Hall of Faith – Joseph (Part 2)

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

Joseph experienced the faithfulness of God, through out all of the hard times which he endured, by the grace of God.  No matter whether he was in a pit, as a slave, or in jail, Joseph knew God was near.  And as Joseph experienced the faithfulness of God, Joseph’s faith in God grew.  Through everything Joseph went through, God was preparing him for a bigger role.  One that he was not ready for, prior to going through his whole ordeal.

God had promised Joseph early in life, that people would bow to him, including his brothers and his parents.  God had a plan for Joseph’s life, only when He had revealed that to Joseph, Joseph was not ready for it.  He was much too proud and had many lessons to learn.  He did that as a slave and a prisoner.  And when God’s timing was right, God’s plan came about.

One night, Pharaoh had two dreams, which nobody could interpret for him.  Only at that time did the cup-bearer remember Joseph.  He remembered how Joseph had interpreted both his dream and the baker’s dream.  Joseph was brought out of prison and before Pharaoh.  God had prepared Joseph for this moment.  When the dreams were told to him, Joseph made sure to be faithful to God and give Him the credit for the interpretation.  He realized that without God, he could do nothing.  A fact that the younger Joseph would have missed.  Both dreams were about seven good years, followed by seven lean years of crops.  Joseph wisely advised Pharaoh to store crops from the good years, so that they could survive the lean years.  Realizing how wise Joseph was, Pharaoh made him second in charge in all of the kingdom and charged him with getting this plan implemented.

Joseph did.  He built large storage building to store the crops.  During the lean years, people came from all over the world to buy food in Egypt.  Among the people who came, were his brothers.  They came before him, not realizing who he was and bowed to him.  His promised dream had come true.  God was faithful to his plan and Joseph was faithful to his God.  God’s plan was for Joseph to go through all of these tribulations, in order to save his family.  The family from which Jesus would be born.

Joseph moved his family to Egypt, in order to provide for them.  He got to see his dad Jacob again.  He got to truly know his brothers and bond with them.  However, even though they now lived in Egypt and Joseph was second in command, he knew this place was not where God had promised Abraham.  He knew one day, God would call His people out of Egypt.  He knew that God was faithful to His promises.  So because of this, on his death-bed, he made the sons of Israel promise to take his bones with them when God led them out.

His was faith was in God and the promises of God.  His faith was in the fact that God keeps His promises.   He knew, from his experiences with God, that God is faithful.  He knew if God said something, it would come to pass.  He knew Egypt was not his home, and his faith in God was that one day God would bring him home.

My faith is the same.  This world is not my home.  I belong in Heaven, because I have placed by faith in Christ, as my only hope.  I have the desire of Abraham, hoping for a better country, a Heavenly one.  My faith is God’s Word and His promises, that one day He is coming back for me to take me home to be with Him, forever!  I hope that is true for you as well.  Come soon Lord Jesus!

Oh God, what great faith Joseph had.  He knew You, because He experienced You.  Even in the hard times, his faith was in You.  I have no hope but You.  Help me to always trust You, even in the times where my world seems to be falling apart.  You do not call me to understand everything, but to trust You and put my faith in You and You alone.  Help me to do that.  Amen.

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Hall of Faith – Joseph (Part 1)

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

Joseph’s life was a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Time and time again, as soon as Joseph was doing well, the rug got pulled out on him and fell even further.  However, Joseph’s faith in God never wavered.  And time and time again, when he fell, He found God consistently faithful to him.

As we talked about yesterday, he was sold into slavery by his brothers.  As Joseph traveled to Egypt, he felt the presence of God.  God was with him and would never leave him.  The same is true for us.  God goes with us no matter where we are and promises to never leave us.  There is not a place in this world we can go, where God is not.  He is faithful to His promise to never leave us nor forsake us.

In Egypt, he was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s body guards.  As Joseph served him, he grew in importance in Potiphar’s household and was soon put in charge of everything.  He also caught the eye of Mrs. Potiphar.  She threw herself at Joseph, but he would run from her.  He could have easily been arrogant, but instead chose to humble  and faithful to both God and Potiphar.  This act of faithfulness, brought about a false rape charge and prison.  God is faithful, even when we are falsely accused and people do not believe us.  He is there with us.

While in prison, he once again rose in importance, because God was blessing him.  One day, two of his fellow prisoners each had a dream.  One of them was Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and the other his baker.  God helped Joseph interpret their dreams.  Both dreams came true.  The baker was executed and the cup-bearer was restored to his old job.  Joseph asked him to remember and plead for his release, but the he forgot about Joseph.  Even in the depths of this prison, Joseph experienced the goodness of God and he remained faithful to God.

