Archive for June 2013

Epistle to the Hebrews (11:38-40)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” Hebrews 11:38-40

We have reached the last few verses of this breathtaking exhortations on living by faith. Our author tells us that those faithful servants who suffered and went through calamities were too good for this world. Their faith in God made the world unworthy to receive them. They were precious in God’s eyes because of their absolute surrender to Him. This remembers me that my Lord was born in a manger and did not have a place to lay his head.

She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” Luke 2:20

Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Manhas no place even to lay his head.” Mat 8:20

Many of God’s servants lived in lowly places and not palaces. John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and was considered by Jesus the greatest man who ever lived. We also need to realise that Christians were persecuted at this time and they had no other option but to leave their homes and comfort to survive.

These people who lived by faith earned a good reputation even though they were destitute and oppressed. I guess the angels in heaven saw that these persecuted servants were like a pleasing aroma to God almighty. There’s a poor but faithful Christian woman whom I have much respect for. I am humbled by her faith and feel unworthy of trying to encourage her in her daily trials. She knows her God and her faith in God has always been rewarded.

The author tells us that these servants (he was probably referring to those in the old testament) did not receive what was promised.  God’s promise here probably refers to the Messiah whom they longed to see.

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.” Mat 13:16

We are blessed to live under this New covenant established by the Son between God and man. We have God’s grace and blessings on us. God poured out lavishly His Spirit on us and brought us in the kingdom of the Son He loves.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ” Col 1:13

Those who preceded us have been commended and perfected because of their faith in God. We who live by faith in the Son of God also have the privilege of being perfected through faith in the Son.

This is what the author mentions in Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

Paul said in Gal. 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Do you understand dear readers that living by faith is not an option for a Christian? Jesus Christ our Lord works in the hearts of His disciples to make them become servants who have faith in God. Our justification is by faith in God’s Son. Living by faith is a pleasing aroma to God because we are surrendering our will, strengths and abilities by solely trusting God. Our author has given us a list of figures in the Old Testament to prove us that living by faith is vital for anyone who wants to please God. There’s like a crowd of witnesses sitting in a stadium and watching us running this race of faith. They completed their own race of faith and shouting to encourage us to finish that race of faith. Paul described the Christian life like an athlete which has to be disciplined and does not let himself entangled by things of the world.

Paul said to Timothy:

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules.And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.” 2 Tim. 2:3-5

During his final years of ministry, Paul said: “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:6-8

Let us get rid of anything which hinders us from running this race of faith. Dear readers, the Christian life is not just about surviving in the world, dying and waiting Christ to raise us from the dead. No, but it is a dynamic daily life of faith in the Son of God. Be grateful to God for the trials you go through because they give you the blessed opportunity to exercise your faith. It is not wise to ask God to deliver you from trials for you’ll miss blessings. Do not push away God’s hand when He wants to prune you.

I cannot insist more on the necessity for a Christian to live by faith.  I close this chapter with wise words by James:

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2,3

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Posted June 29, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:33-37)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons.Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.” Hebrews 11:33-37

These are the characteristics of those people who had faith. Living by faith does not exclude pain, sword, flames of fire, death, prisons, mockeries, whips, stoning, torture or ill-treatment.  Of course, this does not mean that these things should happen to those who live by faith. The primary reason in having faith in God is not about receiving from Him but depending on Him. It’s absolute surrender and obedience to Him no matter the outcome. Living by faith has often been twisted by ‘prosperity gospel’ preachers. Paul was not a rich man but was a tent maker. Paul did not fly by plane in first class but spent long journeys traveling. He did not look for lawyers to defend him when thrown in prisons, he was tortured and suffered much. He did not have an orthopedic bed, woolen clothes and a 5 star hotel to rest. He did not have food cooked by a cordon bleue but was starving. Did God abandon him? Was he a faithless man?

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” 2 Cor 11:23-27

Understand well that living by faith does not imply a rosy life. On the contrary, we can expect trials to come to strengthen our faith in God. It’s opposition and difficulties which allow us to know what is really in our heart. A couple which faces adversity is the one who will know each other better. When everything is calm, the hidden part of us remains concealed. This is why God tested the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. He did it to know to expose what there was in their hearts and whether they would remain faithful.

