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Abraham: Champion of Living by Faith
Hebrews 11:8-16
Skip Heitzig

Hebrews 11 (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.
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.
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.
14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Running with Champions

Hebrews 11 commemorates men and women who are considered champions of faith. When we read their stories, we may feel that we can never live up to the standards they set. Instead of feeling intimidated, we can find encouragement from their stories--the same God who enabled them to live a life of faith is more than capable to empower us, as well.

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In verse 8, By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned 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; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 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. 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 upon 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. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, help us to imitate Abraham and Sarah in their example of faith, of trusting You in the ways we’re going to see this morning. In Jesus name, Amen.

Every day, life is filled with choices. There are choices that you made when you woke up this morning. Some of them are insignificant choices, uh, in the long run that is. Looking outside at the sky, you thought, "What will I wear today?" Depending on how you feel, you say, "What am I going to do today? What am I going to eat today?" Then there are other choices that have more serious repercussions: "What career will I choose? Whom shall I marry?" Remember making those choices? Some of you haven’t made them all yet, but you’re still contemplating them. But then there are those mega-choices, which are eternal choices. "What will I do about my eternity? Will I follow the will of God for my life? What will be the governing principle or the master passion of my life?" We have made those choices. Even if you’re a person who says, "Well, no, you see I’m not completely decided one way or another about this Jesus thing. Um, I’m still contemplating." Well, in that state of indecision, you are already decided, at this point, not to let God govern your life. You’ve already made a choice. And when we make a choice, the choice will turn around and make us. It will mold us. Abraham is a man who made choices throughout his whole life to live by faith.

Now, so far in our series, we sort of zeroed in on episodes of faith. When Abel worshipped God, it was that episode of offering up a sacrifice. When Enoch walked with God, it was the episode that he was translated into heaven. It was the episode of Noah building the boat that we zeroed in on last time. But when we come to Abraham, his entire life was filled with episodes of faith. He was not perfect. But from the moment he was called, and then wandered from Ur of the Chaldeas to the land of Israel, when he waited on God for a promised son, when he almost sacrificed his son, all the way to his death, he was a man who lived by faith. But in this text, we not only come to a man but a woman named Sarah, and we look at a husband and wife team- the first in the scripture- of a husband and wife who, as a team, lived by faith. In the first book of the bible, Genesis, God says to the first man Adam, "Here’s a wife. I’m going to make a woman who is comparable to you. Someone who will make you blossom and bring you to complete fulfillment." And Sarah and Abraham were matched. Imperfect but matched. And there is an example of faith to every couple who is here this morning.

There are two ways to live, basically. You can live by sight or you can live by faith. If you live by sight, youre the kind of person who has to see everything and understand everything before you buy it. You’re an empiricist, purely. You have doubts about certain things, so you don’t worry about them. Then there is the person who lives by faith. He believes, though he can’t understand everything about God. And the Bible tells us that we as Christians live by faith, rather than living solely by sight. We’ve never seen God. We’ve never seen the apostles. We’ve never seen heaven, although some claim to have. Yet, we live as if those are realities, because they are. Peter said in the New Testament, "Whom, having not seen, you love. Though you do not now see Him, yet believing in Him, you rejoice with joy unspeakable." There are lots of things we don’t know about God and don’t understand about God, or spiritual matters, but there’s enough that we do understand that makes it okay.

There was a minister who was travelling on a train in the east coast. Sitting on the other side of him was an atheist and, uh, the clergyman in certain circles as you know, and especially in those days, they all wore collars wherever they would go and, it was lunchtime so fish was being served and it was that Atlantic Codfish that that part of the world was known far and the minister was eating his fish and the atheist on the side of the car sees the clergyman and he loves to pick an argument. So he says, "uh, excuse me, I see you’re a man of the cloth, a clergyman." The clergyman politely answered, "Yes sir, that’s right."

And uh, that looks like a Bible, is that what that black book is next to you? Is that a Bible?

Yes, sir, it is.

Well, do you read that book?

Yes I do.

Do you believe everything in that book?

Yep, I do.

Do you understand everything in that book?

