Thursday, May 18, 2017

HEBREWS 11:35-38

A reflecting on God has depth underneath and a light from above.

"and others were tortured, not accepting their release,
so that they might obtain a better resurrection;
and others experienced mockings and scourgings,
yes, also chains and imprisonment. 
They were stoned, they were sawn in two,
they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword;
they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute,
afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy),
wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground."

Okay, here's the not so good news.  Sometimes God doesn't come to the rescue before the lions bite, before the fire burns, before the sword slices (beheads), before being conquered, before being tortured, mocked, scourged, chained and imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two (as was Isaiah), becoming destitute, afflicted ill-treated, wandering looking for shelter in caves and holes in the ground.  Yikes!  Oh, and few get their dead back from the dead: we can all attest to that.

So where's the health, wealth, and prosperity?  Did they not have enough faith, is that it?  No, because they are in the Hall of Faith.  Sometimes God has hard things for Christians to endure making heaven that much more glorious.  Wait!  I'd rather live on easy street, wouldn't you?  This stuff doesn't sound like the American dream, the pursuit of happiness and all.   The worst affliction most of us endure is to be unfriended on fb.  But like a district superintendent once told us, some of those agin' us, he "wears as badges of honor."

Sadly, mankind has made use of such tortures.  Even "civilized" England burned Christians at the stake, used the torturous rack until a person was stretched to death, that is, if the hanging didn't do the prisoner in, among other things.  Heads were put on spikes on the London Bridge.  Sadly, the ones we are fighting today use torture not only on those considered to be the enemy, but upon their own wives and children.  Aren't you glad that we are in God's hands, not man's!  Man's hands can only touch us temporarily. God can hold us through eternity like the men of whom the world was not worthy.

Here's what Andrew Murray says, "Faith has a two-fold victory.  In one case, it conquers the enemy...In the other, there is no deliverance from the trouble, and yet faith conquers in the power it receives to endure, and to prove that the spirit is superior to all that men or devils can do...After the mention of the heroes whose faith was rewarded with success, we have there the mention of those who, in the midst of suffering that was not removed, proved that their faith lifted them up above all the pains with which earth could threaten them...they reckoned not the sufferings of this present time worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed."

"In these men and women, leaders in the noble army of the martyrs, rejected and despised by the world, God sees the heavenly beauty of a faith that honours Him, and that counts His will, His favour, His righteousness, as more than all earthly happiness...for the joy set before them...count all the pleasures of the earth as less than nothing...its impotence to hurt the soul."

"The cross is our symbol of faith; the Man of Sorrows is our Leader....Let every suffering one, every one who is bound to a sick-bed or bowed down under some cross, learn to believe that in the affliction we can greatly glorify God by faith...In the little things of daily life we need faith as much as in larger interests.  Faith counts nothing insignificant."

John the Baptist is a great example in that he wandered in the deserts wearing camel or goat skins.  Then he was imprisoned, was beheaded and after which, his head was mockingly paraded about on a platter at a godless feast.  He was sent to prepare the way, the way of a suffering Savior. 

Earlier Andrew Murray says, "It would be as easy for God to prevent the enemy coming as to give the victory over him.  To do this would be infinite loss; faith would never be called into exercise."  

" we think of the achievements of faith in the history of Israel, is how closely they were identified with the public welfare, with lives devoted to the cause of God and the people...It is the soul that at once, in its weakness, gives itself up for the sake of God and others, that will find in that self-sacrifice the need and the right to claim God's mighty help."

Well, poor wayfaring stranger, are you looking forward to "going there, no more to roam; no sickness, toil, or danger in that  bright land to which I go."

Anne Graham Lotz wrote in a recent blog post that the irritation that created the pearly gates to form, must have been great indeed to create such enormous beauty.

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