Text: Hebrews 11:8-12 9/23/07 PM
Thesis: Faith leads through the difficult to what is truly valuable.
Intro: “I have faith!” That means I’ve got the easy life. I’ve got my free meal ticket to God’s all you can eat buffet.
I’ve got faith so that means I’m going to have a better life than ever before. My bills are going to be paid. My home is going to be better. My garage is going to be full and there will be no worries.
It is true that faith leads to what is truly valuable. It is true that faith removes worry.
But if we believe that faith removes all difficulties then we are setting ourselves up for disaster and we are ignoring Scripture.
As our turn our attention to the faith of Abraham and Sarah we will see great blessings but not without their difficulties.
They were given what is priceless but what is priceless did not come without cost.
By faith they looked forward to the One who is faithful.
Read Hebrews 11:1-3 & 8-12
I) We obey by faith
a) Verse 8 tells us that by faith Abraham obeyed (v. 8a)
i) Abraham’s obedience was almost simultaneous with God’s call. When God told him to go out to a different place Abraham did not respond by telling God he had to pray about it.
ii) This is so foreign to us and how we obey. We have to spend a week or more praying about it seeking “a peace”.
iii) I am coming to think that we spend this time not looking for God’s will but looking for the Spirit to stop convicting us about obedience.
iv) Our internal upheaval is not because God hasn’t spoken but actually because God has spoken.
v) By not obeying, either by not following God or by continuing in sin, this brings on the Spirit’s conviction.
vi) Maybe you’ve been in a situation or seen someone go through this “seeking of peace” when you know you are being disobedient to God’s clear call in Scripture.
vii) This is so dangerous because we are actually looking for an excuse to disobey and seeking the Spirit to stop convicting us.
viii) We’ve got to know our bibles. We must know God’s call for faithfulness in every sphere of life.
ix) God has spoken, God has called. He’s told us how to order our lives, our marriages, our families, our churches, and how to engage our culture.
x) The question is whether we are going to follow the faith of Abraham and obey. Will we go?
xi) Obedience is so hard for us because it generally involves two things: we’ve got to stop doing something in order to obey and obedience involves the unknown.
b) The call to obedience is generally a call to stop doing something so that we can start doing God’s will (v. 8b)
i) Abraham had to leave his home, his family, and the way of life he had enjoyed.
ii) He was promised an inheritance but that inheritance was not going to be had where he was. Things had to change.
iii) This aspect of obedience is so common and so feared. The old life is comfortable and secure. This is why we must be always diligent in our obedience.
iv) We must hold loosely to this world and the things in it. Almost every time God calls us to obey, probably somewhere around 9 times out of 10, we must cease doing this thing so we can start doing that thing.
v) Thing of Abraham leaving his home. Think of the Hebrews leaving Egypt. Think of the Israelites leaving their sin to return to God. Think of the disciples leaving their jobs.
vi) Think of Saul on the road to Damascus. Think of the priests in the temple after the work of Christ.
vii) Think of your life. What has God called you to that demands you stop something?
viii) Do not trust in yourself. Do not trust in your own comfort. Do not trust in what you know about this world.
ix) Trust Christ. Obey God. Trust in the peace that is from God our father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
x) By faith in what you know about God trust Him.
xi) Stop sinning blatantly or you may even need to stop doing something that is not sin in and of itself but because it runs against God’s call you need to give it up.
xii) I’m talking about all the extra stuff you and I fill our lives up with. All these things we think we have to do in order to get what we think we have to have but really they just keep us from obeying God’s call.
xiii) It could be working extra hours at your job. It could be a hobby. It could be your garden. It could be your home. It could be your reading. It could be anything good that keeps us from doing what is best.
xiv) We as Christians have clear calls on our lives concerning our walk with God, our marriages, our families, our jobs, our church, our neighbors, and our culture.
xv) Are we trying to be faithful or are we hiding behind something? Do not be surprised when God’s call to obey involves a call to stop something. And realize
c) Obedience will involve the unknown (v. 8c)
i) The end of verse 8 tells us, “[Abraham] went out, not knowing where he was going.”
ii) We’d rather be Noah than Abraham. Noah had his detailed instructions but Abraham just had a direction to head.
iii) We want to know exactly where we are going, how we will get there, what we are going to be doing when we get there, and what the payoff will be.
iv) God told Abraham to go to a land that God would show him and God would give him an inheritance.
v) This type of call from God generally elicits an immediate no from us or we wait until we’ve seared our consciences to the extent that we feel peaceful in our disobedience.
vi) We need to talk more about the element of the unknown when obeying God’s call. Now be clear, this is not an unknown in God’s mind.
vii) God knew exactly where Abraham was going, how he would get there, and what would happen to him and his whole family along the way and upon arrival.
viii) This heresy called Open Theism being taught in our Baptist colleges today does nothing but erode faith.
ix) We have faith, we obey, precisely because God knows what we do not. We follow God through the unknown because what is unknown to us is known to God.
x) We may not known what the future holds but we know who holds the future.
xi) Don’t be surprised when God’s call takes you into the unfamiliar and the uncertain.
xii) Remember, we do not trust in what is familiar or certain about this world or our selves. We trust God. We have faith in Christ. We know the power of the Spirit so we obey even through years of the unknown.
xiii) God’s call often involves stopping something so we can start something new, enduring an element of the unknown, and doing these things for a long time.
