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Living by Faith (Vol 28) - Abraham: The Journey of Faith

Sunday English Service - 24 FEB 19


I want to read you from Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 8 and then we're going to read Genesis chapter 12 verse 1 to 4. Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8 first. 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. Genesis chapter 12 verse 1. Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family 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. And 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 75 years old when he departed from Haran.

We've been studying about life of faith, living by faith from Hebrews chapter 11, and we are right now in verse 8. We've been at verse 8 for a few weeks. The story of Abraham is a story of faith. That is why the author of the book of Hebrews takes that story from the Old Testament and spends so much space here in the New Testament, instructing people about faith using that story. Now, in Hebrews 11, there are many heroes of faith mentioned, most of them are given only as much as one verse or maybe couple of verses and so on. But Abraham is given very special space allotted to him. From verse 8 all the way to verse 19, it’s all Abraham. Abraham, Abraham, Abraham. He’s the father of faith. There is so much that we can learn about faith from his life. So, that is why we're paying attention to this. And so, we began studying verse 8 when we talked about the call of Abraham. Because the Bible says that Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. He was living in a place where they did not know about this living God, never heard about Him, did not know about Him, was not worshiping Him. He was worshiping the gods whom his ancestors were worshiping. And in that state and condition God comes and meets him, chooses him, calls him.

And we talked about the call of Abraham, his background of ignorance about the living God. I talked about how we all come from that background. Some of us say we are fifth generation Christian or fourth generation Christian but still where were your forefathers before that? The generation before they came to know Christ? They were all in the darkness, in that state of ignorance, not knowing who the true living God is. We were all there. So, we can identify with Abraham. And we showed you how God tells the people of Israel at one point He says, “Remember where I have cut you out of, from which rock I cut you out of. Remember where your forefather Abraham came from. He was part of that rock, in that culture, in that state of ignorance, the darkness it has formed so strongly as a pattern in his life. I cut him out of that,” He says, “I dug him out of the hole and brought him out.” We talked about that how we are all in a way dug out and cut out like that.

I told you about how my grandmother grew up in a place where she never knew Christ. Her ancestors, father and mother, and people did not know Christ. But she came to know Christ through a missionary who came and shared Christ with children there at the age of 12. She believed in Jesus, gave her life to Jesus and started living this new life. And because of that we are here today. Just imagine where I would have been if she did not know Christ. We would have been in some darkness somewhere, not knowing the living God. Our state and condition would be so totally different. I think of it all the time. I'm thankful to God that God reached out to my grandmother, picked her up from that state and condition, delivered her from that, cut her out from that, brought her out. And today, it's amazing how far we have come in Christ. It is so astonishing to me that God does things like that even today. He’s the God of Abraham. That is why He’s known as the God of Abraham.

So, we talked about that, how he left his country and people and all that. We talked about what it means to say, leave your country, leave your people and all that. In New Testament terms it means leave your sin, leave your former life, former associations and former kind of approach to life, outlook to life and all of that. Come out of that and become a new creation. That is what it means in the New Testament terms. And we talked about that much and so on. And we talked about the blessing of Abraham last week, how God revealed to Abraham. What is the blessing of Abraham? The blessing of Abraham is to be really chosen by God from the dark background and be given the knowledge of God just like Abraham. That's the blessing of Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is everything that is mentioned in Genesis chapter 12 where God told Abraham, “Get out of your country, from your family, from your father's house to land I'll show you. I'll make you a great nation.” That's the blessing of Abraham. “I’ll bless you” that's a blessing of Abraham. “Make your name great,” that is a blessing of Abraham. “You shall be a blessing,” that's a blessing of Abraham. “I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you,” that's a blessing of Abraham. “And in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” that's a blessing of Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is all of these things.

And New Testament says that the blessing of Abraham has come to us today. “If you are Christ’s then you are Abraham's seed,” Paul says in Galatians 3. If you are Christ's then you are Abraham's seed, heir to the promises. We are the heirs. We are the true Israelites. We are the true children of Abraham. It is our right and our privilege to enjoy the blessings of Abraham. So, we'd looked at it. But today we’ll go a little further, we want to start talking about the journey of faith that Abraham undertook after he was called, and after he was told about the blessing and so on. The journey of faith. The emphasis today is upon that verse in Hebrews 11 verse 8 where it says that he received promise of an inheritance and he went out not knowing where he was going. He left and he was ready to go where God was taking him. And we read the same thing in Genesis chapter 12 verse 4, that when God spoke to him, told him about the blessings it says, Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him.

So, we're going to talk about how he began his journey and the various stages of his journey. In the next few weeks I'm going to be talking about this journey of faith. Now, the story of Abraham begins in Genesis chapter 11 towards the end, last few verses. From verse 26 onwards his background is spoken of. Then in chapter 12 verse 1, the call of Abraham and then the blessings of Abraham and so on. Then only verse 4 says, he left as God told him. So, until we come to this verse 4, Abraham never did anything. It is God going to him, talking to him, dealing with him, promising him and so on. And right here in 4th verse in Genesis chapter 12 we see that Abraham is now acting out his faith. The promises were given, God has spoken to him, God has given His word, now Abraham is exercising that faith. That's what is so important about this thing.

