Hebrews 11:8-19 – Abraham’s faith is exemplified by his willingness to be a pilgrim. The idea of the word pilgrim conveys a willingness to let go. To release yourself from the ties that hold you back from following and obeying God. When we come to faith we=re willing to leave the world we knew with all its possessions behind; to leave behind the things not pleasing to the Lord. For Abraham it was a willingness to leave idolatrous Ur. Abraham didn’t know where it was that he was going but he trusted God for the outcome. Giving up our old life and our old way of doing things is the most difficult obstacle we face in experiencing the abundant life. But when we do we can be certain that God will provide us with the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4) Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Abraham himself could not experience God’s best until he was willing to fully obey the Lord. Going down to Egypt hindered God’s plan for his life, as well as remaining with Lot. Spiritually the failure to follow God is called worldliness. This is primarily an attitude. It’s being more concerned with the approval of men than the approval of God. This is a key attitude that hinders a pilgrim mindset. A second aspect in Abraham’s faith is patience. We see this demonstrated in Hebrews 11:9-10 where we are reminded that Abraham never owned a piece of the land of promise except a place to bury his wife. He lived as a nomad in tents and not even in a settled tent. He lived as an alien in the land of promise. In fact, he never experienced the answer or the result of the promise made to him by God. There are some believers today who would suggest that you lack faith if God doesn’t answer your prayers immediately. Abraham fixed his eyes on the city whose builder and architect is God. In one sense it is possible to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. But it is equally true that unless we are heavenly minded we are no earthly good. Only those with a view of the eternal will continue with patience in God’s work. There is no greater cure for discouragement, fatigue, or self‑pity, than to have a biblical view of our God and King and operating in the power of His Spirit rather than in our own strength. If we continually look on the things of earth below, with its trials, struggles and conflicts on the one hand and the wealth and pleasures on the other we will easily be distracted from the work set before us. A third aspect of faith working in Abraham’s life is the miraculous seen in Hebrews 11:11-12. Faith was active in the miracle of Isaac’s birth. Humanly speaking it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have a child. Not only had Sarah been barren all her life Genesis 16:1, but at the age of 90 she was past the proper time for having children. Genesis really gives us no indication that Sarah had great faith. In fact she broke out in laughter when she overheard God’s promise to Abraham. We see further that Sarah attempted to take matters into her own hands by persuading Abraham to have a son by her maid Hagar. She evidently didn’t believe God’s promise to Abraham. From a study of the original language it seems that the sentence would be more aptly translated “Abraham in association with Sarah received the ability to father Isaac.” In other words it was Abraham’s not Sarah’s faith. Every Jewish person born today is visible evidence of the faith of Abraham. And because the promised Messiah came through Abraham he is also the father of all those who have come to faith in Messiah. Is this kind of faith expected of us today? From reading Hebrews 11:13-16 it would appear that the answer is yes. Is this kind of faith limited to biblical days? Can you and I experience the life of faith today with confidence? Without a doubt we can. Here are the ingredients we need to have in our life if we are to walk by faith. 1) Vision ‑ the ability to see beyond that which is apparent or be limited by the present (Hebrews 11:13a). 2) Courage ‑ to declare by words and actions where our heart and affections lie (Hebrews 11:13b). 3) Pursuit ‑ a determination to cultivate our identity and direction toward God (Hebrews 11:14). 4) Abandonment ‑ A willingness to leave behind all earthly ties (Hebrews 11:15). 5) Desire ‑ This is a yearning to develop a godly not a religious life‑style. (Hebrews 11:16). All these cause God to welcome us and in fact not be ashamed of us His children. Why is this kind of life rarely found? If it is so great and rewarded so richly, why are examples of the life of faith so seldom found? Two reasons: 1) Because most people will do anything rather than exercise risk. 2) Because most who walk by faith do nothing to publicize it. One of the realities of faith is that it demonstrates its reality in works ‑ James 2:14-24. Faith is not simply mental assent of belief in God. Faith, if it is real, bears fruit. Abraham’s faith bore fruit and this is one of the reasons he is known as the father of the faithful. Another aspect of Abraham’s faith was his response when he was tested or tried (ie; assayed, Weighed in Balances). Our lives are also marked with trials or tests. 