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Living by Faith (Vol 29) - Abraham: Pilgrim and Possessor

Sunday English Service - 03 MAR 19


Hebrews chapter 11, let me read to you verse 8 to 10, and then I want to read from Genesis chapter 12. And I would like to read verses 4 all the way to verse 8. First Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8 onwards. 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. 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; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Genesis chapter 12. Let me read to you from verse 4 onwards. 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. Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give you this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

All right. You know that we've been studying from Hebrews chapter 11 about the life of faith, living by faith really. And we are right now studying about Abraham. For the last several weeks we've been studying about Abraham. And if you notice, Abraham has been given more space in Hebrews chapter 11 than anyone else. It's a chapter mentioning many heroes of faith and Abraham is given more space than anyone else. From verse 8 all the way to verse 19, it’s the story of Abraham because this New Testament author feels that Abraham is the one through whom we can gain a lot of teaching concerning faith. So, in the New Testament times, in the first century church, Abraham was used big time to preach from. Abraham's life was used to teach faith to the New Testament Christians. And that is why we have this great passage here in Hebrews chapter 11. So, we dealt with this passage, we talked about the call of Abraham, his background and all of that. Then last week we talked about how Abraham left as the Lord had called him. The Lord told him, “Come out from your country and your people and go to the place which I will show you.” He didn't tell him which place, He didn't tell him the name, He didn't tell him what kind of place, no information was given, just said, “Go to the place which I will show you.” And it's amazing that faith is seen in action. Faith is never just a mental thing. Faith is never just a heart thing. Faith is always revealed through action.

Abraham got up, packed everything, took everything he had and left and went to this unknown place, not knowing where he was going. That's why it says, “Not knowing where he was going,” because he doesn't know the name of the place, he doesn't know what kind of place it is, he has no information about the place but he went. And we talked about it last week. And I showed you how faith is shown in action and so on. And we learned a lot about faith last week because we talked about how faith can be seen in natural life itself. Naturally, we live by faith. We get in a bus, we believe the maker of the bus, we believe the driver of the bus, we believe the people that laid the roads, we believe the people that put on the bridges, we believe that everything will work and we'll go to the place where we have planned to go, the bus will take us. Many times, it fails but still we believe. We walk by faith in this world. We exercise faith. How much more can we believe God because God never fails? God can take us where we want to go. God is always true. He never lies. His bus never breaks down. He never breaks down. And nothing is a failure with God.

So, you can compare faith, the natural and the spiritual. When we believe people's words, we’ve exercised faith, we believe their words, we trust them and so on. The same thing spiritually is much more powerful because God is absolutely wonderful, all powerful, so true, so good. People cannot be relied many times but God can be relied all the time under any situation. So, the spiritual faith is totally on another level. That's what I was trying to show last week. But then we showed you how the book of Hebrews chapter 11 teaches faith, the stages of faith and mentions four different stages or the author has four different stages of faith in mind. I just mentionedit. Let me just mention it. I want to talk about the first stage a little bit more.

The first stage of faith is mentioned in verse 8, where Abraham left the country and his people and so on and went to the place that God showed him. Verse 9 and 10 in Hebrews chapter 11 mentions the second stage of faith where he faces the famine, enemies, lives in a strange place, faces a lot of challenges. To live as a foreigner in a place is not very easy in those days, you can be intimidated by the local people. And he lived there successfully, literally. He succeeded in that life. By faith he overcame all those things. Famine came, it didn't kill him, it killed a lot of people, but it did not kill Abraham. When you live by faith, that's part of it. You learn to overcome famines, these various needs that we face in life, these difficulties and challenges that you face economically and in financial terms, and so on. Abraham literally overcame that. I’m going to talk about it next week. Literally learned how to overcome these challenges, and how that God can even minister to him at the time of his material needs.

So, he overcame famine and enemies and all of those. That's a big story and we'll get into it next week. The third section, or the third stage of faith is where Abraham had to believe God for a son, the impossible thing, because he's 99 and his wife is 90 years old. Nobody has heard of people so old giving birth to a child, they're past childbearing age. But Abraham believed. Amazing. These are lessons we need to learn, we need to learn not only to trust in God, leave our former background and former way of life and come out by faith and follow God like Abraham did. That's the first stage. Not only should we believe our material needs, like our famines today, and our challenges today, and to overcome our enemies and our problems, we also must learn to believe for miracles from God. Life of faith means that we must believe for God to do great miracles in our lives. Have you experienced miracles? I told you, I've experienced a lot of miracles and that's why I'm excited about faith. When you live by faith, that's one of those things that you learn to expect God to do great miracles, most unexpected, unheard of things that God will do. Everybody will say it's impossible, but God says it's possible. And we'll talk about that. That's the third stage of faith. Those are things that you need to encounter and learn in living by faith.

And the fourth stage is the final stage. I think that's the ultimate peak of faith. That is, God tells Abraham to go and sacrifice the son whom God gave him at the time when he was 100 years old and his wife was 90 years old. God gave this child. This is a precious child born at a very unusual age. He waited and with great faith he believed for this miracle. And finally, the child arrived. Now, God says, “Take this child and offer him as a sacrifice.” But Abraham has grown in faith so much. He believes that, if God says it, I'll do it because I know something about this God. If he says it, you could simply close your eyes and do it even if it means offering your son as a sacrifice because even if you offered him as a sacrifice, burnt him down to ashes, that God will raise Isaac back from the dead and give him back, he believed. He was going up the mountain. He already told his servants, “We’ll go and come back,” he said. He was sure he’ll come back with his son. He believed that nothing is impossible with God. That God, His word can be trusted. Even if God says, “Give Me your child,” you can give.

