Heroes of Faith: Rahab and Waiting Faith

Hebrews 11:30-31 (NKJV) 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

In our study of Hebrews 11, God’s Hall of Fame of Faith, we have come to Joshua and Rahab. In our last post we spent time looking at the faith of Joshua. Verse 30 of chapter 11 says that the walls of Jericho fell by the action of faith upon them.

In the taking of Jericho, Joshua was operating in a kind of faith we will call “active faith.” We see how active faith works in the story of what happened in Jericho. First God gave Joshua a Word. This was an active command from God. In his case it was delivered by an Angel. It may come from a Word from the Bible that God makes alive in your heart. It may come from the still small inner voice of God. It may come through prophecy or a sermon that speaks to you. The Greek word for this kind of direction from God is “rhema.”

There are two Greek words translated “word of God” in the New Testament. Logos means a word that God said, past tense. The Bible is the primary source of what God said. The Bible is always true. It contains everything we need to know about God and every promise for our life. We can stand on what God said and it will change our lives and circumstances. The word Rhema means what God is saying now

Active faith must start with a Rhema word of God. In Jericho, God spoke to Joshua through the angel. He gave him a plan to follow. Joshua followed the plan. He acted on the Word of God. The result was that in seven days the walls fell. You can see the force of faith being applied to the object obstructing the will of God and in a relative short time the results were manifest. I have applied active faith many times in my ministry. The results often took longer than 7 days, but they were actively obtained by hearing from God and acting on what I heard. I like active faith! It is usually spectacular as are the results. It is not the kind of faith we usually are required to walk in. There is another kind of faith we will call “passive faith.” Today we will begin to look at that.

Hebrews 11:31 says that Rahab did not perish with those who did not believed “when she received the spies.” It almost seems that it was the act of receiving the spies that saved her. The problem with that thought is that Hebrews 11 says she did not perish because of her faith. Receiving the spies was how Rahab released her faith in God. However, her faith worked very differently from Joshua’s. We are going to see how, and we will find that most of the time, our faith will be more like Rahab’s than Joshua’s. First let us find out about Rahab.

Joshua 2:1 (NKJV) 1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

We see here that Joshua sent out two spies on a reconnaissance mission to the west side of Jordon. He wanted to know what they were up against. Of course, the first thing they see is the city of Jericho. It is not hard to understand that if the children of Israel are going to take Canaan, they must take Jericho, so they enter the city. They will need a place to stay. The Bible says they came to the house of a harlot named Rahab.

I have heard messages of how God could even use this “evil” harlot for his purposes. He protected her because she repented of her evil ways. I believe God’s love did reach out to her, but I do not see any repentance. What is even more interesting is why these men of Israel who were hand picked by Joshua would immediately find a house of prostitution. Did they get a little distracted from their mission? I hardly think so. We need to find out about this “harlot.”

The word translated “harlot” in this verse certainly means just that. It was the common term for a prostitute and for prostitution. In the Bible, it usually referred to spiritual prostitution with other gods. However, according to Adam Clarke’s Commentary it could also be used in another way. If a woman kept an inn, it would be assumed that she was of questionable character. She would often be called a “harlot.” I think it is likely that Rahab was such a woman.

We do not know what her character was. She may have included prostitution as part of her business. Again, I find it hard to believe that two trusted Israelite men would enter the city and go to a place the was against the holiness of God. One more piece of evidence comes from Matthew 1:5. Here we find that Rahab married a prince of Israel named Salmon. Would such an important man marry a common prostitute even if she had been reformed? Maybe, but I find it doubtful.

I think Rahab was probably a woman who was single for reason’s we do not know. As we read on in Joshua 2, it becomes clear she has a family. Verse 18 says she must bring herself, her father, her mother, her brothers and all her father’s family into her house when the time of deliverance comes. Could it be that she was helping to support these people? We do not know, but we do know that she hid the spies among flax drying on her roof.

I cannot completely prove this but it would seem that she ran an inn where travelers lodged. It makes far more sense that the two spies would have gone there to rest than they would have gone to a brothel. Flax was used to make cloth. Could she have been in the weaving business as well? She had a scarlet rope she used to lower the men to safety and as a sign when they returned. Colored dye was not cheap in the ancient world. Could she have traded in such things. I see a woman who is entrapreneurial doing many things to support herself and maybe her family. Her reputation probably was not good in the city. I see her as someone who did not care what people thought. She did what she had to. I am inclined to doubt that sex for money was part of her business.

Here are some other things we do know. Whatever brought the men to her caused her to be in position to make a choice. These Israelites came to her. They were simple travelers who went to an inn to rest and probably eat. They were not advertising who they were. Even so, Rahab recognized them. She knew they were Israelites and figured they were there to spy out the city as a prelude to attack.

