent.
Our citizenship is in heaven and we dare not, we must not, get too attached to this world. In Philippians 3:20 we read: “For our conversation [that means our behavior, our citizenship] is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” If you’re living for this world, you will not have faith. Furthermore, you’ll be in the junk business. The Bible warns about friendship with the world. In James 4:4 we read, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity [warfare] with God? Therefore, whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
Are you worldly? You wonder why you don’t have faith? You think God’s going to give faith to His enemies? Abraham was not a friend of the world. When you become a friend of the world, you begin to live like the world. In 1 John 2:15-17 we read: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abides forever.”
When we become a friend to the world, then we begin to love the world and be conformed to the world. In Romans 12:2 we read, “And be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, perfect, and acceptable will of God.”
If this world is squeezing us in, molding us in or shaping us through Madison Avenue, television, Internet, Bank of America, General Motors or whatever it may be, then we need to pause and ponder this path. It could be our football team or the fashion designer. What is it, that molds us or conforms us? Then, we wonder why we don’t have the mind of Christ. We wonder why we don’t understand the will of God.
Abraham had with him a nephew whose name was Lot. Lot is following Abraham, and the Bible tells us that Abraham was living in a tent. Yet, Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. He moved into the world. His wife, probably, became high up in Sodom Society and his daughters were probably cheerleaders at Sodom High. Lot becomes a businessman and a Sodom councilman. However, Lot lost everything. Lot looked at Sodom, lived in Sodom and became a leader in Sodom.
We hear so much today about the separation of church and state. We also need to hear messages on the separation of church and world. I don’t mean isolation but insulation. I look at the average Christian today – they look alike, they dress alike, they talk alike, they smoke the same things and drink the same things. We should be different. The Bible says, “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
You want faith? Abraham had a pilgrim character. Now that doesn’t mean that he was a dropout. Abraham was in business. He had a family. He even had to go to war several times. But, Abraham was not molded by this world. Even though he was very wealthy, he lived in tent. He was not moved by the pleasures, treasures and measures of the world.
May I ask you a question? What are your personal goals? Is your personal goal to make enough money to retire and have a nice house and, and to live in ease and to have certain things? What are your goals for your children? Do you want them to be successful and famous? Are you more concerned about your spiritual walk with God? Are you more concerned about the character of your children growing in Christ and the kingdom of heaven? Would you leave your present job and take a lesser job for less pay if it were better for the character of your children? What is your goal? Is it to impress other people? In whose home would you rather visit – the rich and the famous or the godly and the pure?
Most of us are so squeezed in by this world and we wonder why we don’t have faith. Abraham was a man to whom this world meant very little because he looked for a city that had foundations, whose builder and maker is God. He had a pilgrim character.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking