Tuesday, May 11, 2010

By Faith They Found Something Better

Hebrews 11:1-40 NLT
1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.
3    By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. . . .4  It was by faith that Abel. . .
Enoch. . . Noah . . .Abraham . . .13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. . . .20 It was by faith that Isaac. . .Jacob. . .. . . Joseph. . .Rahab . . .   
   It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.  33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,  34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.  35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.  36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons.  37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.  38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
 39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.  40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

We have seen up through chapter 10 in Hebrews that the writer was laying out the foundation for understanding life-changing faith. He ended by identifying us who follow Christ as "The faithful ones" (vs 39). Subsequently, in chapter 11, he begins to walk through Biblical history pointing out the heroes of faith. These major names in the Jewish Bible preflected the faith of Christ, who is reflected in the Christian New Testament.

Suffering whatever comes our way and maintaining our trust in Christ as Lord and Savior is that same faith. There could come persecution against Christians in our nation as there now is in nations around the world. I recently viewed a video placed on the Internet by proud and brash Islamic terrorists. It showed ten of them beheading a Christian pastor-- one of 12 they beheaded-- because they believed in Christ and would not denounce the call to Islam. The pastor, hands tied behind him, could be seen praying quietly  as they performed their grisly act upon him. His tormentors acted in grisly violence, while He trusted Christ and exhibited Godly peace in response to their violence. He reached the better thing that God had in store for him, and for us. I've read of Christian church members in a the largest nation on earth being tortured and killed for their Christian faith. They found God's eternal joy.

You and I could also one day face persecution. Will our faith keep us peaceful and grant the ability to love our persecutors in spite of their Godlessness and their heinous evil? Are you ready to lay aside pursuit of our own ways and comfort and stand firm in your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of where that may lead? Why not stand firm in Christ and share faith with others today? There is nothing worth while to be lost and everything worth while to be gained!

Your Servant in Christ's Love

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