Another interesting thing about Rahab is that the king of Jericho knew to look there for the Hebrew spies. It says that some of the king’s agents heard the spies were in the city. When he was told of this it says the “King of Jericho sent word to Rahab, “Send out the men who entered your house.” Does the mayor of the city know the madame of the brothels in the red-light district of town? Only if he has a “special relationship” with them. Rahab’s inn was known by the king himself.

Let us look at this for a moment. Spies have come to Rahab. The king knows they are there. It would give her great favor with the king if she sent them out. Instead she chose to hide them. Why would she do that? She tells us in verse 9

Joshua 2:9 (NKJV) 9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.

Rahab makes a choice. She chooses the God of Israel over the safety of Jericho. Her faith puts her in position for one of the greatest stories of deliverance and restoration in the bible.

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Heroes of Faith: Joshua and Aggressive Faith

Hebrews 11:30-31 (NKJV) Heb 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

We have been spending time looking at God’s Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. We have studied several Old Testament Characters who God deemed worthy of inclusion among those who exhibited great faith. The reason for looking at them is to determine what made them hall of fame worthy. We have seen that it is not what they did which is emphasized here, but who they were and the characteristics of there lives and relationship with God that was important.

This is not a complete list of those who did great things by faith in God. Many that I might have included get no more than honorable mention. What God has done is give us a list of things we can cultivate in our own lives that will make our faith Hall of Fame caliber.

I want to move on to my favorite teaching from this list. I have shared this message all over the world and I want to share it with you over the next few posts. We see two people mentioned in today’s verse. One we are very familiar with and one we may only have heard about. We all know Joshua. By his faith in God, the greatest opposition to the destiny of God’s people Israel, was removed.

We find the story of how this happened in Joshua chapters 5 and 6. The people of Israel had come to the end of their journey from Egypt to Canaan. They had lost their great deliverer, Moses. Before he died, Moses anointed Joshua to take his place. This was no easy thing. Moses had done things no man had done before. We tend to think the people in the bible lived from miracle to miracle. The truth is that none of the people living at that time had seen God do anything remotely like a miracle. They had lived in Egypt for 400 years, much of it in bondage.

I can only imagine what they thought about the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and cloud. Imagine waking up every day to gather Manna from the ground or getting your water from a rock that follows you everywhere you go. All these things happened under the ministry of Moses. It is little wonder that the first thing God told Joshua after taking over from Moses was, “Fear not. Be very courageous.” Moses was a tough act to follow.

By the time we come to chapter 5 verse 13, God has assured Joshua that he will be with him as he was with Moses. The people told him they would be with him as well. He had led the people across the Jordan river. Moses led Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. Now Joshua lets everyone know that the same power is available to Joshua that was available to Moses. God dried up the Jordan river, which was at flood stage, so the people again crossed on dry ground.

What he sees when he gets to the west side of the Jordan River is the biggest, baddest city he has ever seen, and it was blocking their way. This city was known for its impregnable fortifications. The walls were so thick it was said you could race chariots on them. If they are going to take the promised land, they must get past Jericho.

As Joshua is preparing to move forward an angel of the Lord appears to him. I want to give you the first thing we learn from Joshua that set his faith apart. Joshua asks the angel, “Are you for us or against us.” The angel’s answer is not what most of us would want to hear.

Joshua 5:14 (NKJV) 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

The angel is not for or against any human being. He is there as the commander of God’s army. He is for the will of God, nothing more and nothing less. If we are going to have hall of fame faith, we need to understand that God is not going to move to validate us or to hurt other people. God’s power will manifest to accomplish his will and build his kingdom. Jesus said something similar in Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Jesus lets us know that the Father knows what we need. If we seek his Kingdom first, everything else will fall into place. There are times when people set themselves against God and as a result the establishment of his Kingdom can be a problem for them. However, as far as you and I are concerned our faith is to establish God’s kingdom. If that happens everyone who flows with God or repents so they get into a flow with God will be blessed. Hall of Fame faith builds the Kingdom of God and not our own kingdom.

In Joshua’s case, it was the will of God that Israel occupy the promised land of Canaan. The Kingdom of God required this to happen so the “Commander of the Lords Army” was there to help them accomplish that goal. I have often thought of the plan that God gave Joshua and how it might be received at a church board meeting today. The angel tells Joshua that he is to take his whole army out and march around the city.

The angel continues by saying they should march around the walls once a day for six days. How is this going to help them take the city? I believe the plan of God was for them to be absolutely certain they could not take the city by their natural power. They had to look at the wall for many hours a day for six long days. They would have known every brick. They would have seen how tall it was. They would have seen the enemy soldiers ready to stop them. The enemy was afraid of Israel because of what God had done. They were probably quiet at first but as Israel kept marching without attacking, I imagine they would have started to hurl insults from the safety of the wall.

This was to go on for six days and on the seventh day they would march around the whole city seven times. During this whole process the musicians were playing the trumpets. Every Israelite soldier had his ears tuned to the sound of the trumpet. He could not mistake what it was. On the seventh time there was to be a long blast of the trumpet and Israel would shout a great shout. When they did the walls would fall and they would march straight into the city as one man. They would completely destroy the city and everyone in it.

I can hear the elders now. “Um Joshua, that’s an interesting plan. You say an angel appeared and gave it to you. Well, that’s great but I’m not sure how it’s going to work. Do you have details. Maybe a weapon we do not know about?” When Joshua says, “No that’s all the angel said.” I can see them asking for a vote on Joshua’s fitness to lead! In the end they followed Joshua, and everything happened exactly as the angel said it would.

In Joshua’s case. hall of fame faith came from hearing a supernatural plan in a supernatural way, carrying out that plan and seeing the almighty power of God change everything in a moments time. I like that kind of faith. We will call it aggressive faith. We hear from God; we act on his word and we see the impossible. Sometimes that is how God will use us. However, I am sure you have found that those times are not the norm. There is another person mentioned in today’s verse. Her name is Rahab and her hall of fame faith works in a very different way. I believe most of the time our faith must be more like Rahab’s than Joshua’s. We will learn about her next time.

Heroes of Faith: Moses Forsook Egypt

Hebrews 11:27-29 (NKJV) 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

In our study of people who were mentioned in Hebrews 11, God’s Hall of Fame of Faith, we have come to Moses. In our last post we saw that Moses faith began long before he was able to do anything for the Lord. His parents refused to be dominated by the fear of the king’s decree that all male Israelites must be put to death. Hebrews 11:23 tells us that Moses parents hid him by faith. They did not fear the king but believed that God was greater.

Today I want to continue looking at what made Moses’ faith worthy of the Hall of Fame. Our heritage of faith is important to our development. However, we all must walk in our own personal faith in God. We do not know how Moses discovered his heritage. It is possible he knew all along who his real people were since his own mother nursed him. In those days a baby was weaned much later in its development than today. He would have had at least some understanding of whatever his mother said to him. At any rate, when he made the decision to accept his heritage, Hebrews 11 said he did it by faith.

Moses made a choice by faith to identify with the people of Israel. That choice changed the course of his life. I think that as we read the story of Moses in Exodus, his attempt to aid the Israelite by killing the Egyptian is evidence that he still believed he could accomplish God’s will by the means he had learned growing up in Pharaoh’s house. Killing the Egyptian was, I think, a mistake. However, sometimes it takes extreme events to get us to where we need to be. When we act by faith, God can even cause mistakes to work for us.

Hebrews 11 says that Moses did not leave Egypt because he feared the king. The New Living Translation says it this way.

Hebrews 11:27 (NLT2) 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

When we read the account in Exodus, it looks like Moses left out of fear. Indeed, there may have been some fear involved. After all, the king was planning to kill him. Sometimes we may have fear in our minds or emotions when we choose to act in faith. What is important is what is in our heart. I believe the Old Testament says what the New Testament says it does. Moses was motivated by faith in God even if he did feel some fear.

It says something interesting here. The New Living Translation quoted above, says that Moses left Egypt. That is certainly true. He physically left the land of Egypt. In the New King James Version, it says that Moses forsook Egypt. In the Greek this word means to leave behind. The English word means to abandon or cast aside. It carries the idea of rejecting what we are leaving. This is important. Moses did not just leave Egypt. He abandoned Egypt. He rejected what it had to offer and cast it aside. If you abandon something you must then accept something in its place. Moses left behind all that Egypt had to offer, including his education in Pharaoh’s house, to accept that he was Israelite and, by extension, that whatever he was going to do must be done God’s way not Egypt’s.

I believe this is vital to Hall of Fame faith. We cannot think we can walk in faith and in the ways of the world as well. That does not mean we can never use the things the world has to offer. It does mean that we must recognize that God’s way is the only way that will produce God’s results. I believe that this means we have to go to the Lord and his Word first. Once we have placed our priorities on God’s ways, we may then use some of what the world has to offer by faith. The difference is in where we put our confidence.

For instance, it is not a lack of faith to go to a doctor or use medicine. The question is what do we trust in. If our first response to any sickness, major or minor, is to look to the doctor and medicine as our only solution, that is a problem. There is no condemnation at all in using what the world has to offer. Do not let anyone tell you there is. However, is God still a healing God or is he not? The bible gives no indication that healing from the hand of God has passed away. I have seen God heal people as I have prayed for them. I have been healed as I stood on the promises in God’s word. God still heals!