I don't know how many are ready for that kind of thing? If God says, you can do it. That's the whole thing. If God's word comes and demands something you can boldly get up and go to the place where God tells you to go, boldly go and do what God says you must do, boldly get involved in things that God leads you to do, because he never fails. Abraham had ultimate faith. That's the most amazing thing to him. He would give anything if God asks. If God demanded something he says, “I'll give it because I trust Him completely. He’ll never do me wrong. He will never do me wrong.” That's the kind of faith. See, that is how you learn faith. You reach that level at some point in your life and that's when you become a real hero of faith. When you can totally trust God at His word, and know that God will do whatever He says He will do. Amen. So that's where we're going. That's what we're going to learn about Abraham.

Regarding the first stage, we talked about last week, we talked about how he left his country and family and all that. I want to talk about how he became a pilgrim, how his life now became a pilgrimage, and he became a pilgrim. Lived in this land where God had called him as a stranger and foreigner it says. In some translation it says, as a pilgrim, as a traveler, as one who passes by. Back in my young days, we used to sing a song. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. We used to love that song. I don't know if we understood that or not. We lived like this world was everything. I remember we lived like this world is the thing to enjoy and have and everything but we were singing the song because the song was nice. But I understand what it meant now. We're just passing through. He lived with that attitude of a stranger. I want to talk about it today.

And that is mentioned in verse 8. Hebrews 11 chapter it says that he went out not knowing where he was going, that's how 8 ends. Verse 9 says, he dwelt in the land of promise. And every time it starts ‘by faith’. See, you notice verse 8 starts with ‘by faith’, verse nine starts ‘by faith’ so don't lose contact with that. It's all done by faith. Faith is working. So, by faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents. Just imagine such a rich man. He had everything. But he was living in tents, he wouldn't build a house. Living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. All right. Let's talk about it. What does it mean to live as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world? That's why the author is teaching about Abraham. He’s teaching about Abraham because we as Christians, he believes, are living in this world but we must have this kind of attitude that we are just a stranger and a foreigner here. We’re just passing through. That attitude must be there. What does it mean really? What does it mean?

Now, a lot of people have a great misunderstanding concerning that. I grew up in a background where this was very much emphasized. In Tamil, it says ‘parathesiyaiy sanjarithaan’ that means the words are very strong, the paradesi thing went very far with us. We called ourselves paradesis and lived as paradesis. And we believed that paradesi means that you do not possess anything in this world, that you should not have anything in this world, you should not. Like one preacher said to me, “I don't even have land as big as the palm of my hand in this earth.” I remember going to a funeral service where they will take great pride in saying, “This person has gone to be with the Lord today. Does not possess anything in this world, except the six feet by three feet.” I used to think, “After all, he lived not wanting anything, but he's got to have six feet by three feet finally.” And I knew that something was wrong with this kind of thing but they showed me the Bible. They said, “So, you have to live like a foreigner, and a stranger and a pilgrim. And you must not own anything, you must not have anything.” So, we are all kinds of policies.

My father grew up in a circle where you are forbidden from having bank accounts. “You cannot have a house here. You cannot buy land here. You cannot buy a house here. If you had a house here, you will not have a mansion there.” That's the plain way they put it. I mean, they put things very bluntly. My grandma said, “If you wore jewelry, you're going straight to hell.” I remember one lady, when I was studying as a student in America, one lady, she was a jewelry store owner, and I preached at her house one day and she gave me a ring. Very valuable ring. And I've never worn a ring in my life. I wore it and most of the time take it out and put it on the table because I felt guilty, remember my grandma's words. “You're going straight to hell.” So, I'll wear it in my playful moments but when I got serious and started praying, but the guilt will come out and say, “My God, I’m going straight to hell.” I'll take it and put it on the table. New York City, when I was studying, I put it on the table, and they break in, in New York. So, some guy broke into the room and took that precious ring because they saw me bringing a new TV so they wanted the TV. So, when they came for the TV, they picked up the TV and the ring that was on the table, so attractive. I lost that thing and I've lost two rings like that. Not one. Because this guilt would not leave me for many years. The teaching was so strong. “You're going straight to hell.” How do you like that? And that was told to me from the time I could understand anything, “Going straight to hell.”

And that's the way with all these things, earthly possessions. You should not have a land, you should not have a house, you should not have anything. You must not possess anything in this world because you're a stranger and a pilgrim. This was taught to us. Now, when I studied the Bible and the wanting to preach and all that, all these questions, I had 1000 questions, nobody could answer my questions. I had to go look into the Bible and find out my answers because I wanted answers. I didn't want to just get up and preach these same things and make the same mistake. I told my family, my father, then I said, “Look, I don't want to preach the same thing. I want to find out from the Bible. I just find out what it is. Will I go to hell if wore jewelry? Is it not right for me to possess anything? I want to find out.” So, I went on a search. So, I asked these questions. I questioned everything. I didn't doubt the Bible but I questioned everything to find out the answers.

