For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle... ~ Hebrews 11:32-34
Persecution for Christians persists today just as it did in the early church. In Egypt, the Sudan, China, Christians around the world must hide reading the Bible. If they gathered together to attend a church service, they would make the ultimate sacrifice, and lose their lives.
Another pastor is quoted as declaring that he prays for the church in America to encounter persecution because without persecution, there will be no depth in the church. This is an interesting prayer.
I, as a pastor, do not generally pray for you to encounter persecution. I generally pray that you are filled with God’ Spirit to proclaim the Gospel and experience all that God has for you as His child. I pray that you would be men and women of integrity, so to be examples to others. However, if persecution is what it takes to have depth in our lives, then may we endure!
The writer of the book of Hebrews describes groups of men and women who display the qualities of a Hero in Faith. When we come to Christ, and we have faith in Him, we have the opportunity to be Heroes. These men and women displayed the key qualities of obedience, service, and courage.
To be a Hero of Faith, we first must be obedient to God under pressure. When God commanded Moses to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of their house so that the Angel of the Lord would Passover their house and no one would be harmed, anyone who obeyed was saved! When the Israelites were commanded to cross the Red Sea while the Egyptian army approached, they obeyed. The key here is obedience. In both of these situations, obedience is of utmost importance, even when times were tough or doubts persist. To be a Hero of Faith, obey God and His Word!
Secondly, Heroes of the Faith display service through the Power that God supplies. Hebrews lists leaders such as Gideon, David, and Samuel, who did amazing feats of strength and might in the power and to the glory of God. When we come to Christ in faith, we must be willing to serve, not in our own strength, but, as commanded in 1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified.” When we are weak and feel like quitting, we must continue to serve in God’s strength and power. In our weakness, He is strong.
A Hero of Faith displays courage in the face of imminent danger, and even death. Through the ages, men and women have stood up in obedience in service to God and have endured persecution. How can we do this? With the hope of the life to come. This life is brief, yet how we live this life will determine eternity. If we live this life in obedience to God and service to others, we will live abundantly, both now and in the life to come.
God is looking for men and women who will lead, who will do great things in the power of His Spirit. Is there something God is calling you to do, that may cost you something?
I am just beginning to understand that it is through our sorrow and pain, that God moves greatly. Will you obey, serve and have the courage to stand for God?
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him...”