The minister said, "Well, no I don’t," and just then the atheist butted in and he said, "See that’s the problem I have. As I read the bible, there are things that I don’t understand. There’s lots of things that I don’t understand. What do you do with all of those problem passages that you can’t understand?" The minister smiled and simply said, "I do the same thing with those passages in the bible that I’m doing with this fish. I eat the meat and I leave the bones for some fool to choke on."

He lived by faith. Though his faith is based upon evidence of truth, he couldn’t see everything nor could he understand everything. Now, you’ve got to understand, those of you who have read the Old Testament know this, that Abraham was not perfect. He was not always a man of faith. He fell many times. Four separate episodes in his life, he said, "I’m not going to believe God." He lied about his wife, he went down from the land of Provision, and he went down to Egypt, and he trusted in Pharaoh rather than trusting in the Lord. But, the thing about this man is that he got up and brushed himself off and kept going. And that’s the difference. He just didn’t fall down and wallow in it, he lived by faith, he would fall, like we all do, he would get up and he would march on.

As you look now at the text, beginning in verse eight, there are four ways that this couple, Abraham and Sarah, lived by faith. Four ways. Number one: He lived as a pilgrim. Verse eight: "8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going." Abraham was called from a place called Ur, U-R, that was the name of his town. Ur of the Chaldeas. The spade of the archeologists have showed that Ur of the Chaldeas was not this little po-dunk village somewhere in the Middle East, but was a thriving metropolis of over 300,000 people at the time of Abraham. It was known for its university, it was known for its library, it excelled in math, astronomy and many other of the sciences. But, it was pagan. They worshipped nature. In fact, in the very center of Ur of the Chaldeas was this spiraling ziggurat, or tower of worship, where people would ascend the tower and worship the gods of nature. They were polytheistic, they worshipped many separate Gods. That was his environment. And God called Abraham to come out of that environment, to live separately, and to live a life of faith for Him. I’d like you to turn back to Genesis chapter twelve for just a moment. Genesis chapter twelve, that has been our pattern, to look at the story as it was told in the Old Testament. Genesis chapter twelve, verse one: "

Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

A man who lived by sight would never do this. A man who lived by only what he could see would never leave everything that he could see around him- his home, his family, his associates. Abraham was probably seventy-five years old, he’s probably been married about fifty years. His wife was getting along in age. They had accumulated many things. For them to just pick up and leave was something that was unheard of, but God called him. Look at this paragraph once again in chapter twelve. There’s two parts of it. There’s a command in the first verse, there’s a promise in the second verse. A command and a promise, which is the secret to Abraham’s faith. It’s the secret to Abraham’s faith, because he obeyed the command believing the promise. He believed what God said he would do, therefore Abraham obeyed the commandment. Notice in verse two, the words I will. They are mentioned five times. God says, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." "Abraham, I want you to obey me, because I’m going to do great things in you and through you." There are Christians, churches, who put a lot on emphasis on what you should do for God, and God never puts the emphasis on that. There are people who are guilt-ridden because fingers are pointed at them. And people say, "You ought to be doing this and that for God," when God emphasizes in the bible is, "This is what I will do for you." This emphasis is on what God does for man, not what man does for God, and then, receiving the promise, man responds to the promise by obedience. I remember back in the sixties, when John F. Kennedy was president, I was just a little tike, but I remember that immortalized saying by John F. Kennedy that you’ve all heard, where he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." And I know Christians who sort of say that about God. "Don’t ask what God can do for you, but what you can do for God." Listen, you can’t do a thing for God, until God does something for you, in you and through you. "Abraham, this is what I will do for you. I need you to cooperate with me, Abraham. But your obedience, Abraham, is based upon my promise, not the other way around." The emphasis was upon God. So, it says in verse four, that Abraham departed. He left his town, he left his associations, he left his paganism. The point being this: You are called to a pilgrim life to follow Jesus Christ. That involves a break, a decision. You just don’t follow the Lord without taking a break from past influences, things that will hold you down. You need to take a break from those things that would hinder you in your walk with Jesus Christ. Paul the Apostle said, "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you."