Now, I’m going to share with you the answer. What does it mean to live in this world? That's the lesson here. That is why the author of the book of Hebrews teaches this. That he lived as a foreigner in that land, in the land of Canaan, which God had given him. He lived as a foreigner. Does that mean that you should not possess anything, you should not own anything? They told us, “He lived in tents, so you shouldn't build a house.” So, many of our former generations, one or two generations, have wasted their life and did not even build a house, did not even do anything good, they went without anything, believing this kind of thing. So, what does it mean? I want to share with you today.

When Abraham entered into the promised land, the land of Canaan, there was a switch in his mentality. He was not like that before. But now there is a switch in his mentality. See, when he first started out from Mesopotamia when God spoke to him, he left from there, but he took his father and everybody with him and came to a place called Haran on and he spent their five years. He left when he was 70 years old but from Haran when he left, he was 75 years old. So, he had dwelt there for five years in this place, in between the promised land and the place where he's originally from. So, five years he spent there and his father died there, and so on. And then he packed up and left. Now, this time when he left, there was a resolve. Before he left because God told him, but in the middle he halted. But this time when he left, he seems to have a totally different attitude when he comes into the land of Canaan. And God blessed him in the land of Canaan. Everything he needed he had. In chapter 13 of Genesis, if you look at verse 1 and 2, which a lot of people don't see, it says, Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram, verse 2 says, was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

Now, these are verses that we avoided back in those days because we didn't know the answer for these things. Why this thing happened. But that information is there. He was very rich in silver, gold, male, female servants, lot of livestock and so on. And that's the way God has blessed him. But even though God had blessed him so much, this man lived in tents, never built a house. This man lived as if he is a foreigner, as if this land has nothing to do with him. So, people took this and that is why they taught us, “You should not own land, you should not own house, you should not possess anything.” That's the way they taught us. But if you read the Bible, it tells us exactly the opposite. Being a pilgrim, as far as Abraham is concerned, if he was a pilgrim, was living as if he's in a foreign country, then he’s a different kind of pilgrim than what these Christian people have taught me. He’s a different kind of pilgrim. He is a pilgrim who’s very rich. He’s a pilgrim who had much more than what he ever needed. He’s a pilgrim who’s rich in livestock, rich in gold and silver, rich in male and female servants, rich in everything. He’s very rich yet pilgrim. Therefore, I say to you, to live as a pilgrim in this world does not mean, please listen to me, does not mean that you do not possess anything. The Bible does not teach anywhere that possessing anything is wrong. I want you to write it down today and know it and write it in your heart mainly. The Bible does not say and teach anywhere that it is wrong for you to possess anything. It is a wrong teaching. Be very careful what you follow.

I'm a family man. I have two children, now I have grandchildren and all that. I wouldn't send my children to a place where they’re teaching you should not own anything. I did not raise my children to become nothing. I did not raise my children and educate them to be beggars and not have anything in life. I did not raise and if I think like that about my family, I think the same about your family also. I will not teach something that is harmful to you, that will empty you out of everything and progress and all that. I believe that the thing about our God is that He is a God who blesses us, He is a God who has richly given all things for us to enjoy. We must never forget, we must never lose this. There is this false narrative that is going on in this world, false story that is presented in this world, saying that you should not possess anything, that you should not have anything. That if you had anything you will never get anything there and so on. And a rich man cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Nonsense. I will explain that.

Bible does not teach that. They will say that the Bible teaches. The Bible does not teach that. To be a pilgrim and a stranger, and to live in this world like Abraham, detached from everything in this world does not mean that you should not have anything. It means that in your mind and mentality, you must adopt that outlook about life on this earth. That you may possess everything, in fact, you can even be rich and have everything beyond anything that you need. It is not a sin. You can have everything but still live a life where your heart is not sold out to those things, that you are detached from these things. You simply use them and use them for God's glory, use them to fulfill God's purposes for you in this life. If God has given you much then the question should be in you as to why He gave you much. What is the purpose that God has blessed you with much? What should you do with that much? How you should be a blessing, how you should fulfill God's purpose in this life. Some people are calling rich as a curse. Hello. We're getting serious now. They call rich as curse, gold and silver curse, money is a curse. I don't believe so. It is a blessing, the Bible says.

Why did God bless you with it? Why has God given it to you? Why has God given you much more than you need? Find that out, fulfill the purpose of God in your life. Never live for yourself. Never live for the things. Never sell your heart to the things. Never worship the things that you have. Never be hooked to the things, attached to the things. Never love the things but love God. Hello. Are you there with me? Love God. See, this is the pilgrim. This is the Christian pilgrim. We're all Christian pilgrims. In your heart, there is place only for God, for Jesus, nothing else. Maybe in your ear you can give a little place for something to hang. Okay. In your neck, maybe a couple of things can be hanging, let it be hanging. Okay, no problem. Maybe in your hand you can have a couple of things, fine, your finger has a few things, fine, but in your heart no place for anything. Yeah. No place for anything in your heart. Only Jesus, only God.

They call me prosperity teacher now you know what kind of prosperity teacher I am. In your heart there is no place for anything. In your heart you never worship anything in this world. You're not attached to anything in this world. You are attached, hooked up, only to one thing, that is God, to Jesus, into a relationship with Jesus. That is what it means to be a pilgrim on this earth. I didn't know that when I was singing, “This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.” I thought it meant in this world you better not have a house or anything. No, it didn't mean that. See, it has nothing to do with what you have or what you don't have, the idea of pilgrim. It has to do with what you think about everything in this world, what your outlook is about the world and the things of the world. That is what a pilgrim is. A pilgrim is a mentality, is a lifestyle that is based on that mentality. That is what a pilgrim is. Hello? Are you there? Real, solid preaching going on here now. A great preacher that I used to love and hear all the time used to say, “Don't shut me down just because I'm preaching so good when people are very quiet.” He said, “Don't shut me down just because I'm preaching so good.” This is serious.

