I Believe In Prayer

Praying for Branch County and Beyond

Archive for the month “September, 2016”

Something Better

Hebrews 11:40
I was walking by a New Age bookstore one day and was intrigued by a sign in the front window that said, “Bibles for sale.” I thought to myself, “Are you kidding??? When did New Agers start marketing the Old and New Testament?”

So, I went into this fairly large bookstore (imagine ½ the size of a Barnes and Noble). I walked past the incense isle and the healing crystal isle. On a prominent shelf toward the back of the store, there were twelve or so books in the “bibles” section.

I opened each “bible” to John 1:1 to test the accuracy of the translation. John 1:1 is literally translated, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” I wasn’t surprised to find everything BUT the literal translation in these misleading and unfortunate non-bibles;

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.”

“In the beginning, God spoke a word…” “In the beginning was God…”

These misquotes reject the foundational truth of Christianity proclaimed in scripture; that God has had a plan in place to send Jesus Christ to redeem the world since BEFORE time began.

John 1:1 is an affirmation of God’s plan to choose to love mankind fiercely and attests to His desire to restore nearness with us. God’s Plan A (Jesus) is a perfect plan for us, for all who lived before us, and for all who will come after us. There is no Plan B. Maybe you have a neighbor or friend who needs to hear this truth spoken to them in love today.

“…God had planned something better for us
so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”



The Others

Hebrews 11:35-40
Hebrews 11 is well known to serious students of the Bible and stands as a tribute to faithful servants of God from long ago.

The list of names forms a “Who’s Who” of Old Testament heroes; Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, to drop a few names.

In verses 35-40, the word “others” appears twice to inform us the list given is not complete, and that enduring in faith is not only heroic, but also involves sacrifice and suffering. The author mentions experiences endured by these others such as torture, humiliation, beatings, chains, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn in two, abuse, homelessness and, death.

The ancient apologist, Tertullian reminds us; “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

Who were these unnamed “others”? Whose faces flashed through the mind of the writer? Perhaps heaven will reveal these unknowns.

Perhaps reflection on the passage causes us to respond in two ways:

1: With gratitude for the strength and faith exhibited, which drew them to the high and ultimate price of their calling and, as a result, to commit ourselves to honoring and obeying God despite the cost. And

2: To deeply examine my own commitment to following Christ in light of the challenges I face in my time and culture.

In my office I have an 8 1/2 x 11 sign from a Willow Creek Leadership Conference. It reads:

You can choose COURAGE,
Or you can choose COMFORT,
But you cannot choose them both.


Between Eden and Armegeddon

Hebrews 11:32

Are you old enough to know what a “bag phone” looks like? If not, get your smart phone out later and ask Google or Siri, and imagine strapping one on your shoulder every day. Bag phones were as heavy as a bowling ball and so ENORMOUS, they had to be carried in a bag slung over the shoulder. Fortunately, they were just a transitional piece of technology that helped transition between landline and cell phones.

There is a transitional person in Hebrews 11:32 who obtains an honorable mention in this list of Old Testament “all-stars” of faith in Yahweh. His name is Samuel.

Samuel was the last of the “judges,” who were early leaders of God’s people. Samuel was willing to step aside and transition to a new role as the first “prophet” in Israel. Samuel anointed a tall and handsome man named Saul as “King” over Israel, and later God directed Samuel to anoint a successor, David, who was a small, red-headed sheep herder at the time.

You are a transitional figure in many ways, living in a transitional time between Eden and Armageddon, and between the last generation and the next. You are a transitional figure, and Jesus Christ has given you the “ear tingling” news that He will be returning soon. Are you living closely enough to Him that you can discern between His Will and the most obvious choice?  Are you determined to do whatever He says? If so, today you may find even better ways of expressing love to God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbors as self.

 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.

(1 Samuel 3:11)



King David’s Resume

Hebrews 11:32
King David’s earlier experiences and training look highly impressive in the form of a résumé;
Selected by God as a young boy to be a king
Slingshot sharpshooter
Skilled instrumentalist and songwriter
Devoted follower of God
Hero; brave and effective commander
Successful peacemaker
Beloved and respected King

The entries in the middle of David’s résumé are less than stellar;
Loss of focus + devastating lapses in judgment = moral collapse
Consequences; guilt, death of a son, division in his family, dissention in his country

But the final entries to David’s résumé were entered postmortem, and take his entire life into account;
Forefather of Jesus, the Son of God
His songs have endured and inspired throughout generations
Quoted by Jesus Himself
Mentioned in scripture over 900 times
God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

There are some great Bold Faith lessons to glean from King David’s life/résumé;
Don’t lose focus in the middle—work hard to finish life with bold, strong, vibrant faith.
Sin will tear your life apart, and God doesn’t always shelter us from its consequences.
With repentance, God can help you pick up the pieces and bring healing and restoration.
If you can remain faithful to God through your years, others can follow you and stand on your shoulders, build on the foundation you’ve laid, and learn from your life of faithfulness.