What should I do? I should start with faith in the healing God. I should look in his Word and find out what he says about healing. As I do that, faith comes, and I will believe that God is my healer. As a pastor for many years, I would talk with people. I would help them find the healing verses in the bible. I would encourage them to trust God. I would also evaluate where their faith level was at that time. Faith is not something that we get once, and it is always the same.

We are saved by grace through faith. The capacity to believe what God says comes with our salvation, but it grows and develops as we grow in God. A baby is born with the capacity to speak, but that capacity takes time to develop. How long we have been saved is not the only factor that determines where our faith is at any given time. Some things I find easy to believe. I am not sure why. Other things are harder for me. Nevertheless, I do believe.

In the case of healing, I start with faith in God. I know God is the true healer. All healing comes from him whether directly or indirectly. Once I establish that, I must ask the Lord how we are going to be healed this time. I know it is possible for God to heal me with no help from the world’s methods. However, I may feel in my heart that I need to let God work through the medicine or the doctor this time. Either way, if I start the process in faith, the result will be that I get healed and that I grow in faith. The next time I may receive my healing without the doctor or medicine.

There is no condemnation in either, but it is a mistake to simply believe that our only help is in the medicine. If we do, we will be limited to what medicine can do. There are many things that the best medicine in the world cannot heal. God made us and our bodies. He can and will heal them. I do not know about you, but I intend to continue to develop my trust in God for healing. I will use medicine when I need it, but I will not trust in it alone. I trust in the God who is not only able to heal but also make a person whole.

Healing is an obvious example; however, we can apply the same thing to everything from finances to our job, our marriage or raising our children. We need to learn to trust God first in everything. Moses started his journey in faith. Hebrews 11 says he did no matter what it looked like. His choice to forsake the world by faith led him to a place where he had to learn a new way to do things. He had to learn God’s way. It took him 40 years but when he went back to Egypt, he was a different man.

If we are going to have Hall of Fame faith, we must learn to forsake the world. We must leave it behind as the only way to do things. We must learn that faith in God is always the solution. God’s way is the best way. If we do use the resources of the world, use them trusting that it is God who will make the difference. Then we will see what God can do, not just what we can do or what the world can do.

Heroes of Faith: Moses Heritage and Choices

Hebrews 11:23-26 (NKJV) 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. 24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

We have been studying the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. What we are looking for is the characteristics in each of these people that caused their faith to be particularly honored by God in this chapter. Today we will turn our attention to Moses. He is one of the most important people in human history.

When we consider people worthy of a hall of fame, the emphasis is on their achievements. In baseball for instance, players are judged by their batting average, ERA, or the quality of their fielding. Moses would certainly get into God’s hall based upon his achievements. He delivered the children of Israel with a demonstration of great power in the ten plagues. He parted the Red Sea so Israel walked through on dry ground and then brought the waters back effectively destroying the most powerful army in that day. He brought Manna from heaven and caused water to flow from a rock. The list goes on and on.

What I find very interesting is that none of these things are mentioned in Hebrews 11. Unlike us, God does not look upon the flesh nearly as closely as he looks at the spirit. If the mighty miracles were not the most important factor in Moses inclusion in the Hall of Fame, what were the things that got him in. Most of us will not part seas or call down plagues, nevertheless, we can all cultivate the things that God does list in this chapter.

The first thing we see mentioned has nothing to do with Moses at all. The bible says that Moses parents hid him for 3 months after his birth. They saw something special in this child. The Greek word is translated beautiful, fair or proper. I am sure his parents did not defy the orders of such a powerful and ruthless ruler because he was good looking. All parents feel that way about their babies. There was something more at work here than just the love of parents for a child. Verse 23 of Hebrews 11 says they did what they did by faith.

I believe that God had decided the time had come for Israel to be set free from Egyptian slavery. Whenever God is going to do something powerful in the earth, he looks for people who will respond to him when he speaks. I am convinced that in the time leading up to the birth of Moses, God was speaking to all who would listen in Israel that something was coming. For many reasons most of the Israelites did not hear him at all. Some who did hear him did not respond. I am convinced that Moses’s parents were among those who heard.

The bible says in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Moses parents began to sense that God was going to move. They probably did not even understand exactly what was happening. The bible says that the children of Israel were crying out to God because of their hard bondage. Their bondage had been hard for many years. I believe they were crying out at this time because God was moving and they were responding.

The Word of God that was working in them began to produce faith that God would indeed move. When his parents saw the child Moses, they saw something more than the natural. As we read Hebrews 11, we can see that faith rose in them. Not because he was beautiful outwardly but because there was something about him that was connected in the spirit to what God was about to do.

This verse goes on to say that Moses parents were not afraid of the Pharaoh nor his decree. The penalty for not turning over a male Israelite child was death. Even helping the Israelites conceal the child was a capitol offence. Moses parents were not afraid because they were filled with faith in God.

