Characteristics of Faith, Pt. 5
Over the last five weeks, I’ve been writing about faith. I’ve discussed how faith hears, sees, and speaks. Today, I want to discuss how faith endures and receives. For more on this subject, I encourage you to read my book: Our Eyes Are On You: Principles to Prevail in Faith & Prayer.
Using Abraham and Sarah as examples of faith and patient endurance, I will explain these important principles of faith.
Abraham’s Faith & Obedience (Heb. 11:8-16)
Abraham is mentioned 74 times in the New Testament (NT), second only to Moses. Abraham is the only person in the Bible called a friend of God (Jam. 2:23)—perhaps the highest honor anyone can receive. He was not perfect in his walk with God, yet scripture records him, not only as God’s friend, but his “friend forever.” (2 Chr. 20:7)
Abraham is considered the father of faith and a spiritual father to the faithful. Throughout his life, faith is exemplified. Even when Abraham was weak in faith, God saw him as a person of faith.
From this “friend of God,” we learn that faith is not perfect character or actions. Rather, it is simply taking God at His word and trusting Him. By doing so, Abraham became the model of faith for all believers.
Abraham and Sarah learned through their journey that they could trust and obey God. They weren’t perfect, but they trusted God through the process. Realize that God calls the faithful, not the perfect. God qualifies the called as they endeavor to trust and obey Him.
God promised to make from Abram a great nation, and all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. Abraham and Sarah had to align their lives with God’s prophetic promise to see it fulfilled. Prophecy reveals the perfect heart of Father God—His love and goodness.
Nearly 24 years passed from the time the Lord first spoke to Abraham and Sarah, but God promised a son at the appointed time. Abraham was 99 years old, and Sarah was past her childbearing years and laughed at God’s promise. The Lord responded with a statement all of us need to be reminded of,
Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:10-14 NKJV)
Then, as God promised,
And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken.” (Gen. 21:1 NKJV)
At the set time, Sarah conceived and gave birth to Isaac (vs. 2). God made Sarah to laugh and all who heard of this miracle child laughed with her! Is there anything too hard for the Lord?! What has God promised you that you are still waiting on? Don’t give up; all things are possible to those who believe!
There is a “set-time” with God. It may take 25 years; trust Him!
He is God Almighty, El-Shaddai—“the all-powerful God who is enough! He is able to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves!”
Abraham and Sarah’s son of promise, and the promise of many descendants, was to rest upon El-Shaddai—Almighty God! Their future prosperity and posterity were not found in their ability, but in God’s ability. So, it is for you and me.
Abraham discovered God as a Father—One who deeply loves us. God communicates vision to us through love, not demand. It’s an invitation to journey with Him. He builds us up through His promise revealed and inspires us to partner with Him to impact our world.
The journey begins with knowing God as our loving Father. He has our future and best interest in mind. God’s love and presence empower us to really know and trust Him. What a good God He is; His arms are always open toward us, and He never holds back His love for us!
Abraham believed God’s promise, and he endured to receive that promise.
By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” (Heb. 11:9)
Abraham and his family dwelt by faith in the land of promise. Prophetic promise enables you to see when circumstances and delay are clouding the promise.
Like a marathon runner getting a drink, hearing God’s voice (promise), refreshes and strengthens you to keep running your race. Remember, faith comes by hearing an active word now (Rom. 10:17)!
Abraham, when there was no hope for his promise to be fulfilled, kept hoping and trusting God to bring to pass what He had promised.
Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Rom. 4:18 NLT)
Impossible circumstances didn’t bring Abraham into unbelief; rather, his faith was strengthened as he waited in faith upon God’s promise. That’s faith which endures!
Abraham’s faith grew stronger rather than weaker. He continued to give glory to God as he waited for the promise. That’s patient endurance.
In 1995, Carolyn and I just returned from Haiti as missionaries. We were praying for a home base. During a meeting in Florida, we received a prophetic word “God would one day give us a home base and a house paid for.”
