Faith Heroes -"Super to us is faithful to God”
I have never heard of Dan Woolley until this past week. Dan works as a film maker for Compassion International. He was “making a film about the impact of poverty on the people of Haiti” when the earthquake hit on January 12. He was standing in the lobby of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince with his friend David Hames when everything started to cave in. From that point in the dark and without his glasses Dan will crawl into an elevator shaft and wait 65 hours before being located and rescued. Dan said, “I always wanted to survive, but I knew that was something that I couldn’t control. So I decided if I had to go, I wanted to leave some last notes for”[i] my wife and boys. Dan wrote this note to his six year son Josh and 3 year old son Nathan. “I was in a big accident. Don’t be upset at God. He always provides for his children, even in hard times. I’m still praying that God will get me out, but He may not. But He will always take care of you.”[ii]
Dan did get out. So far rescuers still haven’t found his friend, David Hames. Now my question for you is this. Do you agree with Dan’s note? That God always provides for his children? That God will always take care of you?
Besides Dan, let me show you someone who does believe that God will take care of you! Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the Middle & High School students at Tree of Life Christian School. I asked them if they could name any of the top ten web searches of the past decade.[iii] These searches represent the sum total of millions of searches: If you’re even slightly curious the #1 search in 2009 was Michael Jackson! Coming in at #10 is President Obama; #9 is The Lord of the Rings; #8 is Latin American singing sensation Shakira; #7 is Harry Potter; #6 is Britney Spears; #5 is Wikipedia; #4 is the World Cup; #3 is MySpace, a popular social networking site; #2 is Baidu, the largest Chinese language search engine and #1 is Facebook!
Everyone on facebook has a profile section and if this Faith Hero had a profile on facebook his profile would say: I became the founder of the Jewish nation. I was not only a caring father to my own family, but practiced hospitality to others. Through God’s blessing I became a wealthy livestock owner. Unfortunately when confronted with direct pressure, I usually distorted the truth. I was born in Ur but lived most of my life the land of Canaan. My father’s name is Terah and my wife’s name is Sarah and I had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. Most people remember me because I chose to walk with God by faith![iv] Now whose profile is this? Abraham. And like Dan Woolley, Abraham believed God would take care of him! Turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 11:8. Do you need a Bible today? Here is Faith Hero #4. No Faith Hero in Hebrews 11 receives more print coverage than this man - Abraham! Let’s read verses 8-10. Abraham’s faith journey continues in verses 11-19, but that’s two additional sermons. Let’s focus our attention in verses 8-10 and see where they take us. I’m not sure if any verse caught your attention, but a phrase in verse 8 caught mine. (“even though he did not know where he was going.”)
My wife Tricia bought me a Garmin for Christmas. How many of you have some sort of GPS unit in your car? I like mine allot. I plug in the address or even the name of some place and “boom” up pops the address and then I hit “GO” and listen to GPS Samantha tell me how to get there. Now there’s one requirement for my GPS. You have to know where you are going! You have to give it an address - something concrete so the satellite can pinpoint the location. If you were to say to me, “Greg, I want you to go somewhere!” I would naturally have a few follow up questions like…Where am I going? Why am I going? Can I let my wife in on this first? Hebrews 11 is great but Genesis 12 gives us extra details. Turn now to Genesis 12. “Genesis was written to present the beginning of everything except God. The beginning of the universe, the beginning of all creation including man, the beginning of the Sabbath rest, the beginning of marriage, the beginning of sin, sacrifice and salvation. After Noah it’s the "rebeginning" of the human race and in chapter 12 it’s the beginning of Israel,[v] better known as the Hebrews. Genesis 1-11 covers roughly 2000 years. Genesis 12-50 covers only 300 years, but these 39 chapters emphasize the lives of four men and their families: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. I saw a woman driving an SUV this past week and her license plate read (1 BGMAMA) Don’t mess with big mama. Especially when big mama is behind the wheel. Well, don’t underestimate the importance of Abraham – he’s one big figure in scripture – Matthew 1:1 reads: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:”
I know it all begins in Genesis 12, but let’s start at Genesis 11:27. (Read 27-32) Let me show you a map of the Middle East and of Northern Africa today[vi]. Ur is located here in Southern Iraq. They would travel northwest[vii] and stop at Haran located in modern day Syria. No go back to verse 31. We don’t know why Terah settled in Haran instead of continuing into the Promise Land. Maybe God said stop here. More than likely it was because Abraham was to receive this blessing. I just know this. It’s easy to settle for something far less than God’s best in our lives. God wants you and I to experience promise land living – to experience heaven on earth, to experience blessing, but we settle for far less. Irenaeus said years ago, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” We are fully alive when we walk with God by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s all made possible through Jesus. Find verse 1 in chapter 12. Did you see the extent of what leaving means? Leave your country (what you call home). Leave your people (folks you call friends) and leave your father’s household. (leave your extended family) God seems to say so flippantly, “go to the land I will show you.”
