Tag: Moses

That Special Someone – A Friend

We all need friends.

I have some very special friends – some that I don’t see very often, but when I do, we take up right where we left off.

DSC03454 Cuba Oct '08 153 Stephanie, Sharon and Tina Photo on 8-10-14 at 4.56 PM IMG_1255I am an American. Some of my friends are American but many of my friends live in other countries. We communicate by phone, email, or Facebook but there can be great lapses of time between each message. I often wish for a chance to catch up – to have a cup of coffee or tea with that special someone – a person I feel comfortable with, I can relate to, who understands me.

Although I consider myself a friendly person, not everyone I meet falls into that “special someone” category. There are those who do not share my interests, my values, or my faith.

God is the creator of all people, but not every person wants to be close to Him. I take encouragement from those who do and learn from their special relationship with God, such as these biblical characters:

  • Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he and his family were saved from the flood.
  • Abraham who was called a friend of God.
  • Moses who could talk with God face to face.
  • Job whom God called a blameless and upright man.Oma and her friend Lisa
  • Elijah who was known as a man of God.
  • Isaiah who was given prophetic visions by God.
  • Ezekiel who had the hand of the Lord upon him.
  • Daniel who was protected by God in the lion’s den.
  • The virgin Mary who was highly favored, chosen to be the mother of the Savior.
  • John, the apostle, who called himself “the one whom Jesus loved”.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. His miraculous birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His bodily resurrection is a gift of grace to those who chose to believe in Him. There don’t have to be any lapses of time for communication – we can talk with Him constantly.  Especially comforting is – like Abraham – we are His friends. And like John, He loves us completely.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15).

 

The Roll Call of the Faithful

Hebrews 11 has been called “the roll call of the faithful.” What can we learn from their examples?

Abel 

God said through [his sacrifice Abel] obtained witness that he was righteous. Although his life was cut short by his brother Cain, God [testified] of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

Jesus eliminated the need for the kind of sacrifice Abel gave because of His substitutionary death on the cross. God still wants our sacrifice. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15-16).

What will others remember about what you said and did after you die? Is God well pleased with your sacrifices to Him?

Enoch

Enoch is mentioned a total of ten times in the Bible. He is only one of two people who did not die. He did not see death, “and was not found because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. God never mentioned what Enoch did. What He wanted us to know about Enoch is that his faith pleased Him for without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Is your faith pleasing to God?

Noah

 Each time we see a rainbow, we are reminded of Noah, the ark, the flood and God’s promise not to destroy the world again by flood. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household…

When God gives you an assignment, do you proceed with godly fear? Do your actions match your words?

Abraham

A good part of Genesis is dedicated to God’s dealing with Abraham. Twice the apostle Paul uses Abraham as an example of the doctrine “justification by faith alone.” James calls Abraham “a friend of God.” All believers are called “children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). By faith Abraham obeyed…by faith he dwelt in the land… he waited…by faith…when he was tested he offered up Isaac … concluding that God was able to raise him up.

James says the life of Abraham is an illustration that faith without works is dead. Who was right – Paul who uses him as an example of “justification by faith alone” or James who uses him as an illustration that “faith without works is dead?” They are both right. Abraham was justified by his faith; his faith was proven by his works. God expects us to trust Him and do what He asks us to do.

Do you consider yourself a friend of God? Do your works testify to your faith?

Sarah, Isaac and Jacob

Abraham’s wife Sarah, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob are also mentioned in Hebrews 11. Although Sarah laughed when she heard she would bear the promised child in her old age, it was said of her that she judged Him faithful who had promised. God said Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come “by faith”. Jacob, as well, was commended for blessing each of the sons of Joseph upon his deathbed.

How do we, by faith, bless others? It is really only God who can bless. As Christians, we are His ambassadors and can bring His blessing to others. We are carriers of His blessing. Can God use you as a channel of blessing for others?

Joseph

Jacob’s favorite son was not a favorite of his brothers. In fact, they sold him into slavery. Patient and faithful to God, Joseph was wronged, forgotten and finally put in a place of leadership where he could either seek revenge on his brothers or bless them. He chose to bless: But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Genesis 50:20).

In the midst of trials and tribulations, can you trust God to make it right?

Moses

Moses’ parents had faith that God would take care of him. Moses had faith that God would lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and He did. But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10).

I counted at least 159 times the Bible said, The Lord spoke to Moses. With one exception that we know of, when the Lord spoke, Moses obeyed. Do you know God face to face? When He speaks to you, do you obey?

Rahab

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe…

Rahab, an inhabitant of Jericho, had heard about the miracles God had performed for the Israelites. When the spies came to check out the city, she hid them and asked them to swear by the Lord, the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:11) that they would spare her and her family. She is mentioned three times in the New Testament; in Matthew 1:5 (she was the great-grandmother of King David); in Hebrews 11:31 and in James 2:25 – Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them another way?

Rahab was not of the promised line of Abraham and she was a harlot but God included her in this list because she believed in Him and she acted upon that belief.

We who are in Christ are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise no matter what our race, gender or status in the world. How does that reality help you share Christ with a lost world?

Now faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony (1-2). These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (13-14).

When your life is over, will those who knew you be able to say that you died in faith? Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us. Are you looking forward to it?

© Stephanie B. Blake

October 2014

Download The Roll Call of the Faithful

Heroic Shepherds

Usually, when one thinks of a hero, someone who has been through the battlefields of war or has achieved widespread acclaim because of their accomplishments for mankind comes to mind. It is unlikely that anyone would initially think of shepherds as heroes. Yet shepherds are some of the notable heroes of scripture.

Abel, the First Shepherd

Abel, son of Adam and Eve, was a keeper of sheep. He gave the proper sacrifice to God when he brought the firstborn of his flock. God gave His only begotten Son – the firstborn among many brothers – so that whoever believed in Him would be saved.

Abraham, a Wealthy Shepherd

When Abraham proved to God that he trusted Him above all else, God substituted the lamb (ram) for the sacrifice of Isaac. John the Baptist announced that the living Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Good Shepherd offered Himself as the sacrificial lamb, one sacrifice for the sins of all time.

Jacob, a Shepherd in Love

For the love of Rachel, Jacob served Laban fourteen years – seven for Leah and seven for Rachel. Before he died, he gave a blessing to his beloved son Joseph who was Rachel’s child. Israel (Jacob) acknowledged that the God of his fathers had been his shepherd all through his life and that his son Joseph was strong because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.

Moses, a Shepherd in Training

Before leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, Moses spent forty years as a shepherd in Midian. This period of obscurity, guiding and protecting defenseless sheep, was preparation for forty years spent in the wilderness with fearful and stubborn people.

David, the Giant Killer

Although a youth, David’s experience as a shepherd enabled him to fight the giant Goliath. Even as king, David never forgot lessons learned tending sheep. His Psalm 23 is the most often quoted Psalm of the Bible.

Shepherds in the Field

Humble God-fearing shepherds were honored by a visit from an angel announcing the birth of the Christ child. Finding Him in a manger made them feel quite at home.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Shepherds, under-shepherds and sheep are an important part of God’s story. He warns against false shepherds. He calls His people His flock.

The Old Testament characters above (and others) pointed to the coming of the Chief Shepherd, the Son of God. Although heroic in their actions of protecting the sheep under their care, the true hero of the Book is the Good Shepherd, the Lamb that was slain.

The_Shepherd_and_his_Flock

Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rules for Him; behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young (Isaiah 40:10-11).