God was using all of these things in Joseph’s life, to prepare for what lay ahead.  God had grand plans for Joseph, as we will see tomorrow.  But before God used him, God refined him.  In all of the tribulations Joseph faced, his faith did not fail.  Instead his faith grew.  He learned to trust God more.  I believe his prayer life too off and he learned how to be wise and discerning.  We all are going to have tough times in our lives.  Times when we are treated harshly and get punishments we do not deserve.  God is faithful in those times to us and His desire is for us to be faithful to Him in those times.

Keep trusting God and keep your faith in Him no matter what you are going through!

Oh Lord, You are faithful.  There is never a time when You are not.  Thank you for the story of Joseph and how You were faithful to him.  Thank you that Joseph stayed faithful to You.  Help me to do likewise and keep trusting in You.  Thank you that You have plans for our lives.  You are so amazing!

Hall of Faith – Jacob

Hebrews 11:21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

A big part of what makes up faith, is hope.  It is a life blood of faith.  When hope is lost, our faith is greatly affected.  Jacob experienced that with his son Joseph.  Due to the jealousy of his brothers, Joseph was stolen from his father.  The brothers led Jacob to believe that Joseph had died, but instead they sold him into slavery.  Part of Jacob died the day he learned about the suspicious death of his son.  He had lost hope of ever seeing his son alive again.

But God is the restorer of our hope and because of that we can put our faith in Him and our hope in Him.  After many years, Joseph’s brothers found him and Jacob got not only to see his son again, but he to see his grandsons.  God had restored his hope and his faith.  God worked everything out for his good.

Do not lose hope, but keep trusting in God.  He knows what He is doing and He is doing it for our best.  Keep your faith and your alive in Him.  Even when everything seems lost, keep believing in God and know that He will see you through.  God knows the full picture and His plan was to use Joseph to save people.  God has plan for your life as well.  Sometimes loved ones are taken from us, but God will use them to bless us because of it.

Oh Lord, I thank you that You are faithful.  I thank you that You restore hope.  Grow my faith in You everyday.  Only You are worthy.  Only You are Holy.  Only You know everything.  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Isaac

Hebrews 11:20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.

The line of faith went from Abraham to Isaac.  Isaac was the long promised heir to Abraham.  God promised Abraham that the whole world would be blessed through lineage of Isaac.  Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau.  God told Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, that the Jacob would carry on this faithful line.  Isaac’s desire was for Esau to be the one.  He intended to bless Esau and anoint him as the heir, but treachery from Jacob and Rebekah, made Jacob get the blessing instead.  This was one messed up family!

The good news we see here is that God can use messed up family and people.  As a person who is messed up at times, this is really good news!  Like we talked about yesterday with Sarah, it is kind of hard to see the faith here.  Isaac intended to bless the wrong son and his wife and other child tricked him to bless Jacob.  On the surface, there is not a lot there to earn a place in the Hall of Faith!  As we dig into in a little bit, I think we can identify where the faith comes in.  I believe by faith Isaac believed that one of his sons would become great and that the world would be blessed through him.  He just had the wrong son.  Also he believed by faith that the other son would not be as great.  The reason he believed these things are because God promised them.

We, like Isaac, are not going to get everything right in life.  We are human and make mistakes.  However, because we have times where we get things wrong, does not mean God stops getting them right.  God had a plan from the beginning of creation.  He knew mankind would sin and He knew that He would have to save them from the penalty of that sin.  From even before the original sin, God knew that Jesus would be of the line of Jacob.  We need to have faith, as Isaac did, in the plan of God.  We just need to be careful not to try to accomplish God’s plans outside of Him, as Abraham did having Ishmael outside of marriage.

Isaac’s faith was in the promise and plan of God.  He trusted God to be faithful to that promise.  He believed God would bring it about.  Likewise, we need to believe by faith in God’s plan and promises.  We need to accept Jesus, by faith, as our Savior.  We need to believe by faith, that one day He is coming back and will reign forever!