At the time, the circumstances seemed contrary to this occurring. But remember, it’s not our ability, but God Almighty who brings to pass promises at the set time! Is there anything too hard for the Lord?!
This word, nearly 30 years later, is coming to pass! Foremost, God sent us 21 years ago to Tucson, AZ, and He directed us to start a church here. Little did we know, this would become our home base for ministry locally and internationally. By agreeing with God’s promise and being good stewards of finances entrusted to us, our house will be paid off in a couple of years. Faith that endures is needed! Remember Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac!
Faith occurs when we trust God to fulfill the promise and maintain hope until He brings it to pass!
God expects us to believe, obey, and act as He leads. To have this type of faith isn’t always easy. It involves trust, patience, and a willingness to risk. It means waiting upon God, believing in God’s goodness, when others might easily give up.
Faith & Patience
Heb. 6:12 says “…do not become sluggish but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (NKJV)
Patience is from the Greek word makrothymía and means patient endurance, forbearance. A state of remaining tranquil while awaiting an outcome, patience, steadfastness, endurance.  Being able to rest in Jesus, the prince of peace, is vital to stay in faith and at rest while we wait for the set time.
Patience undergirds faith and helps us to endure. This type of faith is “proactive.”
But negative thinking and laziness hinder us from inheriting God’s promises. Notice, it says, “do not become sluggish (lazy)…” If you become spiritually lazy and lose relationship with God, your spiritual endurance will falter. If you continue to waver in faith, you may not receive God’s promise.
Intimate relationship with Jesus, who is the author and object of our faith, keeps us anchored in hope. He is the vine, we are the branches, abide in Him (John 15).
Faith receives the promise before the manifestation in the natural realm.
Abraham and Sarah maintained hope through patience endurance. What was the result? They received the son of promise, and later, we see the fulfillment of the descendants God promised.
Now faith is the assurance [title deed, confirmation] of things hoped for [divinely guaranteed], and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” (Heb. 11:1 AMPCE)
Faith comprehends spiritual promises as fact, contrary to our senses! Faith “holds” in hope the promise like holding a title deed—such as a car or house title. While we don’t have the title deed to our house yet, in faith, we are holding it, expecting God to fulfill what He has promised. He is faithful!
Faith sees the promise fulfilled by positioning itself in hope. It is an expectant anticipation of the reality of the promise before the manifestation appears. Faith has substance. It causes us to act upon God’s revealed truth with an assurance of the answer.
We look to Jesus, who is our example and the One working in us to mature our faith.
We can remain in hope because He is faithful to complete in us that which He began at our conversion. Keep in mind that there are times, as we patiently wait on God, that it may seem like our prayers are not answered. Trust God always!
God works all things together for the good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28)! Setbacks, delays, health issues… nothing can stop God’s purpose as you continue to trust Him and walk with Him.
God tells the Jews in exile in Babylon—after 70 years—”I will perform the word to you I promised.” They had failed God, yet God promises His mercy and commitment to them for a bright future.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11 NKJV)
Your past mistakes are not a problem for God! He declares even to the wayward, “I have plans of a good future for you, filled with hope!” Here are two keys for us: rely on God’s goodness and remain in hope.
Abraham was a man who heard God’s voice and simply obeyed.
Abraham believed what God spoke. He was convinced—based on God’s character—that if God promised something, God would bring it to pass.
He walked faithfully with God. This friendship created a divine partnership that is still impacting our world. His life demonstrated to us that relationship with God transcends our failures.
God chooses to use those He calls friends, despite their mistakes, to partner with Him here on earth.
Believe God’s promises to you, both in His written word and those He has spoken to your heart. Obey what He has revealed. He knows how and when to bring His promises to pass—you don’t!
Do not fear when God’s promise and leading take you in a direction you don’t understand, or when the promise seems delayed. God knows what He is doing—trust Him! Faith embraces adventure!
For a deeper look into this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Characteristics of Faith, Part 5”:
 William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 612.