Today, keep your focus on Christ and remember, you have people coming after you who need your strong shoulders to stand on and strong faith to build on.

David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart (Acts 13:22)

Faith Through Any Season

Hebrews 11:32
“And what more shall I say?”

This is how the author of Hebrews begins verse 32 of chapter 11. A rhetorical question no doubt, because there is much more that could be said of the faith that drove those who have, in times past, believed God for great miracles, signs and wonders.

Specific reference is made of various individuals who, through great faith in God, did incredible things…supernatural things that have inspired the hopes of God’s people throughout history. These references here are made to highlight the fact that great feats of faith in God could never be told exhaustively. In part because God has done too many supernatural things through His people in the past to ever be told in their entirety. However, this does not exclude the additional fact that God is still doing great things through His people today, too many things to ever be told in entirety.

There is another verse that begins with an interesting phrase, verse 36 says, “Still others…” It goes on to indicate that while some people’s faith brought about great victories and supernatural “happenings,” other individuals had faith to see them through serious suffering. You see there are many today who would like to equate great faith with health, wealth and prosperity, and when these are lacking in someone’s life they see it as a result of little faith or even no faith at all. However, don’t miss what Hebrews 11 is saying: at times God accomplishes awesome miracles through His people by faith, while at other time He sustains His suffering people by faith. Attempting to distinguish one instance as requiring greater faith than the other would be completely futile and (might I suggest) even sinful! Sinful because it implies that a person’s faith in God is only genuine when things are good, and void when things become difficult. One could rightfully question whether such faith is really true faith at all!

So, whether tens of thousands are being defeated or suffering is being endured, both come through faith in God. It’s all supernatural faith in a great God who walks with us every step of the way whether on the summit or in the valley! We should be so incredibly glad that our outward circumstances are not a direct indicator of the Bold Faith that we have in our God!
Faith that leads to victory, and faith that endures through suffering—it’s all one and the same…BOLD FAITH!



Hebrews 11:31
It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God…”.

Wow! Talk about Bold Faith! Not what one would expect from a prostitute in a pagan nation. But this was one incredible woman. She had heard of the works of God on behalf of the Israelite people. She recounted the events in Joshua 2 and even said in Joshua 2:11, “…for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” She took a step of faith and asked for the safety of her family because she had shown kindness to the spies she had hidden from the men sent by Jericho’s king. And the spies’ faith was bolstered as well. When they made their report to Joshua they said, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.” (Joshua 2:24)

Because she took this step of obedient faith, based on the stories she had heard, God blessed her in mighty ways! God loves it and rewards people who take steps of faith. Jesus was very excited and generous with people when he saw them choose faith. He was sad when those who should have had faith (or more faith) failed to trust the Lord.

God blessed Rahab by saving her and her family when Jericho was conquered. She married an Israelite man, Salmon. Salmon and Rahab had a child named Boaz who became the great grandfather of David, king of Israel. Rahab is even mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. What a great heritage Rahab has because of faith – BOLD FAITH.

Now is the time for us to make bold choices of faith! It is a risk at times. We might have to risk our lives, our jobs, a loving relationship, or a friendship because we choose to please our Almighty God and Father rather than compromise our convictions for the sake of earthly relationships.

Rahab is a great example of faith. May we learn from her about what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.
Choices of faith lead to great blessing!

What Is God Doing?

Hebrews 11:30
By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army
had marched around them for seven days.

If we’re going to be honest, there are times that we ask God “what are you doing?” When the Holy Spirit speaks to us, we sometimes wonder if He is talking to the right person. God is not in the business of aligning things that will make our lives perfect. He is in the business of moving His kingdom forward, and we are only the vessels that do that.

Within the above passage and much of chapter 11, we see one phrase repeated. That phrase is “by faith.” Faith is the act of believing and acting on something that we cannot see with our own eyes. You cannot touch faith, but you possess it. You cannot give faith, but people can find it. This is what drives us as Christians. We believe in a God that has made us promises and it is through faith that we hold tightly to those promises.

Where does this passage fit in? The Israelites were told to march around the city of Jericho for seven days and the Lord would bring defeat to the great
city. Did the people have an army? Did they enter into battle? The answer is no; they just did as the Lord had instructed them.

How much easier would our lives be if we just let God do the work and we only did as He instructs? We can sometimes add little things to or take things away from what we are instructed.