Oh God, I thank you that the accomplishment of Your plans does not depend on me and I can no way mess them up from happening.  I thank you for Your plan of Salvation.  I thank you for Your eternal plan, where You will reign forever and ever.  Come soon Lord Jesus!  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Sarah

Hebrews 11:11-12

11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

When I first started thinking about what to write about the faith of Sarah, I found it a little hard to find.  Her faith is not as evident in the words of the Bible.  We need to dig a little deeper to find it.  For instance when she heard the angel tell her husband that come next year, that she would have a son, her first reaction was to laugh.  It does not really sound like it is full of faith.  But I believe she was a woman of faith, who gave strength to her husband.

Sarah was a faithful wife during that time.  She went and did what Abraham had wanted.  Now before you start thinking that she had too, as a woman in that day of age, consider the fact that Abraham listened to his wife.  She told him to have a child with her maid and he did.  She told him to send the maid and Ishmael away and he did.  If Sarah did not want follow God with her husband, I believe she would have told him.  But she went with her husband and supported Him as He followed what God wanted him to do.  I do not believe Abraham would have done so well in his faith journey, without the encouragement and support of his wife.

Sarah was over ninety years old when she got pregnant with Isaac.  For many years she desired this child.  It is hard for a couple, but especially a woman, to be childless when they desire a baby.  My wife and I struggled to get pregnant.  Month by month we tried with no results.  Yet anywhere you looked, you could find a pregnant woman.  On top of that you hear stories of woman who got pregnant by accident, getting an abortion.  It is hard for a woman to be barren.  Sarah suffered with this for decades.  How hard it must have been for her to see her maid pregnant right away, when she had encouraged Abraham to have a child with her.  For over 13 years she lived her husband’s child that was not hers.  But when the time was right, God rewarded her for her faith of all of those years.

We are all blessed by Sarah’s faithfulness.  Out of the line of Isaac eventually came Jesus!

Oh God, I thank you for Sarah and her faithfulness.  I thank you that she endured for so many years, to finally have a son.  Help those who are barren and want to have a child.  Do not forget them and reward their faithfulness as well.  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Abraham (Part 4)

Hebrews 11:17-19

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

We touched on this story yesterday.  God called Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice.  In verse 17 we see that this was a called a test.  God was testing Abraham’s faith and love, to make sure that He was first in Abraham’s life.  It was also a precursor to God the Father, offering up His own Son years later.  Abraham passed this test with flying colors.  He believed in the promise that his descendants would come through Isaac.  He also believed that God was able to raise Isaac back from the dead.  At this point in history, nobody had ever come back to life when they had died, but Abraham had faith in the power of God.

The resurrection of the dead is essential to the Christian faith.  We believe we will live after we die, because Jesus conquered death and came back alive.  The Apostle Paul would say that our faith would be in vain if there is no resurrection from the dead.  We would be left without hope, if Jesus did not rise from the dead.  The good news of course is that He has and because of that we have hope and our faith is not in vain.  This of course means that Abraham’s faith the resurrection is not vain either.  His faith was in the fact that God is more powerful than anything.

Abraham looked forward to the day of Jesus.  His faith was not in some God which he did not know.  We are told that Abraham was a friend of God.  He had a personal relationship with God.  He knew that one day, God would make a way, to fix the sin problem in the world.  He believed in Jesus by faith, even before Jesus was born of a virgin.  Faith is believing that God will keep His word.

We like wise our children of faith, like Abraham.  Even though we live after the time Jesus lived on earth, our faith is that one day He will return and take us home to be with Him.  Our faith is in the fact that we are saved by the work of Jesus, the sacrifice He made on the cross.  Like Abraham, we need to choose to believe that God keeps His promises and that God is more powerful than even death.  We, like Abraham need to face every problem, knowing that will see us through, no matter what we are going through.  We like Abraham our on a faith journey, one that will have ups and downs.  Knowing that when we fall, God will be there to help us get back.  Like Abraham, we must place our faith in God and God alone.

Oh Lord, I thank you for the example of Abraham.  His faith grew mighty as he walked closer with You.  I thank you that You are there for us at all times.  Never leaving us nor forsaking us.  Thank you that You are more powerful than everything.  Thank you that You keep Your promises.  I so look forward to the day of Your return.  Amen.

 

Hall of Faith – Abraham (Part 3)

Hebrews 11:8-10

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

In Part of this look at the faith of Abraham, we looked at how Abraham at times lacked faith.  We saw that he did not trust God to tell foreigners that Sarah was his wife and we saw that Abraham and Sarah tried to rush the timing of God’s fulfillment of His promise.  This time we are going to look at few times Abraham showed great faith.