Faith is not a mental believing. Faith is very practical. Faith is something that moves us to action. If a man believes in something, you can see it in his action. So, it's not that Abraham believed in something, that he believed so much that he left everything, left his country, left his people, left everything and began to undertake the journey that God had called him to. So, that's why this is very important. He has embarked on this journey now. He has begun this journey.

Why the author of the book of Hebrews is sharing that with us in verse 8? He's also saying he went out not knowing where he went. Why is he doing that? Why is he telling us that God promised Abraham about an inheritance and in response Abraham left and went out not knowing where he was going? Because he wants us to look at the journey of faith that Abraham undertook. He wants us to understand that if you believe you need to act. He wants us to understand that faith always evokes a response. He wants us to understand that if we believe we’ll do something about what we believe. He’s dealing with this whole thing. And beginning with verse 8 he’s talking about Abraham's experience, because he wants us to learn faith, because we are Abraham's children, because we are those who believe. And he wants us to be like our father Abraham in our life. So, he’s sharing this with us.

So, he acted it out. This is faith. What is faith? Faith is trusting in God's word and acting it out. That is faith. We need to learn faith from this and we need to follow Abraham’s example. That is why so much is said about Abraham in Hebrews chapter 11 which is a chapter on faith. Now, you need to understand that faith is most natural also. See, you can understand faith from a natural perspective also. Naturally also we experience faith. Only when we understand it naturally it's easier for us to grasp it when the Bible talks about spiritual faith, this faith that is in the Word of God.

So, let's look at the natural faith. How do we see faith in our life, in our natural and ordinary things? For example, we exercise faith every day. If you want to see somebody important, we make an appointment to go and see him. So, they say, “Come at nine o'clock tomorrow morning, you've got an appointment.” The appointment is given so we get out, get ready, get out and be there few minutes before nine o'clock, we're ready to see that person. We know that person’s word is good. That if he said nine o'clock you come, he'll be there. People with integrity, people with some kind of sense of truthfulness will follow that. So, he says nine o'clock and you're ready to be there at nine o'clock to see him and meet with him. You know that appointment has been granted. See, that's faith. A word has been given to you and you believe it and you simply go based on the man's word. You want to go to a sporting event like cricket, go buy the ticket, you don't doubt the ticket even though there have been times when they printed false tickets and sold it outside. You don't doubt the tickets. You buy the ticket, keep it safe, on the day of the match you're ready to go and present yourself there ready to attend to that match and they let you in. That works. You believe. When you paid the money, you believed that they will let you in. This is human faith. We have faith in ordinary things.

You take a bus to go somewhere you believe that the bus will run. You believe that the driver will drive you safely there. You’ve never even seen his face yet, you don't know where he was trained. You don't know whether he has killed some people before, drowned them anywhere in some lake or something, you don't know. But you get up and you sit there by faith and you're ready to embark on this journey believing that they will put a good man there, well-trained and that he will be able to take you where you want to go. So, you believe that bus, you believe the driver, you believe the mechanics that maintained it, you believe the road which has been laid, you believe the bridges that have been built, you don't feel like it's going to fall off. You don't want to get down and shake the bridge and make sure that it's going to withhold this weight. You believe. See, you exercise faith. You believe people, people's words. In natural things we see faith. The weatherman tells you what the temperature is going to be, he tells you it's going to rain so you take an umbrella with you. It's not raining yet but he says it's going to rain today so you go with an umbrella. There have been days before now it's a lot better when they say it will rain it rains. But back in a few years ago, I remember when they said it rained it will surely not rain. It became a joke. But now it really works. They've got some good equipment, I think. They’re coming up with accurate information. So, you know it's going to rain and you go with an umbrella. See, this is natural faith.

But sometimes, these are good people, you can trust in them, their word, you believe in acting them always. But sometimes it fails. Either you go to the appointment, appointment is cancelled because he had to go somewhere. You expect to go to the cricket match, but all of a sudden you hear the announcement in the morning that it's cancelled for some reason. It has happened before. You get on the bus, they drop you on the way because it has broken down and they don't take you to the place where they told you that they will take you. They said it will rain but it doesn't rain.  It has happened so many times. Man's words can fail yet we believe man's words because largely you can believe good people.

