Hebrews 11 – the Hall of Faith, as it is sometimes called. These are stories of men and women who trusted God. But if we read, the funny thing is, some of these very people and events would not be first on my list of people with great faith.
For example, Sarah and her ability to conceive despite her age. But wait. This very Sarah who did not trust and took matters into he own hands, giving her servant to Abraham to provide the child she believed she couldn’t have? Her faith seems so small. But verse 11 says “she considered Him faithful who promised.”
Samson, the judge who continually chose women and folly over the ways of the Lord is also on the list, a man of quick temper who lost his strength from the Lord.
While it is easy for me to be critical of some of the people and events on the list I am suddenly hit with the realization that my faith is not my own. Faith comes from Christ, from who He Is, from resting and trusting in Him.
When talking to His disciples, Jesus said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20 Our faith is not the magic bullet. Our faith is not what actually makes things happen. Rather through even our tiniest droplet of faith God’s mighty power can work and shut the mouths of lions, part the waters of the Red Sea, and loose the chains in your darkest dungeon.
How is your faith? You may be filled with unwavering faith like Moses (though even he had his moments), or you may have the tiny mustard seed faith of Sarah, believing in God, but struggling to accept His word as truth to you. Bring that faith to the feet of Jesus. Seek Him, and trust that though your faith be weak or strong, all He needs is mustard seed faith to work miracles in your life.
*This was written on June 14, 2016 in the wake of a night club shooting in Orlando, Florida.*
Encouragement. It’s so important. God’s word is filled with it, with stories of it, and with commands to practice it.
As I have been reading through Hebrews, I have been overcome with the undeniable truth of Christ’s love, sacrifice, and redemption for us. We are intimately loved by the foremost encourager.
These truths give us an unwavering hope, one that is solid and sure. It is through this hope and the faithfulness of His promises that we may encourage one another. It is all in His strength.
I know we are standing in the wake of a terrible tragedy in Orlando this week. The loss simply baffles my mind. To be fair, I have not read the news in great depth. I don’t know all the details. I don’t think it’s necessary and it’s just too much for my heart to carry. But I know one thing. There are many, many hurting people. I honestly don’t care if they are straight, LGBTQ, or anything in between. They are people, created and loved by God. So are their families and loved ones. We have been given such a hope, such a peace, and such an amazing gift. Now is the time, my friends. We must share this love with those around us. We must “stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
It is not our pity and charity that the world needs. It is not even our good deeds. Rather it is the love of Jesus, and what a blessing it is that He has chosen to use us as vehicles of that great love. Let Him live, love, and encourage through you today!
Our God is not random. If you notice, everything He asks His children to do has a clear purpose. The same is true for the sanctuary system initiated in the desert.
The Israelites had been in Egypt for hundreds of years. They had mixed and mingled with religions so different from their own that they struggled with remembering who God really was. They had reached a point where the only bondage they desired freedom from was their physical slavery. They forgot that they needed deliveries were from their own sins.
God gave the Israelites the sanctuary system to remind His children who He was, why they needed Him, and how deeply He loved them. Yet, these sacrifices themselves did not bring salvation to the people. They were only a shadow of what was to come.
Christ is the ultimate sacrifice. He has cleansed us by His blood. We are clean, we are free. We have been bought with a price. We are His children.
From time to time I hear people doubt. They feel their sins are too great. They can’t seem to change no matter how much they try. They worry that God will not accept them. Let me tell you today that,
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~ Romans 38:39
God’s love, the sacrifice of Christ, is more than enough.
He is our priest. He is our sacrifice. He is our advocate and salvation.
Jesus wants nothing more than for us to find Salvation and Him. He pleads for us day and night and He will not stop.
What an encouraging thought. I have the chief priest in my corner. He is the one pleading my case. He is the one fighting for me. He is the one who already fulfilled my sentence. Wow. Just wow.
Let’s talk about works for a minute. Yes it is true; faith without works is dead (James 2:17). But can I urge you to please stop trying so hard? The moment our fair shifts from a total focus on Christ and full surrender to Him to the right works and “making” the fruits of the spirit happen in our lives; that moment we decide, by sheer willpower to do what it takes to be a “good Christian;” that is the moment we begin to seek self instead of Christ and our works become as thistles.
We cannot fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit by striving to be more patient and kind. We cannot be better Christians by feeding the poor and caring for orphans. On the contrary, we must set our gaze on Christ. We must allow His rain to deeply penetrate our souls. It is then, and only then, that He can change us from within and produce fruit more beautiful, nutritious, and scrumptious than any produced by our own effort.
Can you trust God that much today? Can you trust that if all you do is look to Christ and seek Him with all your heart that He is enough and He WILL send the rain. Can you trust that He alone can produce in you a beautiful garden of fruits, works of the most spectacular kind? Trust Him today.
Life is full of peeks and valleys, highs and low, times of plenty and great rejoicing, and times of strain and want. I have been struggling through a valley lately. I’m learning, however, that the valley is not the enemy. The enemy is despair. The enemy is distrust, failing to believe God is who He says He is . . . failing to take Him at his word.
If you also are in a valley, don’t lose heart. Don’t look back, don’t get distracted by all the things screening at you from the sidelines. Fix your eyes firmly on the One before you and don’t let your gaze shift. He is enough.
“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassionate never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:21-23 ~
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:6 ~
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33 ~
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” ~ Colossians 3:2 ~
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” ~ Proverbs 4:25
Please excuse my absence over the last week. The time has simply gotten away from me. Have no fear though. I will be back to posting regularly on Monday. In the meantime, I would love to hear what you have been studying and learning from God’s Word this past week.🙂