Do You Hear What Samuel Hears?

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about..Samuel…Hebrews 11:32

Samuel was the last of the Hebrew Judges and the first of the major prophets who began to prophesy inside Israel. Samuel also anointed the first two kings of the Kingdom of Israel: Saul and David. I remember Samuel as the little boy in the temple hearing the Voice of God in the middle of the night. He went to Eli because he had heard the voice, and what was Eli's response? "Next time you hear the voice, say 'Speak, for your servant is listening.'" (1 Samuel 3:1-14).

It's a fairly simple, child-like faith: whatever God wants us to do, we'll do it. And yet, it's probably the most difficult thing to do if we're running from God (like Jonah did). The thing is, we don't have to get in a boat and travel in the exact opposite direction to "run from God." We've got the concept so refined that we can run fro God in the comfort of our own homes!

Don't run from God. Instead, run to God. And when you hear that voice, say with child-like faith, "Speak for your servant is listening."

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David’s Rock

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about…David…Hebrews 11:32e

I think we all would have been disappointed if David hadn't appeared in this Hall of Faith. So much has been written about this man. The very fact that we know as much about his moral failures as we do his successes is, in a sense, reassuring. Yes, he reigned over Judah for seven years and over all of Israel for 30, but his life and his writings was an open book. In his young adventures with Goliath or his dealings with Saul, we see a man characterized by faith. Of course, he sinned greatly along the way, but he got back on the right path again and had to pay dearly for his sins.

Later in his life, we get a glimpse of his prayers: "my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you save me"  2 Samuel 2:3 and elsewhere in 2 Samuel 2:47, "The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!" David's life was extremely rocky. His life was threatened numerous times. But needed a solid foundation; he needed God.

Most of us probably haven't been threatened or mistreated as David was. But we do know the fickleness of life. We know what it's like to have our dreams shattered and our world turned upside down. We can climb on the same Rock David was on. We can rest in the "cleft of the rock" as the old hymn goes.

We can do that daily.

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Faith of Jephthah (who?)

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about…Jephthah...Hebrews 11:32

Judges 11:1 states: “Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior.” How would you like to have that for a tombstone epitaph? A second verse later is equally powerful: “The the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah” (Judges 11:29). He was so confident that the Lord would give him victory that he made a vow that he would hand over to the Lord “whatever comes out of the door of my house.” His only child, a daughter, came out of the house (for a more thorough discussion of this controversial vow, please go to Jephtha’s Daughter).

Again, setting aside the vow for now, it’s apparent that Jephthah in fact was a mighty warrior. He was bold and confident that God would give him the victory. He was a man of faith.

I suspect that many in my reading audience are mighty warriors. Much of the battle is fought on the knees. Know this, when you take steps of faith that are bold and confident, you will be richly rewarded. I don’t know exactly what that means for you, but you and God know. Take steps of faith this week that are bold and confident.

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Samson

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about…Samson…Hebrews 11:32

When we think of men who have had enormous strength in the world, Samson always comes to mind. He was set apart for God's service early, and did not drink alcohol or cut his hair. He married a Philistine (Judges 11:10). tore a lion apart with his bare hands, killed many men of Ashdod, set fire to their orchards and fields, and killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass.

After a Philistine named Delilah tried four times to get Samson to reveal the secret of his great strength, he at last gave in. In the middle of the night, she had a man cut off his hair, and then a team of Philistines bound him with strong fetters, gouged out his eyes, and set him to grind at the prison mill. This once great warrior was reduced to the duties of oxen. But Samson's hair began to grow again. The day came when the Philistine leaders sent for the blind Samson so they could mock him. Samson asked a servant boy to place him between two pillars on which the house stood. He pulled them down, and died along with thousands of Philistines.

Even though Samson wasn't bright (tricked by Delilah four times) or moral (married a Philistine and killed Philistines for pleasure), he gets a mention in the Hall of Faith. He had been reduced to slave labor. He knew exactly what he was doing when he pulled down the pillars. He knew he would also be ending his own life with that action. As he ground the grain with that huge wheel, you know he was thinking about his past actions. He wanted one last chance to make a difference.

Most of us want to make a difference where we are. Pray to God that you will use the opportunities that He gives you. For some, I'm afraid those opportunities may cost us dearly if we take them.

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Barak

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about…Barak…Hebrews 11:32

Barak was a military general in Judges 4-5. He was the commander of the army of Deborah, a prophetess and judge. Barak and Deborah defeated Sisera's armies (Canaanite), who had for oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. God didn't speak directly to Barak but through Deborah. Barak had insisted that Deborah come with him. Deborah's response was that when you win, it won't be your win, a woman (Deborah) would get the credit.

