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The Life of Faith 01

Faith and Life


Genesis 12:1-9 Pastoral Search Report We do not have a happy report to give. We've not been able to find a suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect still. We do appreciate all the suggestions from the church members, and we've followed up each one with interviews or calling at least three references. The following is our confidential report on the present candidates. Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects. Abraham: Though the references reported wife swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man's wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man. Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream interpreting, and has a prison record. Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier church over a murder charge. David: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbor's wife. Solomon: Great preacher but our parsonage would never hold all those wives. Elijah: Prone to depression-collapses under pressure. Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former church. Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but our people could never handle his wife's occupation. Deborah: Female. Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting

things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of foreign river. Isaiah: On the fringe? Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language. Jonah: Refused God's call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up. Amos: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people-might fit in better in a poor congregation. John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn't dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has a weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders. Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper-even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon. Paul: Powerful CEO type leaders and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with younger ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night. Timothy: Too young. Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We're inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here. Sad but convicting. We tend to evaluate people externally according to their gifts and abilities. But God uses a different tape measure. He looks at the heart. And the heart he looks for is a heart of Faith. Look at the list of Gods greats. Different in so many ways. Some were poor and rural, some were rich and urban. Some were educated. Some were uneducated. Some came from good families. Some from broken homes. You cant seem to pin down a pattern. One common thread: faith. He longs for people to live by faith. Faith is essential to please God. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Tonight I want to begin a look at the life of faith by studying a man whos life is characterized by faith. Abraham. Genesis 12

I.

To Live By Faith You Must Tune In.

While in Haran the Lord spoke to Abraham. 12:1 Now the LORD, YHWH said to Abram . . . We take that at face value. God spoke to Abram. Ever wonder how? On the surface it seems to imply that he spoke verbally. But not necessarily. Yes, there were times when God sent angels to communicate to Abraham. But that doesnt mean he spoke verbally here. HEB 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, The ways that the Lord spoke is a study in itself. See wonderful creativity. Sometimes communication was direct, as with Adam and Eve. Sometimes it was more subtle. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush, he spoke to Pharaoh through a bloody river. The children of Israel heard God through a miraculous crossing, a pillar of fire, manna and earthquakes. When God wanted to get Lots attention he sent an angel. All Balaam got was a donkey. Elijah heard a still small voice. Jacob saw a ladder. Jeremiah saw a potter, Ezekiel, a wheel. Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall, Moses saw it in stone. When Jesus wanted to show his followers the nature of God he washed their feet. When He wanted to show them the glory of God he took them to a mountain. God didnt always speak audibly. And he doesnt today. But he does speak. And to hear him you have to be Tune in. One of the key differences between Abraham and everyone else in his day was that Abraham was tuned in to God. Even those times when God sent an angel to speak to Abraham others didnt discern it. The same angel that confirmed the birth of Isaac spoke to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham was tuned in. God is also always in communication with His children and we need to tune in. Ill. . . Can you tell me what song is playing on 88.7 right now? Why not? You say, I cant hear it? No, but the music is in this room. The radio waves carrying that music are all around us. We just need a radio to tune them in.

Heres what it takes to tune in: 1. Communion. God speaks softly. Great illustration of this was in the episode with Elijah at the cave. 1 Kings 19:11. Strong wind. Earthquake. Fire. Sound of a gentle blowing. He heard God in the gentle blowing. God most often speaks softly. So we must stay close. 2. Attention. God sometimes raps us on the head. More often its subtle. 3. Sensitivity. Quietness is essential. When was the last time you were in a perfectly quiet room? Always turn something on to drive the silence out. Surrounded by noise. Cant hear the Lord. Tune in. When you do you will discern the vision.

II.

To Live By Faith You Must Open Up.

One reason we dont get to participate in Gods plan is our built in reluctance to go a new way. Gods vision doesnt fit your agenda. I can tell you that to follow the Lord you must be willing to throw out your agenda. It was never on my agenda to come to Monroe. Im so glad it was on Gods. There are two principles that always seem to accompany Gods calling: ambiguity and immensity. A. The Principle of Ambiguity. Vision is always vague. What we do know is that he was not very specific. Go forth. Verse 1 Where? A land I will show you. Two elements to the vision of Abram that is characteristic of visions from God: known and unknown. Specific enough to set a course. Vague enough to demand faith. Ill. . . The Wise men. Did not know where they were going, only that they were going in the right direction. Ill. . . The disciples, follow me. God does not give everything up front. He says here is what I want you to do and I will show you how as we go along. But you can know this. If the vision is from God it will be God sized. More than you think you can do. That way it gets glory to God. And it will be vague enough to demand faith. Two elements of faith: Unseen. Uncertain. Hebrews 11:1.

B. Principle of Immensity Second part of the vision: it is god sized. Verse 2 The Promise: God promised seven things: 1. Great people. 2. Bless him. Material and spiritual. 3. Great name. Reputation and memory. 4. And Be a Blessing. This is an imperative. And there is a condition. The ultimate fulfillment belongs to God. But for Abraham and descendants to enjoy the blessing, the condition is to be a blessing. 5. Will bless all who bless. 6. Curse those who take lightly. The word for curse is to speak in a belittling manor. Has to do with slights. 7. In you all the families of earth will be bless. According to Hebrew stylistics the first and last items in a list are the most important. First he will be a new nation. Last, all the nations will be blessed. Ultimately the promise of Abraham was realized in Jesus Christ. The blessing on the whole earth was that Jesus Christ would come through the line of the Jews and die on the cross for the sins of humanity. This passage is a signpost pointing to the cross. The Focus of the promise is ultimately grace. But it is also a model. Consider the scope of this. One man would touch the world through his family. That man was 75 with a barren wife. How? Dont see any way. Gods vision is god sized. That way God gets the credit. Two aspect of the vision: ambiguous and immense. So you have to open up.

22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. Thoreau Youve built castles in the air youve done well. That is where they belong. Now put foundation under them. Verse 4 So Abram went forth. Must overcome Great Obstacles to Faith: 1. Age. He was 75. 2. Responsibilities. Verse 5. For you to act by faith you will have to deal with your own set of limitations. May be age and responsibilities. Might be fear. Abe had that too. 3. Opposition. Verse 6 Canaanite was in the land. This stresses the corruption and the dangers. Verse 7 God reiterated his promise. Says something of the encouraging power of God. In the middle of the crisis. Canaan both wonderful and dangerous. God showed up.

IV.

The Live By Faith You Must Speak Out

Verse 8. Abram called on the name of the Lord. This isnt a prayer it is a proclamation. The word meant to preach. When Luther translated it he used the German to preach. He preached the name of Yahweh. Principle: Act in faith and God gives you a life message. You have something to say. Conclusion: World looks for different things than God. He looks for faith. See faith and fills with power. Are we people like that.

III.

To Live By Faith You Must Get Busy.

Not enough to know you must act. What would have happened if Abe discerned the call and decided to do a study on vision. Vision class. Research all the ways people use vision. It wasnt faith until he acted. James 2:20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?