On of the times he showed great faith, was a time when he and his nephew Lot were split because of a lack of space for their enormous flocks.  Abraham let Lot pick between the luscious green pastures of the south or the hilly rock land of the north.  Lot chose the south and Abraham went to the north.  Abraham was of the senior of the two and would have been in the right to choose first, but he believed God would bless him no matter where he went.  He knew God’s blessing would be with him no matter where he went.

To the south, where Lot chose to go, was the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  They were wicked and evil, enough so that God was planning to wipe them off the map.  Before doing so, God sent angels to Abraham and possibly a pre-incarnate Jesus.  During that visit it was revealed to Abraham what was about to happen.  Abraham pleaded with God, to not destroy the cities, because of Lot and his family.  His pleading worked.  God pulled Lot and his family out before the destruction.  We are told in the book of James, we are told the prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.  Abraham was justified by his faith and deemed righteous by God.  His prayer was able to save the life of Lot.

After Isaac was born, God tested Abraham’s faith and love in Him.  He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the promised heir.  Abraham wasted no time to go to the mountain God said to, bringing Isaac with him.  Isaac was probably a teenager at this time, so he knew that Abraham was going to do a sacrifice.  Abraham left his men at the bottom of the mountain, telling them he and the boy would return to them.  Even though God had called him to kill Isaac, he believed that he would return with his son.  Up on the mountain, as he was preparing the sacrifice, Isaac asked where the lamb was.  Abraham said that God would provide one.  Just as Abraham was about to slay his son God called out and stopped him.  Just then a ram appeared that he could sacrifice instead.  Abraham passed his test of faith.  He had trusted God  even in the worst time imaginable.  He had proved his love in God and his faith in him.  Of course centuries later, God would Himself what He asked Abraham to do.  He sacrificed His Son Jesus, so that He might die for our sins.

Oh God, I thank you for the stories of victory in Abraham’s life.  I thank you that he overcame a lack of faith at times.  Thank you for be willing to sacrifice Your Son for me and everyone else.  My life is blessed so much because of it.  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Abraham (Part 2)

Hebrews 11:8-10

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

As Abraham went on his faith journey, he had both times of victory, but also times of defeat.  At times he chose to trust is his plan and not God’s.  Instead of choosing to wait for God’s timing, he chose to “help God out” and did things his own way.  Thankfully, he also had times of great faiths and chose to do things the way God wanted on His timing.  We all similarly experience times of victory and times of defeat on our journey.

One of the great thing about the Bible, is that it gives us a real look at people’s lives.  We sees their warts and all.  What makes some bodies faith journey a great one, like Abraham’s, is that when they fail, they get up again.  Failure led to them experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness and the greats got back because of it.  When Abraham failed, he did not stay down and give up.  He got back up and kept moving and following God.

Let us look at two of his great failures and lessons we can learn from them.  We will look at some of his victories next time.  If we are smart, we will learn lessons from others failures and defeats, so that we might have to learn them ourselves.  That is why God shows us how people failed in the Bible, so that we might learn from them and repeat the same mistakes.  Also He shows us how to get back after failing.  We need to do the same.  You cannot go on a journey, if you do not move.  When you fall, get back up!

Abraham did.  This great man of faith, twice lied that his wife was his sister, so that the men of the foreign land would not kill him for her.  This was not God’s plan.  God tells us to trust in Him and have faith in Him that He will us through.  When Abraham lied, he was not putting his faith and trust in God.  But the good news is that even when we are not faithful to God, He is faithful to us.  He protected Abraham and Sarah, even though they did not trust Him to.  God protects us every day and a lot of the times we have no clue about it.

Another failure Abraham had, was that he did not wait for God’s timing for his promised son.  Abraham and Sarah did not have children together, but God continually promised that the world would be blessed through their heirs.  As time went on and no children came even into their old age, Sara convinced Abraham to have a child with her maid.  They tried to rush God’s plan and take things into their own hands.  This led to Ishmael being born, but while God loved Ishmael, he was not the child of God’s promise.  When the time is right, Sarah got pregnant even in her old age and gave birth to Isaac.  He was the promised son, whom God would do great things through.  We need to learn to trust in God’s plan and His timing.  He knows what is best and by faith we need trust Him in that.  When we try to rush God’s timing, we only mess things up.  The world is still experiencing the consequences of this.  For Ishmael’s descendants are the Arabs and Isaac’s are the Israelites.  To this day, we still this sibling conflict.