On the other hand, we have Jesus’ promise which said:

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Mat 6:31-33

God will provide what we need but most often we have wants that are not according to His plan. The author of our epistle tells us about people who continued to have faith and received what was promised to them. It also tells us about those people who had faith in their sufferings and refused to ask God to deliver them. They wanted to meet God the soonest and not delay it.

Why would God allow His faithful servants go through such pains, sufferings and dangers? I guess, it was the servant’s maturity in their faith which led them on this path. Their lives were already an offering to God. Dying was not a lost but a gain. As Paul said:

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:6

Paul’s hope was not in this life. There was nothing he clung to on this earth.

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” Philippians 1:21

We have seen that many got great victories through their faith and great miracles happened when put their trust in God. But there’s also the other side of the coin – faith in God amidst calamity. Remaining faithful to God in the midst of calamity is stronger than remaining faithful before the calamity. Moses had faith before the Egyptians arrived to destroy them. When facing armies, Israel saw God fight for them even though they were inferior in numbers. But what about those who lost their loved ones? What about those who are dying of cancer but still remain faithful? Job is one of the greatest example of a man who remained faithful even though he lost all his children, possessions and health. Even his wife was no longer supportive and told him to curse God. God was not quick to reply him but heaven was silent. We saw his faithfulness to God in the calamities.

He pleaded his case before God wondering what he did wrong, but still no answer. He said “God has given, God has taken”. He worshiped God, praised Him and did not blame Him for all the calamities.

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,“I came naked from my mother’s womb,and I will be naked when I leave.The Lord gave me what I had,and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” Job 1:20-22

Job did not receive any relief in all these pains but suffered even more when God allowed Satan to strike him with terrible boils from head to foot. It’s in calamity that we see the real heart of a faithful servant. They can lose everything, even see their life departing them slowly and still remain faithful to their God. When God replied Job, he was speechless. Job said:

I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?I put my hand over my mouth.I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” Job 40:5

Let us not lose faith in God even if our world is a chaos, when we have no answers and pain is surrounding us. Is not it amazing that faith in God allows us to endure sufferings with serenity? We know our lives is not our own and that whatever happens to us, God knows. God never loses control of what happens to his faithful servants. He knows what there is in our heart.

What if on judgement day God tells us the same thing He said to Job? There’s not anyone of us who will be able to justify our complaints in the midst of adversity and sufferings.

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?… Brace yourself like a man;I will question you,and you shall answer me.“Would you discredit my justice?Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Job 40:2,7,8

When I think about God’s holiness, perfection and righteousness I can just surrender my will, trust and obey Him.It’s only by faith that a servant of God can go through the furnace with serenity.

Posted June 25, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32 [e])   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets” Hebrews 11:32

  • Samuel

Samuel was judge, priest and a prophet. He was the last judge of Israel and the Israelites were looking for a king to rule on them. They rejected theocracy and wanted monarchy like the other nations had. Hannah was barren(1 Sam 1:6) and prayed God to give her a son. When God answered her prayers, she gave the son back to God at his service. Samuel spent his time in the tabernacle and he grew up closer to God. The bible tells us:

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.” 1 Sam. 3:19

Samuel precisely described what would happen to Saul (1 Sam .10:5-8). The bible tells us that Samuel was a honest man 1 Sam. 12:3-5.

Samuel also had faith when he said he would ask God to send rain:

You know that it does not rain at this time of the year during the wheat harvest. I will ask the Lord to send thunder and rain today.” 1 Sam. 12:17

Samuel was a man who had authority and rebuked Saul when he offered the offering under war pressure.

