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Monday, November 25, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:35, “…. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.”

When the prophet Jeremiah stood in the Lord’s house and shared the warning given that Israel would be punished for forsaking God’s word, the priest Pashhur struck him and placed him in the stocks for punishment. (Jeremiah 19 & 20)

Perhaps Pashhur hoped both to bully Jeremiah into silence and to discredit him as a false prophet. But Jeremiah continued to witness to God’s word. And continued to be beaten, discriminated against, thrown into prison, placed under restraint and had his written words repeatedly destroyed. For all of his estimated 90 years of life, he remained a faithful witness to God’s words.

In the time of the Maccabees, when rulers tried to force replace Jewish laws of worship with Greek rituals and polluted the temple in Jerusalem, another faithful scribe of advanced years, Eleazar, chose death over unlawful sacrifice. Those around him tried to convince him to fake it—pretend to eat the swine flesh, just to stay alive.  But he refused the pretense so as not to lead the young to think he had turned to a false religion in his old age. He chose to “leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” He walked to the rack himself.

In our times we may not face physical torture, but we might be ridiculed, or discriminated against, or be ostracized within family or workplace. How will we know if our choices or words will bring witness to others or ‘pollute’ our spiritual lives by self-interest? Especially when what is a danger to one person’s faithfulness to the Lord is not to another. Sometimes we will need to speak out and other times remain silent.

Both Jeremiah and Eleazar faced a different attack on their faith witness, but both responded by the power of the Spirit’s guidance in their lives.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4: 12

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 116: 14-15

“I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.”

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