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Tag Archives: the Hall of faith

Unlikely Heroes

Hollywood has a way of portraying films that appear to be genuine, but add an unlikely hero to appeal to the masses.  Although this may draw tears from some viewers, others may think quietly to themselves, “yeah right.”  Teenagers tend to be truth detectors, not afraid to be blunt by cutting through the crap in life that exists.  Despite this painful truth, every once in a while unlikely heroes do come forth.

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies, Hebrews 11:31.

One of these which pops up in history is a prostitute from Jericho named Rahab.  I guess you can say she was the Dolly Parton or her day except her whore house wasn’t in Texas.  Nonetheless, God needed someone on the inside.  While her occupation doesn’t fit the typical servant of God, this testimony reveals that the Lord can use anyone to fulfill His will.

And Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Matthew 1:5.

Rahab may not have done much to receive the honor of being selected as a member of the Hall of Faith.  Yet, she kept her word and held up her end of the bargain.  This simple act of faith saved her families life and opened the door for becoming a distant relative of Jesus.  Therefore, if you want to be an unlikely hero in the future, let faith guide you to the place where God can use you the most.

by Jay Mankus

Running with Giants

Prior to the passage below, the members of the Hall of faith are introduced.  Hebrews chapter 11 serves as a summary of the great men and women of faith who have walked the face of the earth.  I guess you can refer to these individuals as spiritual giants.  The context of running likely represents those inspired to follow in the footsteps of these godly people.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

Meanwhile, the apostle Paul eludes to a sporting event in his letter to the church at Corinth.  The Corinthians Games are similar to the modern day Summer Olympics with an emphasis on track and field.  Paul is encouraging readers to see the big picture, only one person is victorious per event.  Therefore, run in such a way which glorifies God.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In modern times, there are some who take short cuts to get ahead in life.  These decisions shape your character.  The only problem is if you get away with cutting corners, you might be tempted to continue living on the edge.  Any type of compromise will disqualify you.  Therefore, if you want to start running with the giants of the faith, take the advice of God’s Word.  If you want it enough, developing a daily spiritual regiment will get you in shape to make running with these giants possible.

by Jay Mankus

Removing One Obstacle at a Time

Anyone who struggles with perfectionism has a hard enjoying life.  Whenever a flaw is discovered or exposed, energy is wasted to attack, purge and rid this.  If more than one issue is uncovered at the same time, this can be devastating.  Despite anal attempts to achieve perfection, its healthier to remove one obstacle at a time.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1.

The context of the passage above occurs immediately following a chapter known as the Hall of Faith.  The author lists saints from the Old Testament who accomplished great things by stepping out in faith.  The witnesses are those believers who have finished the race called life and are now spectators cheering on those who follow God on.  To reach similar heights requires removing access baggage which weighs you down.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Hebrews 12:5.

Nobody likes to be called out, corrected or rebuked, but sometimes this message is meant for our own good.  As a former runner, if your mind is not into it, you won’t last long.  Perseverance is only achieved after barriers are removed.  To prevent yourself from having a nervous breakdown or becoming overwhelmed, strive to remove one obstacle at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Reasoning with God

As I read a portion of the Bible known as the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, there is a common characteristic found within many of these individuals.  In times of uncertainty, when life’s circumstances did not make sense, these historical and spiritual figures reasoned with God.   Instead of turning toward doubt, each trusted in God’s ability to resolve their situation with a Hollywood ending.

Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death, Hebrews 11:19.

Take for instance, Abraham who waited most of his life to have a son with his wife Sarah.  Shortly after receiving this promised child, God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  Within Abraham’s heart, soul and mind, the concept of resurrection was conceived.  Thus, despite his confusion, Abraham took out a knife in faith, hoping and trusting that the Lord would provide a substitute, a replacement sacrifice for his son.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict, Hebrews 11:23.

In modern times, life can be just as complex, not sure how or why God allows acts of terrorism, deadly diseases and failure to continue.  Yet, when trials arrive, Hebrews 11 exists to help people learn from models of faith.  Reasoning with God is a natural response, crying out to Him in prayer for understanding.  Although, answers may not come right away, don’t give up hope until God provides a solution for your latest dilemma.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Let Time Shrink Your Faith

The other day I went shopping when I encountered a child throwing a temper tantrum.  As soon as this boy realized he wasn’t getting to get what he wanted, he lost it.  Although this event reminded me how thankful that I am for having grown children, one thought came to my mind.  When time ceases to provide any glimpses of hope, progress or results, faith can shrink.

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised, Hebrews 6:15.

The author of Hebrews dedicates an entire chapter known as the Hall of Faith.  One of the initial recipients is Abraham who waited decades until God gave a promised son through his wife Sarah.  Beneath the surface and under their breathe, I’m sure there were moments of doubt, especially for a woman reaching 100.  Yet, this example reveals a painful truth about life, God doesn’t always answer prayers according to your schedule.  Rather, the Lord uses time, trials and uncertainty to fireproof your faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see, Hebrews 11:1.

One of the most difficult stretches I’ve had to endure was in 2012 and 2013, struggling to find a permanent job after teaching high school for ten years.  There were days, weeks and months that I lost hope, not believing that God would change my hapless situation.  I wish I was stronger, but my faith shrunk as I lost my place in this world.  While I have ended up on my feet today, I am still searching for that perfect fit where my gifts match God’s will.  If Abraham had to wait decades, I guess I can hold on a little longer, praying that one day my dreams will come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

Putting Grace on the Map

There are certain types of characters, individuals or professions that make the average person feel uneasy.  Appearance, dress and modesty or lack there of sends a message.  Yet, some read more into this, judging someone’s character without ever meeting.  In the Old Testament, those who lived near the city gates symbolized wealth.  Thus, if you visited Jericho, you would find a brothel run by Rahab, a well-known harlot who made a living by entertaining those looking for a good time.

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there, Joshua 2:1.

Despite her reputation and past, the Lord choose to use a prostitute to accomplish his will.  Beside putting grace on the map, this story in history sends an important message to those who feel unworthy.  Regardless of what you have done, God extends his mercy to those who are open to being a vessel of the kingdom.  In fact, this one act did not go unnoticed.  Rather, this woman of the night eventually becomes part of the lineage of Jesus and enters the Hall of faith in Hebrews 11.

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, Matthew 1:5.

So what is a whore doing in the family tree of Jesus?  Well, we may never know the answer for sure.  However, that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate on why.  According to the author of Hebrews, God is the builder of all things.  Thus, if sin reveals the fallen nature of mankind, forgiveness by a Savior who died on a cross to atone for our mistakes brings new life.  Therefore, the next time you hear Satan whisper, “God will never use you.”  Remind the devil of the Creator of life who put grace on the map.

by Jay Mankus