Samuel was first a priest and I guess he was meticulous when offering a sacrifice to God. When he offered sacrifice to God he did it with the faith that God would forgive sins. When he stood as judge, he surely did it with the faith that God would give him wisdom to judge correctly. When he prophetised, he did it with the faith that it was God’s very word. Samuel’s relationship with God was very closed. He was a man who had faith in God in all his activities. He knew God and understood that offering sacrifices were nothing compared to an obedient heart. This is what he said to Saul:

What is more pleasing to the Lord:your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Sam 15:22

  • All the prophets

Our author now generalises that faith was found in the lives of all the prophets. We could also talk about Daniel’s faith in God when refusing to obey the king’s command. He was thrown in a lion’s den and God rescued him. His friends were spared while thrown in the burning furnace. Their hairs were not burnt and there was no smell of fire on them.

This is what they said:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” Daniel 3:17

Their clothes did not even have smoke. We could also talk about Elijah through whom miracles happen. His successor Elishah did twice more miracles than him. Dead water was made pure, the widow’s oil was multiplied, the Shunammite’s Son Restored to Life, a hundred of people were fed with 20 loaves, Elisha had faith an an axehead which felt in the water floated, he saw God’s army with him when king Aram wanted to kill him, food was divinely provided during famine and Naaman was healed from his leprosy (2 King 2-8). All this happened because Elishah had faith. Even Jonah had faith because he knew God would forgive Nineveh. He did not want to go because these people were wicked and harmed his nation.

We could also mention those who were not prophets but who lived by faith. For example,  by faith Nehemiah and Ezra rebuilt the walls and temple. They prayed God and God did provide the materials needed for the construction even amidst opposition.

Nehemiah said:

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:16

Without faith it is impossible to please God as Hebrews 11:6 says. Our author gave us sufficient examples to prove us that faith is vital in our relationship with God. Faith was present in the heart of all those called upon the name of God.

Jesus even said: ” However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

Our faith exalts God because when we rely on Him and trust Him, we are actually acknowledging that we are unable, powerless and weak. At the same time, by faith we imply that He is able, powerful and strong. Very often, it’s when we have no remedy to our illness, are bankrupt or have no solutions to our problems that we turn to God and have faith in Him. These situations allow us to get close to God. But we should not wait for them to come to start boosting our faith. David fought Goliath by faith because he already experienced God in previous situations. As we have seen, Moses confidently brought the Israelites out of Egypt because his faith grew up through the previous miracles God did through him. It was the same for Abraham when he offered Isaac. God worked in Abraham’s heart many years before this solemn moment. Our faith needs to grow. As Christians, we are not exempted from the school of faith lest we are truants or illegitimate children.

Posted June 18, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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CARE ABOUT YOUR OWN LOAD!   Leave a comment

Mat 25:15 tells us : “To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability”.

Mathematically speaking, the guy who had 5 talents and the one who had 2 talents, both doubled their talents. No one worked harder since they both doubled. The efforts were the same since it was according to their abilities. What God looks at is obedience, God is not impressed by the quantity we do. It is God who gives us abilities to do certain things and there’re no reasons to boast.

Luke 17:10 says: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Understanding

jesus carry your burdens everyday

‘Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.’  Psalm 68:19

I was walking back from the store the other day with a friend, after having done some grocery shopping.  I don’t know what we were thinking about on that day, but we had quite a walk to reach home and our bags were very heavy.  While we were walking, I kept on thinking about how my friend’s bag looked lighter than mine and I felt my arms getting a little longer with every step that I made.  This made me think about how very often we tend to look at what other people are going through and compare it with what WE are going through.

We minimise other’s daily load and maximise ours.  This is the selfish part of us that always try to give itself a little bit more importance, a little but…

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Posted June 18, 2013 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32 [d])   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets” Hebrews 11:32

  • David

The first thing that comes to my mind about David is that he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14).  We will quickly go through some aspects of his character.

But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do” Act 13:22

David was a man who was wrote and sang love songs to God. When David fled from his son Absalom, he wrote in Psalm 3:

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high” Ps 3:3

David knew God and had a close relationship with him.

When Goliath insulted and challenged the army of Israel, everyone was terrified and feared. While David dropped some food for his brothers, he heard the insults of Goliath and this made him angry. He said:

What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Sam 17:26

David took personally the insults made to the army of the living God on him. He was concerned and would not allow anymore this disgrace on Israel. David was a shepherd and not a military man like his older brother Eliab or king Saul.

