Daily Update #204

Hebrews 11:32–end               Psalm 31:19–end                    Mark 5:1–22
The world was not worthy of them


Pause and reflect; who do you look up to as an inspiration of living faith?

Reading32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated – 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

RemarksWhat faithful people, and all of them died before seeing or knowing about Jesus! Yet all of these people mentioned by name had some ‘interesting’ character issues, showing what God can do with ordinary ‘real’ people, like you and me, when we are obedient to his encouragement and direction.

How does that speak to us today? Each of them responded to the prompting of God, to inspire and lead those around them in times of trouble. Their people had turned away from their God and their spirits were dulled. Are we not in a similar situation today? Our society is becoming increasingly secular and has learnt to lean on other ‘gods’, such as science, human rights and economic stability. None are in themselves bad, but they cannot be the centre of our life and being. Has this pandemic provided a wake-up call, where we can add salt and light to a disappointed world? Can we give our world a ‘faith-lift’?

Returning to those faith pioneers, they stood up for God when their own people opposed them, unwavering in the face of persecution, rejection, imprisonment and for some martyrdom. However, in other chapters of the Bible, they showed frailty – some hid in caves, others questioned God’s plan for them. Are we also tempted to hide in these challenging times through fear and doubt? But God is always faithful and true, and calls us back to continue his work. We should remember we have two outstanding advantages over these saints. Firstly, we know Jesus, who removed the barriers of sin between us and God. The other great advantage, is our confidence in our own resurrection, through Jesus who provided us with reassurance of our place in heaven.

So, speaking to myself as much as anyone else, “What’s stopping us from being a witnessing people of faith in the face of persecution and doubt?” The task may seem daunting, but as we learnt about Nehemiah yesterday, Our God is bigger than the problem. With so many around us living in fear, our trust in our Almighty God can act as a beacon in these dark times. As this passage tells us, “God had planned something better for us”. Glory awaits us, in the meantime let us continue with renewed enthusiasm in God’s work for the kingdom.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Cor 16:13.
Dear Lord,
We thank you for all those who have inspired us in their walk of faith, and for the supreme example of Jesus. Help us to keep our eyes focused on your kingdom today. Bless us with the strength to live our lives for you, dedicated to your glory, and providing the light in the darkness to those around us. Sustain in us the hope of that awaits us when your kingdom comes.