She Wasn’t Even Afraid

October 18, 2019


By faith, after Moses was born, he was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. Hebrews 11:23

Fear is Satan’s biggest tactic to destroy the children of God.  Since we were never created to encounter evil nor to be able to fully understand the depths of depravity, evil scares us.  We can’t figure out the maze and the minefields of it.  “Don’t be afraid” is a frequent message from God throughout the old testament. In the Gospels, Jesus continued to encourage faith and told many people, on many occasions, not to fear.  I think I’m finally getting the message that I should be able to encounter evil and not be moved with terror.

This short verse about baby Moses and his parents is one that has escaped me all the times I’ve read this chapter.  How did I miss something so shocking!  Pharaoh decreed that all baby boys should be drowned.  Yocheved, Moses mother, hid him for a while after he was born.  When he was too big to conceal any longer, she conceived a plan that would culminate in him being raised in the palace.  The astounding thing is that his mother, though pregnant with a son, did not fear the king’s edict.  I can understand now why she would be mentioned for her faith.

Threats by someone powerful can be crippling.  Those with the muscles to exert force over others, including politicians and governments, can send the powerless into a perpetual state of fear and dread.  Yocheved, a Hebrew, a woman, in an Egyptian culture could teach us a lot about an unshakeable trust in God.  Was her lack of fear a form of denial?  No. She made plans to hide her baby. Was her lack of fear due to the fact that  Pharaoh’s power had been over-exaggerated?  No. He had the midwives murder thousands upon thousands of infants.  Her lack of fear was due to the fact that she saw this pivotal moment in history, saw the beauty of her son, and perceived the possibility of him winning over the heart of some Egyptian mother.  I also believe she knew the risks and trusted God with the outcome.

The powerful still make threats ~ inspired by their father, their devil.  We never know which ones are empty threats either.  But trust in God’s sovereignty, a firm knowing that no one can erase my destiny and cut my life short because my Father oversees my comings and goings, means that I can rest.  Some people are bolder than others.  I’ve always been prone to fear and worry but there will always be something that makes even the robust shake and tremble.  At that point, whether we have faith in God will be our lifeline!  Our ability to trust Him will have been determined by how much I fed my faith; how much, or how little, I invested in our relationship.  The time to prepare for the dark is when I’m in the lightYou are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.  I Corinthians 5:5

I refuse to finish my life with fear winning.  Keep training me.  Amen

Envision and Then Make Plans

October 17, 2019


By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.  Hebrews 11:22

Joseph never forgot the stories of his great grandfather.  They had been passed down to him at the feet of his father, Jacob.  Though rejected and sent into slavery, and then living most of his life in Egypt, he wasn’t fooled about God’s promise about the promised land.  Though the Israelites were enjoying prosperity, he still was not tricked into thinking this would be their permanent home.  He could foresee the exodus of his people years down the road.  Not because he foresaw their captivity but because he knew they were headed for the land God had shown Abraham.

Joseph envisioning it is impressive enough but then put legs to his faith by making plans about his own death and burial.  He made no ‘just in case’ caveats that went like this ~ “I’d like to be buried with my people if they leave his place but if they don’t, here’s what I want done with my bones in Egypt.”  No, he just made plans for his bones after leaving with the people ~ so sure was he of the exodus ~ so sure was he of the word of his God. This is the reason he makes it into the hall of faith.

When I begin to distrust God’s promises, I will jump to make alternate plans in case God doesn’t come through.  I conceive an Ishmael instead of waiting for my Isaac.  Joseph had all kinds of seeming proof that God had changed his mind about the destiny of His people; the drought that nearly killed his clan, their migration to Egypt, their prosperity since they integrated into Egyptian culture, etc.  But Joseph wasn’t fooled.

Once God has made His will for me clear, I should never have a backup plan just in case.  How suspicious is that!  Either I trust or I don’t.  Either God is faithful or He is not.  I make plans to enter God’s open door and nothing should deter my footsteps.

