Faith Under Fire
Merciful Lord, I know my faith is sometimes pretty weak, but I know Your Spirit can make it strong.
Read Hebrews 11:32-40
 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,  quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.  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. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow does the writer sum up the faith of these folks?
It feels as though the writer is adding a few exclamation marks to this passage. There are countless examples of extraordinary faith in their shared history, he says. It even turns into a bit of a guessing game for the Hebrew readers as they mentally match the figure from their history with their story. Perhaps you can spot Isaiah in there, or Elijah? This is, in fact, the point: it is their shared story. The writer is trying to help the Hebrew church find themselves in the middle of a gushing stream of history flowing right down the centuries. It wasn’t all good: faith in God got a lot of people killed and made life extremely uncomfortable for others. But this, the writer says, is par for the course. Paul’s words back this up, too (e.g. Acts 14:22; Phil. 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:12). Today it’s salutary to think of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world suffering for their faith. Their suffering goes well beyond our own.
Take time today to find out more about the persecuted church around the world and pray for one specifically.
Lord Jesus, I do pray today for Your care for all my sister and brother believers who are being persecuted.
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