1 John 5:9 says, we accept a man's testimony. We accept what a man says. But God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God. So naturally you can look at faith, you believe people all the time. There is somebody that deals with jewelry and so on here, does that business, and he told me, “In our community, we have dealings with large amounts of money, just by word, transactions are done. Just, we tell somebody and they just give us the money and we’ll return it to them.” It's not like borrowing for a motorcycle for 60,000 rupees, you have to sign in 100 different places. You have to sign here, sign there and sign in the back, sign in the front. I asked one fellow, “What are you going to do with all these signatures?” But he says, “With one word I can get the money. With one word we can deal with it because when we say something, we do it. So, we trust one another, we believe one another. Transactions go on like that,” he says. Very astonishing to me that people's words can be trusted like that. But it can fail. It can fail one day.

So, man's words, testimonies are accepted. How much more God's testimony because it's a testimony of God? A good man can testify and keep his promise but what if he dies? A good man can take a large amount of money from you and then he dies. Nobody knows that you gave the money to him. What will happen? A lot of things can happen. But here is a God who cannot die, who does not die, a God who has never lied. And you go from Genesis to Revelation, all of His promises have always come true. And in the book of Samuel, we read that the Lord spoke through the prophet Samuel and not one word from His mouth fell to the ground. That means, not one prophecy that He prophesied failed. Everything that God said came to pass. God is such a God. Amen. You can believe God's word. So, from the natural perspective, you can understand how faith works. It's good to see it like that. It's like a good man's word. You can believe it. If a good man says it, he will do it so you act on it. When that man says, you're ready to act.

Coming down to faith in God and His word. Faith in God and His Word is a little bit harder. Why? Because when God promises things, it's unbelievable. It's beyond our natural conception. It is something that goes beyond our knowledge. We have never seen anybody do that before. We have never seen it happen. How many of you have seen manna come from heaven? How many of you have experienced the sea open and you can walk from here to the other side to Sri Lanka? Have you experienced something like that? How many of you have ever seen those kinds of things, those amazing things that God does, amazing things that He promises. For example, He promises Abraham when he’s 70 years old, that he will have a child. When he's 99 years old He comes to him, still no child, He says, “You will have a child.” Unbelievable. The whole world, the whole town says, everybody says, every doctor says it's not possible. But God says, “It's possible, you will have a child.” Amazing. How to believe that. So, the word of God is on another level. See, when you understand that God is able, when you understand that God is good, when you understand the integrity of His word, when you understand that when He speaks, it's as good as doing it, you can take it as done. When you understand those things, it becomes a little easier. But essentially, it's a little harder than just believing a man's promise because the promises are so big and so great.

So, you cannot just believe like you believe of man's words. You go through a battle before you can believe God's word because God's word promises things beyond your ability to conceive and know things. Martin Luther understood this. And Martin Luther said this about faith. He is the man that really has studied faith and he's very moved by the truth about faith, and look at what he says. Amazing truth. He says, “Faith is an active, difficult and powerful thing.” Ah, he has understood that. He says, “Faith is active, it works but it's a little difficult.” Why? Because the promises are so astonishing, it baffles our mind. They're so incomprehensible, unbelievable. So, he says, “Faith is active. It's difficult, and it's a powerful thing.” Then he says, “If we want to consider what it really is, it is something that is done to us rather than something that we do.” Faith is not what I do, faith is what God does to me. In essence, I'll put it this way, faith is something that God gives to us, the ability to believe, the ability to grasp, the ability to understand, the ability to know, the ability to believe is God-given.

Faith is a gift of God. God gives a measure of faith to each one at the time we come and become a new creation in Him. We're all given a measure of faith. And from there, we build up and go. We grow that faith. We continue to work on that until it becomes great faith. So, everyone receives a gift of faith. So, he says, “It is not something that you do, it is something that is done to you.” It means in essence, he says, “Faith is a gift of God.” Then he says, “And while reason is used to concern itself with the things that are present, faith apprehends the things that are not present and contrary to reason regards them as being present.” Listen to this. While reason is used to concern itself with things that are present. What does he mean? He says, “Reason, this mental knowledge, human knowledge, is always concerned with what is present, what is there.” So, if you got 1,000 rupees and you've got something coming up that takes more than 1,000 rupees, you say, “No, I can't do it because I don't have it. I can't do it. I can't afford it.” That's the way you think because we are used to looking at the things that are present. But faith is different. He says, “Faith apprehends the things that are not present. And contrary to reason, regards them as being present.” That means, faith does not look at what is there, faith looks at what is not there. It's able to see the thing that is not there.

In Romans chapter 4 verse 17, it is mentioned in this way, God calls those things that be not as though they were. When God called Abram, “Abraham,” changed his name. You know what He was calling him? He was calling him father of many nations. The man had no children. The man is 99 years of age when God changed his name and He's calling him the father of many nations. And everybody would tell God, “God, what are you doing? You're calling this man father of many nations. He hasn't had a child yet. How can he become father of many nations and he does not have a chance to have a child? Because he's 99 years old.” God says, “I call him the father of many nations because I'm not looking at the fact that he doesn't have children, I'm looking at the fact that I can give him a child. Doesn't matter if it's 100 years old, I can give him a child. I'm going to call him father of many nations.” Same way with Sarah, He called her the mother of many nations.