2 Corinthians gives us some insight into the trials we undergo. Hebrews 3 describes the role we who are believers have. We are also ministers or priests just as Israel was called to be a nation of Priests (Exodus 19:5-6). As ministers or priests of the New Covenant, men & women of faith, we like Abraham must have the faith we profess and the way this is proven is through trials that come our way. Paul describes 4 levels of testing stress: 1. Afflicted ‑ Least level of testing ‑ mild or moderate ‑ from Greek root from which we get our word “Pressure.” This kind of testing comes our way from people deadlines, interruptions & delays. It occurs to all of us on a daily basis and is easily recovered from & forgotten. 2. Perplexed ‑ this is more intense & less often experienced. The word in Greek means “without a way.” Conveys the idea of not knowing where to go or to whom one can turn. This kind of testing includes not knowing how to handle unfair treatment from unfair people, or being over our heads in some way. 3. Persecuted ‑ this is an extreme level of testing. It could be either emotional or physical or both. It is the kind of testing or trial that does not pass quickly. 4. Struck Down ‑ This is the ultimate testing, and it involves the maximum of stress. It could include the loss of someone or something near & dear to you. The loss of a spouse to divorce; A mate, child, friend or relative to death. Something you consider valuable. For Abraham it was the certain loss of his only begotten son, the child of promise and his posterity. We see this worked out in the AAkaida (The Binding) of Isaac – This event is so important in Jewish History that at Rosh Hashanah it is repeated every year at the time Israel prepares for Atonement. It relates to God’s Covenant with Israel. This ultimate test of Father Abraham required the fruit of faith to trust God. Abraham is the model for Jew and Gentile. All the hopes and expectations of Abraham’s faith are centered in Isaac. To offer up Isaac was to sacrifice the goal ‑ the reward of all the years of Abraham’s faith. For 40 years Abraham had been wandering in a land promised to him without owning one piece of land. Now finally he had something tangible ‑ visible ‑ in reward of faith, his son Isaac. Now God was saying give it back to me. Return my promise to me. But this is always the way of God. He asks us to surrender what we cherish to Him. “When we are willing to lose, to forfeit, our lives, then we find it.” Before Isaac’s birth Abraham simply believed God’s word. Faith had no tangible, outward, visible, help. It rested solely on God’s promises. Now Isaac was given, faiths reward had become visible. The Lord tested Abraham when He commanded him to offer up Isaac, which was the ultimate kind of test. Its one thing to see a child struck down ‑ but to be asked to do it ‑ is quite another thing. But real faith brings Godly wisdom. There are times when God will in some way test us as He tested Abraham. He will ask us or take from us, something that our faith has obtained. It might be the peace He has given us, or the Rest, Joy, Assurance, or some tangible result of our faith. And we like Abraham are called to believe Him in spite of the change in our circumstances. God teaches us that we must believe in Him always, just as we believed at the beginning, when we had nothing else to trust in but His Word. All the gifts that we have received by our faith must be available to be returned to God. We must be so willing. The life of the believer is ever the life of a pilgrim walking through life with an open hand. Abraham believed the same way as at the start. Isaac’s non‑existence was no problem to him when the promise of God came. Now his death was not an impossible obstacle because of his faith. God could raise him up ‑ He knew that God’s promise had to be fulfilled one way or the other. The answer may contradict all human reason ‑ but He will provide the Solution. Abraham learned as we too must learn, that only when we believe God and do not withhold from Him anything He asks, that we can experience the promises. We need to be willing to surrender the things that we hold most dear, when asked by God in order to receive His best. Genesis 22 makes it quite clear that it was God who sent this test to Abraham, the same God who told him to leave Ur, who gave the promise of a nation, a land, and a son. How could Abraham do this? What was the secret of his confidence? Hebrews 11:19 “He considered that God is able to raise men from the dead.” The term “consider” means calculate, to reason, to take into full account. God miraculously provided the birth of this child; and so he reasoned that he could bring him back. It was the hope of the Resurrection that gave Abraham the strength, courage, conviction to prepare to do the unthinkable. How do we translate Abraham’s actions to our lives today? 1. God will always require of us obedience (Hebrews 11:17a). 2. The plan of God is never fully understood (Hebrews 11:17b). 3. Ultimate tests generally seem contradictory (Hebrews 11:18). 4. Our response reveals what we really believe (Hebrews 11:19).