When I first met Jesus Christ, I came back to my home. I wanted to tell my parents, I wanted to tell my parents what had happened. I was a baby Christian. When I came back home and I was the pressure of all my old friends who wanted to change the weirdness that happened to me become a Christian. And, the pressure of my parents because I had changed religions in their eyes. All of the old hangouts were there, and it was very tempting to just slip back into the mode of living that I was used to. I remember one night I was reading this little bible that was given to me, a paperback version, and I was reading in Matthew where God said, "Blessed are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires." And as I meditated on that, in the midst of being pulled by so many different things- friends, family, old manners of lifestyle- I knew that I had to make a decision to separate myself from a style of living that I was used to in the past, and follow the Lord on a pilgrim path. You know, giving up the past is so essential. In fact, one of the greatest hindrances to living for the Lord in the present, are the things of the past. The problem is, is that the enemy, the devil, lies to us about our past. He always comes to us when we’re at the lowest point of following the Lord, and he says, "Remember what it was like before you became a Christian? Remember all the friends you had then? You could do anything you wanted to? You didn’t upset the apple cart because everyone was just like you. They didn’t point the finger at you. Now look at you. You’re miserable. Why did you follow the Lord? Why did you make a commitment? You were free before. If you wanted a drink, you could go have a drink. You could drink as much as you want. Now look." But he is so selective in his propaganda. He wants you to remember only the good times. Actually, there were no good times. I still can’t figure out why in certain bars they call it Happy Hour. Look at the faces of the people in there. They look anything but happy. The enemy won’t remind out of the time you woke up after that party in your own vomit. The devil won’t remind you of the time you ached being so lonely, so desperate for some direction, some purpose other than where you were living. It’s a lie.

Abraham and Sarah lived as pilgrims. Now look at the end of verse eight and look at verse nine, "And he went out, not knowing where he was going." I feel like that a lot. "By faith he sojourned 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." Being married for fifty years, the bible is saying that Abraham and Sarah were wealthy- they had many herds, flocks, they’d accumulated a lot of stuff in fifty years as a married couple. To just get up and get into a tent and move around wasn’t that easy. It takes having a light touch with the things of this world and living only by God’s promises. And that’s the point, Abraham lived as a pilgrim, first of all.

Secondly, Abraham lived by the promises of God. I remember when I was moving to New Mexico and I had my little Datsun pickup truck with a camper shell, no air conditioning, the engine was about shot, and every 100 miles, I would stop and put another quart of oil in it, just to get out here. I was wondering about this journey, "Is this really the will of God?" It looked the Beverly Hillbillies, I mean, my truck was filled with stuff and a little U-Haul behind us, and we were just pulling everything we had, putting oil in it, coming into New Mexico, thinking, "This is the land of promise? You want me here? Why? Why did I leave my comfortable surrounding and go to a place that I know nothing about?" Abraham and Sarah did just that. Not only that, but look at verse thirteen: "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 in the earth." You know that the patriarchs never owned a part of the land that God promised to give them? They only received it by faith. God promised, "This is for you, this is for your kids, this is for their kids." Abraham came to the land, lived in the land, raised his kids in the land and died in the land, and he never physically owned any part of it except the little plot of ground that he buried his wife in. And if you think about it, that’s about all we ever own, right? Permanently. You say, "Well, no, I own my own home." Well, not for long. One day you’re going to be gone and the only permanent physical place you’ll have is a six-foot hole. You live as a pilgrim and you need to live by a promise.

We’ve got to understand that one of the most important parts of this life of faith is that we are transient. We’re passing through. We are on a pilgrimage. We made a decision to separate and we’re moving through this earth. If you’ve ever been to Israel, especially in the spring, a heavy dew falls upon the land of Israel. If you get up early in the morning, just as the sun is coming up, there is dew everywhere because of its proximity to the Mediterranean and its altitude. The grass in springtime is vibrant green early in the morning, the droplets of water hang upon the flowers. It’s gorgeous. But you wait a few hours and come back to that plot of grass and flowers, and the grass has turned brown in about two to three hours. With that as a background of imagery, the prophets and the apostles speak about life in the same way. In the bible we read these words: "All flesh is like grass. The glory of man is as the flower of the grass and the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord endures forever." Abraham never saw the promise fulfilled, but he still clung to it. And he was assured of it. He had God's promises, he clung to them and he walked in them. And Paul says in the book of Romans that Abraham didn't waver at the promise but counted God as being faithful.