My question is this: Is there anything in your life right now that displays faith? Are you acting “by faith” in regard to something the Lord has instructed or laid upon your heart? The only thing we have to do is act when the Lord tells us to act and be still when He tells us to be still.

Reflect today on what it means to act “by faith.”

Faith Without Fear

Hebrews 11:27-28
At times we move forward in faith not knowing fully where we are going or if we will really get there. That might seem like a contradiction to faith: “…the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (v.1). However, experience teaches us that as we move forward in faith we are often holding our breath in worry. When it’s over we give a sigh of relief and say to our self or even to God, “I hope I never have to do that again.”

This is the mustard-seed faith of the kingdom of God within us, which has great potential to grow to become the largest tree in the garden. God plants it within us, knowing it will grow as He grows us spiritually. That’s right. God has committed Himself to growing us in faith. Just as Moses grew from a mustard-seed size faith when he began his desert experience to a faith without fear as he led the people of Israel, so are we to grow in faith. Moses saw the invisible God; and in peace, free from fear he did as God said. He honored God by submitting to His instruction, by keeping the Passover (v. 27).

What does that mean for you? You can submit to God’s hand of grace, hold to His teachings, and allow Him to grow your mustard-seed faith. He will lead you out of bondage into a Promise Land. As your faith grows, fear and doubt will subside. You too, will be able to see the invisible God in your life. Israel was God’s first-born child. As God’s child, can you expect your Heavenly Father to do anything less in your life? Allow God to grow your faith, and to deliver you from the bondage of fear.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3


Moses’ Parents Faith

Hebrews 11:23
“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict”.

The Bible chronicles how Abraham’s faith – discovered late in life – led to a heritage of faith among his family for generations. We can see something similar with Moses. The parents of this man of great faith were also people of faith. They left him a legacy of faith – the kind of trust fund every parent should leave to his or her children!

Some parents leave their kids money, and that’s a good thing. Others leave their kids a legacy of service, and that’s an even better thing. Some leave a legacy of knowledge, including Bible knowledge, which is rich indeed. But nothing compares to the legacy of faith.

There is an opposition between faith and fear. Moses’ parents (v. 23) acted by faith (that’s one side of the equation) and did not fear the king’s edict (that’s the others side.) Moses himself (v. 27) “left Egypt” by faith (that’s one side of the equation) “not fearing the king’s anger” (that’s the other side).

Faith and fear are like the poles of a magnetic field: they repel each other, but they attract everything else in their sphere. Fear pulls the things going on in our life into its field so that we have more and more things to worry about. Faith pulls the things going on in our life into its field, so that we have more opportunities to trust God. But faith is stronger than fear.

When Moses’ parents Amram and Jochebed knew they were going to have a baby, the king’s edict requiring the immediate termination of newborn Jewish boys came into view. Would that edict be drawn into the field of fear or of faith? If fear, then they would obey the king. If faith, they would protect the child. They protected the child. When new challenges enter your life, are they more likely to be drawn into the field of faith or of fear?

Pass on a “trust fund” – a legacy of faith – to those you love.


When His End Was Near

Hebrews 11:22
Why does God allow you go through trials in your life? Why must you keep facing temptations to sin over and over again? Because there is nothing more precious than your faith in God, and trials and temptations test your faith (James 1:2), purify it (1 Peter 1:6-7) and make it grow. In the midst of a trial or temptation, your faith (or lack of faith) is put on display. What you really believe, and who you really believe in, is never more clear (to yourself and to others) than when you are experiencing trials and temptations.

There have not been many people in history who have undergone such rigorous trials and temptations as Joseph. First, his mother died while he was still young. Then he was rejected by his siblings and was left to die in an empty cistern. After that, he was sold as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt. Next Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and framed him for a crime he didn’t commit. For this, he was thrown into prison for years, unsure whether he would ever get out.

Through these trials and temptations, Joseph’s faith grew and became strong. He witnessed God’s love for him, even when he was in slavery and in prison. He understood that God had controlled and planned everything that had happened to him for his good and the good of the entire world (Genesis 50:20). His faith in God gave him the ability to obey God, when it would have been easier to give in. His faith helped him to persevere when it would have been natural to despair. His faith gave him hope for the future, knowing that God would not forsake him or leave him in his trial forever.

It wasn’t until the age of one hundred and ten that Joseph underwent his last trial—death. If regular trials and temptations display the state of our faith, the trial of death does so even more. The author of Hebrews tells us that, “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones” (Hebrews 11:22). Having witnessed God’s care and faithfulness to him throughout his life, Joseph had no doubt that God would come through on his promises to Israel.

Are you facing a trial or temptation right now? Realize that it is an opportunity to express your faith in God. Then, when your end is near, you can still walk by faith.

Trials and temptations are an opportunity to trust God.

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