Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "God Who Made The Earth"1 (Lyrics)
A church that I once attended had a truly gifted minister. This man was articulate, yet compassionate; learned, yet able to explain Bible teaching clearly; and humorous, yet never in poor taste. He had a fine singing voice and played the guitar. One sermon that he gave was no sermon at all, but to me it was the most memorable. Dressed in a Victorian suit and top hat, he enacted a one-man play about the life of George Müller, a Christian leader in Bristol, England, who opened an orphanage, but never asked for any donations to support the ministry. Müller trusted only God for financial and spiritual help, which always arrived right on time! By this, thousands of children were saved, housed, and educated.
The writer to the Hebrews recalled many Bible heroes to encourage the Christian community. I would have thought that the writer would have chosen exemplary people like my pastor or Müller as role models. But no, he called in the misfits!
Hebrews 11:32-33,39-40 – And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. … And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (NKJV)
Why choose Barak for the Faith Hall of Fame? He was very hesitant about God's call to win a battle. Samson had God-given supernatural strength, but he made bad decisions and rarely asked for God's help. Jephthah was used as a great general, but also made foolish promises. King David was a legendary man with exemplary faith at times, but he made terrible decisions in obtaining Bathsheba as his wife, killing her first husband, and failing to be a good father. Why use them as examples of faith? They screwed up, messed up, and led imperfect lives, not obeying God unless pushed to do so.
Regardless of their failures, God showed that it was by His power alone that victories were won, that miracles were performed, that lives and the histories of nations were changed. They had faith in God, even if they did not knowingly obtain the salvation by faith alone in Jesus that is offered to us. The world's history is in the hands of Him Who works all things "together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
Are difficult times and hardships discouraging you? Can you identify with the people of the past with imperfect lives? Only the power of God made possible the remarkable stories of Barak and the others, just as today, Jesus' gift of salvation makes it possible for us to receive God's presence and enablement for the role that He has for us to play. The people of the past obeyed God, not really understanding what He was doing, but trusting in His power. Let us take courage from the stories of the misfits and claim the same strength from God to follow Him today.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the salvation that You alone provided by the gift of our Saviour, Jesus. You have brought joy and hope to the world that You love. In His name, we pray. Amen.