One of the hardest times that you will have as a Christian is waiting. We don't like that. We like to pray and God say, "Yes, my child, here it is now." Or even "no"- at least it's better than "maybe." Those in-between times are so tough. To wait for something takes a toll on us. The scripture says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." "Lord, I'm just grabbing onto Your promises. I don't have anything left." I worked with a girl in Orange County, California, who loved the Lord. She was a young Christian gal. She'd been married for a couple years. Her husband was a non-believer. She was sure that he would come to Christ. And she just waited for that promise, she just waited for the time, "I know it's going to happen." Her husband had an affair and then divorced her, had a child outside of marriage, leaving this girl just as a divorcee. A lot of people said, "Look, he's an unbeliever, he divorced you, marry someone else. You're free to remarry, go for it." And she said, "No, I feel like God has assured me of His promise. That he is going to come to Christ and that we're going to get back together." And her friend said, "Why would you have him after that?" She says, "I want to forgive him. I want to be reconciled." A year went by, nothing happened. People said, "You're living a pipe dream, Cathy. Get somebody else." She said, "No, I've got God's promise." A year later I remarried her husband and herself. He had come to know Christ. He had repented before her. And now they're living a happy marriage in Southern California once again, and all she had to cling onto was a promise. That, "I don't see it yet, but there's a promise out there that God is going to do something in our marriage." So did Abraham and Sarah. Listen to what God said in the book of Numbers. God said that, "He is not a man that He should lie or the son of man that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?" You know, Joshua was a young guy who was raised up under Moses, lived his whole life seeing a promise land in front of him, and one day he walked into that promise land, took it over, and at the end of his life, he said something that I hope you and I will be able to say before we die. He took all the children of Israel and gave his farewell speech. He said, "I'm about to go the way of all the earth," which is a nice biblical way of saying, "I'm about to kick the bucket." You know with all your heart and all of your soul that not one of all the good promises of God has ever failed. Isn't that a great thing to say at the end of your life? "God has been faithful." And he went on and he said, "Every promise has been fulfilled. Not one has ever failed."

One of the first missionaries that became very famous, in fact, the missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, as he was going over to China, was going on a ship, sailing vessel, he was caught in the doldrums- that dread calm when there's no winds that blow- and the ship was drifting toward an island. You say, "Well that’s not all bad," except the cannibals lived on the island, and the captain on the crew knew it. Can you imagine what that would be like? With no wind, just slowly drifting, and you look on the shore and there's the cannibals at the dinner table with knife and fork in hand waiting for the main course- you. What did the captain do? He went to Hudson Taylor, knowing that he was a man of God, a missionary, and he said, "Look, you believe in God. Pray for us." Hudson Taylor said, "I will not pray for you unless you set the sails." Captain said, "I'm not going to set the sails and look like an idiot in the midst of my crew. You don't set sails in a calm like this." Hudson Taylor said, "Fine, then I won't pray. I believe that when I pray, God will act, so you set the sails." And the guy said, "Hey I haven't got any hope left, I'll set the sails." He did it. Hudson Taylor went to his state room. A while later he heard a knock on the door. The Captain said, "If you're still praying, stop. We have more wind than we can manage." That's why Peter, when he looked at the word of God, he said, "God has given to us great and precious promises." Great and precious promises.