Faith looks at things that are not seen and regards them as being present. It's not present but it regards them as being present. The thing is not there but it regards them as being present. So, the man has got 1,000 rupees, but he's making plans for 10 lakhs to do something. He’s not a fool but he believes. You ask anybody that has achieved anything for God, they started with nothing and done great things. You ask anybody that has progressed in life and won victories in life and gone forward in life, they'll tell you they didn't have anything but they believed. They had faith. Faith is like a raw material that takes you from nothing to something because faith sees what is not seen and regards them as being present. The brain always sees what is present, but faith sees what is not present and regards them as being present. Hello. Martin Luther, don't you think he's got the idea? He's got it. And that is what you see in the life of Abraham. That is what you find in the life of Abraham.

After that we come here in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 8 you see Abraham go through the various stages of faith. I told you from 8 to 19, all those verses contain the story of Abraham. Abraham’s stories retold in the New Testament because the author believes it will be useful to the people. He’s teaching them faith. He’s showing them how faith works. So, various steps are there for faith. Now listen to this, the first step is this, what is the first step of faith that Abraham took? That is in verse 8. It says that Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. He’s acting out in faith. When God called him, he takes a step of faith and leaves. Now, that step was a relatively easy one. See, God doesn't scare you immediately. He wants you to have an easy time. He says, “Come, I'll make you better. Come, I'll bless you.” See how He literally entices him.

Genesis chapter 12 verse 2 and 3 where God promises Abraham, He promises all kinds of blessings in two verses. “I’ll bless you. Make your name great. Make you a great nation. I’ll bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you. In you all the families of the earth be blessed.” Now, tell me which man will not come for this? He’s promising the whole world to him. He’s promising everything. Literally enticing him out of that life into a new life. This man is living in darkness, he’s worshipping gods that his forefathers have always worshipped. He doesn't know about this God. He says, “You believe in Me, you trust in Me, this is what I will do to you.” And Abraham took a step of faith, he went out. Now, that was a relatively easy step. And God ordained it like that because it's the first step. You don't want to give a man hard time to begin with. The first step of faith is easy.

I remember going to nursery school when I was little, went to a school nearby, I always appreciate that school. When I was three years old, they put me there. Wonderful school run by an American missionary. Never forget it. All the children will come screaming and crying. There will be lady there not this American missionary, she was bedridden, she was sick by the time I went to school there. And there was another lady there that was working, a very fantastic, devoted lady, devoted to children's education. She will come out there and she will take them and deal with them and so on. And they'll be a lot of noise, all these children crying. Even those that don't cry when they see others cry, they start crying. School feels like such a hell to the kids, I think. But we went there and after we started going there, myself and my two siblings we went there, after we started going, we loved it because it was a wonderful place. We were not carrying a load of books and all that. Today when I see the kids, I feel like saying, “All ye that labor and are heavy laden, come unto me, I will give you rest.” I don’t know where they're going with all that bag of stuff. We never carried all that stuff. We went there happily and soon we started liking school. We cried when we didn’t go to school. When the school was off, we cried because we could go there and have fun.

When we went there, they'll have some classes in the morning, we’ll play with clay and all that. And there are a lot of teachers being trained for Montessori education, teacher training there. I think there was like more than 100 students who were being trained. So, they had a lot of manpower. So, 10 o'clock they will serve us cheese and grapes and milk. That's how I became like this. Cheese, grapes and milk or cheese and oranges and some kind of fruit they'll give and milk, all this is part of school. And I paid only 10 rupees because three of us went to school there from our family. So, the missionary said, “Instead of 15 you pay 10 because three of you are here.” The 10 rupees included all this. And then in the afternoon where we went for lunch, they not only gave us a good lunch, all these 100 odd teacher training students came and helped and they were feeding us. We ate and as soon as we ate, we used to sleep. You must lay down and sleep and somebody will be watching, make sure that you close your eyes and sleep, and then they'll wake you up. And again, some good snacks and stuff. Fruits, biscuits everything coming our way. And then they will wash our faces, put powder and comb our hair and everything. We came back better than we went. That's a good deal, isn’t it?

I loved that school. Those people did me so good. I just enjoyed it. And my father used to work at that time in the government and he used to come after five o'clock in a bicycle to pick us up. So, we had time to play and I always prayed that my father won’t come early. Sometimes he would come early. We loved playing in that swing there and swinging on it. We loved going to school. But afterwards I found out as it went on it became tough. As I changed from that school to another school, and I graduated to better grades and all that, I went up in the ladder, oh you had to study. Things became tough. But thank God they made it easy for me in the beginning and so we got a good attitude about education. Going to school was fun, it was fun learning and so on. So, we sang and did this and that and so on.

