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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