Monday, January 6, 2014

Faith and Patience

Reflections on Hebrews 11:13

In Strasbourg, France, a thief stole cognac, cookies, chocolates and caramels from his ex-employer, but couldn't wait to enjoy his loot. Police followed a trail of caramel wrappers to his hideout and arrested the litterbug. -Philadelphia Inquirer

Have you ever said, "I can't wait until …"? Maybe it is your birthday or Christmas.  Maybe it is the day you can drive or go on a date.  Whatever it is, you think you can't wait.

Joseph was 17 years old when God revealed in dreams that he would become a ruler to whom even his brothers would bow down (Gen. 37:1 ff.). There were probably times he thought he couldn't wait until his brothers bowed down to him, but he had to wait.  His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, and then he was sent to prison where he stayed until he was 30 years old.  How long would that have been?  Yes, 13 years.  Then Joseph became governor of Egypt, and another eight years passed before his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain and bowed down to him.  How long did he wait for God's promise?  Yes, 21 years!

David was not yet old enough to be a soldier when Samuel anointed him as God's choice to be the next king.  That means he was less than 20 years old when God promised to make him king (see Num. 1:3; 26:2).  There were probably times he thought he couldn't wait until he was king, but it didn't happen soon.  After spending several years as an outcast running away from King Saul, he finally became king when he was 30 years old.  How long did David have to wait to receive God's promise?  Yes, he waited more than 10 years.
Why were Joseph and David able to wait patiently for what God promised?  It was because they had absolute faith in God.  Faith enabled them to wait patiently for God's promise.
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God….  These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11: 8-10, 13-16, ESV).

Do you know how old Abraham was when God promised him the land he had gone to see?  Look in Genesis 12:4-7. (He was 75 years old.)  How old was Abraham when he died? Look in Genesis 25:7-8.  (He was 175 years old when he died.) So, how long did Abraham wait for God's promise?  He waited for 100 years and still had not received the land when he died.  God gave him something better than he could have ever had on this present earth.  He gave him a heavenly country and a city whose designer and builder was God.

God has also made many great promises to us.  Peter says that "according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13, ESV).  Satan does not want us to wait patiently for God's promises.  He tries to destroy our faith and tempts us to satisfy our desires with temporary pleasures in this world.  "For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:16-17, ESV). He wants us to replace heavenly treasures with treasures on this earth.  What he does not tell us is that those treasures rust, become moth-eaten, or get stolen.  He wants us to replace the joys of marriage, which we have to wait for, with the cheap thrills of pornography which inevitably robs the honeymoon of much of its thrill.  He wants you to replace the joys of eternity with the pleasures of sin that last for only a short season.  Then, those sinful pleasures rob you of eternal joy.  Don't let Satan rob you!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Free Kindle Edition

Free for three days only!  Kindle edition of Reflections on the Life of King David. After Monday, January 6, the cost will be $1.99 for the Kindle edition.

When God chose David to be the king of Israel, He said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” David inspired Israel in battle, established Jerusalem as the capital of their nation, and focused their hearts on God with his psalms. Then just as he was defeating the last of the nation’s enemies, he committed a series of horrible sins which nearly destroyed him. He repented and recovered sufficiently to make extensive plans for the temple his son would build and to reorganize the priests and Levites in religious and judicial roles which would endure to the time of Christ. Finally, when “he had served the purpose of God in his own generation,” he “fell asleep and was laid with his fathers.” (Quotations are from Acts 13:22 and 36 in the English Standard Version.)

More is written in the Bible about King David than any other person with the exception of Jesus. His story is told primarily in the books of Samuel and again in 1 Chronicles. The first section of Reflections on the Life of King David collates the events recorded in the two accounts. An attempt is made to put the events in chronological order and to assign an approximate date to them. The second section is a series of reflections on the significance of those events for people in both his day and ours. A final brief section explains the reasoning behind the adopted chronological order and the assigned dates.