Faith is like that. When the journey begins, God gives so much promises to Abraham. He says, “Come, I'll bless you. Make you a blessing. Bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you. Make your name great, make you a great nation. In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” And the man says, “Oh God. Man, this is wonderful.” Go. That's the first step of faith. Abraham takes a step of faith. He says, “Well, let me try.” And he says bye, bye to his family and leaves and goes. And then comes the next step of faith. The second stage. The second stage is a little tougher. He goes to the place where God calls him, but there is a famine there, no food there. He had to deal with some enemies, some kings. He had to fight with some kings, with some household servants. All these things happened in his life. Some challenges, some problems, some difficulties that he's facing. I'm sure he stopped and thought about, “Did God send me here? Was He sure when He said, ‘I'll bless you,’ this is the place He got for me? Because I came to this place there's no food here. I'm starving. Did I come to the wrong place? Did God really call me?” All those questions would have come there but soon he found out in this faith’s journey, he found out that the God who called him out of the darkness and ignorance is a good God. That He is there with him right in the midst of famine, right in the middle of all the enemies, andin the midst of famine He makes him rich. You read that in 12th chapter. In the middle of famine, the whole world is experiencing famine, a hard time to just get food, and this man became rich.

And the Bible says in 13th chapter of Genesis verse 1 and 2 that Abraham was very rich. Gold, silver, male, female servants, and all that stuff. So, he experiences God. In faith there is a lot of learning to do. When you have a problem, when you face problems, when you face difficulties, you need to understand God has not left you. God has not forsaken you. When you face challenges in life, you need to understand that God is not missing and gone missing. God is there. God is with you. The God who called you is there. Faith is a wonderful journey. It's an exciting journey where you experience the hand of God in the difficult times, in the difficulties of your life, in the midst of your problems, in the midst of your needs, in the midst of all that you're facing, you see God's grace. Abraham experienced that. The whole world is going through famine, this man is becoming rich. Four kings he had to fight. And he fights them with 318 household servants, how about that. No army, just some household people. And he finds that he can win, he can win wars. He never knew that before. He never knew that he had the capacity to win wars but he now finds out that he can win wars, that no one can stand against him. Because the blessing of God is so true. Faith is active. It is working.

Martin Luther says, “Faith is not what you do. Faith is what God does to you, in you.” And there he says, “Faith is what God does to you.” And then he says, “When faith is given to you, and it works in your heart, when God works faith in your heart, your heart is changed and your mind is changed. You are able to believe the impossible. You're able to believe things that you would never believe before. You are able to believe like never before. Your heart and mind become different because of faith.” I tell you, that is so real. What Martin Luther says is so real. When faith comes into you, you become a different person. You believe beyond all the natural things. You begin to believe the things that are not seen. You begin to regard them as being present. You're not looking at what you have. You're looking at what is not there, but for you it is present.

So, the second stage of faith is like that. Abraham goes through a lot of trouble, he faces the real world, real difficulties, but he finds that faith works. He finds the faith gives the victory. Is that not true about our lives? When God called us just like He called Abraham, He calls us usually enticing us, “All ye that labor and are heavy laden come unto Me, I'll give you rest. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” And here we come. And then we face all kinds of problems. “Lord, I thought you said, ‘My yoke is easy, my burden is light.’ I thought it's going to be easy and light. But here is a problem. Here is a challenge. Here is a need. I lost my job. Business is not doing well. Something's going wrong. All the time some problems or difficulties are coming. What is this?” God says, “You watch now. You watch how I will help you. You watch what I can do. You watch what you can do with Me with you.” This is how faith works.

The second stage of faith. The second stage of faith is found in chapter 11 verse 9 and 10. You can just look at 9 and 10. 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 promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. While he’s going through all those things in a foreign land as a foreigner, facing all the challenges, facing famine, facing enemies and all that, living in tents, his eyes were on the place where God has called him to, the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. One translation says, whose builder and architect is God. You know what it’s saying, it is saying that God has designed for me a kind of life. I am meant for a certain kind of life. God has designed certain things for me. God has kept certain things for me. God is my architect. He has designed a kind of life for me that I should be something. He has been designed to be the father of the faithful. He has been designed to be a great example and model of faith. He has been designed to be a great achiever so that his achievement will be spoken about for centuries to come. Others will learn faith through him. God, the architect has designed him like that. He’s got a place for him. He's got a destiny for him. And while he was facing famines and wars and all that, he was keeping his eyes on that destiny. The destiny was in his mind.

It's telling us that when God calls you it’s like that, you come out and you begin to follow God, you face challenges. We're not saying that you won't have any problem, any difficulty, you face challenges, difficulties, but then you find that God is with you, that God helps you. That famines are not able to finish you, famines are not meant to destroy you. It won't destroy you. You don't have to be afraid of that. Kings and powers of this world will not be able to destroy you. You will find out that. See, all these things you have to experience that. How many of you have experienced that? Have you experienced that problems are not going to destroy you? Have you crossed many problems? I used to think mountain-like problems sometimes I faced and I would think, “Well, this is the last mountain I got to cross. If I cross and get over this, and after that, no mountains. It'll be smooth riding.” That's what I thought 30 years ago. So, I crossed that mountain and then you see another mountain. And now I understood that life is nothing but mountain ranges. So, now I expect mountains. It's mountains all the way. All the way to the end it’s mountains, and I am going to climb every mountain.