Right now seems like a great time for Abraham to ask questions. Questions like, But where? How long will we travel? Are we coming back? Does Sarah know? Skip verses 2 & 3 for a moment and go to verse 4. (Read) That’s why Abraham is a faith hero! He did what God told him to do! Faith is taking God at his word! “Greg, God has not told me to do anything!” Are you kidding me? Jesus said to us in Matthew 6. Do not worry! Worry means “to take thought of.[viii]” Our thoughts are dominated with bills, our jobs, and our kids – just to name a few. My son Sam has been sick since late last Tuesday Night. I used to think that as long as I was with my kids I could keep them safe. Both of my kids have fallen off swings I was pushing them on right before my eyes. I was less than 5 feet from them but I could not move fast enough to catch them and they each hit the ground hard. It’s very sobering to know that I can’t be in all places at once. And even if I am in the right place at the right time I sometimes can’t move quick enough to prevent pain. I am a father, but I’m not a perfect father. But God doesn’t ask me to be perfect. He does however command US to be faithful. No matter what! Not as a threat, but so we can receive blessing!
Can I ask you something? What prevents US from experiencing blessing or for Abraham Promise Land living? Let’s go back and read verse 2&3. Doesn’t that sound great? Who would not want this? I would love to have been a little Syrian fly on the wall to see Abraham’s facial expressions about now. What was going through that man’s mind? “A great nation sounds good, but Haran’s not bad. Plus I don’t have to leave anyone or travel anywhere. I like that great name part though and God says he’ll bless me. But what if he doesn’t?
Please come to grips with this. Abraham could have said NO. And what encourages us to say NO to God time and time again is FEAR! We are just flat afraid to trust. Abraham could have let his fear get the best of him and said “No, I don’t want to go, but he did go” Go back to verse 4. (4&5) They arrived but walking by faith had just begun. You can call me crazy, but I don’t see God asking us to build a big boat like Noah did. I mean what for? I also don’t see God asking us to leave the USA for another country? Unless of course he calls you to be a missionary. But that word “missionary” is interesting. A missionary is a person sent on a mission. And what is that mission? That God would be made known to all people. That acceptance of Jesus provides freedom. Freedom from death, sin and destruction. Please never forget this. WE ARE ALL MISSIONARIES! And as a missionary you do not need to build a boat, but would you in faith build a relationship? With someone – a person. It could be family or a friend or a person who desperately wants a friend. (The more people I meet - the better I like my dog)
As a missionary you do not need to leave this country, but would you leave your past behind so you can be of some earthly good in the present? Would you let go of your death grip on this world and in faith look forward to a better country, a better home. Abraham looked past the temporary. How? He walked by faith! How can we see past the temporary? We walk by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember Dan Woolley, our Haiti earthquake survivor? Before Dan was rescued, his wife Christina Woolley said, “Wherever Dan was, God was holding him in the palm of his hand. I just didn’t know if that was in Haiti or in heaven!”[ix]
[iv] Wordsearch Bible Software/Life Application Notes/Profile/Abraham
[v] Wilkinson & Boa, Talk through the Old Testament, Walk Thru the Bible, 7
[vii] The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 29