Oh Lord, I thank you that You do not abandon us when we make mistakes.  Instead, You are there to help us back up.  Sinning and failure is a part of human’s life, but thanks be to You that grace and forgiveness are there for us when we do fail.  Forgive me for my failures.  Help me not to stay down and not keep moving, but instead help me to get back up and keep going.  Help me to trust in Your timing and Your plan, for it is the best for my life.  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Abraham (Part 1)

Hebrews 11:8-10

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

God told Abraham to go and Abraham went.  God did not tell Abraham where he was to go, only that he should go and that God would bless him.  He trusted God by faith, to go where ever God was sending him to and to believe that God would keep His promise and make a great nation out of Abraham.  Abraham believed that God keeps His promises, so he left and went.

When Abraham left, he left his old life.  He left his homeland.  He left most of his relatives.  He left his old ways and went on a journey with God.  We face the same calling, when God calls us.  Come out of our old lives and enter the new.  God calls us all on a faith journey with Him.  We do not always know where we are going or what we will face, just like Abraham.  We are called to follow God by faith and go where ever He leads us.

Now that might sound scary, but it really is not.  Take time to read Psalm 23.  God promises to watch over us, as we go, as a shepherd watches over his flock.  He promises to provide for us.  He promises to lead us times of good, by still waters and places having green pastures.  He promises to leads on good paths.  He promises to take care of us and comfort us, with His rod and staff.  He promises protection from our enemies.  He promises us blessing, we do not deserve.  Most importantly, He promises to lead us home, where we will be with Him forever.  We have nothing to fear, for God goes with us!

Abraham experienced all of these promises as he went and so will we.  Abraham’s faith grew as his journey went.  Abraham started off as a faith baby and grew into a Hall of Famer.  It is the same for us, too.  We start off with small faith and as we go our faith increases.  So if you feel your faith is small right now, it is okay.  Keep plugging away and your faith will grow, just as Abraham’s did.  We must take the first step and go just as He did.

Oh Lord, sometimes I am afraid to go, when You say go.  Help me to have the faith and courage to go when You say to.  I thank you that You are the great Shepherd, who goes with us.  Thank you for being faithful to Your promises.  You are so wonderful!  Thank you for being faithful, even when I am not.  Amen.

Hall of Faith – Noah (Part 2)

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

By faith, Noah built the ark.  Every day Noah woke up and faithfully worked on the ark.  The ark was huge.  It spanned one and half football fields long.  Something this long was not built-in private.  Those who passed by, saw Noah working on it.  They had to have asked him why he was building it.  Noah would have told them.  However, in the 75 years it took to build the ark, Noah did not have one convert.  Not one person.  Not even his parents or siblings.  Not his grandparent, aunts, uncles, or his cousins.  Not his neighbors.  Not one convert in 75 years and yet Noah kept building the ark and was not discouraged from it.  He believed God by faith.

The ark was a means of salvation.  Those who entered it, would be saved from the flood and death.  That was the only way to be saved.  Those who did not enter the ark, perished.  Not believing God by faith led to death.  Believing God by faith saved those who did.  We find ourselves in a similar situation.  A flood is not coming, but an ultimate judgement is.  Just like with Noah, God gave one way for people to be saved.  Only this time is was not a boat, but it was a cross.  Jesus died on that cross and He made the only way for us to be saved from the judgement of God.  Like Noah, we must believe in Him by faith.

Notice, it never says that Noah found God’s favor because he was a good person.  He did not earn God’s favor by what he did.  He earned by having faith in God and trusting in God.  The same is true for us.  God does not like us more if we are good.  We find God’s favor when we believe that Jesus died for us.  When we are saved, the righteous and perfect deeds of Christ are applied to our lives.  So that when God see us, He sees Jesus.  We do not earn our way to Heaven.  God will not judge our lives based on whether our good out ways our bad.  He does not grade on a curve.

The question we must answer is the same as the people in Noah’s day faced.  Do we trust God and accept His way for salvation.  Do you believe that judgement is coming?  Or do you scoff at that idea.  The people in those days died because they did not get on that boat.  You will face the wrath of God as well, if you do not accept Jesus by faith.  If you had not done so, please do so today.  For just as in the days of Noah, people carried on with their lives and then it started raining.  Jesus is coming back and judgement is coming.  Be prepared, come to Jesus by faith!

Oh God, I thank you for providing a way to miss Your great wrath again.  Just like in the days of Noah, You made a way for the faithful to be saved.  I thank you that we are not saved based on our deeds, for I would have no hope.  By faith I am saved, all because of what You have done.  I am eternally grateful.  Amen.