8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
The words “BY faith” appear 4 times in today’s passage of scripture. No other 2 words drew my attention as quickly nor kept my attention as long. Any time I think of Abraham I think of faith.
Faith is voluntary: God cannot make you have faith.
I can only think of one person in the whole of the Bible who God pursued in a lost state and to the unaware person, “forced” them into a decision. That is Saul. Now , make no mistake about it…Saul still knew he had a decision to make…but the display of raw power demonstrated by the Lord on the road to Damascus left little doubt as to who was in charge. Even then, though it was obedience through faith which resulted in the beginning of Saul/Paul ministry.
The other example is that of Jonah. Jonah was already a prophet and knew better and God simply got his attention and said “you might want to rethink this”
But in both cases just as in our individual lives…the decision is ours to make once the opportunity presents itself.
Faith is not negotiable: When we extend our faith we are not making a deal with God. That is not faith at all…if give you this…you will give me that. That is a deal.
Abraham extended his faith and said it doesn’t matter where, how or why as long as I have my faith the right who!
He was going to accept whatever happened and even though there was a promise by God…he knew that it required his faith to see it come to fruition. God wasn’t just going to give it to Abraham without demonstration of his faith…the result isn’t as important as the intent. Abraham, rather it be willing to sacrifice Isaac, giving up the well-watered plain to Lot, waiting for a child late in life was intent on following through faith the God he trusted.
Faith is never by default: When we surrender to God through faith… True surrender is the result of God getting victory over me. When I surrender His victory then becomes mine. But resignation is the result of me failing to get victory over God. And frankly, this is really no surrender at all.
Faith is personal: Faith in God is your faith…not someone else’s We think about giving up this or that…or stopping this or doing that…and we think through faith it is accomplished. And to a certain extent that is true…however, though no one can disagree it involves faith, we must agree that the faith we need to extend in God happens only when we give ourselves and not just our habits to God. Once we have given ourselves the habits take care of themselves.
God has wonderful plans for His children and He tells us all about them in His word. His grace will be given to us when we extend our faith to Him.