Sunday, December 14, 2008



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.

Once God had miraculously provided Abraham's only child, Isaac, God made a strange and tough request! He commanded Abe to sacrifice his only son-the son of promise! The natural resistance here must have been "Why me?" "Why this?" "Why now?" Whereas in his calling from God there was a fear of being lost; here in this test is the fear of loss itself! But Abraham obeyed and offered his son as a sacrifice to God. After God measured Abraham's total commitment, He intervened and spared Isaac! God's test was to prove out Abraham's genuineness!

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!