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Abraham: Faith to Begin a Nation

I heard about a television program that featured Blind Skiers being trained for slalom skiing, impossible as that sounds. Paired with sighted skiers, the blind skiers were taught on level ground how to make right and left turns.

When that was mastered, they were then taken to the slalom slope, where their sighted partners skied beside them shouting, "Left!" and "Right!" As they obeyed the commands, the blind skiers were able to negotiate the course, depending solely on the sighted skier's word. The blind skiers crossed the finish line without incident. No tumbles or falls!

A reporter interviewed a couple of the blind skiers and asked, "How could you manage to ski downhill without knowing what was ahead of you. Weren’t you afraid?"

The blind skiers replied, "No, not really. We learned to trust the eyes of those who could see and follow their commands."

The blind skiers had to have complete trust in the ones who could see the way or face potential catastrophe.

Can you imagine being one of those blind skiers? What sensations would you have experienced? Excitement, exhilaration, anxiety, fear?

Those are no doubt some of the same sensations we feel when we are being led by the Holy Spirit.

We don't know where we are going. We can't always see what lies ahead. We are definitely out of our Comfort Zone!

But it is imperative we learn to trust God. We must continually put our faith in Him.

Here is a wonderful definition of Faith: Faith is obeying God in spite of feelings, circumstances or consequences. Wow! That's good!

2 Corinthians 5:7 declares, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

That verse certainly describes Abraham, the father of faith (Romans 4). Like the blind skiers, Abraham could not see where he was going, but he followed God. He believed His promise. By his faith Abraham gained a reward (righteousness from God) and began a nation.

Hebrews 11:8-12 paints this picture.

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. 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.

Verses 17-19 continue the story.

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.

Let's consider Abraham's faith lessons.

1. Abraham had faith to leave the Familiar to go to the Unfamiliar (v8).

It is very tempting to want to stay with what is familiar. We like to keep doing what we are already doing. It might be predictable. It might be routine, but it is familiar!

We can stay secure in our Comfort Zone! We can pull the blanket of comfort and security over us and take a spiritual nap.

But Jesus calls us to grow and change and stretch. He calls us to not accept the Status Quo or stay in our Comfort Zone.

In the 1st century, Jesus was a threat to the status quo. And in 2019 He continues to be a threat to our way of life,, to who is in control.

He continually challenges us and leads us to Change and Growth.

You probably have heard it said, "Jesus loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way."

He takes you to your limit, then stretches you a bit more.

What's the problem with staying right where we are? Where we are now, we can rely on our own strength and our own resources.

But when we step out of our Comfort Zone – when we step out in Faith – we find it is the place where we must truly depend on God.

So when the Spirit nudges you, be willing to Step out in faith. Be willing to get in the deep water over your head. Like the blind skiers, be willing to trust the eyes of the One who can see where we are going and follow His commands.

2. Abraham had Faith to Believe God's promise of a Miracle Son (v11-12).

How could Abraham have a son when he was 100 years old? He needed a Miracle!

Sure, they lived longer then (Abraham died at 175 years), but a child at 100 was beyond the realm of possibility, even for him.

Hebrews 11:12 tells us that his body was "as good as dead". His and Sarah's reproductive systems were long gone. Abraham's chances of having a child at 100 years old are probably about as good as yours or mine at that same age.

Plus, he had to wait 25 years for the answer to his prayer!

When Abraham received the promise of a child (Genesis 12), he was 75 years old. Isaac was born when he was 100 years old (Genesis 21).

Can you imagine waiting 25 years for the answer to your prayer?

How do many of our prayers go? "Lord, I need help! I need money! And I need it Now! Yesterday!

Abraham, the father of faith, eventually tried to accomplish the miracle in his own efforts. His wife suggested he have a child with her servant, Hagar. He did, but it blew up on him. Sarah, who initiated the idea, got upset with him and kicked out Hagar. There has been strife between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael to this day!

What was the problem? God said that Isaac would be the child of a Miracle, not the child of the flesh.

Key: There is trouble every time we try to accomplish the Supernatural in Natural ways.

It has been said, "Only he who can see the Invisible can accomplish the Impossible!" Only she who can see the Invisible can accomplish the Impossible!

We serve a miracle working God whose ways are higher that our ways. His wisdom is greater than our wisdom.

Don’t try to accomplish the Supernatural in the Natural. Put your Faith in a Miracle working God!

3. Abraham had Faith to trust the God of the Impossible (v17-19).

It must have seemed like it would never happen but finally the son of the promise was born!

What was the temptation then for Abraham? To exalt his son. His son represented the Promise from God. His son would be the beginning of a new nation that would impact the world.

Abraham's son could easily take God's place in his affection and devotion. His son could become his new #1.

God knew Abraham needed to come to the place of Surrender and Consecration. So He gives Abraham a difficult task, a hard task. It might be the most difficult task for anyone in Scripture.

God tells Abraham (Genesis 22:2), "Take your son, your only son, whom you love.... Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you."

Wow! How could a father do that?

Abraham was quick to obey but picture him – a lonely, hurting elderly father – trudging the up mountain side.

His son says, "The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb?"

(John the Baptist answered that question in John 1:29, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!")

Where is the lamb? How could a father answer that question? How could he say that his son would be the lamb that would be sacrificed?

But Abraham had Faith to trust the God of the Impossible!

A flicker of hope started in Abraham’s heart and began to grow to. It became Faith, even Uncommon Faith!

He instructed his servants (Genesis 22:5), "We will worship, and then we will come back to you."

What a statement of Faith! He knew Isaac was coming back with him.

Hebrews 11:19 declares, "Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death."

Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old; he had a miraculous Birth. And God could also give him a miraculous Resurrection! So Abraham's steps became stronger and stronger. His faith began to build and grow.

Abraham did not understand it all, but he knew God could do the Impossible! Why? Because He is the God of the Impossible!

What a lesson for us today. We don’t often understand what God is doing in our lives.

Do you understand everything God is doing in your life?

We are tempted to cry and complain but be assured of this: God can do the Impossible! There is Nothing too hard for Him! God can do the Impossible because He is the God of the Impossible!

[Btw: What Abraham was asked to do, God has done Himself already. He gave His only Son as a sacrifice (John 3:16). There was no last minute ram or lamb to take His place because Jesus was the lamb!]

Remember the Blind Skiers? They learned to trust and obey those who could see the way.

Are you learning to Obey God in spite of Feelings, Circumstances or Consequences?

Are you learning to Walk by Faith and not by Sight?

Are you learning to Trust the God of the Impossible?

Let's do it! Let's Step Out in Faith!

Let's be willing to go where we have never gone before so we can accomplish what we have never done before.

When we have gone where we have never been before, we will be relying on the Holy Spirit's strength and power, not our own. Ours will have been used up a long time before. But His never gets used up. His mercies and strength and power are new every morning.

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