Don’t let me mistake Your roundabout path for a permanent detour.  Amen

 

Faith Is Eternal, Not Just Here and Now

October 16, 2019


By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.  Hebrews 11:20-21

 Jacob and his mother tricked Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau, the firstborn and rightful heir to his father’s blessing.  After Isaac learned what he had done, though betrayed, he trusted the providence of God that the 2nd born was to be the chosen all along to carry on the promised line. Soon after this momentary faith however, angst, strife, deceit, and a lack of spiritual rest in the eternal purposes of God ruled his life.

So why is he in the hall of faith?  Because he finally matured and ended well.  Though much of his life was messy, he acted out in faith as an old man.  When he met Joseph’s sons, his grandchildren whom he’d never seen, he blessed the 2nd born instead of the 1st born.  When asked about it, he said he trusted in God’s revealed intentions with regard to birth order.  I love the picture this scripture paints of Jacob leaning on his staff; resting and trusting the promises of God that had finally settled in his heart.

Jacob never saw the promises of God fulfilled on earth.  Nor did his father and grandfather.  Their faith is counted to them as righteousness because they lived with an eye on eternity.  Their faith went beyond the comforts of here and now.  Their trust wasn’t short sighted – counting on God to deliver in their lifetime.

This is where I get tripped up.  I’m often asked, “Do you have the faith to believe that God can answer this or that prayer?”  I say yes, but with my ‘yes’ comes the assumption that it will happen here on earth and I will live to see it in the next 5 years.  I’m realizing that I’m simply wrong.  The majority of our biblical heroes lived with their eyes on the hereafter, rarely assuming that the promises of Yahweh would come to fruition in their lifetime.  I place too few of my hopes in the eternal realm.  I want perfection now and find it difficult to live contentedly while waiting for everything to be in godly order.

I examine myself today and ask some needed questions.  Do I trust God with the timetable of my life?  Do I believe His promises are real if I don’t see them happen here?  Is my joy and confidence really mature or am I childlike in wanting it now?  I must seek first the kingdom of God and keep my eyes fixed on eternity.  Deferred hope.  Faith that reaches with long arms.

On this day, I relinquish all of my short-sighted expectations.  Amen

I’ve Never Heard of God Doing That, But . . .

October 15, 2019


By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.  He received the promises and he was offering his unique son, the one it had been said about, your seed will be traced through Isaac.  He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.  Hebrews 11:17-19

God’s predictions and promises will, at some time in my life, appear to have been snuffed out by present circumstances. This was the position in which Abraham found himself.

  • God promised him a son in his old age.
  • That son would be the seed through which a nation would be born.
  • But then God told him to sacrifice his son.
  • Crisis ~ A nation can’t be born through a deceased boy of 17 who has never fathered a child.

What was Abraham to think next?  God would either break His promise – which was an impossibility since God was true and holy.  Or, God would have to resurrect Isaac after death.  But since there were no recorded resurrections up until that point, the notion was original and outlandish with Abraham. Which would you believe?  Which would I have believed when both seemed impossible?

We will each experience many times in our lives when our faith reaches a crisis point.  Sometimes, it can be over the same issue as we see it ebb and flow from ‘unlikely’ to ‘somewhat promising.’  I am struggling with such a thing this morning.  The fix is a review of God’s history, God’s power, and the sustaining effect of living in the Word which lives and abides forever.

Satan is the faith-killer.  May he not succeed as we hold up our hands yet again for God’s peace and promises to come in like a flood.

By Your grace, and with Your angels if needed, don’t let me put my hands down. Amen

Can God Be Ashamed Of Me?

October 14, 2019


They [strangers and aliens] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  Hebrews 11:16

Shame is a powerful catalyst.  Volumes of books have been written about it.  Countless hours of counseling have been dedicated to those who live under the curse of it.  I’ve had a decade or two when it plagued me badly.  Shame tempts us to hide our true selves from others and from God. While the thought of this is tragic, there’s an even more disturbing thing to consider. Can God be ashamed of me?