Mountains don't scare me because I got used to it, because I’ve understood that through all of the mountains that I've got to cross, God is with me. The God who has called me, the God who has chosen me, the God who has brought me out of the darkness into the knowledge of God, the God who has chosen me for this work, He will take me. No mountain is going to stop me, no enemy is going to stop me, no power on this earth is going to stop me. God is going to help me. God has helped me so many times and God will always help me because He's the ever-present help in the time of trouble. Now, in faith that's a wonderful experience in there. That's a life of faith. You find that out and you’ll begin to love faith, you begin to find that faith is so exciting. You’ll say, “Man. My goodness, that's nice.” It's not that I have not had any problems. It's that I have seen every problem go and I'm still there. It's not that I have not had any problems. It's that I've had so many problems but no problem was able to stop me from where God is taking me. I'm still progressing and moving forward.

So, problems are a fact of life. You see problems all the time. But if you've got faith, you begin to understand, “Yeah, God is with me. I've walked out of the previous life and I've come into this life in Christ, I'm going to walk with Him, I'm going to go with Him, everything is going to be fine, because He is going to be with me, lead me and guide me.” That's the second stage of faith. We'll talk about these things in great detail in the days to come. I'm just giving you the outline. The first stage is verse 8. Second Stage is verse 9 and 10.

The third stage of faith is in verse 11 and 12. Now listen to this. Look at the third stage. It's tougher, it's getting bigger. It's more like going to college now. Not kindergarten school. I loved kindergarten. Boy, we were dancing and singing and shouting and swinging in this swing. No care. No worry, we didn't have to worry about anything. Everything was fine. You didn't have to even eat, they fed you. So good. But now you got to go wash your hand, eat, you got to carry your lunch. You got to do things. Look at this. By faith Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, verse 11, 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 by the seashore. I’m just giving you the outline here but this is where we are headed. Each stage we’ll look at.

What is the third stage? The third stage is where they’re getting older and older, but still what God promised has not come through. But there was at certain point when they thought it might never come through, here Sarah received the strength to conceive at 90 years of age. No one has ever heard of it, received strength to conceive. She bore a child when she was past the age because she judged Him faithful who had promised. From one man and him as good as dead. Talking about Abraham, he’s just as good as a dead man, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude. A miracle happens. The third stage is a wonderful stage.

The third stage of faith is an amazing stage in the life of faith. When you walk by faith, this is something that you must experience. God's miracles. Have you experienced God's miracles? God is a miracle working God. That's the God of Abraham. Remember, God gave him a child when he was almost 100 years old, and the wife was 90 years old. He is a God of the impossible. He makes things possible. And one of the things in the life of faith that you will learn by experience, you will personally have to experience it and learn it, not academically, not as a lesson from the Bible that He’s a God of the impossible, but you've got to experience. You will come to problems where you think it is impossible but God will make it possible. You got to have a personal experience of faith. This personal experience will transform you when you understand that.

Now, many years ago when I first started out, I put a hut here and started, there was a man, a big preacher from America that came, I didn't know him personally. Someone else was working here, an American lady that was working here called me. She used to come to our church here in that hut. And she called me one Sunday mornings that, “So and so's here.” And I said, “Who?” She mentioned the name, I said, “My God, that's a big man. I've heard him preach.” He preached in the graduation in the college that I went to when I graduated Bible college. So, I saw him from far off. Nobody could go near him. And she said, “That man is here. Can I bring him to your church to preach?” And I was in this little pathetic hut, thatched hut. I said, “Sure, bring him.” And she brought him here and he preached a wonderful message and at the end he prophesied. He said, “I see people all over this place filling this place so that not even an inch of space is there. This whole entire ground is filled with people.”

When we started here in this place, I thought this is enough for a lifetime. If you can just do services here, and may even half fill it that will be nice because it's too big a place. I used to come and I was the only one who came by a car. So, I used to go around, park anywhere I want. So, I thought, “Why do I need another place?” And he also said, “From here gospel is going to go to many nations to the whole world.” And at that time, there was no cable television. This is 35 years ago. No cable television, no earthly idea about how gospel can go from here to anywhere. I thought, “What kind of prophecy is this?” But it has happened exactly. But at one point, some years ago I realized that we have to move to another place because it's not going to be enough. And so, I started looking for a place everybody's quoting prices like crores and crores and crores to buy one acre and I'm not looking for one acre, more acres. But price is quite high and one person actually came and said, “How are you going to buy that? Where is the money?” And to tell you the truth I didn't have the money. For one lakh also I didn't have and here we're talking about buying something for multiplied crores. And started looking and you won't believe in some short time I bought seven acres.

