Tuesday, September 04, 2012



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! With Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith", because when God called him out of his comfort zone, he obeyed. Then in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we discovered the "wealth of faith" through being blessed and blessing others.
Today, we come to a short verse that sums up a long and faithful life in the character of Joseph. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones. Although Joseph's life is not rehearsed here, he lived a life of faith that was nearly without equal.

Joseph was a most incredible man. His life is impeccable! He just didn't seem to blow it at all, but was a faithful follower. This exemplary life was primarily due to his strength in saying "I WON'T!" So, I call his life the "won't of faith".

The first dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was when his jealous brothers left him for dead. When his brothers turned against him and threw him in the pit to die, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE UP!" Although very few would criticize him for wanting revenge, Joseph refused this natural urge.

The second dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was after he was able to secure a most powerful job in a wealthy man's estate. He was the COO of Potaphar's house. Note what is said about him: Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

When his boss's wife tempted him with her body, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE IN!" Very few men would have been able to turn down her repeated and intense advances, but Joseph resisted this natural urge. Although he successfully resisted her advances, she accused him of molesting her. This sets up the third dramatic scene in the life of Joseph.

Potaphar believed his wife's claims and had Joseph put in prison. When he was persecuted for doing right in refusing the temptress, Joseph said, "I WON'T GIVE OUT!" Who could blame him for giving out at this point? He was the focal point of gross injustice.

God was with Joseph in the prison in a special way: But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph's charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph's charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper. Again, Joseph was promoted to the top position in the prison.

The fourth dramatic scene in the life of Joseph was that he was able to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker while they were inmates with him in prison. And for doing this Joseph said: "Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.

Well, the dreams came true, but the chief cupbearer forgot to say a word to the Pharaoh when he was released from prison. He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and he put the cup into Pharaoh's hand; but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Later, when the Pharaoh was being troubled by dreams, the cupbearer referred the Pharaoh to Joseph. Joseph interpreted his dreams and the Pharaoh decided to reward Joseph in a big way: So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. "You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you." Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt.

In all of these amazing scenes Joseph's example is the "won't of faith"! When your family and friends turn against you, when temptation strikes to trip you up and pull you away, when you find yourself persecuted for doing right, there is a "won't of faith"-a refusal to compromise your walk and relationship with the Lord.

Well, it turns out that God just kept rewarding and elevating Joseph to higher positions and responsibilities, because God had a bigger mission for him to do. Joseph was positioned in Egypt by God to preserve his family and the godly line in the nation of Israel during a most devastating famine.

When his brothers, who had left him for dead in a pit, came to Egypt for grain, they had to face their brother, Joseph, in order to save their lives. When they found out that their brother was alive, they were so ashamed. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

When you're in the midst of a great refusal for God's sake, He is setting you up for a strategic mission and you will enjoy His blessings! When you are in the place God has established for you, you are now ready to serve Him best. When you find yourself in a predicament that has brought you so low that you can only look up, remember God is up to something really good just for you.



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah! Then with Abraham we have the illustration of the "way of faith".
Today we come to the next characters of faith in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews-Isaac, Jacob and Esau. There is a profound experience throughout the generations that we need to embrace today. It's the experience of passing on the blessing from one generation to the next.

Abraham obviously blessed his miracle son of promise-Isaac. And now it is time for Isaac and his son, Jacob, to pass on that same blessing: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

As the blessing is passed on from generation to generation, it came to be the greatest wealth that could be inherited. This blessing was passed on by faith and received by faith with the understanding that one was to carry on the name of the family. Note what was said when Jacob blessed Joseph: He blessed Joseph, and said,
 "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." (Genesis 48:15-16)

Passing along a blessing is not just an ancient tradition, but is also for us today. I've come to realize that being blessed and blessing others may be the greatest wealth you can give or receive. This is what I call the "wealth of faith".

Note there are two dimensions to this blessing concept. First-Being blessed. A blessing is when you feel special. It's when you feel honored by others, when people are grateful for you, when someone is praying for God's favor to fall upon you and when you are empowered by others who really care who you are and who you are becoming. It's knowing and feeling that you are loved for being you.

The act of blessing involves meaningful touch! A very common vehicle for giving a blessing is the "laying on of hands." Another dimension of giving a blessing is words. A blessing is communicated with our words whether by mouth or in writing. The communication of a blessing has a message declaring high value of the person being blessed. The expression of appreciation or affirmation of another is a way of giving a blessing. Also, included in giving a blessing is a sense of destiny and purpose for your life. When you point out another's uniqueness or move them toward a special future, you are giving a blessing.