When they could no longer hide Moses, his mother did not give up and say, “I guess it is not God’s will for him to live.” She put him in a basket and put him in the Nile. Pharaoh’s decree had designated the Nile as the instrument of death for all male Hebrew children. The faith of Moses Mother looked beyond the natural and used the very thing that Satan intended to destroy Moses as the vehicle for salvation. The baby was seen by Pharaoh’s sister. She took him from the water and preserved his life.

I love how God works. He took what Satan meant for evil to preserve the deliverer who would defeat him. This is a pattern we see over and over in the bible and it is one of the things that true faith will always cause to happen.

So, the first thing about Moses that put him in the Hall of Fame was the faith of his parents. His life was a miracle of faith. He had a heritage of faith. Even though he was not raised by his parents, God caused his birth mother to be his nursemaid. Children would often be nursed for up to five years. You know that she spoke words of faith to her son as he was at her breast.

We are not told how much Moses remembered of what she might have said when he came of age. In verse 24 we find that something was working in him. We are not told how he knew he was not the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. When he was older, he went out and saw the suffering of the people of his birth. Hebrews 11 says that he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter by faith. Faith was at work in Moses life and it had to be in part because of the heritage of faith gained from his parents.

In the account from Exodus we read that he went to his brethren and saw their suffering. His response was to kill an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew. This led to his eventual exile from Egypt. All of this looks like a mistake on Moses’ part. He was in position to be the deliverer. He was a child of Pharaoh’s house. He could use his influence as Joseph had to help his people. Instead he allows what he knew in the natural to dictate his actions. However, we see in Hebrews that it was not a mistake. What he did was motivated by faith and gets no mention in the Hall of Fame.

We will all make mistakes as we learn to walk by faith and not by sight. We will do foolish things as, I believe, Moses did. He was never going to deliver Israel as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but his rash behavior may have made his path more difficult. In the end he found himself exactly where God needed him to be; at mount Sinai tending sheep. We might think he got there by a mistake. Hebrews 11 says he got there by faith.

Moses chose God instead of the soft but temporary life of sin. The 16th verse says he believed it was better to bear the reproach of Christ than enjoy the “good life” in Egypt. It was that choice that opened the door to the hall of fame for Moses. It was that attitude which began with his parents and eventually carried on in his adult life that made Moses faith special in God’s eyes.

If our faith is going to be hall of fame caliber, we must not forget our heritage of faith. Maybe you did not grow up with parents who walked in faith. I did not either. What we all have is what Paul puts in Hebrews 12:1. There are a great cloud of witnesses from whom we receive a faith heritage. We must be willing to choose identification with Christ instead of the easy way of the world. We may make some mistakes along the way, but I have found that God has no problem working around our mistakes if they are born of honest faith.

We must also be willing to identify with Christ’s reproach and forsake the acceptance of Egypt, which is always a type of the world. If we do not, we can still have faith. If we choose to walk in our heritage and accept that the world will not understand, our faith can rise to the level of the Hall of Fame.

Heroes of Faith: Abraham’s Test and Sarah’s Laugh

Hebrews 11:11-12 (NKJV) 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude–innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Before we look at Sarah, I want us to see one more thing about Abraham’s faith that made it hall of fame worthy. There came a time when God instructed him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God. This involved killing the son of promise and burning him on an alter to the Lord. Abraham did not hesitate to obey God. There was no other vehicle by which God could fulfill his promise to Abraham. How could Abraham kill his only son not to mention the only vehicle through which God could fulfill the promise? The answer is in Hebrews 11:7-19.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NKJV) 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Abraham trusted his only hope of seeing God’s promise manifest in his life to God. I do not know of anyone who had been raised from the dead at this point in Biblical history. Nevertheless, Hebrews is clear. Abraham believed that, if necessary, God would raise him from the dead. It says that Abraham received him raised in a figure.

As far as Abraham was concerned, God was going to keep his Word. Right up to the point where Abraham raised the knife above Isaac’s chest, fully intending to plunge it into his only son’s chest, he saw him raised from the dead. He never believed that Isaac would stay dead. Even if he had burned him to nothing, Abraham saw Isaac coming down that mountain with him. He trusted in God’s word, period.

There are times in our faith walk with God where things will not look good. There will be times when God will say things that seem to lead you away from the solution. I know that in my experience, in some of the times of greatest financial need God instructed me to give away what I had. That seemed to be taking me farther from the solution to my problem, not bringing me closer to it.

Hall of Fame faith knows that God will do what he promises. If he directs you to let go of something that you see as the solution, let go. If he tells you to leave where you are and go somewhere else, go. If tells you to give away the money you have when you need more, give. Hall faith trusts in God and his promise not our own ability, understanding or resources.

I have seen it many times in my life. When I trusted God to do things his way, things I could never have imagined happened. When I held on to what I thought was my only solution, things just never seemed to work out. Romans 4 tells us why Abraham was able to offer Isaac without fear.