So, he lived as a pilgrim, he lived by God's promises, look at verse eleven, he lived in patience. Verse eleven, "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age," I'll say, she was 90 by the time Isaac came along, "because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 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 upon the seashore." Now, both Sarah and Abraham are mentioned. Sarah specifically, and then Abraham in verse twelve. Both of them had patience and faith for their son. When Abram, which is his original name, which means exalted father married his wife, her name was Sarai, not Sarah. Sarai means dominating one, and she lived up to that name, by the way, in her marriage. Her name was changed to Sarah, which means princess, later on. But they didn't start out that way. They were probably a normal couple, lived in probably a three bedroom tent, two camel garage, just like everybody else did in those days. Everything was great except one problem- no kids. Now some couples would say, "Hey, no problem, we want to wait to have kids." Not these guys. In the ancient societies, to not have a kid was a curse of God. And they looked upon it with a deep frowning sentiment. Well, one day, God said, "Abraham, you're going to have a kid. All the nations are going to be blessed from you. You're going to have children." And then one night, God took him outside fo a walk and said, "Look at all the stars up there Abraham. As many stars as are out there, you're going to have kids like that. Your descendents will be like the stars of heaven." And he probably went home and said, "Sarah, God just promised me you're going to get pregnant!" Later on, not only did God divinely speak to Abraham, but he saw miraculous vision of a torch that was hovering between the sacrifices that Abraham was making to God and God reiterated the covenant. So he has a direct revelation from God, God audibly spoke to him, he saw miraculous vision, enough to make most of us have great goose bumps. There was only one problem- every time God promised it would happen, nothing happened. I can imagine Abraham going home, "Sarah, are you pregnant?" "No I'm not pregnant, I'm an old lady!" "Well God said you're going to have a kid." Now, month after month, what must it have been like for Sarah to hear the words, "Honey, you pregnant yet?" Year after year. After ten years, that gets old. It wears on you. You say, "Give it up, Abe. You didn't hear right. We're not going to have a kid." Let's paint a scenario. Let's say Abram is out on day out by his tent watering his flocks with his wife, Sarah. She goes into the tent. A traveler from Mesopotamia comes by on his way to Egypt and they put out their hands to greet each other and the man says,

"What is your name?"

and Abram says, "My name is Exalted Father, Abram."

The traveler says, "Oh great, how many kids do you have?"

"Well I don't have any children yet," Abram says, "but there's one on the way."

"Oh, really? You look like you're an old fella. How old is your wife?"

"Oh, almost 80 now."

"You mean she's not pregnant yet?"

"No but we know she will be."

"Right."

Traveler goes on to Egypt. Some time later he's coming back to Mesopotamia after all his trade is completed and, by this time, God has changed his name to Abraham, which means Father of a Whole Bunch, Father of Multitude, a name of faith. Traveler says,

"Hey Abram, how are ya?"

"Oh no, no, no, no, no, my name's been changed. It's now Father of a Multitude."

"You had those kids?"

"Well, not yet."

The traveler would think, "You know, humor the guy. He's old. He's been out in the sun watching sheep. Just go your way." Year after year to hold on to a promise and to be a pilgrim required patience and God gave that patience to Abram and Sarah. Now, I don't want to romanticize it. The y weren't perfect. In fact, Sarah, if you read the scripture, had anything but faith. There was the time when she just said, "Look, Abram, you know I'm old, this isn't going to work. Take my handmaid Hagar, have a child through her, we'll call it our own. We got to help God out here. God promised a child but, He's so busy He probably forgot about it, let's help Him out." Then, later on, after they had the child, God appeared in the form of the Angel of the Lord and said, "Hey Sarah, your wife, is going to get pregnant next year and have a kid." And she overheard it and she laughed to herself. The Angel of the Lord said, "Hey how come Sarah, your wife, laughed there behind the tent. I heard that." She goes, "I didn't laugh." God said, "You did laugh. Is anything too hard for the Lord?" But, in the New Testament, God does not view her unbelief but her faith. There must've been a moment in time where she said, "Alright I surrender. I believe." But the beautiful thing is this, is that love covers a multitude of sins. Love does not keep a record of wrongs and when God writes about Sarah in the New Testament, He mentions only her faith, not her unbelief.

