Bible Reading: Hebrews 11:8-19

            We have all sung the song and danced the dance to “Father Abraham”.  Even as I write this the song is stuck in my head.  Abraham is a favorite Bible story for many of us because of his great faith in God, and his willingness to live out his faith by obeying God.  Hebrews 11:8-19 gives us a quick snapshot of the faith of Abraham and his wife, Sarah.  What an amazing story they have together!  Leaving his homeland at an old age because God promised him a future kingdom and future descendants to live in it.  They were childless, and God promised them a son.  Although they wondered what God was doing, at the age of 100 Abraham becomes a daddy to his son, Isaac.  God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac to God, and Abraham still obeys God.  Obviously, Abraham did not want to sacrifice Isaac, but as the writer of Hebrews says, “He [Abraham] considered that God was able even to raise him [Isaac] from the dead.”  As a new father myself, I cannot imagine the thoughts that must have went through Abraham’s head as he prepared to sacrifice his only son.  My heart breaks at the thought of my baby girl getting sick, little alone me having to take her life away.  But Abraham had great faith.

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            And that is what I wanted to focus on for this blog post.  Faith is not disconnected from our hearts and minds.  Abraham was faithful to do what God had called him to do, but we do not know all he thought in his mind and felt in his heart.  The Bible does not give us those details, but we can only imagine what Abraham thought and felt.  God has called all of us for a purpose.  We are all called to be salt and light to the world around us as we seek to make Christ known.  We are called to live holy lives that glorify God.  We strive to make our marriages honor our Lord, and we work so hard to raise up our children in the way they should go.  We do this because we have faith in God and in His promises, and we seek to honor Him with how we live our lives.  But we also know that our faith connects with our hearts and minds.  Some things make us nervous, scared, anxious, angry, sad, and while we feel these things we must remind ourselves of how great our God is and continue to remain faithful to Him.

            Writing and reading this is much easier than living this out, but that is why I hope this passage in Hebrews can comfort us together.  As we read a brief blurb of Abraham and Sarah’s life, we see their faith in action and the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.  But take some time and imagine what Abraham and Sarah must have thought at any of these moments.  The Bible does not tell us, but think of what you may think or say.  And now read again and think about the fact that despite what their hearts and minds may have felt and thought, they still obeyed God.  They did this because of the hope they had in God, and they could faithfully follow Him wherever He might lead them.  God is faithful to His people, and He will never break His promises to us.  Knowing God is so faithful to us, it can be easier to choose to remain faithful to Him.

Call to Action: Do you believe God will keep His promises to you?  God has offered us so much hope in His Word, but do you believe He is able to do all He has said?  We have such a great hope in Jesus Christ, that even when faced with death itself, we do not fear, because our Savior can raise the dead.  Immerse yourself in Jesus.  Read the Bible every day, and hide the promises of God in your heart and mind.  Pray every day, and take time to be in the presence of God. Only by immersing ourselves in God can we be filled with hope and peace.  Believe in God, because He is able to keep His promises.

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin

Bible Reading: Daniel 3

Everything we say and do effects who we are.  We are who we are because of all of the past decisions we have made.  Of course, there is nothing about our past that makes us beyond the grace of God.  I am speaking only to our character.  Our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions all influence our character and the kind of person we are.  This is one of the reasons why our faith is so important.  When we are born again and made new through Jesus, our whole life is changed.  What we used to be has become a new creation!  Our sins are erased, but our past is not.  Our story becomes our testimony of where we were before God impacted our life, and what He has done since.  I am bringing this up because the world we live in constantly tempts us to compromise our faith in Jesus by doing things that are contrary to godly living.

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In Daniel 3, we see three men of God being tempted to compromise their faith.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are faced with a pivotal decision: either bow down to the 90-foot golden idol, or be cast into a fiery furnace.  Do they compromise their faith in God by bowing down?  Or do they stand firm in their faith and refuse to bow down to any idol?  We know how this story turns out, but I want to focus on their response to King Nebuchadnezzar.  They are offered a way out by the king; if they bow down and worship, everything will be forgotten and good again.  But if they refuse, they will be tossed into the fire.  The response they make is one of great faith and courage in their God.  They said, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

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They believe with all their heart that God can deliver them from the fiery furnace.  The next part is what blows me away.  Even if God chooses not to save them from death, they will never worship an idol instead of God.  They do not doubt God when they say this, but make the point that they will never compromise their faith, even in such a terrifying position.  This is the kind of faith we need today!  A faith that when tempted to compromise our faith in Jesus says, “we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  There are many idols the world tempts us with: money, cars, clothes, homes, fame, popularity, just to name a few.  We are expected to compromise our faith in Jesus by “playing the games” of this world, but we must resist this temptation.  Daniel 3 reminds us of the importance of standing firm in our faith, and resist all the compromises that threaten us. 

We serve a great, powerful, gracious, loving God.  Our God has saved us from sin, and death itself.  He is worthy of our devotion and loyalty.  We must daily remember that God has given us a new life, and that this new life came at a price.  Jesus laid down His life so that we could become children of God.  Christians, lets renew our focus by clinging to our Savior.  May we stand firm in faith, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and may we refuse to bow to any other gods.  Let us be a people who pray for our faith to be strengthened, and look up to the One who gives us strength.

Call to Action:  Daniel 3 is a good reminder that we face the same struggles, even though they look different now.  We may not be tempted to bow down to a 90-foot statue, but we are tempted to bow down to the corporate ladder and our smart phones.  Set your hearts and your minds to seek God.  Make prayer a part of your daily life, and a part of your family.  Consider taking time every night to read a passage of the Bible, teach your children about it, and pray together.  Look for ways to strengthen your faith, and the faith of your family.

by Rev. Larkin Sumerlin

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AuthorLarkin Sumerlin