Romans 4:20-21 (NKJV) 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

What about Sarah. In Genesis 18:9-15 the bible says she overheard the Angel of the Lord tell Abraham that by the same time next year she would have a child, she laughed. Some say she laughed in joy at what God would do. This cannot be true because she later denied laughing. She laughed because everything in the natural said it was foolish to believe such a thing. Sarah had doubt in her mind.

While Genesis gives us the account of the action as it occurred, I believe Hebrews allows us a glimpse into what God saw. Sarah had some doubt about what God told her would happen. Yet when God looks back on her faith in his Hall of Fame, he never mentions any doubt at all. He says of Sarah that she received strength by faith, and because of it bore a son from whom her descendants became like the sands of the sea.

The bible has a great deal to say about standing in faith, walking in faith and not being double minded in our faith. It does not say we have to have perfect faith, particularly in our minds, all the time. Sarah was not perfect. Sarah had tried to help God by giving her servant Hagar to Abraham so she would conceive a child credited to Sarah. This proved to be a disaster, but when God mentioned her in Hebrews 11, he says nothing about Hagar.

Many times, we judge others by what we see of their faith outwardly. Be careful when you do. You might be judging someone like Sarah who had moments when her faith was shaky but, in the end, did something that God calls Hall of Fame quality. Even more relevant is that we often judge our own faith by our weak moments. That is a mistake.

We all have weak moments. No one goes through trials, pressures or just normal faith life without times where minds and emotions get the upper hand. God is not focused on the weakest faith moments. He is looks at the end of your faith not the beginning or the middle.

In Mark 9 there was a father who came to Jesus with great expectation but the pressures of life and the disappointments he suffered in his journey to Jesus robbed him of much of it. When Jesus confronted him about the condition of his faith the Father cried out, “Lord I do believe. Help those places that have caused unbelief to rise in my mind.

Jesus was not and did not rebuke the man. He did exactly what he asked him to do. He helped the areas that had become weak in the expectation level of his faith. We need to know that there is no shame in this father’s request. man’s son ended up healed. That is what counts. If Jesus helped this man, Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God will help you.

The thing we cannot do is try to deceive ourselves or God. We have days when doubt may be winning the battle. That is not a problem to God. Cry out to Jesus and ask for help. David encouraged himself in the Lord by speaking to his soul. In the Psalms we read things like, “Bless the Lord of my soul.” Today we might say it this way. “Mind, emotions and will, you have been having trouble believing God today. We are not going to allow that. So you start blessing God and Jesus will help us stay in faith.”

Sarah would not be a hall of fame candidate if most of us were the judges. Thankfully, we are not. God is the only true judge and he deemed her worthy despite her laughter. Her initial reaction may have been one of doubt, but she made a choice to doubt her doubts and believe the promise of God. Just as the angel said, 1 year later she held the results of her faith in her arms.

She called the result of her faith Isaac. Isaac means laughter. Part of the reason may have been the joy inspired laughter she experienced when God did what he promised. I think she might also have named him that to let us know that even if you laugh when you first hear the promise, that does not disqualify you from doing Hall of Fame worthy things by faith.

What is God telling you he will do? Does it make you laugh at how ridiculous it sounds? Do not worry. Just keep your eyes on the promise. You can still do Hall of Fame things by faith in God.

Heroes of Faith: Abraham Saw Beyond his Generation

Hebrews 11:12-13 (NKJV) 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude–innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

In our last few posts we have been studying the Hall of Fame faith of Abraham. We have found some important qualities. Abraham believed what God said even though he did not know where he was going or how God would fulfill the promise. Our faith in God must not be hindered by what we do not know. We must, like Abraham, obey what we do know, and God will eventually show us more.

Abraham was willing to wait for God’s best. At times we all give in to the temptation to settle for less than what God has said to us. God knows and understands that we are human beings with human weaknesses. You will not always hold out for God’s best. However, if we begin to cultivate the persistence Abraham showed, we can walk in a faith that will not only bless us but will also bring much glory to the Kingdom of God.

From verse 12 through 16 there is much said about both Abraham and Sarah. We will come back to Sarah in a later post. We see that Abraham wanted a country, or a homeland. This homeland was not for him alone. It was for future generations. In verses 17-22 we see some of his descendants listed. Each of these people did things that were Hall of Fame worthy. Yet they all died, including Abraham, before the fullness of what God intended was manifest in the earth.

The next characteristic of Hall of Fame faith is to understand that our faith affects the future. I spent nearly 40 years as the pastor of 3 local churches. One of the most distressing things that I had to witness was the damage done to children when parents failed in their faith. Many times, people came to me offended and upset at me or the church. When they left, if they did not find there way into another good church and a walk of faith and forgiveness, their children would often end up falling away from God.