So, Abraham therefore, was a paradox literally. A paradox is like this. On the one hand, he has everything and he has plenty of everything. On the other hand, on the other extreme, he is not attached to anything. Hello. That's the pilgrim. When the Bible talks about Abraham is a pilgrim, that's the kind of pilgrim, don't believe the cinema picture of Abraham with a dirty bedsheet on his head, with a little stick, with about 10 little sheep around him and he is standing in the midst of some dust going up, not knowing where he should go. That is Hollywood Abraham. If Hollywood heard this preaching, they would have put Abraham in the right sense. They believed all these other preaching about Abraham and thought he did not know where he was going, poor man. Oh boy. He was out there not even knowing, he left his father's house and he left his country, left his people that means he's become a beggar. He has nothing. And he lived in tents. That means he lived in huts. So, he's a poor man. Immediately, we interpret it in our own way, and then propagate it so that others will also learn it like that and be ruined totally in their life. No, this pilgrim that the Bible talks about, the man Abraham who lived like a foreigner in the land that God had promised him and given to him. He lived like that. He was not attached to anything but he had everything in plenty. Everything in plenty but he was not attached to anything. Amen. Are you there? So, he's a paradox.

Now, the pilgrim mentality and lifestyle must be understood. So, if you want to understand the pilgrim mentality and lifestyle, you need to understand because that's when you understand Abraham's faith and Abraham's lifestyle and how we ought to live. It's all about us, not just about Abraham. We are learning from Abraham. How should I live in this world? That's the question. How should I approach this? What kind of outlook should I have in this world? That's what we’re talking about. So, this is very important.

So, let me take you to John Bunyan's Pilgrim’s Progress. I don't know if you've read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I’m sure it's available online. It's available in English as well as Tamil, I think. Freely you can read it. One of the greatest works of this man named John Bunyan. And he describes these travelers, the believers, who are on their way to heaven. And there is a scene there where these couple of guys go to a place called the Vanity Fair. And the scene is described like this. They go to Vanity Fair and everybody finds that these two guys that are going through the Vanity Fair... you’ve seen fairs, like exhibition. Going through the fair they find that they are different in three ways from the others. The Vanity Fair is filled with people enjoying the shops and the stuff that is sold there and things that are going on there. But these three people are different. They're different in three ways. One, they're different in their dress that they wore, the clothing that they wore. First, I'll tell what the difference was and then I'll tell you the meaning of what the story means. All right.

First difference is in dress they’re different. So, the people looked at them, they thought they were crazy. “Hey, we're all looking one way and they're looking another way. We got clothed in one way, these people are clothed in another way. They're wearing something that no one else wears. We’ve never seen this kind of clothing.” That kind of a thing. So, they all think these are crazy people who are coming and walking among us. In their dress they’re different. Secondly, in their language they're different. They spoke the language of Canaan land. In other words, he’s trying to say heavenly language. So, they spoke another language. Thirdly, their values are different.

What does he mean by these three things? What does he mean by difference in dress, difference in language and difference in values? See, these are all with spiritual meaning he writes. This is not just to be taken as natural meaning so that when he talks about difference in dress, it is not the issue about what you wear. It is something else. He writes with a spiritual meaning. Difference in dress meant that these people were clothed with a... Why you’ll become a totally different person in a crowd like that it's not just because your dress is different because your dress cannot be totally different. But these people, the dress was totally different. He was referring to a dress that no human on earth can provide, you cannot make anywhere. They were wearing that kind of dress. Their dress came from somewhere else. And John Bunyan means this is the righteousness of Christ with which they are clothed. He’s trying to convey a spiritual point. He says, “These people, they’re clothed with the righteousness of God.”

The Bible says He became sin so that we may become the righteousness of God in Christ. That is what happened on the cross. Our sin went on Him and His righteousness was given to us. Now, the Bible says that righteousness is like a clothing. We’re clothed with righteousness so that when God sees us, He does not see the dirt. He does not see the sinfulness that is there as human beings, but He sees the righteousness of God. We are covered by the righteousness of Christ. Our shame is gone. We can stand before God. Why? We are properly clothed. It's like that parable story. People that didn't have the proper clothing were not allowed. We have the proper clothing. That is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. So, that is different. So, that is why they thought, “My God, they're wearing something totally new. We’ve never seen that here. No shop sells it. You can’t get it in any country, in any culture anywhere. This is absolutely new. This is something totally different.” This is the clothing that is the righteousness of God in Christ. That is so totally different, so strange. So, they thought these are crazy people who’ve come from somewhere. “Why are they so different?”

Secondly, the language difference is not simple language difference that he's talking about. See, we have Tamil, we have English, we have French, we have German. These are languages. We can speak different languages. You may speak one language, I may speak another language and so on. But he's not talking about language difference. Their speech was different. It was an issue with what they were conversing about, what was coming out of their mouths. It is not just a simple language difference, it is a difference of what they're talking about. Their conversation was so totally different from any conversation they’ve heard on earth. They’re talking about something different. They’re clothed with a righteousness of Christ, when they open their mouth in the earth, all the people that came to the Vanity Fair there, in the story, what would they have talked about? I can tell you what they would have talked about by looking at Tamil Nadu, what we talk about here in India.