Alright, let's apply it. This pilgrim life that we walk takes patience. Folks, if you knew that Jesus Christ was coming in one month, one month from today, and I'm not predicting anything, believe me. But if you knew He was coming, would that change the way you live? Yes it would. You'd be witnessing, you'd be radically serving, radically involved. But, to live by a promise that God is coming soon, week after week, month after month, year after year, it gets difficult. And some people start giving up. You know the William Carey, the missionary to India, served for 35 years sharing the gospel with the Hindus; only a handful of people came to Christ. But every missionary after him owes a debt to Carey because of the seeds that he planted, the influence in the land. They were ready for the gospel by the time they got there. He did not grow weary in well doing. About a year ago a man came to me, a pastor from this community. I met him here in the sanctuary on one of the weekdays, nobody was here and he said, "Skip, I'd like to meet you, I'm pastor so-and-so." "Hey, good to meet you." He said, "I've been praying for this church for years." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Way before you got here, I prayed that God would revive this town, raise up a bible teaching church filled with young people, vibrancy, sending people out, and I was sure that God was going to do that through me. But He didn't. He's done it through this fellowship. And I just want you to know that I was back there praying before you guys even got here." What a debt of gratitude for those prayer warriors. Year after year praying in patience and living on the promises of God. Christians, you need patience because you live in an instant society. We like to just have something that we just pour water on it and it's instant, it's ready to go. And when things don't go our way, we bail out, shift gears, go in another direction. Have you decided to obey God implicitly only to find that nothing happens when you do? "Hey, I've been faithful, I've been hanging in there God." And you want to give up. Look back at chapter ten for just a moment. May this sink into your heart. Verse thirty-five, "Therefore, do not castaway your confidence which has great reward, for you have need of endurance or patience so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promises." In the Gold Rush days, a man went from the East Coast to Colorado, bought a plot of land in the mountains, started mining, got into a vein of gold, it started making him a lot of money. The vein ran out. He persisted for a while, got a lot of money in equipment, finally he just, in disgust, gave up. Sold all of his mining equipment to a junk dealer in town. The junk dealer sent a man to access the vein, analyze it, and the man came back and said to the junk dealer who had bought the equipment, "I think if you dig about three, four more feet, you'll find gold again." They did. They found the largest vein of gold in the history of Colorado. Just three feet more. The guy gave up, moved back to the east coast, paying off his debts for the rest of his life, if he would've just hung in there a little longer, he would've gotten into the biggest vein of gold in Colorado's history. A lot of people bail out on their promises. They come to the altar. "Till death do us part," they say, "for better or for worse." Then they bail. Or they make vows to their children, "I'm going to raise you, I'm going to nurture you." And we read all of the time of abandoned infants, or parents going on exotic vacations, leaving their little children home alone, while they're off somewhere else, breaking the vow. Not Abraham. Not Sarah. They kept right on going. They fell, but they kept going, got back up. And Jesus would've been proud of a disciple like that.

Finally, the last thing about their faith is they lived for a permanent place. Verse ten, "for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Verse fourteen, "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city." Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, came into the land that God promised them, but they had a sight toward an ultimate promised land, and it wasn't the land of Israel, it was the land of heaven, a "city that has foundations." You know that the American public, on the most part, 20% of the American population relocates every year, for a variety of reason, new jobs and so forth. But one of the biggest reasons is that people are looking for the right city, the right place, where there's a high quality of life, where they could raise their kids. Abraham and Sarah certainly had their children in mind, but they had eternity in mind. And I want to ask you a question: How far ahead do you plan? If you plan for your kids, great, if you plan for your life, great, but how far ahead do you plan? If you're planning for this life only, you're a fool. "Don’t call me that." I didn't . Jesus gave a story. He said there was a man who prepared for his life. He had so much wealth his barns were bulging. He said, "Well what am I going to do? Well I'll build bigger barns." And that night, God said, "You fool! This night is your soul required of you. Then whose things will those be, that you have tried to amass only for this life?" To live only for the present is very foolish. We need to imitate these guys, Abraham and Sarah, who had views on eternity and sought a better homeland. Paul says if you're risen with Christ, and you are, seek those things which are above, not just the things of the earth. No matter what city you move to, no matter what part of the world you decide, "this is where I want to live," it's not going to last forever. No city has permanent foundations. The people of Pompeii found that out. In 79 A.D. in Southern Italy when Mount Vesuvius exploded with the volcano and covered the city in ash. The people of San Francisco found that out, that California isn't all that stable. That things can quake and shake and be destroyed. It's not permanent. The people in the cities of Florida find out that, even if you mop up after a hurricane, more made be coming. Abraham and Sarah lived in tents, were responsible citizens, but they looked for a heavenly country, whose maker, it says, and builder is God. Now, most of you are Christians. What gets you through the day? Well, the promises of God, the patience that God gives you as a virtue, but also knowing that you're not going to be here for a long time. You are a pilgrim. One day you're going to being the presence of God, there's no greater encouragement for discouragement and fatigue and self-pity and knowing that one day I'll be in the presence of God forever. Remember in high school, can some of you think back that far? Spring fever, remember that? Right before the summer it hit, and I don't care what you did to get rid of it, you couldn't wait for summer to come. And kids that were smart decided to, "Although summer's coming, I'm not going to let that distract me too much, I'm going to let that be an impetus to get me through because I'm going to make my mark in this year and there's a record, a school class record that goes on the books, and then I'm going to go to another class. I'm going to let this school count. I can't wait for the summer."