On the other hand, we have seen generations continue in their walk with God because of the faith of their parents. In our church, we have a number of 3rd and even some 4th generation believers that are still walking with God because of the example of faithful parents and faithful believers in their lives. I often share with people to whom I am ministering for the first-time certain things that I believe are important for them to know. I do not give them my ministry resume. I tell them that my wife and I are still married, still in love and we even like one another after 47 years of marriage.

I tell them that all my six children are serving God today. I tell them that my 16 grandchildren are serving God. Some are too young for us to know how their lives will play out, but so far so good. We are not by any means perfect. We have had our challenges as have our children. However, I believe that the example of faith they saw in us has been a major factor in their serving God. We did our best to obey God and stand for his best. They are doing the same and teaching others to do the so.

That is not to say that some faithful parents do not see their children stray. Many do and that does not mean their faith is invalid. I do believe that our consistent life of faith gives those who follow us a better chance of walking in their own salvation. They will have examples to follow. They will have those who have both failed and succeeded to counsel and encourage them. In the end they must make their own choices. We cannot be condemned if they do not make the right ones. We can do our best to see that they are equipped to make them.

Not only does faith that looks beyond ourselves help both our natural and church families, but we do not know how that faith may affect the future. Abraham never saw what God really did through his faith. His immediate descendants did not see it. Many generations passed without seeing the fullness of what God was doing in Abraham. We must realize that we do not know and will not know until we stand before the Lord, what affect our faith has had.

Abrahams obedience to go to Canaan without knowing the details of God’s will had ramifications far beyond his journey. It produced a homeland for a nation that did not yet exist. His obedience to trust God for a child in the midst of impossibility produced more than a son. It produced a supernatural nation who would live in that homeland and through whom God would move to bless all people. His faith and obedience set in motion the process that would produce the Messiah of all God’s family for all of eternity. Abraham did not really understand all of this. In doing his part to walk in faith, he changed the course of the eternity of humanity.

Your walk of faith will not produce the Messiah. However, you do not know what God is doing through you that will affect the future. There was an evangelist named Mordecai Ham who had some meetings in North Carolina in 1934. He was a well-known evangelist at the time. He was busy walking by faith in what God had called him to do. As the story goes, he had a meeting in a church and had only one convert. The convert was a 16-year-old boy. It did not seem like much of a meeting at the time, but Mordecai Ham was faithful to obey.

I suspect few of my readers will recognize the name of Mordecai Ham. I do believe many will recognize the name of the boy who was converted in those meetings. His name was Billy Graham. Mordecai Ham had many meetings that were more successful when viewed by worldly eyes. He never had a more successful meeting in heavens eyes. Billy Graham probably saw more people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ than anyone who had ever lived.

Whose faith is responsible for that? Certainly, Billy Graham’s faith was involved. However, there may have been no Billy Graham without the faith of Mordecai Ham. I am not just talking about the faith he showed by going to that church. I am talking about the faith of his whole life that led him to become what God needed him to be. We do not really know Mordecai Ham. Heaven knows him as well as heaven knows Billy Graham. Every soul won to God by Billy Graham goes to Mordecai Ham’s account as well. It also goes to the faith of all those who influenced Mordecai Ham, and on and on.

We all have needs. God knows that. Matthew 6:31-32 tells us that we need not worry about our own needs because our Heavenly Father knows what they are. We must believe for those needs to be met by applying faith in that Father. However, every time we walk in faith and see God move, we do not just affect ourselves we affect those around us. We touch people who will touch people. We change the world in some way every time our faith allows God to intrude upon it. You may not receive credit here for those acts. Nevertheless, there is a record in heaven. You can count on that.

Abraham never saw what God really was after in his life. He saw Isaac and others of his descendants. All of that was important to both God and Abraham. However, the greatest effect of Abraham’s faith was Jesus the Messiah. Because Abraham obeyed by faith and would not settle for less than God’s best, there are multiplied millions who know God as Father and will live through eternity with him.

Heroes of Faith: Abraham Waited for God’s Best

Hebrews 11:8-10 (NKJV) 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

In our last post I began looking at one of the most important members of The Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11. His name was Abram later changed to Abraham. What made his faith worthy of the Hall of Fame? First, we found that he was willing to obey God without knowing the details of who, what, when, where and how. God told Abraham to leave his home and his family for a land he was going to give to him. He did not tell him any details. The bible says that “by faith Abraham went.”

One of the greatest hindrances to our faith becoming hall worthy is the need to know. We must understand that there are times when God cannot or will not tell us the details. In my experience, I know that if God told me everything about my immediate future, I would probably decide I had not heard from God. Most of the time what God wants us to do is impossible to one degree or another. It will almost always be something that will not make sense to our natural mind. If God told me in advance what he was going to do in most of the areas of my life, I would not have been able to believe it would ever happen.

