Jump Start # 3171
Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Recently I preached a sermon that I called, “The Challenges of Faith.” There are a lot of challenges in life. In the military, it’s the obstacle course. In college, it’s the entrance exams. At home, it’s folding those dreaded fitted sheets. But the greatest challenges are those of our faith. It’s when we face fiery furnaces, bigger than life giants, and those dark valleys of shadows and death, that our faith is stretched, tried and tested.
There are three great challenges in Abraham’s life.
· He faced the “I don’t know where,” factor when God told him to leave Ur and go to a place he did not know where he as going. God knew. Abraham didn’t. Abraham had to trust God.
· He faced the “I don’t know how,” factor when God told him that late in life his wife was to have a baby. That didn’t make sense. Abraham had to trust God.
· He faced the “I don’t know why” factor when God told him to take that child, now a teenager, and sacrifice him. No one had been resurrected at this point. This was before Jesus came. Abraham had to trust God.
Where? How? Why? Those are the things that get us. They can shake us. They can rattle our faith and make us take spiritual inventory. What is interesting about those three challenges in Abraham’s life is that he wasn’t a young puppy. These challenges came late in life. And, they remind us of three myths that we love to hold on to.
First myth: As we get older, things get easier. They didn’t for Abraham. And, they don’t for us. Talk to a senior citizen about TV remotes or cell phones or insurance forms.
Second myth: As we get older, we have more time. That’s the dream world many have of retirement. Sleeping in every day. Watching movies whenever you want. Perpetual vacation. But one common thing I hear from senior citizens is that “I don’t have time…”
Third myth: as we get older, the challenges of our faith subside. They didn’t for Abraham. We get in our minds that we simply get too old for Satan and he’ll just leave us alone. He never will as long as we are in this room of God’s house.
Looking at the life of Abraham, we learn that our greatest challenges may still be ahead of us. These challenges may be personal, emotional and intense. Leaving Ur was nothing compared to having a baby when you are one hundred years old. And, that’s nothing compared to having to offer that child as a sacrifice, a burnt offering.
Looking at the life of Abraham, you can face challenges because of the victories God has already given you. Abraham didn’t start with a knife raised above Isaac. He stated with leaving home. Then a child. Then a sacrifice. There were a series of challenges and victories that Abraham learned from. The same is true of David. Before the giant, there was the bear and the lion. Small victories help us to see the Lord’s hand and help. Small victories give us the courage to fight the major battles in life.
There has been days that you resisted the devil and he ran. There were days when you have stood firm and allowed your convictions to speak for you. There were days when you were triumphant over trouble. When others were bowing to idols, you stood. When they said you can’t pray, you did. When you were told to no longer say the name of Jesus, you said His name. Victories at home. Victories at work. Victories among others. You can face whatever challenges come your way because you already have. You have the scars. You wear the badges of victory in Jesus.
When God stopped Abraham’s arm with a raised knife in it, ready to sacrifice Isaac, the Lord said, “Now, I know.” Abraham believed. Abraham would obey. Abraham trusted God. God knew. Abraham also knew. And, the devil knew as well. It might take a great challenge for you to face before you really know that you can trust the Lord.
Now I know…come what may, we can face the challenges of life.