Summary: A study of the life of Abraham - identifying principles for building a life of faith.
"Developing A Faith That Lasts"
Scripture - Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19.
What does it take to Receive God’s Approval? Or perhaps another way of saying it: what does it take to Make God Happy? Many people, throughout history, have tried to figure this out and have made countless attempts to gain God’s approval for their lives. Some people try to make God happy...
-- By doing more good than evil in their life.
-- By dressing in a certain way.
-- By following certain dietary restrictions.
-- By praying a certain number of times a day.
-- By performing certain religious duties as prescribed by their "faith".
-- By going to church.
And, as we’ve unfortunately discovered over the last two months, there are some people who will perform acts of terrorism and kill those they consider to be God’s enemies -- all in an attempt to gain God’s approval. It’s tragic to think of all of the needless pain and suffering that has been caused by people trying to make God happy.
The Bible tells us that there is only one way to get God’s approval? There’s only one way to make God happy. What is it? "Without FAITH, it is impossible to please God." Hebrews 6:12 (NIV) The Bible tells us that FAITH is the key to pleasing God -- without it, we can do nothing. And that is why we have been talking about Faith for the last number of weeks: to find out how to develop a Life-Changing Faith -- a Faith that pleases God.
What is Faith? We started out with the definition from Hebrews 11:1, which says that "Faith is the Confident Assurance that what we hope for IS going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see." (NLT) And we’ve built on this over the last number of weeks, discovering that:
-- Faith is "Expecting The Best!" As you remember, I shared with you a quote by Dr. Rick Warren, who said that faith is "The Confident Assurance that God is In Control of the future and that He plans What Is Best for my life because He Loves Me."
-- Faith is Believing that God can bring something Good out of even the Worst of Circumstances.
-- Faith is Believing that God can Use You to make a Difference in our world.
-- Faith is taking advantage of the Fresh Starts that God makes available to us.
-- Faith is having the Courage to Step Out in Faith -- Taking Risks for God’s sake -- and Resisting Discouragement in order to accomplish the tasks that God lays before us.
-- Faith is Trusting that God will Provide for your Needs, and then Responding in Generosity to the needs of others.
-- Faith is Choosing to Obey God -- Immediately, Completely, Joyfully, and Continually -- even when we don’t understand what He is doing.
As we wrap up this series today, we want to ask one further question: "How do we GROW in our Faith?" How do we develop a faith that will last a lifetime? To gain the answer, let’s look back to Hebrews 11:1-2, which says that "Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Faith is the reason we REMEMBER GREAT PEOPLE who lived in the past." (NCV) And let’s consider this verse from Hebrews 6:12 in which the writer says "We do not want you to become lazy, but to IMITATE those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (NIV) What does that mean?
Well, let me ask you this question: "What is the best way to learn a skill?" Perhaps a sport, or making crafts, or perhaps a specific trade? One way of course is to read a book about it; unfortunately, that only gives you part of the answer. Another way is to simply try to do it yourself -- trial and error. Again, that may get you started, but in order to really develop a skill to the point that it will stick with you, the best way is to Observe someone else who does it well -- in a sense, become their Apprentice, and watch them and have them train and help you to develop that skill in your own life.
The same is true when it comes to our Faith. Probably the best way to grow in our faith is to observe someone else who has great faith, and then strive to follow their example. As Hebrews 11 suggests, we should look at the lives of past heroes of faith, and then follow their example. So today, we’re going to take a brief look at the life of someone that the Bible hails as one of the greatest men of faith who ever lived -- Abraham. So please turn with me to Hebrews 11:8-12,17-19 as we look to discover some Principles for Building a Life of Faith.