I won’t wait any further to answer it.  He is not ashamed.  Let that sink in if you’ve always feared He is embarrassed by you or something you’ve done.  On the days I sin, He does not change His mind about me. I have been declared forgiven and before Him, I am righteous.  Though I will stumble and fall, though I will grieve His heart many times before I die, I still walk in the perfection imputed to me after the death of Jesus.  God continues to build a city for those He has redeemed through the blood of the Lamb.  The hammer never falters when He sees me make bad choices.  The Father never winces and wonders if He should change His mind about the promises He’s made to forgive me and call me His own.  Construction continues without interruptions and without a trace of regret.  Covenant love rules the present, and the future, no matter what failures unfold.

One of my very favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:5. Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.  Not all faces without shame are radiant.  They may be stoic and just plain unreadable.  But God’s radical love gives more than enough reasons for eyes to shine and for faces to reveal the overwhelming joy of sins forgiven and the anticipation of eternity in God’s presence.

All of this makes me examine the times I was reticent to openly declare that You are my Lord and Savior.  Forgive me.  Amen

Embracing Pilgrimage

October 11, 2019


These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.  Hebrews 11:13

With age, have you noticed that things here become less appealing?  Have you felt more and more out of touch with how the world thinks and what it values?  Have you gotten to the place where you feel like a misfit, a stranger and an alien?

If your answer is yes, you’re in the company of those in the family of God who have refused to dig their foundation into shifting sand.  We know that it is temporal and fragile; far different from the foundation of stone found in God.  It may look more attractive but we’re not fooled.   We enjoy the confidence that comes from living on our solid Rock, Christ Jesus.

The steep way of faith is a lonely journey.  There are fewer and fewer, even among God’s children, who stay on the narrow path. The numbers who hunger and thirst after righteousness diminish as their faith walk gets steeper.  Jesus loses appeal when held up against the opiates of our age.  Those who settle for less have decided that’s it’s too much hard work to dig into the depths of Living Water and not just taste it but then to live off of it.  But for everyone who perseveres, our eyes search for other pilgrims, the ones who also talk longingly of home.  At first glance, we might look like people around us, but it doesn’t take long in conversation to recognize other believers who also see their future with eyes of faith.  Everything we’ve prayed for hasn’t happened yet.  Everything we’ve hoped for is deferred.  That’s okay.   Like Abraham, we can see it from a distance.

Ron’s father, a well-known evangelist, would say to a crowd of people before giving an invitation, “I’m as sure of heaven as though I’d already been there for 1,000 years.”  Who talks like that?  Only one who has made his home in the Word and abides in Christ.  The Psalmist said, Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Psalm 39:12  I can hear the longing.  I can sense the eyestrain as he perpetually scans the horizon for the lights of Jerusalem.  He reached it in 2006 when Jesus welcomed him home.

My cure for worry, Lord?  Becoming consumed with what awaits.  You will open the door and welcome me too.  Amen

As Good As Dead

October 10, 2019


Therefore from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore. Hebrews 11:12

From one as good as dead ~ came a nation.  Who can bring that about except God!

No one likes to hear the words, “Your chances are slim.”  Or worse yet, “There is no chance for success.”  The latter is certainly what would have been said regarding Abraham and Sarah’s desire to conceive a child in their old age.  The window of time for such a possibility was long past.

What is it you have given up on today?  Your hopelessness is based on the logical evidence sitting in front of you.  It might be too late, too expensive, or too hopeless considering the people involved.  There are many more reasons than these for seeming impossibilities.  But God ~

Do you know for certain that God is going to touch what is nearly dead to bring about a miracle?  Probably not – unless He has appeared to you somehow to declare it.  But that does not mean that you and I should hang our head and live in despair that what we’ve prayed for is an absolute impossibility.  As long as we live and breathe, God can do anything.  And if we consider God and see with eyes of faith, that produces joy and expectancy, not mourning and resignation.  While I don’t have ~ I can still sing with hope.

I laugh like a child at Christmas at the possibilities within the realm of Your power.  Amen