i see that the ancients gained God's approval being assured of their hope and being convinced of the unseen.
i see that abel offered God a better sacrifice by faith. i see that God testifies that he was righteous, and that even though he was murdered by his resentful brother, his reputation is guarded by God. but i cannot focus on abel.
i see that enoch escaped death because he believed that God is who He is, and that He rewards the one who diligently seeks Him. but enoch is not my focus.
i see that noah found favor in God's sight. he believed God's warning about dangers he had never seen. he reverently built an ark, and in so doing condemned the world. but noah's example is not enough.
i see that abraham believed that God would give him the land as promised. and he and sarah believed that God would give them a son as promised. but the story is not about abraham or sarah or isaac.
i hear isaac believing God's promises when he blesses his sons based on who God is and what He said. but isaac was only human.
jacob became israel because he believed God. he worshiped God. but jacob without God is still the manipulator.
joseph believed that God's promise of the land was yet to be fulfilled, so he commanded that when that day came, his mummified bones be carried to the land. but all that remained of joseph on earth was a mummy, a story, a reputation for believing God is who He is.
moses believed that bearing reproach for Christ was more valuable than all the wealth of ancient Egypt. he endured. he saw the Unseen.
rahab lived in bondage until Yahweh delivered her because she believed He is who He is.
so many believed God is who He is, and they suffered many things, and overcame evil with good.
but seeing all these heroic people, i turn my eyes to Jesus. He is the author and finisher of my faith. He endured the cross and despised the shame because of the joy set before Him. i consider Him who endured such hostility of sinners against Himself, and i cannot become weary, i cannot lose heart.
superficial unity when believers unite with unbelievers. what fellowship has light with darkness? such a farce. such artificial unity. such hypocrisy.
superficial separation when believers divide from believers-- by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. how can you love God, whom you cannot see, if you do not love your brother whom you can see? such a farce. such artificial separation. such hypocrisy.
"walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
"one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
"one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."
true unity exists among those who are in God's Spirit.
the fear of God, we are told in Proverbs, is the beginning of wisdom. i think that the opposite is true; if i do not fear God, i am going to be foolish, and live to regret it--or drive myself insane. Debi Pearl says that "our actions and reactions do indeed reap painful results in this present life as well as in eternity. We live under a law of sowing and reaping that is as certain and unrelenting as death and disease."
that is the reason that we ought to have a huge, healthy respect for the God who made us and the world we live in. if we violate His guidance, we will reap the consequences.
in relation to our marriage relationship, when we violate God's instructions, we damage ourselves, our husbands, and our children. we decrease our influence for the kingdom of God in this world. this is a sobering reality.
i love to think that if i confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (I John 1.9). when He shows me that i have not been respecting my husband as He wants me to, i admit to Him that i was wrong, and i don't try to justify myself by blaming my husband's provoking behavior or my hormones or the bad day i had. He would have helped me to do what i should have done. i rejected His help. He then forgives me. the guilt is gone. but i am so thankful that He not only forgives me, but He also cleanses the desire to do wrong from me! so with His help, i can live a life of victory; graciousness overcomes irritableness, love overcomes resentment, gratitude overcomes self-pity, respect overcomes disdain, peace overcomes restlessness, joy overcomes discontentment.
oh, i'm not perfect yet, but God has helped me become so much better than i used to be that i just can't give up hope that i will be even farther along after 24 more years!
God takes our actions seriously. He has big plans, but He doesn’t HAVE to use us to accomplish them. He wants to offer us that joy, but we can skip out on it by choosing our own sin over His blessing. And the sad thing is, we might never know what He wanted to give us. What’s sadder is that maybe we will. --Benjamin Power