How many know that faith is a process?
When we get saved, we are not automatically men and women of faith. Instead, we are automatically enrolled in the University of Faith.
You might say to me, “Hey, I didn’t register.”
Every born again believer has to attend this University of Faith.
It’s a must.
It’s a requirement.
The tuition is free.
It is paid for by the blood of Jesus.
There’s no time limit in the University of Faith. You’ll never be asked to leave!
There are no age limits. It doesn’t matter how young you are or how old you are. You can enter the University of Faith at 5 years old or 75 years old. There are different levels like school. In the University of Faith, we matriculate. It’s called going from glory to glory. There are different subjects like Following Directions 101.
There is a course on Patience.
There is a course on Obedience.
There are different subject matter in the University of Faith, and this doesn’t matter how many times you have to repeat a course.
By hook or crook you are going to be a graduate!
In this university there are tests. There are pop up quizzes. Today, you may have gone through a test just before reading this blog or getting to work. Your kids may have been one of those pop quiz tests to see if you really know the syllabus? In this university there are term papers, some of which never seem like they are never going to end.
In the University of Faith, we pass some tests and we fail some tests.
But these tests are only to show us our strengths and our weaknesses. When we fail, which we often times do, we have to be careful of pitfall number one: discouragement. When we fail, from our limited perspective, we believe everybody else is advancing, graduating, and promoting except us.
We feel like we are forever freshman.
What we don’t realize is failure is part of the education process. Believe it or not, the University of Faith is different from any other school because the teacher knows us before we even enter into the school. He has factored in every single failure and every single victory before we sit down. Our course is tailor made for us. Nobody goes through the exact same course at the exact same time. It’s tailor made.
It’s in the failing or falling, and in the getting up where our faith is strengthened. Our hope is renewed. We learn about the unconditional love of God. We learn we don’t have to be afraid to get back into the classroom.
To say, “Excuse me teacher, I need your help!”
Did you know there is a bully at the University of Faith?
He wants to keep you from eating lunch with the teacher. He is there to harass you. He is there to discourage you. He wants you drop out.
I want you to say out loud with me, “I am not going to be a drop out. No matter how many times I have to repeat a course. I am not going to leave or be chased out. I am going to receive my Masters of Faith Degree as long as I keep coming back to God.”
Now, if anyone asks you what you are doing with your life—tell them you’re getting your Masters.
Let’s look at the first attendee and graduate to the University of Faith.
Isaiah 51:1-2 says, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many” (NIV).
In Isaiah, we are encouraged as believers to look to the first attendee of the University of Faith because we are cut from the same rock. We are going to look at Abraham, and the first few years of his life. We’re going to see why we are the way we are.
Abraham lived in a pagan world. He wasn’t born into a family of faith. How many of us are not born into a family of faith? I’m not talking about growing up in the church. Going to church does not make you a Christian just like going to McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger. I’m talking about born again believers who love the Lord with their whole heart, mind and strength.
Abraham had no examples to follow.
His family might look a lot like your family. There was a form of godliness there, but they worshipped idols. They denied where the real power came from.
If we were going to give Abraham a report card on Following Directions 101 in the first forty-four years of his attendance of the University of Faith, he would have gotten an F. Abraham is the father of our faith, and he would have gotten an F at the University of Faith. It took Abraham forty-five years to graduate the University of Faith. Every time this poor guy got back on his feet, and got back to the teacher–he was hit with another trial.
Does that sound like your life?
I want to tell you why Abraham is the father of our faith. He gets an A+ in trusting in God and His promises. Yes, he was really horrible at following directions. Yes, he was really horrible at sticking to what God told him what to do. But Abraham gets an A+ because every time he messed up, he got back up, and got back to God. He is the father of faith because He has faith in God. He doesn’t have faith in himself or in faith itself. Abraham has faith in God knowing that if he can get back to God, there will always be way for him.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you (Genesis 12:1, NIV).
This was a review.
This was a recap.
God had already spoken to Abraham. Did you catch that? God gives him more direction. God says to leave your country, leave your people, leave your father’s household and go! This call is a lot like our call. When we receive salvation, we are called to separate from the world as we know it. It’s a call to separate from the familiar.
God is telling Abraham that He will show the way. He is the leader. He is in the drivers seat. He wants Abraham to follow Him. Abraham is to no longer do what he wants and expect God to bless it.
How many Christians live like that today?
Abraham’s going to be blessed by doing what God tells him what to do. We are to do the same. We are to leave our cultural ties. To leave our old mentality. The labels that our family has put on us. The religious affiliations. Who cares what your mom or dad did! When you meet the Lord, you have to do what the Holy Spirit tells you to do.
The call of God always seems negative and painful at first. But when God calls you to do anything for Him—we focus on what we have to give up. We spend our whole life thinking what we are going to get. When God calls us, we aren’t supposed to focus on what ties us up. We are to focus on what God is going to give back to us. Listen to this promise:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3, NIV).
Nobody blesses like God the Father blesses. And the blessings of God will make up for more than any loss that you will incur.
Even when you mess up.
Even when you do things you are not supposed to do.
God says He will identify with Abraham’s offspring. He will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him. In other words, any cause of yours is a cause of mine. Any fight of yours is a fight of mine. We are children of Abraham.
Let’s read Genesis 11:31-32:
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-lawSarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran (NIV).
Report card time.
Harran is the half way point. I give him a B- because Abraham left 98% of the people from Ur of the Chaldeans, but he didn’t leave his father’s household. He gets an F. He didn’t make it to Canaan and settled in Harran. Another F.
The Bible says that Terah took Abram. Abram didn’t take Terah. Abraham must have gone to his father and told him the whole story. But that wasn’t part of God’s plan. He was supposed to leave his family.
God expects obedience.
Abraham had no business to go to his father and tell him what God said so that his father could change his mind. Do you know what Terah means: delay. What happens is we take what God has given to us and share it with people who have not had the same revelation, it becomes totally watered down.
Family pressure and human logic has caused the premature death of God’s calling on more Christians than any other scene in the Bible.
It’s not crack cocaine.
It’s not adultery.
It’s family pressure.
It’s human logic.
When they settled in Harran they stayed for fifteen years. Abraham was delayed for fifteen years. Instead of going straight to Canaan they settled half way. I see the symbolism very clearly. Some of us have left our old land for new land. But our new land resembles more of our old land than the land of promise. In other words, we may not be doing what we used to do but we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
We are settled somewhere in the middle.
The only difference in Abraham’s life for those fifteen years is that he had a past tense encounter with the living God. Abraham was stuck in a rut. There was no mention of any new contact with God. None of the promises God gave Abraham were ever activated until he left the half way mark.
You might be saying, “God, why aren’t you fulfilling the promises you are giving me?
Because you are not in a position to receive the promises of God!
Now I want to tell you what Harran means: parched. It means a dry place of fruitlessness. And coincidentally, Harran was also the name of Abraham’s brother who died. Delay always gives birth to fruitlessness and fruitlessness always gives birth to carnality. Abraham was in a holding pattern until his father died.
I’m here to tell you it’s time to leave.
It’s time to get out of your comfort zone.
Delays in our life are always wrapped up in sentimental feelings. Do not settle or agree to a less desirable alternative when God has called you to go somewhere else. There are some of you who have that old mentality. God is saying that you need to leave the old behind. He has so much better for you.
In between where you are now and the promise land—there is always a desert. But it’s in the desert where there are springs and water. Unless you leave the half-way point and cross the Euphrates River or that comfort zone, you will never see the supernatural manifested in your life. Amen?
Question: What course(s) are you currently enrolled in the University of Faith? How do you think you are doing?