All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. Hebrews 11:13
During a discussion of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, a teenager said he prefers his stories in books rather than movies. When asked why, the young man replied, “With a book, I can stay there as long as I want.” There is something to be said for the power of lingering in a book, especially the Bible, and “inhabiting” the stories there.
Hebrews 11, often called “the faith chapter” of the Bible, mentions nineteen people by name. Each one traveled a road of difficulty and doubt, yet chose to obey God. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13).
How easy it is to rush through our Bible reading without pondering the people and events in the text. Our self-imposed time schedule robs us of going deeper into God’s truth and His plan for our lives. Yet, when we are willing to stay awhile, we find ourselves caught up in the real-life dramas of people like us who chose to stake their lives on God’s faithfulness.
When we open God’s Word, it’s good to recall that we can stay as long as we want.
Father in heaven, thank You for Your written Word and the examples of people who lived by faith. Help us to follow You as they did.
Linger in God’s Word and you’ll find stories of faith.
Hebrews 11 provides examples of how authentic faith leads to a changed life. Belief and action produce acts of courage and perseverance. As we ponder the deep and impressive faith our spiritual ancestors demonstrated through their actions, it encourages us to follow in their footsteps. The examples of those who have preceded us—those who lived as “foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13)—help us to fix our eyes on Jesus (12:2).
As you reflect on today’s reading, how are you inspired in your walk with Christ?
After Surrender— Then What?
True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will. Yet God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. And once that battle has been fought, it never needs to be fought again.
Surrender for Deliverance. “Come to Me…and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— “Come to Me.” And it is a voluntary coming.
Surrender for Devotion. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Matthew 16:24). The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, “If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.” And once this is done, the remainder of your life will exhibit nothing but the evidence of this surrender, and you never need to be concerned again with what the future may hold for you. Whatever your circumstances may be, Jesus is totally sufficient (see 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Philippians 4:19).
Surrender for Death. “…another will gird you…” (John 21:18; also see John 21:19). Have you learned what it means to be girded for death? Beware of some surrender that you make to God in an ecstatic moment in your life, because you are apt to take it back again. True surrender is a matter of being “united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death” (Romans 6:5) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.
And after you surrender— then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Am I becoming more and more in love with God as a holy God, or with the conception of an amiable Being who says, “Oh well, sin doesn’t matter much”? Disciples Indeed, 389 L