Faith in Waiting

Message Title: Faith in Waiting
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Scripture Reading: Genesis 15:1-6
RCL Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33:12-22; Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23; Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40
Focus: Abraham had faith in God to fulfill God’s promises.
Function:  To release our need to be people of certainty in stoic answers and find the faith in the waiting, mystery, and uncertainty.
Other Notes:
faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, utilities, supply chains, politicians, fencing

We had technical difficulties with recording the sermon. Here is the FB live recording of the service. Liberty Baptist in Tipton, IN

SCRIPTURE READING: GENESIS 15:1-6 After these events, the Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector.[a] Your reward will be very great.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.”[b] He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.” The Lord’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.” He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character.

SERMON SERIES INTRO: We owe a lot of credit to the Apostle Paul for writing a large chunk of the New Testament. If you’ve ever paid attention to the order of the NT it goes: Gospels & Acts, Paul, Maybe Paul, Claims to Be Paul but we question it, Not Paul (Hebrews Author, Peter, James, John). The Pauline Epistles get the most credit however the “not Paul” section has wonderful teachings to offer.

We do not know the name of the author of Hebrews, nor the audience. The church has many different theories about possible authors, my favorite: it was a woman and that’s why her name got lost. Most likely the audience was Jewish since the book is structured around Jewish stories. Regardless of the missing details, this anonymous book gives us great wisdom into living our faith and learning from the examples of the faith of others. We will take a Leap of Faith through the lessons of others and teaches us about the Jesus we worship.

INTRO:

  1. Faith practiced in life: Throughout this series I want to consider ways faith is present in our normal lives. Not religious faith but the act of having faith in something. We go to sleep having faith that we’ll wake up the next morning. We, hopefully, obey traffic laws and have faith that others will do the same.
  2. The time I had to practice the most amount of faith was when I worked for the YMCA Day Camp in South Dakota. During our training we had to participate in all the activities we would be bringing kids through—High Ropes being one of the best ones.
    1. We had an exercise called the “Leap of Faith” where you would climb a telephone pole, get on top of the telephone pole, and then jump to a bar out in front of the telephone pole.
    2. The feat was terrifying in itself but you also had to trust the guides to keep you safe.
    3. This photo is me doing the leap. To be honest, I don’t remember if I grabbed the bar, but I do remember trusting the folks with the other end of my rope.

TRANSITION:  Our text today brings us to the Hall of Faith in Hebrews. We will only get a glimpse into Hebrews during this series and if you take away anything from this book, examine our chapter today. Turn with me to Hebrews 11 as we examine the leap of faith of Abraham and Sarah.

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible….

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land he had been promised as a stranger. He lived in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were coheirs of the same promise. 10 He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.11 By faith even Sarah received the ability to have a child, though she herself was barren and past the age for having children, because she believed that the one who promised was faithful. 12 So descendants were born from one man (and he was as good as dead). They were as many as the number of the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. 13 All these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth. 14 People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it. 16 But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a city for them.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Genesis
    1. Context:
      1. Abram (not yet Abraham) is in the beginning of a relationship with God.
      2. Before God’s covenant with Abram
      3. Before the birth of Ishmael & the abuse of Hagar
    2. God made a promise to Abram and Abram had to take a leap of faith that God would fulfill these promises.
    3. Abram had no reason to trust God. They had no relationship prior to Genesis 12, where God tells Abram to move to Canaan.
  2. Hebrews
    1. Author defines faith: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”
    2. Lack of knowledge connecting to faith:
      1. “What we see created by what we don’t see” (MSG)
      2. Abraham went to a new land without knowing where he was going.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Genesis
    1. God didn’t tell him how many, God told him to count the stars
    2. The sun had to go down for God’s plan to be revealed (WP)
  2. Hebrews
    1. Author defines faith: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”
  3. I love that the author of Hebrews doesn’t bring up Abraham’s dirty laundry. Abraham was not a perfect dude BUT our Author focuses on Abraham’s trust in God.
    1. Abraham was called righteous for his faith in God, not for behaving perfectly.
  4. Initially, Abraham’s faith required action—HE WENT. 
    1. But then Abraham’s faith required waiting –HE STRUGGLED.

APPLICATION: To release our need to be people of certainty in stoic answers and find the faith in the waiting, mystery, and uncertainty.

  1. CHRISTIAN ARROGANCE: Christianity isn’t about being RIGHT or having all the ANSWERS. Christianity is about TRUSTING God no matter the circumstance. However, Christians frequently are at risk of holding faith in our own truth, knowledge, or experiences ABOVE God.
    1. HONESTY TIME:  Fresh out of seminary, I was the ANSWER Queen! I was very confident in my interpretations and practice and judged others harshly. My mother called me out on it. Saying that I called her faith dumb while mine was informed…. I had to work on my faith because it was filled with arrogance. While I’m still confident in my faith, it’s no longer about my own understanding but God’s guidance.
  2. Faith doesn’t require a confident knowledge; faith requires trust in the All-Knowing.
    1. It’s scary to walk by faith. Walking by faith feels more like leaping off a telephone pole than having your feet firmly planted on the ground.
    2. Not having all the answers but learning from others.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Faith requires moving forward in the midst of uncertainty; that leap of faith on top of the telephone pole was at the very edge of what I was capable of doing…. And I don’t think I could do it again today. Rather, I’m more confident in taking a leap of faith that is guided by the Spirit of God. After all, God brought me to Indiana. I didn’t know what God was up to but had to take the leap and wait on the results.

COMMUNION: We are waiting on the results of our faith in Christ. Though we have security in salvation we are waiting for the fullness of God’s promises to be fulfilled. Communion reminds us of those promises and encourages us to wait in faith.

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