First thing, we talk about cinema. No, I'm not talking about church. I'm just talking about the people in general. Cinema is the main subject. Who acted in what? What cinema is coming this week? When is this next film coming? Very important issues. Absolutely the most important earth-shaking issues of life. When is his birthday coming? Where did she get that dress? Who's her tailor? It’s what the world is talking about. The newspapers write about it. This is the subject, the cinema. Did you see that song? Did you hear that song? And they teach the child to dance to that song just like she danced to the song. This is our culture. Amazing. We think that's great. Just think about it. Sometimes I think we don't think. This is what we're involved in.

Second, what is the thing that we talk about if we get together as people normally? Not talking about church, just the community. Politics, correct? See, you know it already. I am preaching what you're thinking. See, that’s the catch in preaching. I must ask the questions that you will be asking and answer the questions that you will be asking. So, there is no question asked. People come to me and say, “You preached exactly what I was asking about.” Yeah, I know what you're asking about. That's why I'm preaching. Politics. Some politics is okay, you can know some of the things that are happening in the country and so on. That's fine. I'm not condemning the whole thing as far as politics is concerned. Cinema, I don't know. I don't know if it's anything worth in it but the way it is mostly presented. I don't know if there is any value in it that we can praise. Maybe some of them have it. But as far as politics is concerned, yeah, you should be aware of things and we talk about these things.

Another thing we talk about is cricket. See, sports. In India, cricket is the sport. Nothing else is a sport. We have a one-track mind. We make all our children doctors or engineers, no other profession in the world is worthy and we only watch cricket. Cricket is our big thing. Who played how many test matches? Who retired when? How many centuries did he hit? How many wickets did he take? All the statistics… we prayed for exams, the kids don't need exams for this, they will pass in flying colors. They will know all this information thoroughly, most of them. That's the way it is. That's the world talk. That's the way normal people are. But the speech is different here. What is their speech about? These two people walking through the Vanity Fair, the people are looking at them with wonder because their speech is different, they're talking about something else. Yeah, maybe they talk about some of the issues in politics in this and that and all but you can talk to them for just two, three minutes the Lord Jesus will come in there, God will come in there, life in Christ will come in there, the Bible will come in there, what God says will come in there. Our relationship with God will be main subject there, it will be the center, it will be the fulcrum around which everything rolls and goes around.

There is a difference. Hallo. There's a difference. And the third difference is the values. When you go to the Vanity Fairs what will it be like? They'll be all having all these shiny, glittering stuff. They'll come and say, “See this. Have you seen this?” They’ll show their little child, the child will be going right behind them, “I want that.” And the shops will be welcoming, people will say, “Have you seen this? Have you got this?” People think of all these things that are glittering and that are looking so good as the main attractions. They’re always attracted to these things in this world. That is the basis of these exhibitions. They attract with all kinds of things that are essential for life many times. They have some cooking utensils and this and that and a lot of good items and so on. But nevertheless, their job is to attract with the things that we need in this world, and they attract.

But these people walking through in Bunyan’s story they're walking through, they see those things, but they don't find them as an attraction. It is not an attraction. It is not something that they want to grab and they're going to go, and they want to pay big attention to. They see it, they use some of these things maybe but there is no attraction. They are not attracted, drawn by these things. They're attracted by something else. In their mind there is an attraction towards something else.

In our previous service there's a lot of people standing there without any space. You can tell what is in their heart. You can tell what is in a person's heart by looking at what they're attracted to. What are they attracted to? Whatever they are attracted to that is what is in their hearts. I told the people at the previous service, “So many of you are here. Some of you don't even mind the fact that you don't even have a place to sit. One hour, 45 minutes you stand there. These people stand there with their Bibles and hear the word of God because their attraction is not anything… They live in this world, yeah, they've come in cars, they have houses, they have things, they have everything, but it’s not an attraction to them. They are stuffs that are utilized by them but not an attraction. They are attracted to only one thing and that is to Jesus Christ our Lord. Hello. Are you there? That's pilgrim’s progress.

And why did I bring that up? Because these are the marks of the pilgrim. We don't wear the sinner clothing. People look at us we don't look like a sinner, they immediately see a difference because we have the clothing of righteousness in Christ. That's the difference as we walk through this world. See, you don't make religion into clothe issue. It's not about what you wear and what you shouldn't wear and how long it should be, how short it should be. They made it like that. Preachers have become tailors and barbers. We are preachers. So, don't reduce Christian preaching to that low level. It is not about that at all. I know people have to dress decently and all that, and I don't deny that, but Christian preaching is not about that, Christian preaching is about this clothing of righteousness that covers our shame of sin and makes us stand before God. And the righteousness clothing is even evident before the world. People know that you are not an average person, that you are a person in Christ. There is something different about you, the way you are.

