And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
From Denial to Trial
Peter is one of my favorite characters in the Bible because I am a lot like him. I have denied Christ before others in my failure to speak up for what is right or when given the chance to be Jesus’ witness. Peter denied Jesus only three times (Mark 14:66-72), but I have denied Him countless times. Even though Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus forgave him and restored him. In fact, he became one of the greatest witnesses for Christ in the New Testament. His powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost convicted all who listened that day (Acts 2:14-39), and they were cut to the heart (Acts 2:37). As a result, God added many to the church that day (Acts 2:47), and about three thousand were saved (Acts 2:41). Church history indicates that Peter felt so unworthy to be crucified in the manner in which Jesus was that he insisted on being crucified upside down. I’ve learned that none of us are worthy, and that’s exactly the point!
From Hiding to Hero
Gideon is one of my favorite characters in the Bible, too, and I can relate to him. When God first started moving in my life, I thought there was no way that a man of disaster could ever be a pastor. I still think of myself and often identify myself as the “pastor of disaster,” and even though I’m still sort of a train wreck, God typically sets all of us on the right track. Gideon was basically hiding and considered himself the runt of the litter in his family. He was from the least of the tribes of Israel (Judges 6:15), yet He was called “a mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Perhaps that’s why God used him so mightily. God tends to use those who are small in their own eyes. God loves to use weak, small bands of men and women who the world has little regard for, yet Gideon’s small force of 300 took on a force of 135,000 Midianites, who were trained, skilled, and experienced warriors. But when God’s on your side, who can prevail against you (Rom. 8:31)?
I Give Up
Elijah was perhaps one the greatest men of God mentioned in the Bible, but there were times when he felt like giving up, just lying down to die. Right after his great victory over 850 false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), he ran for his life after Jezebel threatened him (1 Kings 19:3). He thought, “I’m finished, Lord, just kill me” (1 Kings 19:4). He felt that he was the only one who was actually serving God (1 Kings 19:10, 14), when there were actually over 7000 Israelites who had not yet bent the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Have you ever felt alone as a believer? Like the only one in your neighborhood, at work, or in your family? Elijah also felt this way. Truly, you and I are not alone, even though at times we feel like it and feel like, “Okay, Lord, I’m done.”
A Closing Prayer
Great God in Heaven, You alone know my future. Thank You for these examples in the Bible that give all of us hope (Heb. 11). I have a lot in common with them; I am unworthy, I am nothing of myself, and at times I feel so alone and like giving up. Please give me hope of enduring for Your glory, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
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