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Faith, Faults, and Failures

“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith . . .”
 Hebrews 11:32-33 NASB

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the ‘hall of faith’ chapter in the Bible. Among its verses you read of the remarkable reliance and trust of men and women such as Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. As I was reading this chapter recently, verses 32 and 33 caught my attention. I’m familiar with most of the men listed in verse 32, but Jephthah, not so much. What had he done that would merit his name to be listed in this faith chapter?

Upon research, I discovered that Jephthah, an Israelite from Gilead, was driven out of town after he grew up because he was the son of a harlot. But, because he was a mighty warrior, he was summoned to come and fight against the warring Ammonites. The Gileadite elders made him their head and chief; he became their judge for six years. However, Jephthah made a tragic vow to the LORD. If God would give him victory over his enemies, he would sacrifice whatever came out of his house when he returned in peace. It cost him the life of his daughter, his one and only child. How sad!

What of the other men listed in verse 32? What was hiding among their faithful acts?

Gideon – because of his fear of the people, he destroyed the idols of Baal and the Asherah as God commanded, but at night instead of in the daytime. He also asked not once, but twice, for a sign from God that He would deliver Israel through him.

Barak – was summoned to fight against Israel’s enemies, but he refused to go unless Deborah, the judge, went with him. As a result, Barak was victorious, but the honor of defeating the enemies’ commander Sisera was given to an obscure woman, Jael, and not him.

Samson – used by God to defeat the oppressive Philistines; but his weakness for women, and especially Delilah, became his downfall.

David – was known as a man after God’s own heart, yet he committed adultery and murder.

Samuel – was one of the greatest prophets of old, yet both of his sons turned from following God and were dishonest, took bribes, and perverted justice.

Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the less than stellar actions of others and even ourselves. We all have faults and failures as did the great list of people in the hall of faith. Nevertheless, I find such hope and encouragement in the fact that God chose to remember them for their great faith, not for the lack thereof. Let us do the same.

“who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut   the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.Hebrews             11:33-34 NASB (emphasis mine)

[Digging deeper – Judges 11 – 12:7; Hebrews 11:1-40]

Living by faith,

Beverly <><

 

 

 

Photo Credit: photo by Beverly Lussi

I WILL TRUST IN YOU

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

2017 was a year of milestone blessings in some ways. Tom and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and went on the vacation of a lifetime to Greece and Rome. They were the good times. But, 2017 was also a tough year for the Lancaster household. We both faced a few health challenges, Tom had knee replacement surgery, and like you, we experienced a hoard of everyday challenges.

During it all the Lord reminded us that when life gets tough, He just wants us to trust in Him. As humans, we often forget that the Lord is sovereign. He knows our beginning from the end. He gives us promises that will lessen the stress of our load if we will just remember to trust in Him. He challenges us in Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV:

“6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”

I love it when the Lord gives me an answer in the form of a list! These verses do just that! He pointed out exactly what I needed to hear. Listen in on our conversation as I broke down those verses in prayer.

  1. God:Be anxious for nothing”

Brenda: OK Lord. Now that’s just impossible for us humans. How do I do that? God: “Keep reading Brenda”.

  1. God: but in everything by prayer and supplication” or as it says in the NLT, “Instead of being anxious or worried pray about everything.”

Brenda: “Pray. Just pray? That’s what people say when there is no other hope, isn’t it Lord? And what does that big word supplication mean? So, I proceed to look it up and see that it means “urgently requesting”. Oh, ok Lord. I can do that. I’m urgently requesting…

  1. God: “Tell God what you need”.

Brenda: Oh. But, You already know! But because you asked, I urgently need…

  1. God:Thank Him for what He has already done.”

Brenda: Oh yeah…I remember all those times before when You heard and answered my prayers. You will again, won’t you Lord? You will because you are faithful even when I am not. You can be trusted to do the best thing even though I may not recognize it at the moment. It will be the best thing in the long run.

  1. God: “Then you will experience peace which will exceed anything you can understand”

Brenda: Then when?  Oh Ok. I get it. After I’ve done as you asked above. I desperately need that peace, so, I’ll pray and urgently request until you answer. And I’ll trust in You until that time. Don’t let me forget Ephesians 3:20 Lord. You really can, and will, do exceedingly, abundantly; above all, I can even think to ask of you!

  1. God: “then I will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.

Brenda: Ok then. You – Jesus – who is in my heart – You will guard my heart and my mind. You’ll guard it against the constant thoughts of what might happen. You’ll guard it against stress as I – as we as a couple – keep urgently requesting and praying about. You will guard our hearts from fear and stress as we communicate our feelings, fears and problems to you Lord. As we trust in you to bring the answers and solutions we need, in your timing, believing that you want the best for us.

Brenda: “Ok. Now Lord, please give me the memory and strength to keep on doing what you ask. The problem may not go away but I’ll be able to handle the stress that goes with it. And I’ll be able to wait on Your answer, Your wisdom and Your solution.”

Then He brought the powerful song back to my memory (pictured above).

That song is now my life’s theme verse. Thank you Lord!

Until Next Time,

Your Traveling Companion,

Brenda

 

Help me Overcome my Unbelief

“’But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
Mark 9:22b-24 NIV

I remember one summer night when I couldn’t sleep. Everyone else was in bed and I was looking out my bedroom window because a spectacular storm was going on outside. The lightning was flashing across the sky and rain was falling in sheets. What was keeping me awake though wasn’t what was going on outside but was within me. I was struggling with a deep and challenging storm in my life that felt hopeless and unending. I had spent a lot of time in prayer asking God to deliver me, but I had not heard a response yet and felt alone. As I stared out the window at a tree in my front yard with its branches blowing in the wind, I desperately asked God to strike the tree with lightning to show me that he was there with me and could see my struggle. It was a question asked out of weakness, from being overcome with emotion.

It is easy to feel the presence of the Lord when life is going well, but when we are going through a storm, it is often hard to remember that Jesus is still with us. In Mark 9, a man desperately asks Jesus if He can do something to save his son. Jesus responds with “If?” The man then realizes his lack of faith and in Mark 9:24 NIV says “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” That summer night I gave into fear and like the man in the story, began asking God to show up (even though He was already there). Instead, I should have been praying “Oh God, help me in my unbelief. I know the truth but I am weak. Please give me patience to wait, listen, and trust that You will carry me through this storm. Help me to be still.’

Obviously, God did not strike down that tree with lightning, but looking back on that night in hindsight, it is easy to see that God was working in my life at the time. In fact, the events of that summer have strengthened my faith and have acted as a testimony to God’s power. Exodus 14:14 NIV says “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” and Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV states that “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” I know He was there and had a plan. The tree now helps me to remember that I need to trust God and hold onto His truth next time a storm comes.

In Christ alone,

Erin Tabor

 

 

Photo Credit: my own photo