Secondly, the way you talk, when you talk to them for a few minutes, they know that there is some difference between you and the world. Your subject is different, your interest is different, everything. When they see you, your outlook about things in this world, you have everything you need, you have a house, you have a car, you have all these gadgets and all these things that we need. Thank God for this iPad, that's one of the wonderful... use it, it's good. You use all these things, you have all these things but you're not attracted to all those things. You just find a good use for them. So, the values are different. And Abraham had these three marks as he went through the land of Canaan, he was such a person. When the Bible says in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 9 that he lived there as a stranger and a foreigner, he was a sight to see, I believe. They've never seen a man like this because here is a man who's a friend of God. And when they went to talk to him, he talked a different language, his subject was different. He was talking about this God who he had encountered some years ago, that called him and told him to come here. I'm sure they asked him the story about, “Why did you come here? How did you get here? Who told you to come here?” He must have told him the story. God who made the heaven and earth appeared to me and He told me, “Leave everything and go to the place I will show you. I got something for you.” So, I came. They must have all heard about this God.

Plus, the Bible says he not only put up tents everywhere he went to stay there, but he also put up altars. He worshiped God. So, every community he lived in, he seemed to have lived in different places. The Bible talks about it. Various places he shifted to within the land of Canaan. Every time he moved somewhere, he put up a tent next to it he put up an altar. The altar is built of stone, immovable, that tent is movable. He was all the time declaring this life on this earth is temporary, but my relationship with God which the altar was signifying, is permanent. It will continue for all eternity. “That is permanent, this is temporary. This is my approach to life. Everything in this life, I enjoy. I have enough cattle, I have enough gold and silver, I have enough money, I have enough everything but everything is temporary and I use them for God's purposes. I'm a user of all these things, but only thing that will last forever is my relationship with God.” That's the altar and the tent. Everywhere he went he put up the tent and the altar.

So, his language was different, his lifestyle was different, everything about him was different. Values were different. I'm sure the people got to know him as a different kind of man. Everybody likes some things but he liked totally different things. He was a friend of God. He took time to talk to God. God was visiting him, appearing to him, speaking to him, blessing him. He saw God's presence in his life, His miracles in his life. And I'm sure he shared it with the people around him about how God has been doing great things and good things to him. This is how he lived. He was a pilgrim for Christ.

There's a great preacher named F. B. Meyer, who taught in a university, taught theology but he's a great preacher and written a lot of books. He says this. He presents a challenge to the Christian population today. He says, “It is of utmost importance that the children of God should live this detached life as a testimony before the world.” In other words, “It’s of great importance that every Christian realize that this is how we are called to live.” That's why Abraham is even mentioned in the Hebrews. That is why the story is told and is told in that way, that he was a sojourner, he was a pilgrim, as a foreigner he lived in this world. Why? The Christians are being taught by that. That you must live detached, you must enjoy everything, you must have everything. God is not against you having anything. You can have everything in plenty because God is the one that meets all your needs. But you must be detached in your heart from everything. You must have that kind of outlook about everything. Hello. Are you there?

He says, “If we live just like the world, and people just look at us they don't see any difference, just by knowing us for a few minutes they don't know any difference from us and them, we’re just like the rest of the world.” What is the use? How will they know that your message is true concerning Christ if you don't worship God, and if you don't have this relationship with God, this altar business? And live in this world without an altar, not worshiping God, not having a relationship with God, not talking to God and talking about God to others? And if God is not in your conversation, in your life and in your lifestyle, how will they know that you really believe what you believe? That what you believe is the truth? If it's the truth, and if it's the greatest truth, then that will be coming out every time you open your mouth to talk. You'll find that as a thread in that conversation that's coming right through all your conversation. God will be the center of your conversation. Amen. The good things that God has done will be the center of your conversation. And the values, people see our values. What do we value? What do we think as great? What do we think as important? Our family will see it and others around us will see it. What is important to us?

Very simple things. When I was growing up, I don't remember missing church at all. I tell you that is one good thing about our family. Rain or shine even flood, don't care, you got to go to church. And we did. I don't remember staying home even one Sunday. I don't remember not reading the Bible or praying even one day because they made us to do that. That's how they raised us. Part of the culture, that's the way it was. And I'm glad about that. I did not like it back then sometimes. Verses were compulsory, you had to memorize the verses and tell it before you ate your idli. So, you can't just go and sit down and eat your idlis in peace. You got to memorize the verses and tell them and then only you sit down and eat. All these restrictions were there. But the thing is, I came to know at a very early age in our house this is the big thing. They didn't care about anything else. This was the main thing. Did you go to church? Did you hear the preaching? In fact, after coming from Sunday, they’ll ask you what the sermon was. Sometimes it was very hard to decipher the sermons. So, that itself makes you a preacher. You try to preach something that they never preached, try to tell a story, but we had to do this. Without anybody writing and telling me this is very important to us, I knew what is important. In my house, this is what’s important, this is what mattered. The Bible mattered, Jesus mattered, God mattered, prayer mattered, church mattered, this is the big thing. After that only, everything. You can play but after you pray. You can eat after you pray, after you read the... I know what comes first, you don’t have to tell me. Hello. Are you there? That's a simple illustration but you can apply it in so many ways.

