By Faith

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As I read through Hebrews 11, I couldn’t help but sit in awe as I read the grand list and recap of all that faith has done and accomplished for the Kingdom of God. Not only that, all the people included in the faithful list were just like you and me. They were made of flesh, subject to temptation and fell to sin, but with faith they overcame. They were living examples of what faith can accomplish, what it looks like and how God honors it. We have read most of these stories in the Bible, but when you see it listed all in one place (and this isn’t even a complete one, but just a sample) it’s amazing.

But what about our own lives? Have you considered your life and the ways you have acted “by faith”?

I’m going to take some time this week to think about all the times in my life where I acted “by faith” and write out the ways God responded. Maybe you will consider doing it yourself? I can’t imagine all the things I’ve forgotten or overlooked. I’ll be praying God reminds us of the fruit of our faith and that we can continue to add to this list all the days of our lives.

Hebrews 11

1Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did.

By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God.

By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.

11 By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.

23 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.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days.

31 By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.

 

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Our Anchor

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We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

Mel who? I’m not sure how many times I’ve skipped over Melchizedek while reading the Bible before, but this time he peaked my interest. Other than in Hebrews, the mysterious order of Melchizedek is only mentioned two other times in scripture, once in Genesis and not again until Psalm 110. Intrigued, I had to dig a little deeper. Who was this high priest?

After Abram returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High. Genesis 14:17-18

The Lord has sworn an oath and will not take it back: “Forever, You are a priest like Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4

Here is what we know from scripture. He was a priest who served God Himself. It says there is no record of his birth or death, leading some to believe he was divine. His name means King of Salem and King of Peace.

For this Melchizedek—

King of Salem, priest of the Most High God,
who met Abraham and blessed him
as he returned from defeating the kings,
and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything;
first, his name means king of righteousness,
then also, king of Salem,
meaning king of peace;
without father, mother, or genealogy,
having neither beginning of days nor end of life,
but resembling the Son of God— remains a priest forever. Hebrews 7:1-3

As with most mysteries, there are several schools of thought on who Melchizedek really was.

Some think he was Jesus, some the archangel Michael, others think he was just an ordinary human. Hebrew history/tradition tells us it was Shem, Noah’s Son, that was still alive at the time of Abraham. That would certainly make him the oldest man alive, qualifying him as a candidate for the order of Melchizedek.

Apparently, there is even a Dead Sea scroll that says Melchizedek will be the one to carry out God’s judgements and deliver His people from the hands of Satan.

I went down the rabbit hole and spent over an hour reading different commentaries and thoughts on Melchizedek. This is one of those things we won’t know for certain until we reach Heaven, but it’s also a great example of what keeps me coming back over and over again to God’s word. There’s always a surprise, mystery to discover, truth to savor and situation to consider. I encourage you to do some searching on your own about the greatness of Melchizedek.

We can only find the answers if we ask and seek the answers.

A Living Stone

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We often hear the message that Christ is our Cornerstone and foundation. However, as I read 1 Peter I  noticed these verses that express how we should look at ourselves as living stones.

since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:3-5

We always hear the call to be the hands and feet of Christ or the body of Christ, but have you ever considered being a “living stone” of His spiritual house? I adore this imagery. Imagining each one of God’s children working together and building upon each other, making the house stronger with each person we add to the family (house).

When we camp in the mountains we search for stones to build Cairns (the picture above shows three we built). Cairns are carefully arranged piles of rocks that guide hikers in areas where there are no trees or where visibility is poor. We just made them for fun, but we had to search carefully for each stone to make sure it fit perfectly in size and shape to make the next level. No stone could be the same in creating this tower. If we didn’t have every shape and size of rock around the construction would have failed. Just like each of us, created differently to complete a distinct mission and fill the divine purpose God created us to. When we do this, we guide others who are lost towards Christ and begin to open their eyes to His glory and love so they can experience being a “living stone”.

Incredible! What does it look like to work together as “living stones” and to build upon each others strengths and grow God’s spiritual house?

I imagine it’s when we come together in love, not in competition or judgement, and use the spiritual gifts and talents that God has given each of us to share the Gospel. Not being jealous of someone else’s gifts and talents, but coming alongside them with the gifts God has blessed us with. Not comparing our abilities to others, but doing what we can and accepting what God has given us and left out of our lives. Not grumbling about the sacrifices we have to make, but giving thanks for the opportunity we have to be a part of God’s spiritual house.

Whew, God never said it would be easy. Being a “living stone” of His spiritual house will take more strength, courage, wisdom and humility than we have inside our little fingers. The beauty of God’s plan and love is that He never created us to do it alone. All we have to do is call on Him, trust in Him and lean on Him for all we need to carry out His will and grow His house. I’m in! How about you?

Older Women

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With a daughter in middle school, I’m often meeting new friends and their families. I often ask myself what my actions and words reflect about God when I’m around the listening ears and wondering eyes of these young ladies. Honestly, some days my answer is better than others. As I arrived in Titus chapter 2 this week, I was reminded of Paul’s instructive words in one of the “Pastoral Epistles”.

In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. Titus 2:3-5

There are many who will take offense, as I once did, to the words “homemaker” and “submissive”, but let’s not let these words, that the world has given a negative connotation, keep our eyes and hearts from receiving some amazing advice for “all the ladies” out there. Side note: Paul uses the words “older women”. Let’s not consider this to be women in their 80’s but any of us who are older than those we are around. Being “older” is different from being “old”! Anytime we can help model for young women how to be a Godly woman, wife, sister, friend and mom – we should.

This wonderful list gives us wise advice on how to be an encouragement and example of Christ to those we come in contact with. Basically, it’s like a “how to” on how to be a Christian role model. Let’s break it down.

Be reverent. Simply put, be devoted and respectful of others.

Don’t gossip or talk negatively about others.

Don’t drink to much, teach only good things and encourage women to love their husbands and children,  not speak negatively about them.

Practice self-control, purity and kindness. Manage your household and care for your family while yielding to your husband.

How did you feel as you read the list? I’m feeling convicted to my core in several areas, I’m going to make every effort to pray for myself in these areas of weakness so that I can be the role model God intends for me to be. I want to leave a legacy that includes all of these qualities and inspires others to come along side and do the same. Will you join me?

A Grand List

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Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But

If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
For in so doing
you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Romans 12:9-21

What more can I say about these verses? They boil down to a grand list concerning Christian ethics and a very tall order for each of us. I read it several times to allow the words to sink into my heart and settle in my soul. It stirred up a lot of emotions within me, as much of God’s word does. But mostly, it brings me to my knees and begs my heart to pray as I consider how I fall so short in mastering God’s instructions. Thankfully, because of His Living Word we can know and trust God will stick with us, guide us, rebuke us, shower us with grace and love us on the path that leads to Him.