God gives us what we need to know to obey him. That is usually all we get. If we obey, he gives us more. I heard an illustration that made sense to me. If I were a farmer and God said to start plowing a field, I would want to know how many rows. I might want to know what I was supposed to plant. How much could I make from the harvest. How long was the growing season, etc. All I really needed to know was to start plowing. God will give me more when I need to know it.

Hebrews 11:6 is another reason God will not always tell us the details. This verse says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Hall of Fame faith trusts God implicitly. We must be willing to follow him by faith, knowing that he loves us, has our best in mind and will bring us to the best outcome for us, our family and our impact upon the world for his Kingdom. If we will not walk by faith, we cannot please God. If we cannot please God, our faith will always fall short of the Hall of Fame.

I want to look at another thing about Abraham’s faith that caused him to get into the Hall. Verse 10 says he was looking for a city “who’s builder and maker is God.” There were many cities in Canaan. Lot, Abraham’s nephew, inhabited one called Sodom. It was probably much easier to live in the relative comfort and safety of a city as compared to living in tents in the wilderness. However, Lot found that to settle for something less than God’s best is always a lower life and often disastrous.

I do not believe Abraham ever saw the city he was looking for. He remained a nomadic wanderer his whole life. God’s promise to him in Genesis 17:8 was that he would give Abraham’s descendants the land in which he was a stranger. Abraham was a very rich man. He defeated other people in battle when it was necessary. He could have assumed that he was to take the land of Canaan. That would not have been a strange thing for his day. He was strong. He may have been able to overwhelm the rest of the inhabitants and become a king or ruler over them. I know this is speculation, but it could have been so in that day. The problem was that God had something better for Abraham than being the king of Canaan by force. He was going to make Canaan the homeland of Abraham’s descendants. Abraham could not win that by force.

Even if we discount the scenario above, there are many others, we could think of that Abraham could have chosen. He could have been satisfied that God had blessed them in the land. He could have simply settled down and enjoyed life. Instead, the Bible tells us that he trusted God even when it was impossible in the natural. God’s best was that this land become the homeland of Abraham’s descendants. The problem was that he had no descendants. He was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 when they conceived the child of promise.

Sarah had tried to solve this problem by the practice of giving her maid Hagar to Abraham so he could sleep with her and have a child. This child would be considered Sarah’s. To us this seems like a strange and extreme thing to do. In their day it was completely logical and legal. It seemed like a way God’s promise could be fulfilled, but it was a disaster that plagues us to this day.

Abraham suggested to God that a servant born in his house might be the answer. God responded by showing Abraham the stars of the sky and saying, “That is how numerous your descendants will be.” He made it very clear that the child from which all these people would come, would be born from Sarah’s body after she had conceived by Abraham. Anything less would not be God’s best. Anything less than God’s best would not have the effect that God needed in the world. Abraham’s blessing was going to bless every family born in the whole world. For that to happen, Abraham could not settle for anything less than God’s best.

There is always and easier way than to stand by faith in the face of natural impossibility. The devil will be sure of that. He and our own flesh will find alternatives that will still involve faith in God, but they will not be God’s best. I want to make something clear. God will not love you more if you go all the way to his best and he will not love you less if you do not. However, if we look at what Abraham gained for all of us by going all the way to God’s best, we see why it is so important.

If Abraham had settled for any scenario other than he and Sarah having a baby of their own, even though they were beyond the age to do so and considering Sarah had always been baron, they might have had a good life, but they would not have been the father and mother of nations. They would not have had one particular seed that became the savior of the world. His name was Jesus.

Jesus gives us another example of being willing to wait for God’s best even if it means trials. We read about it in the next chapter of Hebrews. It could be said that Hebrews 12:1-4 is an accounting of the greatest member of God’s hall of fame.

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus endured the cross. He despised the shame of it. He suffered physically, mentally and spiritually in his death, burial and resurrection. He did it for the joy that was set before him. He could have called 10000 angels and not gone through the pain, humiliation and death of the cross and the grave. That is not just the words of a hymn. If he had done that, he would still have been the King but not the King of kings. He would be alive today, just as he is now. The difference is you and me. We would not be God’s children. God’s best in Jesus life was to purchase our freedom from sin. He did it all because he knew that to settle for less would have been an easier road for him, but the cost would have been God’s family.

What was the city Abraham was looking for? I think it was Jerusalem. I really believe it was the new Jerusalem spoken of in the book of Revelations. What I do know is that he never saw it on the earth. If we want hall of fame faith, we must become obstinate about not settling for less than God’s best. We must be willing to let him define what that is. He will always do right by us, but our obstinate obedience to the quest for the best will be the difference between having a good life and a life of impact. It will be one of the things that gets our faith into the Hall of Fame.