F. B. Meyer says, the Christian people sometimes live just like the world, talk just like the world, have the same values as the world. And that's the problem. That is when we are not as shining witness before this world. We must be like Abraham, a shining witness before this evil world, the world full of sin, the world fallen in sin. A shining witness of God's wonderful works. We must live in communities in that way. How can we cure Christian people from being that way along with the world, being just like the world and make them more spiritual? This is where they made mistakes, many mistakes. That is, what they did was they said, “Get rid of all your wealth because if you have wealth then you cannot be very spiritual,” which is the wrong approach. And they always point to the rich young ruler who came to Jesus. Jesus told him, “Sell everything that you have, give it to the poor, and then come and follow Me.” And then Jesus said, “It's very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Even a camel can enter through the eye of the needle, but not the rich man in the kingdom of God.” But they don't read it fully. Read the story in Mark chapter 10. It says that the disciples were astonished at Jesus’s saying that it's hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, and so he saw that they were astonished, he explained it to them. He said, “No, I didn't mean it's difficult for a rich man. I meant it's difficult for people who trust in riches.” This is not my story. You read the Bible, it says that. Jesus explained it. It is difficult for people who trust in riches. It is one thing to have riches, it is another thing to trust in Jesus.

That young man's problem is the problem of many people today. They not only have riches but they trust in riches. Trusting in riches is wrong. It becomes very difficult to enter into the kingdom of God then. Then Peter says, “Lord you told him to sell everything and give everything to the poor and come. We have left everything and come already. What do you say to us?” In that same story. “We have already done what you're telling that young man. We left everything. Our businesses, our everything and have come to follow You. What would You give?” He says, “Those that have left houses, lands, mother, father, brother, sisters, or anything for My sake or for the gospel’s sake, you will receive hundredfold houses, lands, brothers, sisters, and so on in this life.” He mentions this life particularly, and in eternal life.

Lot of people don't tell the story properly. And the people don't know the story, it becomes very convenient for people to say, it's very hard for a rich man to go to heaven. That is why it's been hard for a rich man to come to church. I just had pastors’ meeting, I tell the preachers, if you're preaching that rich man cannot enter the kingdom of God, which rich man will come to your church? I remember in those days, if a rich man walked into the church, we all looked at him. What's wrong with him? It was like Vanity Fair and two believers are walking into the Vanity Fair. They’re totally different to us in the other way, exactly the opposite way. We thought, “My God, what's happening to them? These are rich people. They can't go to the kingdom of God. They cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” That's the way we approached. So, we drove out the people. Then when we wanted to build a church or something, we went to them and said, “Brother, I think you can help us a little bit. We don't want you in church, because you can’t go to heaven, you're rich. But we want some of your money. Can you help us a little bit?” Then we tell people, “It’s wrong to have riches,” so nobody has any riches. And then when they're building a church or something, they tell people half an hour they talk to them, “You know how much it costs? You know how much we need?” And one person talks and then another person comes and reinforces what he said. And another person comes with a Scripture. Half an hour they’re talking just to take up an offering. To just build a portico you have to sell vada, biryani, and all these things made by people that don't even know how to make them and sell second-hand scooters and motorcycles in auctions to raise money just to build a portico.

What I am saying is, if you teach the blessing of Abraham and tell people to have the faith of Abraham, if you show the people what it means to be a pilgrim on this earth, that the wealth that God has given to them has given to them for a purpose, and God wants it to be used for His purpose. So, when you're wealthy, be conscious of that. If you just tell that, people will be conscious of that. A portico is nothing. Suppose you went to Abraham for an offering, he would have said, “Wait a minute.” He would have just taken a sack and put a lot of gold there and give it to you just like that. “Take it and go.” And there would have been much more than what you need. You want to portico, somebody will write a check that will cover 5 porticos.

Money is not the problem. Our attitude is the problem. We have trained the church differently. We have taught differently, we have preached things that ought not to have been preached, we have made people poor for generations, and then we tell them, “Please bring more next week when you come. We are going to take a special offering.” And then speak half an hour about offering. And people are sitting like this, “When is he going to be through? I'm coming here to pray for my needs. I haven't paid my rent. I haven’t bought my food. I thought he will come and pray for me but he's talking about that.” See, that's why I have a different approach. A lot of people don't understand my approach. My approach is to teach about Abraham and show Abraham's faith and Abraham's blessing, make people who are poor into Abrahams of our day, blessed people. Rise above famines and rise above poverty, rise about this lowliness of this life, overcome it by faith and live by faith for God. That's how I teach and everything will take care of itself. I believe that.

What is a pilgrim? Pilgrim is not someone who’s left home. Back when I was in college, a lot of these Europeans left home and came as hippies. They're not pilgrims. In one jeans, they roamed around all India for six months. Just one jeans is enough for them. Shirt also not needed. They’re always drugged out and so on. That is not a pilgrim, he has left home but he's not a pilgrim. A pilgrim is one who has not only left this country, left his background, left his former life and come, cut out from that rock, he has come out of what he was previously. Not only has he come out but he has come out because he has seen the vision of a city whose builder and architect is God Himself that will last for eternity. One translation says He's an architect. God is a good architect. He builds something that never falls. Architect and builder is God. He has looked at that and said, “My God, that's so beautiful. That's so wonderful. The future is so wonderful.” God is going to completely get rid of sin. He’s going to bring heaven down on earth. There'll be new earth, new heaven. Everything is going to change. I see the future, the bright, glorious future. In light of that future, everything that I have and enjoy today is nothing. So, I can leave country, leave family and everything and go after this because this is so much better. And when God gives me things to enjoy, I can enjoy it in the right way. I am not getting attached to them but I can be detached from them while using them effectively for God's glory. Hello. Are you there?

