Hebrews 11: 1-3 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Hebrews 11 is all about faith. If you haven’t read the entire chapter, please find the time to read it. Here is a link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=hebrews%2011&version=ESV. This verse above can be abused easily but put into context is thick and rich. Have you heard the whole, “I’m going to believe, by faith, that I will get ________ and my faith will bring it to pass.”?
These days there is so much promotion in Christian circles of the Daddy God in the sky that will give us whatever we want just because He loves us. It’s His job to map out our course to have an easy and happy life- oh and by the way, if we sin, well, no big deal. He loves us, right? (Who IS this God?)
There is a sense that if our lives are not easy and happy and full of gifts and love, then God is letting us down and something is really wrong. Umm, yeah. That perception might be what’s really wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s a good God, He’s a good Father and He wants good things for us. The thing that He knows is the best thing we could have is a deeper knowledge of who He is. He is the goal. He is not the means to our goal.
Sometimes He uses outrageous gifts to reveal His love. (Yay!) Sometimes He allows us to not have what we want so that we can be sure that He is more important. Sometimes He allows pain in our lives as we allow pain in the lives of our children in order for them to grow and mature in character, body, spirit. Accepting that anything He brings our way is for the purpose of knowing Him more is the key to peace. Expecting an easy circumstance where everyone gets along and we get everything we want is to have ourselves on the throne, not God.
Below this devotional, I am going to paste the story of some very devoted Christ followers. Tell me if you think they had it easy. The notion that God owes us an easy and gift filled road is not supported by scripture. Yes, He will bless our socks off but the blessing is in knowing Him more. And that blessing can come from any type of circumstance in our lives. Peace and joy are not conditional upon circumstances.
Takeaway: When we speak of having faith in receiving good gifts from God, we have to understand that God Himself is the gift and learning who He is through all circumstances of life is the goal. We can focus on this first bit of Hebrews and assume it means we get cars, houses, and perfect marriages but if we read the entire chapter, we will see that living a life of true faith can sometimes mean we live with difficult circumstances, sometimes enduring unthinkable things.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you so much for every good and perfect gift in my life. I want to know You more. Please reveal Yourself to me in every circumstance in my life. Give me grace to see through Your eyes as I consider the blessings before me. And thank you, Lord, for the good and faithful servants that have gone before me, who sacrificed it all for You.
|1 Matthew – Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, Killed by a sword wound.2 Mark- Died in Alexandria, Egypt , after being dragged by Horses through the streets until he was dead
3 Luke – Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous Preaching to the lost.
4 John – Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge Basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome . However, he was miraculously delivered From death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of Patmos .. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
5 Peter – He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die In the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
6 James – The leader of the church in Jerusalem , was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club.
* This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
7 James the Great – Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus Called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
8 Bartholomew – Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
9 Andrew – Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: ‘I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.’ He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
10 Thomas- Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Sub-continent.
11 Jude – Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
12 Matthias – The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
13 Paul – Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational Doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
Perhaps this is a reminder to us that our sufferings here Are indeed minor compared to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their times for the sake of the Faith. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew