Friday, November 21, 2014

By Faith We Experience Grace ~ by @ShelleyHendrix

32And what shall I say further? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,(U)
33Who by [the help of] faith subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,(V)
34Extinguished the power of raging fire, escaped the devourings of the sword, out of frailty and weakness won strength and became stalwart, even mighty and resistless in battle, routing alien hosts.(W)
35[Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured [g]to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life. [I Kings 17:17-24; II Kings 4:25-37.]
36Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment.
37They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated--
38[Men] of whom the world was not worthy--roaming over the desolate places and the mountains, and [living] in caves and caverns and holes of the earth.
Hebrews 11:32-38 (Amplified)

When we read Hebrews 11, we have the opportunity to observe how men and women of old, who trusted God, were able to experience a life that most people cannot even begin to imagine. We see that our trust in God is the very proof of His existence. We see that there were those who saw God move in mighty ways as they lived by faith, rather than by sight. We can take note of what this means for us today—in the 21st Century—when so many have decided God is a has-been from our uneducated past as a human race.

In the first several verses of this passage, we read some of the heroic and mighty deeds God performed for everyday people with extraordinary trust in God: blessings, subdued kingdoms, seeing dead loved ones raised to life, shutting the mouths of lions, etc. When we read things like this, it encourages us, even makes us get excited about stepping—or leaping—out in faith, doesn't it? We all want to see God move like this in our lives, don't we?

Consider this, though: Although we all desire to see these kinds of things happen, we must also realize that each coin has two sides. Jesus made it clear that in this world, we would have trouble (persecution, tribulation, etc.)* When we speak of faith moving mountains and faith bringing us to a place of promotion, you'll find a whole lot of people jumping on board. But when the whole truth is taught—that life is hard and we will all face those dark nights of the soul—it's a little more difficult to get excited.

You might find a small percentage of people, when you look throughout our human history, who are willing to suffer or possibly even die for a cause (whether real or a delusion). But when we look through the Scriptures, pages of history, and even today's news, we are faced with a reality that can't be ignored: Those who follow the One True God have suffered in unimaginable ways and have paid an enormous price—many even sacrificing their own lives rather than deny the truth they have embraced. 

People have been imprisoned, beaten, scourged, sawn in two!, tortured, bribed, left destitute… you'd think a large percentage of these would have renounced their "traditions" or "belief systems" and that would make sense if that had been all their faith amounted to. For someone who has experienced the Truth Himself—Jesus Christ—and Jehovah God, there is no renouncing Him. It would be like trying to get a mother to deny her child was hers or a husband denying his cherished bride.

In the Gospels, we read of two different men who walked closely with Jesus and who both came to a crisis of their faith. One betrayed Jesus. The other denied him. The first was Judas. The second was Peter. I heard a powerful message by a man named Bill Thrall who stated that as people who have been given a brand new identity when we accepted Christ as Savior, we can never be guilty of Judas' sin, we can only be susceptible to Peter's. We can never betray Christ—that would be to declare that He isn't who He says He is. It would be to choose to deny Him as the Savior of the world. Peter's sin was to deny knowing Him—and for this, Jesus offered grace, mercy, love, compassion, and a second chance.

God is not looking for perfect performance—thank Him for that!—He is looking for hearts that are perfect toward Him. Hearts with a desire to trust Him and know Him. These are the kinds of people Scripture says that the world is not even worthy of.

But these kinds of people aren't just in the pages of history. You can read about the many Christians who are suffering persecution throughout the world even today through ministries like the Voice of the Martyrs. You can even 'follow' them on Twitter @VOMC and get many reminders of ways to pray for those who are part of our family who are suffering even now as a result of their refusal to deny Christ. These people truly are heroes and need our prayers and support.

May we all be people who live with intentionality and purpose, choosing to make it our life's top priority to know and trust God. Who knows? Perhaps, together, we really could change the world!

*John 16:33

Shelley Hendrix is the founder of Church 4 Chicks as well as Shelley Hendrix Ministries and the co-founder of a new ministry collaboration called Team Redeemed (a ministry to those whose lives have been impacted by infidelity). 

You can find Shelley's website, social media links and more at but you'll typically find her sipping coffee, scrounging for chocolate, and petting her dog while hovered over her laptop.

1 comment:

  1. "God is not looking for perfect performance—thank Him for that!—He is looking for hearts that are perfect toward Him."
    Thank you, Shelley!


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