David had faith in God for he said to Saul:

Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Sam 17:34-37

David experienced God’s presence in his daily activities. When a lion or bear took one of his sheep, he pursued and killed them. Was a lion and bear stronger than Goliath? When David fought these beasts, he went with the faith that God would deliver him. Understand well, that to do such things David really had faith in God. God did not ask him to fight Goliath but because he had faith, he attempted something great believing God would be with him. He was outrage with the insults of Goliath and went with the same faith he had when facing a lion or bear. He took no shields with him but only 5 stones, his sling and shepherd staff.

David considered his fight, a divine one. He knew he had no strength but had faith he would defeat Goliath because God was with him.

This is what he said:

You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head...” 1 Sam 17:45

And yes David did won this battle. David was not surprised by this victory, he knew he would win this battle because he knew God was with him. When we read Psalm 119 we see a man who loved God’s commands so much. He even despised and cursed those who disobeyed God’s law.

He said things like:

I seek you with all my heart ;do not let me stray from your commands.” v10

My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed” v20

Never take your word of truth from my mouth,for I have put my hope in your laws.I will always obey your law,for ever and ever.” v44

To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.” v96

I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law.Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.Great peace have those who love your law,and nothing can make them stumble“. v163-165

This man had hope and faith in God’s commands, he was so zealous and  wanted to obey them at all cost. God’s commands was most precious to him than anything else. He was thirsty for it and feared of missing one of God’s teachings. At all time God’s word was to him a source of wisdom. He loved God’s word, he worshiped God for the wonders of His counsels.

David is the man of the old testament whom we know much about his character, love, strength and failures. It is difficult to summarise in a few lines the relationship this man had with God.

His relationship with God was so closed that he even felt what would be done to the Messiah when he wrote Psalm 22. Along with the book of Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 is a clear prophesy on how Jesus felt when was crucified. The spiritual maturity David had allowed him to prophesy about the Messiah.

David was loved by the nation and knew he could become king. When he had the opportunity to kill Saul, he did not kill him but rather left it to God (1 Sam 26:11). Saul was trying to kill him and everything was in place for him to put an end to this unceasing assault. But he had faith God was is control and that he was not to intervene by force to take the kingship.

David won many battles and succeeded in many areas but he was a sinner like anyone else. Though it is said he was a man after God’s own heart, it was not in all aspects. He hatched a plan to kill Uriah in order to get his wife Bathsheba. But there’s no greater record of a repented heart than what is recorded in Psalm 51.

He said:

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions,and my sin is always before me.Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” Ps 51:2-3

He feared of being cast away by God, he wanted to be restored and renewed.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” v11

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” v17

Why did David feel like that and wanted to return to God? It was because this intimate communion he had with God was broken and it caused him so much grief. David was a man who believed and trusted God. His faith did not shatter even when he sinned but rather motivated him to repent.

Having faith in God has impact on the way you live. It creates zeal in you and forms your character. David had faith in God before meeting Goliath. He had faith God could forgive him. David teaches us that faith strongly influences our relationship with God.  Without faith it is impossible to know God and be intimate with Him.

Posted June 15, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32 [c])   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.” Hebrews 11:32

  • Barak

What the bible tells us about Barak is that he listened to Deborah the judge by taking 10000 warriors to fight against Sisera.

Once again we see the natural response of a man:

Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”“Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” Judges 4:8

Barak was a warrior and somehow feared to go alone and fight the army of Sisera. He tells to Deborah, a woman, that he will go only if she goes with him. Deborah agreed and told him that he would have no honor in this battle since the victory would be won through the leadership of a woman.