The ultimate blessing you could ever receive is the stamp of approval that you are special and you are OK. Only your Creator can give you a stamp of approval, because he made you. However, there are others God has empowered to uniquely place this stamp of approval on people-parents. God has charged parents to the task of stamping each child: APPROVED and SPECIAL!

Although the most natural place for you to receive the blessing is from your parents, unfortunately very little blessing is passed on from generation to generation. All families have a certain degree of dysfunction about them and therefore are unable to give the blessing their children need.

If you didn't receive the blessing you needed from your parents, you are not at a total loss. You can find a blessing in a personal relationship with Jesus. God's blessing of approval and acceptance can be found in the unconditional and sacrificial love of Jesus for you. You can also get your blessing through your relationship with the community of Jesus-through the dynamic relationship of gathering together in the name of Jesus. Remember, it's when two or three gather together in the name of Jesus that Jesus will show up there in their midst. I've experienced so much healing by the touch of Jesus through walking with others. That is truly the wealthy experience of being blessed.
Once you experience being blessed, then the second dimension of blessing can become a reality-Being a blessing. Now, if you can receive a blessing through others from God, then you can also be a channel to release God's blessing to others! Blessing others is not so much you giving your riches to others, but being able to reveal their riches to them-showing them acceptance and unconditional love. It's being a friend who speaks well of them and asks God's favor to fall upon them.

You see, the real wealth of faith is the blessing of God that flows two ways-being blessed and being a blessing. There are two ways you can make this a reality in your life. First-receive the love and acceptance of Jesus for you right now by faith. Count on it! Second-release the love and acceptance of Jesus into the lives of others. The wealth of blessing occurs in exactly this way and in this order. God is blessing you in order for you to bless others. We are told: The God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. So, seek after your blessing from the Lord Jesus and then seek to be a blessing to all He brings your way. Now, that is true wealth!



As we make our way through this Hall of Faith I want to offer to you a faith-lift by illustrating how several ordinary people were able to live extraordinary lives. We saw the "work of faith" was in Abel-work that emerged from the heart! Next we saw the walk of faith illustrated by the only two men who were ever said to "walk with God"-Enoch and Noah!
Today we will examine the "way of faith". The "way of faith" answers the question, "Which way is up?" and is demonstrated by the life of Abraham. Abraham has the distinction of being called "the friend of God" three times. He is mentioned over 300 times in 20 books of the Bible. Abe experienced three major encounters with God-(1) when he was called (2) when he was out of options and (3) when he was tested.

FIRST-WHEN HE WAS CALLED. Let's look at it: 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. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abe lived in a place called Ur-an ancient city of Mesopotamia along the Euphrates River. That would be in modern-day Iraq. God calls him to change his lifestyle. He was called into the desert! God promised him a country, generations of descendants, and a purpose-that he and his people would be a blessing to the world! No doubt he was comfortable there in the city. Any resistance that was there must have been the fear of being lost in the grand scheme of things! Are you serious, God, the desert??? But Abraham obeyed and went out of the comforts of the city into the stressors and difficulties of the desert. He said YES to a Higher Calling! This calling was God's eternal purpose for him. There's no better place to be on earth-nothing more satisfying, more fulfilling, or more safe-than to be following the call of God on your life! Note this is true, even if you are called out of the comfortable city to the desolated desert.

SECOND-WHEN HE WAS OUT OF OPTIONS. Think of the situation here. God has promised him that he will bless the world through him and through his descendants. Well, in order to have descendants, you must have a child and Abraham and Sarah did not. They were childless and were too old to have any children-probably in their 80's. But by faith Sarah and Abraham hung in there, still holding on to the promises of God. This was the primary reason why God called them out of the city of Ur to the desert. In Hebrews 11 it is recorded:  

And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 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.

THIRD-WHEN HE WAS TESTED. Note what happens here: 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, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

For you today your calling and testing is the way of faith! It's the only way up! Your calling gives you purpose for going through your testing; your testing gives you proof for your calling! But note that between your calling and testing, it is necessary to practice your faith by waiting on God's next move and for Him to come through. Waiting!

Waiting is so tough! Do you know why? Waiting is actually trusting-believing and expecting God to come through. In waiting there are some things we are NOT waiting on Jesus to do? 1. To do His will. 2. To relate. 3. To be responsible. 4. To do what He would do.

So, what are we waiting on Jesus to do? 1. To show up in my life. 2. To give me an answer-impression, a peace, a desire, a thought. 3. To bring people into my life for restoration. 4. To bring people into my life for walking-fellowship & support.

One of my favorite passages is from the prophet Isaiah. It says: He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:1-31)

When you are called, walk toward Him! When you are tested, watch for Him to come through! When you are out of options, wait on Him!

In Psalm 40:1-3 it says something that kind of sums up the practice of waiting: "I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD." Now, that's the way of faith!