And then I thought I’ll build and I was just about getting ready to build, I thought we got some money together to build but then another eight acres came. So, everybody said, “Buy that also. You won’t get it. It's right next to it, so buy it.” And so, I said, “Okay, we'll buy that.” But I didn't have all the money needed. But God did a miracle. It's a lot of money. In fact, it was six, seven years after I bought the first one. So, we had to pay several times more than the first one. And you won't believe we have now purchased it. People keep telling me, “You can't do it.” I keep telling them, “You can do it.” Not with money in my pocket, but I keep telling them, “With faith in my heart.” My heart is speaking. I keep telling them, “I can do it. You can do it. No problem. We can do it.” Now we're going to build it. We're going to build it quickly. We need to build it and get out of here quickly. We need to build it and we are going to build it. And again, people tell me, “How are you going to build it? You know how much it will cost? The way you want to build, how much it will cost?” I said, “Does it matter?”

It's like somebody coming and telling Abraham, “You know how old you are? You know what an old lady your wife is? You know her womb is already dead and you are as good as dead?” I'm sure they told him that. But God says, “No, you will have a child.” And Abraham at one point says, “Lord, don't bother please. I got Ishmael. Let him live before you. Just bless him Lord. He’s also my son born to the slave woman. Let him live. I’ll just manage with Ishmael. Don't try so hard. It's gone case, 100 years. My wife is 90 years old. Just forget about it. Let's deal with Ishmael.” God says, “No, I said that you will have a child and you will have it. You will have it,” God said.

Throughout my life, I have found out that God is a miracle working God. I believe in God. I trust in God. Everybody said, “How can you do it?” Well, we've done it. And now they're saying, “How can you do it?” I'll tell you, you'll be sitting there soon. We will do it. Don't ask me how because I don't know. But we will do it because I have seen this God of the impossible. The God of Abraham. The God of Abraham is my God. He’s your God. He’s the wonderful, amazing God who makes the impossible possible. Nothing is impossible for Him. If you can believe it you can have it. If that is God's destiny for you, if God has called, if God has appointed you to do something, if God tells you to go somewhere, God tells you to do something, I believe that God will move heaven and earth. Yeah, He made the sun to stop still for Joshua because He’s called him. He wanted to finish the war. He needed light. So, God said, “All right, we'll give you some more light, few more hours.” It was getting dark. God will move heaven and earth, is my experience, that if you trust in God, if you believe in God, the world is full of problems, needs, challenges, difficulties but if you trust in God, God will never let you down. The destiny that God has for you, you will reach it by the grace of God. God will do it.

I believe in it wholeheartedly that God will do it. So, we're going to see it done. Everybody I talk to they say, “How? How in the world are you going to do it?” Well, we will do it brother. How did we do it so far? We didn't go on a spree raising funds or something like that. No, we never did that. But we did it. We did it without making a big fuss about it. We did it because without beating everybody and saying, “You do this, you do that, how many people will do what and all that.” So many people came and suggested to me all that. I said, “No, nothing doing. We’ll do it God's way.” Let's believe in God. Let God do it. So that when it's done, people will say, “It's God who did it. No man did it.” If God wants it, then He will help us. And I know that God wants to do it. And we can do it and we must do it. So, the third stage is an exciting stage. I feel like I'm in that stage. 99-year-old Abraham, 90-year-old wife, can it happen? Everybody says, “No.” Abraham says, “Yes, it will happen.” Abraham started believing and something changed. I'll tell you she started receiving strength, the Bible says. Sarah, all of a sudden, this old lady started receiving strength in her body to conceive and have a child. Hello. Started receiving strength. Lo and behold she bore a child. Amazing.

God is good. That's the third stage. That's like college already. Then the fourth stage is 17th to 19th verse. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. Oh, this is serious business, this is PhD level in faith. Abraham was tested and he was ready to offer up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. We’ll study all these in detail. It’s exciting to learn about the life of faith. How we go from one stage to another. You must experience that. See, Christians we ought not to be just traditional Christians just going to church and coming, we must experience God in our lives. The Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Have you ever tasted God's goodness? Have you ever experienced God's miracles? Have you ever seen God turn around your difficulties and problems? Have you ever overcome mountains and insurmountable problems and things like that in your life? You need to experience it. That will put you on another level, graduate you, take you further down the road. You'll never be the same.

