Monday, February 16, 2009
There is a Faith Worth Duplicating
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” Hebrews 11:8-16. The writer of this letter, being a realist, refuses to let us simply put faith into our mental files. He turns to flesh-and-blood people who made faith a thing to live by, a principle to practice, a daily way of life. Here we take a look at Abraham, another common man who was hard pressed to explain how and when things would work out. Note four things about the faith life. First, what it takes to please God (11:6). Faith fits into the fabric of life just as clothes fit on our backs and shoes fit on our feet. Faith requires that we come to God. Faith requires that we believe God is there. Faith requires that we trust Him to keep His word. This means that I must trust Him to reward and honor my attitudes of dependence and availability. Second, how it occurred in two ancient lives (11:8-12). Abraham (vv. 8-10), when he was called, he obeyed. Sarah (vv. 11-12), in Old Testament times, a Jewess was considered cursed if she was barren. But by faith, Sarah was able to miraculously conceive. Third, there are principles that continue to this day (vv. 13-16). The following name the ingredients we must integrate into our lives if we are to walk by faith. We must have vision, hope, that looks beyond the restrictions of the present (v. 13). There is pursuit: the determination to cultivate identity with God (v. 14). Total abandonment: the willingness to release all earthly ties (v. 15). And desire: yearning for a godly life-style (v. 16). We are told regarding those who walked and died in faith, that “God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” Fourth, why is the faith-life rare? If it is so great and rewarded so richly, why are examples of the faith-life so seldom found? There are at least two reasons for this. Most people would do anything rather than exercise risk. Those who walk by faith do nothing to publicize it. Let's ask a few questions. Would your life be characterized as one of vision? Is your life one of pursuit? Are you a person characterized by abandonment? Is your mind filled with the right sorts of desires? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.