II) That is why we endure by faith
a) Verse 9 tells us that by faith Abraham went into the land of promise (v. 9a)
i) This way of referring to the land is very unusual. It’s not the Promised Land as we would expect but the land of promise.
ii) When Abraham got there he did not receive the land.
iii) The land in which he lived, the land he had been promised by God, was not given to Abraham upon arrival.
iv) But that’s what we expect right? God, I’m here. God, I repented of my sins and trusted in Jesus. I stopped all those big sins in my life and now I’m looking for the blessing.
v) I’m looking for the easy yoke and the light burden. I’m looking for the abundant and easy life void of difficulty.
vi) In essence many Christians out there are looking for the full experience of heaven right now.
vii) No more sin, no more pain, no more tears, free place to live that’s really swanky, and an all you can eat buffet with Jesus where you never get fat.
viii) But years into the Christian life we begin to realize that what is happening is much different than what we expected.
ix) We encounter persecution from the world and division in our families. We get sick. Loved ones get cancer and die. Our eyes are filled with tears while our stomachs are empty.
x) Do not be shocked by this or think struggles are only the result of sins.
b) The call to obey will involve the need to endure (v. 9b)
i) Verse 9 tells us that they lived in tents. (read 9).
ii) They didn’t live like wealthy land owners in brick homes with deep wells.
iii) They lived like gypsies. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were the patriarchs. All of them heirs of the same promise living in the same land of promise but as foreigners.
iv) These were God’s men following God’s will and they were living like aliens. They didn’t belong. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the land.
v) They had nothing familiar. The only familiar thing they had was God, obedience to him, and faith in his promises. We are no different
c) The Christian always endures in hope of something better (v. 10)
i) How was Abraham able to live like this? Read v. 10
ii) Abraham endured with hope because he was looking forward to God’s city.
iii) We as Christians cannot escape the call to live the same way.
iv) The Spirit tells us in 1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
v) Abraham’s descendents realized tangibly what it is to be owners of the Promised Land. They lived there, they got out of the tents, and they realized the earthly inheritance.
vi) This will always be a struggle for us. Some Christians become so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. You can’t get them to serve or take part in missions; they just want to talk about Jesus.
vii) Some Christians are so earthly minded they are of no heavenly good.
viii) You can’t get them to tell anyone about Jesus because they are so busy serving.
ix) The book stores are full of those who are of no earthly good and the soup kitchens are full of those who are of no heavenly good.
x) Now the book stores are good and so are the soup kitchens but not if we use them as pious excuses not to serve or evangelize.
xi) We have to have our eyes focused on Jesus and our obedience geared toward engaging this world.
xii) Abraham lived in this life and obeyed on this earth because he was looking to heaven.
xiii) He was able to live through times of abundance and times of insufficiency because he was living this life focused on heaven.
xiv) What ultimately matters is how we use what we have to expand the kingdom of God.
xv) What matters is now how much we own but how faithful we are to use what we own to spread the gospel across the street and around the globe.
xvi) By faith we must view this life through the next. Should I really care about this? Should I really do this? Am I wasting time on what is good when I should be doing what is best.
xvii) We must look to heaven realizing
III) We receive power by faith
Read verse 11
a) Verse 11 tells us that by faith Sarah received power to conceive (v. 11a)
i) Talk about faith. God’s promise involved doing something in Sarah that was not physically possible.
ii) Sarah had gone through menopause. It’s not that they had problems conceiving it’s that it was impossible for them to conceive.
iii) Just as we must prepare ourselves for the unknown we must also prepare ourselves for the impossible.
iv) Christians, we must let go of this world and we must be ready to follow God into the impossible.
v) Like Sarah we may have laughed at God in the past but now it’s time to trust God for the future.
vi) It is true that God calls us to the unknown and it is true that God calls us to the impossible. Don’t be surprised when it happens be faithful when it happens.
vii) God will give us the power to do whatever he commands us to do.
viii) Do we even have faith? Do we have the assurance of things hoped for? Do we have the conviction of things not seen?
ix) Do we consider the God who calls to be faithful to fulfill what is needed in his promises?
x) We must stop trusting in ourselves to make this church work. We must stop trusting in ourselves to make our families work. We must stop trusting in ourselves to make anything work.
xi) Instead we must consider God faithful. He will use Mambrino Baptist Church to bring men and women boys and girls into his heavenly city.
xii) Doing this will involve stopping some things. Reaching Granbury and Glen Rose will involve the unknown.
xiii) Reaching Granbury and Glen Rose will involve the impossible. Are we looking for God? Are we looking to what matters in eternity or are we looking to ourselves?
xiv) If we are going to accomplish God’s will we must live based on God’s faithfulness not our own (v. 11b)
b) With God all things are possible (v. 12)
i) Read 12
ii) From a man who was as good as dead God did amazing things. “As good as dead” translates one word meaning literally “being dead”.
iii) Abraham and Sarah both were incapable of doing what was required for God to fulfill His promise.
iv) They couldn’t do it; but God could. From one dead guy sprung children as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand on the seashore.
v) We’ve got to get over ourselves and over our sin. We can be tempted to believe that because of our age or our brains or our past mistakes we are useless for God.
vi) This is a lie. With God all things are possible. With God the barren have children; remember Sarah. The old fight with strength like the young; remember Caleb (Joshua 14:10&11).
vii) Christ has promised to build his church. He will do it. He is faithful. He will build Mambrino Baptist Church.
viii) The building of this church, however exciting and glorious, will not be easy.
ix) There will be things we must stop doing so we can start doing what God calls us to do.
x) There will be the element of the unknown. God will call us to do the impossible.
xi) This is why it is crucial for everyone of us to take our eyes off of ourselves and off this world and place them on heaven.
xii) Set your eyes on Christ Jesus. Set your eyes on the perfect Sacrifice and perfect hope.
xiii) Let’s sing together, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, hymn number _________.