Sermon: Be Careful Coming Home - Hebrews 11

My oldest daughter commutes to college classes three times each week. Having to drive 35 miles one way, my daughter often calls me before she begins the journey home. I always end the call the same way: “Be careful coming home.”

Scriptures: Hebrews 11:8-19

Introduction

My oldest daughter commutes to college classes three times each week. Having to drive 35 miles one way, my daughter often calls me before she begins the journey home. I always end the call the same way: “Be careful coming home.”

The promise-driven life is really a journey home. In Hebrews 11 this journey is described through the lives of faithful men and women who never lost sight of where they were headed. With hearts and minds consumed with an obvious passion for God, these promise-driven souls illustrate the highs and lows associated with a life of faith.

Abraham's faith is described in great detail. In fact, Abraham's life is given more attention than any other figure in the chapter. His life is marked by magnificent moments of faith in the promises of God. Is it because he was significantly different from the rest of us?

Abraham is an enduring model of faithfulness because he successfully navigated the experiences of life that could have brought him down. The way we respond to common life experiences will dramatically impact our walk with God – for better or worse.

What are the common life experiences that will endanger or empower a promise-driven life?

I. When God is speaking (8a)

The word "obeyed" literally means Abraham listened. How many incredible opportunities are missed simply because we are not listening to God as He speaks? A promise-driven life feeds on personal direction from God as He speaks through His Word. Abraham's responsiveness to the voice of God marked his entire life. This generation will be dramatically impacted by individuals who, like Abraham, are carefully listening to God.

II. When I know it is time to leave (8b)

Abraham left his hometown of Ur behind in the pursuit of God's promises. It is not easy to leave a place we love. Staying home when God says “get up and go” will derail your journey. Perhaps God is calling you to move from where you are to a new workplace or ministry assignment. Saying “yes” to His leading will put you firmly in the ranks of men like Abraham! Do not hesitate.

III. When I know I need to stay (9-10)

Abraham illustrates leaving home. He also illustrates the common experience of staying put! Sometimes God calls us to stay where we are, when we may want to bolt and run away! Circumstances were difficult and challenging for Abraham in the Promised Land. He lived in tents. The only land he ever owned was the burial plot he purchased for his wife's grave. Yet, he stayed. Staying under God's direction is a common experience which can fuel an extraordinary life of faith.

IV. When I am powerless to make any difference (11-12)

Together Abraham and Sarah realized their hope of having a son was physically a long shot! Abraham's body and Sarah's womb (Romans 4:19) were no longer capable of reproduction. Yet God had promised that Abraham's offspring would be in number like the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashore. We cannot control God. If we could, then He would not be in control of everything else in our world. At moments when I realize I am impotent, I must rush to embrace the omnipotence of God. The promise-driven person lives with powerlessness by leaning on the power of God.

V. When I am longing for something (13-16)

The writer of Hebrews extends the experience of powerlessness to include promise-driven people everywhere who bear great, unfulfilled longings in their souls. Wanting and not having can easily distract us from simple devotion to Jesus Christ. Promise-driven people realize that their deepest longings will never be satisfied here. This world is not our home. The longings we feel are for something far greater than this earth can satisfy.

VI. When I lose what I love (17-19)

The promised child Isaac was precious to Abraham. The possible loss of the child was a real test of Abraham's supreme devotion to God Himself. Abraham knew that God could be trusted: even if it meant losing his son. Loss is a danger to faith and hope in God. Promise-driven people determine to trust God no matter what!

Conclusion

Promise-driven people will lead lives filled with the ordinary, everyday challenges to faith. Yet, they will go places and do things that ordinary people will miss. Why? Promise-driven people see and avoid the mental dangers and traps that can erode faith. Consequently, they are empowered by the same set of circumstances that pull others down. So, be careful coming home!

Illustration

Aussie Road Rules

Driving on the wrong side of the road? Dodging kangaroo herds at night? Watch out for “roundabouts”? These are some of the unique hazards associated with driving a vehicle in Australia. A successful journey in Australia is intimately tied to your ability to avoid danger!

Australian Road Rules, Barrier Reef Australia [online], cited 1 October 2002. Available on the Internet: http://www.barrierreefaustralia.com/aussie-road-rules.htm

Don Pucik is the Associate Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Convention and former editor of the Pastors Today Newsletter. Serving churches in Mississippi, California and Louisiana for over 20 years, he and his wife Gail now live in Arkansas with their six children. Don maintains a ministry of consulting and encouragement to pastors through EquippingSaints.com.