I will go, but only if you go with me

Is not that a sign of cowardice and fear? Moses also asked to have Aaron. We find in Barak the faith that God will give victory but with the fear of going alone. Barak did not need the physical strength of a woman but the spiritual presence of a godly woman. When I think about it again, it was not really cowardice but faith. The presence of Deborah on the battle field gave Barak the assurance that God was going to be with him. Deborah did not fight or do the massive work, but Barak did chase the enemies. Barak succeeded in what he did because God intervened in the battle. By his own strength he would not have won the battle. Deborah’s wisdom and closeness to God were necessary for Barak to have confidence. Many times we tell ourselves that we would do great things for God if we have a spiritual leader with us. “If God’s presence is not going to accompany me, I’ll not go” was a bit how Barak reasoned. Barak did not ask for more warriors but requested only the presence of a spiritual leader by his side. It was faith in God’s presence.

  • Samson

We have seen previously how God did miracles to make barren woman pregnant. Once again, the birth of Samson was due to God’s hand. God permitted Manoah’s wife to be pregnant. Samson was a man filled with God’s Spirit (Judges 13:24). Samson was to be entirely dedicated to God. Samson was powerful but he had a weakness – women. Many Christians who had powerful ministries crashed in their faith because of money, women and pride. Samson saw a Philistine woman and his parents tried to dissuade him from not marrying her but he was blinded by the beauty of that woman. “There are godly woman in Israel why are you looking for ungodly woman” his parents wondered. God can give you a powerful ministry where miracles happen through you. However, if you no longer submit to Him, your destruction is at the door.

Does not the book of proverbs say:

Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path.For she has been the ruin of many;many men have been her victims.Her house is the road to the grave.Her bedroom is the den of death” Proverbs 7:25-27

But still God used Samson’s weaknesses to fight against the ungodly Philistines.

Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.”

Samson was eventually enticed by his wife to tell her the answer to the riddle.The wife’s response was ““You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”

Samson was a man who had some secrets and he did not tell them to his relatives(Judges 14:6,9,16).

Samson’s wife was pestering him with the answer to the riddle and he finally gave the answer. When the philistines knew the answer, this made Samson furious and he  killed 30 philistines and left his wife (Judges 14:19-20). It is again a good reminder that we should not unite ourselves with ungodly partners for it will lead to our downfall.

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”

Samson eventually wanted to return to his wife but was forbidden by his father in law. This made him again furious and he destroyed their fields. This hostility between the philistines and Samson began to grow and he killed a thousand more philistines.(Judges 15:15). Samson was judge in Israel for 20 years.

Afterwards, Samson went again to the philistine town and slept with a prostitute and this was a risk he took since many men plotted to kill him when they heard he was there. Then came Delilah. Samson felt in love with her and the Philistines used the influence Delilah had on Samson to know how to defeat him. Samson knew the secret of his strength and did not want to unveil it. 3 times he led in error Delilah and defeated the philistines when they attacked him. Samson had pride in his strength and he thought he was invincible (Judges 15:17).

The bible tells us:

Then Delilah pouted, “How can you tell me, ‘I love you,’ when you don’t share your secrets with me? You’ve made fun of me three times now, and you still haven’t told me what makes you so strong!” She tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it.”

Samson was a man who knew how to hide secrets as we saw earlier. However, because of the persistence of this ungodly woman he finally spitted out his secret to his own destruction. Samson’s hairs were cut and the Lord’s presence left him. The bible tells us:

So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison.But before long, his hair began to grow back.” Judges 16:21,22

I wondered why the author of our Epistle mentioned Samson as a man of faith. Did not he sleep with a prostitute and had 2 philistines women? Samson did fail to live a godly life. However, when he lost his strength and was deprived of his eyes he was humbled inside. I guess the time he spent in prison made him realise his unfaithfulness and sins. He was now a destroyed and useless man because of his mistakes. He could have been a mighty judge in Israel if he lived a godly life but his ungodly sexual desires led to his fall. I am quite certain he bitterly regretted his bad acts. But it was not too late to repent.

