Jesus’ final and greatest act of love for the whole world also included a more obscure act of love for one person. While hanging on the cross, He still had the selflessness to assign someone to care for His mother. When focused on a mission for the kingdom of God, we should never forget the little details, that one person. (John 19:26)
Not everyone comes from a tightly knit earthly family. But when you became a believer, you became part of a heavenly family. What if I told you that you are now the fulfillment of promises given to other men and women long before you entered this world?
Speaking of those who have gone before us, Hebrews 11 says:
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. Hebrews 11:13 The Message
Just what did those faith heroes of old see in the distance? Was it something tangible? I don’t think so. You do not wave at or greet things. You wave at and greet people!
If we are to follow the example of our ancestors, we too must become farsighted. These heroes did not look at what was in their hands because they were too busy waving to something on the distant horizon. Such heroes are people of hope and conviction, for faith is the substance of things hoped for and the very evidence of things yet unseen (see Hebrews 11:1 KJV).
Read the following verse and be at once awed and humbled at what our God Most High has counted us worthy to be a part of:
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 ESV
We were the joy set before Jesus, and I often wonder if the heroes of old aren’t the very ones who are cheering us on. We are part of the final act in an ongoing story that began generations ago. Hebrews 11 chronicles some of the amazing things done by great men and women of God. Today, all of their heroic acts are waiting to be completed when they are joined together with ours.
So what do we contribute to the legacy of faith? Could it be that we bring the action to the words the people of old released? That we lay our hands on that which they received only in a figure? It is time we pray that the Lord of the harvest open our eyes and widen our gaze so that we too might see beyond the obvious and live out the actions of heaven’s warriors.
You have been prayed in—and prayed over—for possibly much longer than you realize. May this revelation stir the faith seeded within your heart, and may the hope of who God has created you to be inspire you. When you look in the mirror, know that there is far more to you than anyone can actually see. You have been watched and waited for, and there is a heaven-breathed destiny on you in this moment.
This week, take some time to read the stories of those celebrated in Hebrews 11. What did they establish that you can carry in our day? Invite the Creator to reveal the purpose He has for you. Ask for the faith to take your place in His legacy of heroes. You were made to be part of a beautiful fulfillment of the promises of God!
Article by Lisa Bevere
It has been proven many times over that who we hang around the most is who will influence us the most. If we hang around those who gripe and complain, we will become gripers and complainers right along with them. If our closest friends are immoral people, then their immortality will rub off on us as well. If we associate closely with lazy and disrespectful people, we will soon join their attitudes. Why? Because I Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.’”
So what if we reversed the influence and started hanging around good company? We would have, “Good company encourages good habits.” The good influence encourages us to become a person of good morals and behavior.
We find this principle played out in Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”
It was apparent to all who watched the disciples that they had been associating with Jesus. His influence had colored their lives in an undeniable way. After three years of association with the Son of God, His characteristics had rubbed off on them.
After reading through the book of Acts, I found at least fifty characteristics and experiences revealed through the lives of the early Christians. I won’t list all of them, but each one proved that they had been with Jesus. No other influence could have inspired them. No other cause could have brought about the supernatural in their lives if it hadn’t been for the presence of Jesus.
Let’s take a look of some of those characteristics, or “good habits.”
Jesus promoted unity from the very beginning of His ministry. He always encouraged love to tie them together, but also set an example of unity between Him and His Father. This revelation enabled the disciples in the book of Acts to influence their world in a powerful way.
Jesus: “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30)
The Disciples: Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul . . . (Acts 4:32)
SIGNS & WONDERS
Jesus showed the disciples how to flow in the supernatural as He walked on the earth. Though He was right there with them, they didn’t sit idly by, waiting for Him to act. They followed His example, right through the book of Acts.
Jesus: When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-3)
The Disciples: And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. (Mark 16:2) And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. (Acts 5:12)
CHARITY & GENEROSITY
Jesus taught His disciples to be like the Father, showing mercy and compassion on those who needed it. Learning from the best, the disciples made it their lifestyle to care for the poor and each other as the opportunity arose.
Jesus: (The story of the Good Samaritan) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)
The Disciples: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (Acts 2:44)
Jesus set an excellent example of a person who faithfully prays. Prayer was His lifeline to God as He sought direction for His ministry. The disciples also caught its importance in their daily lives. As a result, power filled their lives to enable them to do what God had called them to do.
Jesus: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. ( Mark 1:35)
The Disciples: And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)
No one portrayed obedience better than Jesus. Even in the most trying of times, He submitted Himself to the will of His Father. The disciples, under heavy persecution, followed that example. They obeyed, even when it hurt.
Jesus: He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
The Disciples: But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Jesus wasn’t a coward. It didn’t bother Him that His actions might cause people to dislike Him, or even to stir up violence. He did what He was called to do, no matter the cost. The disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, also operated in that boldness as they preached God’s Word.
Jesus: Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:16-20)
The Disciples: So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-2)
Jesus called all to repent from their sin, to set their lives totally apart for Him. The disciples responded to this message, repented themselves, and urged others to do the same. A life of purity was what they called for as they honored Jesus.
Jesus: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
The Disciples: Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 10:38)
Jesus knew the importance of praise, and led His disciples to put it into action. The disciples caught its value and put it into practice, even in the middle of heavy persecution. In cases such as Paul and Silas, this action of faith caused freedom to arrive (Acts 16:16-40).
Jesus: And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:26) But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:15-16)
The Disciples: So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
We could never get any closer to “good company” than Jesus. He, the perfect Lamb of God, gave us the greatest example of integrity we would ever need. He showed us how to live as successful, world-changing disciples. He gave us all the tools we need to represent Himself and the Kingdom of God as we were always commissioned to do.
The question is this: Who will be our greatest influence? Who will we associate with the most so that they’re attributes become our own? We can bow our knee to the world, following after their corrupt company; or we can surrender to Jesus and cause the world to marvel. The choice is ours.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.