Let's say a guys travelling from airport to airport. He's going on a journey, stops in transit at an airport. If he goes into the restroom at that airport as he's waiting for a connecting flight, does he look at the poor décor in the airport and decide, "I better fix that, I better redecorate this bathroom, this lobby." No he doesn't. How come? He doesn't live in it. He's in transit. He's got a permanent home. This earth is a connecting flight. We're in transit. Don't put too much emphasis in the airport. Oh, be responsible, don't trash it. Get involved in it, but know that you have a heavenly country. This is not your home. You're passing through. You're a pilgrim. You need God's patience, but you have a permanent home.

Jim Elliot, one of his famous quotes, if you've been a Christian long, you've heard it. He said, "It is no sacrifice to give up what you cannot keep, to gain that which you cannot lose." In his diary that he kept one day was this entry, "Oh God I pray Thee light these idol sticks of my life, that I might burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I do not seek a long life. I seek a full life, like You, Lord Jesus." He died a couple years later as a martyr, witnessing to the Auca Indians, they killed him. But he lived a full life. He lived a life of faith, consumed by God. Abraham lived a lot longer than Jim Elliot, but it was much the same way, he was a pilgrim. He was passing through. He lived in a tent. He was responsible, he was a wealthy man, he had flocks, he had many possessions. But he lived by God's promises. And year after year, he patiently awaited for God to fulfill them, though he never saw them completely fulfilled in his lifetime. But he didn't care because he had something permanent. Now, what do you live for? There was a man who took a pool and asked people, "What do you live for?" He asked 3,000 people. He said that most people have no idea, they're just kind of waiting around for something to happen. They're thinking that, "Tomorrow maybe I'll be able to have a better life, or in the future I'll be able to take a vacation. I'm waiting for my kids to grow up." What are you living for? If you live only for this life, you're of all men most miserable. And so I'd ask you to consider your life today, and if you don't know Jesus to give your life to Him. Let's pray.

Father, this is not a permanent situation. We're going somewhere else. We're in transit. We're waiting for the connecting flight. While we're here as pilgrims, give us patience. I pray Lord, as Christians, we would know the Word of God and cling to the promises of God. And give us a great amount of patience, even if things don't go our way in this instant society. And help us to make daily choices, those mega-choices that we commit to daily to do Your will, and let you control our lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/25/1993
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On Track in the Arena
Hebrews 12:1-3
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8/1/1993
completed
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Living Confidently
Hebrews 11:1-3
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8/8/1993
completed
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Abel: Champion of Worship
Hebrews 11:4
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8/15/1993
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Enoch: Champion at Pleasing God
Hebrews 11:5-6
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8/22/1993
completed
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Noah: Champion of Obedience
Hebrews 11:7
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9/5/1993
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Abraham: Champion of Tested Faith
Hebrews 11:17-19
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9/12/1993
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Four Champions of Home Grown Faith
Hebrews 11:20-23
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9/26/1993
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Moses: Champion of Tough Choices
Hebrews 11:24-30
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10/3/1993
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Moses: Champion of Faith and Fear
Hebrews 11:27-29
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10/10/1993
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Joshua: Champion of Victorious Faith
Hebrews 11:30
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10/17/1993
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Rahab: The Most Unlikely Champion
Hebrews 11:31
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10/24/1993
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A Variety of Victorious Champions
Hebrews 11:32-35
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There are 12 additional messages in this series.