When brought in the Philistine temple, it was the second time the bible records that Samson prayed to God. The first time was when he prayed God to give him water and it came from the ground(Judges 15:19)

Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands, he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” Judges 16:28-30

Samson acknowledged that his strength was from God and that he could only crash down the temple down by God’s strength. At this very moment, Samson had faith. I believe Samson also had faith in God when he attacked the philistines, fought against a lion, asked for water and carried the Gaza gates on the top of a hill (Judges 16:3). If Samson lived a godly life, he could have accomplished more. Samson was a man of faith because he had great victories, however his sexual impulse was his Achilles’ heel. The story of Samson is a good reminder that living by faith also requires godliness. Deborah is woman who had a godly influence on Barak but Delilah was an ungodly woman who caused Samson to fall. Dear Christian, let us be cautious with whom we partner with. Ungodly relationships are poisonous to our faith in God.

Posted June 4, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32[b])   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.”

  • Gideon

The story of Gideon is another remarkable story of faith. While Gideon was working to spare grains from Midianites, the angel of God appeared to him amidst this chaotic starvation situation.

The angel told him “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” and Gideon replied: “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.” Judges 6:13

It was because Israel sinned that God sent the Midianites to punish them. When we are in trouble and read a piece of scripture which tries to encourage us and tells us God will not abandon us, sometimes we ask ourselves the same question Gideon asked “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us“.  Gideon was in trouble but it was not because he was living a sinful life. Gideon knew what God did in the past, he knew God’s power and wondered why God abandoned Israel.

God told Gideon “Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!

Now let us understand well the context. Judges 6:5 tells us that the enemies of Israels were too numerous to count and Gideon was given the order by God to deliver Israel from them. Once again, God who asked Gideon a humanly impossible task. Gideon had to go as he was, with the strength he had and God would fight for Israel. Gideon was given only as word of hope “I am sending you”. Moses also got a similar answer “I Am has sent me to you” .

The logical response of Gideon at this order was “But Lord,how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh“.  Once again God told Gideon that He will be with him. Not convinced of this answer, Gideon asked for signs.

If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.” And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water.” Judges 6:36

Gideon wanted to be sure that he got it right and it was not his imagination which was tricking him. It was a serious decision to take and if he got it wrong, his life and those fighting with him would be lost. So he asked God to make the fleece wet in the morning without the ground being wet. God did answer his prayer to prove that He was really going to be with Gideon. To be sure it was not mere coincidence, Gideon asked again that now the ground should be wet but not the fleece.

Then Gideon said to God, “Please don’t be angry with me, but let me make one more request. Let me use the fleece for one more test. This time let the fleece remain dry while the ground around it is wet with dew. ” Judges 6:39

Gideon had faith when he asked this sign from God and God did grant him this request. However, let us be careful by asking signs from God. In this particular situation, it was God who came to Gideon and asked him to do something impossible. In order for Gideon to go with confidence, God granted him the signs he asked for. As a proof of His promise, God gave a sign to Ezechias when He caused the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial(Isaiah 38:8).

As Christians, we often have to take decisions regarding work, marriage or where to live. Sometimes we try to play Gideon/Ezechias with God and ask for signs. I do not doubt God can give signs but we need to be careful with it. Sometimes we tell God “If I meet an employee from X company then it is a sign that God wants me to leave my work” or “If I get an sms from this girl or boy, then God wants me to marry him/her“.

As Christians, God has given us the freedom to choose . What the bible tells us about work is to be working honestly and hard. If we have the opportunity to take another job, ask God to put peace in your heart for that decision.

As the book of Proverbs says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;do not depend on your own understanding.Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5,6

When Gideon went on to fight the Midianites army, we see God almighty removing even the little military forces Gideon had. God is reputed for doing such things. This is what God said to Gideon:

You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.”

Remember that the Midianites were very numerous and humanly speaking it required massive deployment of military forces. But God is a jealous God and He did not want to give His glory to anyone else. So He stripped Israel of its military forces so that they do not boast about the victory. Gideon went to war with 32000 warriors but God’s will was that only 300 should go. That’s reducing the army to almost 1/100th! If God did not give these signs to Gideon, I guess he would have struggled to carry on. God put confusion amidst the Midianites army and they killed each other. Even though it was impossible and not logical to fight this huge army, Gideon kept his faith on God. Let us remember that God uses the weak things of this world to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27).

Posted June 2, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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