Do you know where you come from? Have you ever done any research into your family history?
My husband just completed a hike of more than 200 miles, walking in the footsteps of his 5x great- grandfather, Joshua. We learned that Grandpa Joshua actually fought alongside Daniel Boone. It’s been very cool to make a connection with someone so well known in our nation’s history who’s also a part of our family tree.
But I have another family history. You see, the God of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and all the other heroes listed in Hebrews 11 are part of my family tree. They are the forefathers of my faith.
We worship the same God they did. Let that sink in for a moment. The God who listened to the prayers of Abraham and Isaac is the same God who hears (more…)
As I pondered over the following verses this month, a few thoughts came to me. Though the forms of death mentioned in these verses may not be methods of persecution for most Christians today, persecution is still happening. I then read these two verses again and realized, yes, this type of persecution is happening–most recently in the Middle East the Christians who were “killed with the sword” for not renouncing their faith in Christ.
“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted and mistreated…” Hebrews 11:36-37
I vacillate between dread, disgust, and fear when I listen to the world news. It appears that much of what I value is disappearing. I hurt as I see others suffering. I can relate to the prophet Isaiah, because God told him that Judah, his home, would be destroyed.
“Then I said, ‘For how long, Lord?’ And he answered: ‘Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken.’” Isaiah 6:11, 12
God has not told me personally that my country will soon lie in ruins, but I no longer see Christian values reflected in my community. Gambling is thought to be the best source to fund our schools. Denominations appear to be ignoring portions of scriptures, letting culture define marriage. When it comes to stewarding our natural resources, Christians seem to be irresponsible. I am uneasy about the political, environmental, and economic future. Perhaps it is my age, the media, or the pricking of the Holy Spirit, but I grieve more. Yet my pain is nothing compared to what Isaiah describes.
“A dire vision has been shown to me: . . . At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see. My heart falters, fear makes me tremble; the twilight I longed for has become a horror to me.” Isaiah 21:2-4
Even so, the prophet of hope writes:
” The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . to save you.’” Isaiah 35:1, 4(more…)
Day after day, I walked through the flames of despair and the furnace of death. Death of my marriage. Death of my dreams of “till death do us part.” Despairing flames that burned deep into my soul and heart, which could have destroyed me, but God had a different plan. I walked through the fire with faith.
And so can you.
As we continue talking about faith, we are given so many more situations regarding the faithful followers of the Lord, in Hebrews. Many of the people mentioned were introduced by telling only a snippet of their story. Their names were not alluded to, but we know who they are.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40
Will you take a couple of minutes and watch this short video called, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego?
We get a quick You Tube version of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the video today and in Hebrews 11:
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about . . . the prophets, who through faith . . . quenched the fury of the flames.” Vs. 32-34
The three were asked to bow down to a golden image and worship it.
Sin creates a divide between God and His people, and sometimes the consequences of that sin can literally leave you “running for the hills.”
Let’s look at the life of a biblical character by the name of Gideon. His story is found in the book of Judges chapters 6-8. Judges covers the 299 year period of history during which “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. (Judges 17:6) After Joshua, no man stood in the gap to take his place as God’s man. There was no king in Israel. God was their king, but they didn’t heed Him. Every tribe governed as they wished. This defiance of God, who had just helped the Israelites start to conquer Canaan through Joshua, resulted in God’s chosen people being wretchedly oppressed by their neighbors around them.
Seven times God sent judges; military and spiritual leaders to vindicate them of their troubles. Seven cycles of sin brought (more…)