Finally, let me say this and close. Abraham was not only a pilgrim, I emphasized the pilgrim aspect. I had to explain the pilgrim’s thing. I hope you understood. It's not somebody that should not have anything in this world. It’s someone who has everything but lives with a different attitude. So, Abraham was not only a pilgrim of that kind, he was also a possessor of everything. See, this aspect of Abraham nobody covers. Like I said, the dirty bedsheet Abraham is the thing that everybody knows. But Abraham is the possessor of every good thing on this earth. Look at him. He's the possessor of every good thing. When he came into the land of Canaan in chapter 12 of Genesis, it says in verse 6, that he came into the land of Canaan and the Canaanites were in the land. The Canaanites were very difficult people, very rough people, very sinful, very violent bunch the Canaanites were. Just read about Canaanites when you have time. They are a very violent people. And what would have Abraham thought? He could have thought, “My God, God told me to come. Is this the place He wants me to come? Maybe I should go out. Maybe I should just go back from this land and go to the place where I left and came. I must go back to my country. Maybe I shouldn't.” He would have thought all of that.

But verse 6 says that Canaanites were then in the land. But then verse 7 says that the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” In other words, God is saying, “Look, Abraham, don't be deterred by these fellows here. Don't think they're violent, they're terrifying and don't give up your vision. I have some great plan for you. Don't go back just because you see these fellows. I will give this land to your descendants. Don't ask me how. I can give you a child, I can give you this land also. I will give you this land. Doesn't matter how difficult they are. Doesn't matter how violent they are. Don't be afraid. Don't back off. Trust Me. I will give it and your descendants will inherit it,” God says.

The thing is, the Canaanites were there, the Canaanites can make you back off, but God was there. In Canaan land not only Canaanites were there, God was there. Wherever God has placed you and I, you may find it's a difficult place but I tell you right there, God is there. God is there in your street. God is there in your area. God Is there in your city, in your town, in your country. God is there where you are and God can bring to pass His promises right where you are. You don't have to be afraid of that. You can be in Somalia and be an Abraham. Doesn't matter. “Well, Somalia, brother.” No? God doesn't make Abrahams only in America. He can make Abrahams anywhere. He can take you from anywhere, take you anywhere, make you anything. If He says so, He can do it. That's what God is all about.

Even the people of Israel later on couldn't believe it. Remember the spies that went and spied the land and came back with bad news, “The walls are big. The people are huge, tall people, very difficult. We can't possess the land,” they said. They didn't see what Abraham saw. They didn't have Abraham's faith. That's why they couldn't enter the promised land. They could not possess the promised land. See, Abraham was in the same place, saw the same thing that the spies saw later on of the Israelites. The spies came back and reported it and all the people backed up. They said, “We don't want to go,” except Caleb and Joshua. The same thing, hundreds of years ago, Abraham saw. He never backed off because he had faith.

Which kind are you? Are you the kind like the people of Israel, that backs off? Or are you the kind that will go and possess what God has for you? I'll tell you, I'm the kind of person that's like Abraham. I want to go forward and possess what God has for me in this life. You got to choose. He built an altar, we said. That altar became the center of his worship. When he put up a tent, he built an altar. That altar became an attraction to those around him. Bible scholars say, since he had 318 servants at one time, and he went with them and warred against four kings, they calculate that there were at least 2,000 dependents of Abraham, belonging to the families of people that worked under him. Just imagine, Abraham living like a king, rich man. 2,000 people that work for him, dependent families living around him. That's the kind of Abraham, not dirty bedsheet Abraham. That's what Bible presents.

Just imagine him having an altar and worshiping God and other people are from all these other communities are coming and saying, “What Abraham? Which God is this?” And Abraham saying, “This the God that called me from Mesopotamia. He appeared to me and He brought me here. He’s a good God. I've trusted Him and He has given me everything. I've trusted Him, He’s with me. He gives me the strength to go on. He is the one that’s causing me to succeed.” He would have shared with them. The Bible literally says in one place, I don't have the time to read it. In chapter 18, it says that God blessed Abraham because He knew that he will share all these things with his household. Household is not just his son and his wife. When it says household, all these 2,000 people, they all came from the community, employed by him, lived around him, they saw the altar, they saw the worship, they learned from him. I'm sure he had a great church. He was preaching the gospel to them and telling them. And those 2,000 people went into their communities, wherever they came from. They told their relatives, they told everybody. And everywhere he went he put up a tent, and he built an altar. He worshipped so that the whole area smelled the sweet-smelling savor and flavor of God's glory everywhere. Because Abraham was there. Abraham was praying. Abraham was talking with God. Abraham was showing forth this glorious, amazing, wonderful God.

I tell you when we die, our graves must be inscribed these words, “This man, this woman, made a difference in this country, in this town, in this city, in this place.” God has chosen every one of us for that. That's Abraham. That's the faith of Abraham. When we die, it must be written, “This man made a difference. He made a difference. His life was not a waste. He made a difference.” It must be written on the grave for every one of us. That is the way God wants us to live. Not without anything. Pilgrim does not mean a beggar who doesn't have anything. Pilgrim means possessor of everything. That's why I’ve titled this sermon in a very new way, I’ve never seen anybody do it, ‘Abraham, a Pilgrim and a Possessor.’  Possessor of all things yet a pilgrim. Had everything but lived like he’s not attached to anything. That is a Christian today. Are you there? That is a Christian, that's you and me today. We can have everything but live like we're not attached to anything. Our heart is attached only to Jesus. Think about that. Come back next week, we'll talk more. Let's all stand up together.

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