So, what is happening here? I'm just dealing with it in outline form. The fourth stage, God is telling Abraham to offer his son Isaac. He is testing Abraham to offer his son Isaac and lo and behold, Abraham takes his son and goes to offer him on that mountain. Amazing. What a heart the man has. I believe Luther when he says, “Faith is not what you do, it's what God does in you.” So, God has done a work in Abraham, he's got faith. When God said, “Take your son, the son you bore, and your wife bore when you were both almost 100 years old. Take this son for whom you'd even give your life, take this son and offer him as a sacrifice.” And you know, by the way that Abraham gets up early morning and leaves I have a feeling that he knew that God is not going to kill his son. He was already getting some revelation because he knew that God has given him a son, and this son is the one through whom Jesus will come. God has already said that. It is through Isaac all these things are going to happen. Isaac is going to be his seed and through Isaac only all this is going to happen. Because he realizes that, “Even if my son is killed as an offering, God will raise him up again. He will not let me down. He cannot. Because so far as I have experienced this God, if He speaks, He will always fulfill it. And He has spoken saying, in me shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And He has spoken it and He'll do it. Somehow, He’ll do it even if He has to raise Isaac from the dead. He’ll give it back to me.”

So, he goes. If a man didn't realize that, that day he would have gone to a fasting meeting. Say, “Lord, today is fasting day. I can't go today.” He would have said, “I’m going to wait and pray a little bit.” But he goes early morning, leaves and goes there, lifts up his hand to kill his son Isaac, and God comes and says, “Stop it. I brought you here, it was a test to see whether you're willing to give everything that you’ve got. You’re a covenant man with Me.” Covenant means that everything that you have is mine and everything that I have is yours. And God says, “I know that everything I have I'm giving to you. I know that I am true that I will do what I say. I just wanted to see whether you will do what your side must fulfill. You are a covenant partner; will you do what you're supposed to do? Is everything that's yours Mine. I just wanted to test you and see if you will give everything.” And God said, “Stop it. Don't kill him because it's not your son. I don't want your son. I gave you your son. I'm going to kill My Son on the cross of Calvary one day as a substitute for all sons and daughters of this world.” So, Abraham in the greatest test of his life... see sometimes you run into situation which looks like test but in the greatest test of his life, he came back with the greatest revelation about God. That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.

This is about God giving His Son. This is a revelation about God giving His Son preached to Abraham. The revelation is given to Abraham. In the Old Testament days, the greatest revelation given to Abraham when he was undergoing the greatest test. It looks like a great distress but greatest revelation. I’m telling you the fourth stage is like that. You feel like God is testing you too much and you're running into a situation like this but I'll tell you the end result of it will be, if you trust in God that you will find out that at that time only you really find out who God is. His great love, these unfailing promises and his nature of love and kindness, goodness towards you. Amen.

I believe that. Four stages. Which stage are you in? Some of us in the first stage, just leaving home, just leaving the old life, just leaving the old sinful life. We have dedicated ourselves to God. Some of us just have taken baptism and really dedicated our life to God and entered in wanting to follow God. Really seriously in a relationship only now with God, just getting to know Jesus. That's wonderful. We welcome you if you're in the first stage, wonderful. Some of us in the second stage. We're facing famines, we're facing enemies, we’re facing problems, difficulties, but don't worry, the God of Abraham is a good God, the God of Abraham will never fail. God is with you, no matter what famine comes, it will not kill you. It will not destroy you. Your God is greater than the famine. Don't worry about that. You're going to find that out. Don't give up. Stand in faith and you will find out that your God will make sure that you will come through in shining colors, literally. Like brought out Abraham rich through the famine, He will do something like that for you. He will turn your life around right in the midst of your difficulties, problems and so on.

Some of us are in the third stage. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the third stage. God's got to do a miracle and no problem. God of Abraham is the God of miracles. Miracles are nothing for Him. There is nothing impossible to Him. God is a God of miracles and you got to experience that. I've experienced that many times in my life. God will do miracles, absolute miracles. Something unbelievable God will do. From somewhere God will supply all your needs. From somewhere God will make sure that your needs are met and that you achieve God's will for your life, God's purposes for your life. Amen.

Determine where you're at. See where you're at. And I'll tell you, this journey is going to be exciting and look forward to great miracles. Look forward to great things in the days to come. This is a journey. Don't ever give up. Keep walking. Don't go back. Keep walking by faith, keep learning about Him. Keep understanding Him more and more. Abraham you’ll see that he was not perfect. He was learning as he went. He failed many times but he kept learning. And I'll tell you today, he became a great hero of faith. And God wants each and every one of us to be hero of faith. That's why he's teaching that in Hebrews 11. You and I are meant to be heroes of faith. Trust in God, God will never let you down. We’ll continue next week. Shall we all stand together please. Let’s all lift up our hands and I hope these words minister to you who are in different stages of life, going through different things in life, going through the various challenges, difficulties, needs and problems and so on. This is the life of faith. Remember that God has called you. He has called you to salvation, to knowledge of God and He is with you, and He'll never leave you, never let you down. And you need to experience Him. Don't miss the opportunity to experience Him. Your trials, your situations, your tests, your needs are opportunities for God to reveal Himself as good and able and you will experience that.

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