We live in a very "me-centered" world:

  • Go for the gusto.
  • Treat yourself to luxury; you deserve it!
  • Look out for Number One.
  • You deserve a break today.
  • Me, myself, and I.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited as saying “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.” Such was the case with Barak. He was a powerful leader in his own right, yes, but he was also a servant of Deborah the judge (or ruler). He could have taken credit for a mighty military victory, but he didn't.

Often it takes humility to bring out our faith. It's not always about what we want. A number of years ago, someone challenged me to NOT to take the credit when I do something that's pat-on-the-back worthy ("Look, honey, I did the dishes/laundry/cooking" come to mind). It was better for my wife to notice and give me the credit. And if she didn't notice, was it that big of a deal anyhow?

I challenge you to make it a habit of NOT patting yourself on the back in front of someone when you do something for someone else. It's not as easy as it seems.

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Gideon

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon…Hebrews 11:32

God chose Gideon to free the people of Israel and to condemn their idol worship (Judges 7). Gideon began with 32,000 men and God narrowed down the number to 10,000 and finally to 300 men. Three hundred men held torches and trumpets, and at Gideon's command all 300 men shouted "A sword for the Lord and Gideon" and blew their horns. The men in the camp turned on each other, and it was a complete routing for Gideon.

This is one of those fascinating Old Testament stories we heard as children. It's a wonderful account of how God used 300 men to obtain victory over a large army. We learned about the fleece that Gideon used because he had doubted God. We also learned that God used a small number of dedicated men to accomplish His goals.

Missionaries serving in foreign lands have similar challenges. They don't always have all the information they need to make difficult decisions, and they are often up against incredible odds. Choose a missionary you or your church knows by name and pray. Pray that they will make Godly decisions. Pray that they may be encouraged despite the enormous obstacles they face.

Then drop them a line in an email or handwritten card to let them know you're praying for them.

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By Faith the Prostitute Rahab…

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31

With the exception of possibly Sarah (Hebrews 11:11), Rahab is the only woman listed by name in this long list of Faith Warriors. Rahab was not Jewish, yet she is named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5. She was a known prostitute. She lied to the King's men when they came looking for the two spies. Then she asked the spies to have mercy on her and her family because of what she did for them (Joshua 2:12)

And God spared her life. Rahab acted on the faith she knew, and she sought mercy. God delivered on that mercy.

A man once told me, "There will be three surprises in Heaven: you'll be surprised that some people are there that you didn't think would be. You'll be surprised that some people aren't there that you thought would be, and lastly, you'll be surprised that you're there." I think Rahab clearly fits into the first category.

Rahab. A prostitute, a protector of spies, and a Hall of Faith listing. Who could have guessed that?

Praise God for His mercy.

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Jericho

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. Hebrews 11:30

I've always loved the Jericho story. I've always seen it as faith AND obedience. First, the people had to have faith that going around the walls even once was a good things. Seven priests accompanied the ark of the covenant and the people along with seven blaring trumpets. They marched around Jericho one time for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around the walls of the city seven times. On the seventh time around they shouted and "the walls came tumbling down." Each day for the people marching was a step of faith. They really didn't know how it was going to end.

Joshua had to obey the Lord and the people had to obey Joshua. The Lord told Joshua how it would all go down. If they had marched around the city and nothing had happened, they would be look foolish or worse. They were blindly obeying a man who had heard from the Lord. Faith and obedience were closely aligned here. Both had to occur for this to work.

Fortunately they had followed Joshua in other instances so it wasn't new to them. They had come to realize that if Joshua said he had heard from the Lord, it must be true and worthy of obedience.

Leaders are like that. When you find one you can trust, you will do what you can to please. When he/she speaks something into your life, you can trust it because of his/her previous track record of doing just that.

Pray for your pastor today. Pray that he will continue to hear from the Lord regarding your church body. And pray that he will be able to recognize and overcome the wiles of the Enemy.

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Opportunities

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20

Immediately before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he met the remaining Disciples in Galilee. He was to instill in them one last command, one final charge. They were it. The eleven disciples were about ready to change the world upside down after they were clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). This is where the rubber met the road for them. He had lived and taught among them for three years before being crucified. If we didn't read the rest of the story, we'd be thinking that Jesus really may not have known what he was doing. They cowered while He was being arrested, and Peter denied the Lord three times. How would they ever carry out his mission.

Those reading this, if Believers, are the fruit of eleven terrified individuals. That's what I'd call a legacy!

But it doesn't end there.

You see, we have opportunities throughout the day to expand that legacy. Know clearly that if you've made it known to those around that you are a Christian, you are being watched.

The pressure isn't on us to be perfect; the pressure's on us to be faithful.

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