Summary: A look at what it takes to be incredible for God
Clip from “Incredibles”
Remember at the start of the series we talked about super-heroes like Mr Incredible. Well this chapter shows we can be incredible too by faith. We have a list of people who did and endured incredible things for God – they conquered, escaped, overcame lions, became powerful, miracles took place. Like the author of Hebrews we are going to summarise the story – the bottom line is that these people did exploits for God. They are God’s incredibles. This morning I want us to see what the writer says specifically about these and what made them incredible. I believe God wants us to be incredible, world-changers, you say we can’t possibly be that. But as the now famous story reminds us: There were thousands of starfish washed up on the beach at low tide. One morning a young boy was busily running up and down the shore tossing each starfish, one by one, into the ocean. At the same time another man walked by and said, "There are so many starfish washed ashore, what’s the point, you can’t possibly throw them all back into the sea – you can’t make any difference”. The boy looked at the starfish in his hand and said “It will to this one," and he continued throwing them back into the ocean one by one. That is the spirit we need if we are going to be God’s Incredibles, it is the spirit that these heroes of faith had.
1. Bring your weakness to God & by faith God will enable you to do exploits
As soon as we talk about being incredible for God we think of people of extraordinary ability doing extraordinary. But that is not what the bible portrays. It shows ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It shows that the men and women whom God uses were weak too. In fact in v.34 it says that their weakness was turned to strength. The Greek word for weakness means: feebleness (of mind or body)- I wonder if there are any who feel feeble in mind or body? By implication (according to Strong) this may mean weakness morally (who struggles with sin?); frailty in terms of disease or sickness. Does this describe you in any way? Well God is not looking for those who have no weakness, he want us who are weak to come to him and surrender ourselves to his purpose. One of the examples in the writer’s mind was probably Gideon who when the angel called on him and declared him a Mighty Warrior he was looking around to see where the mighty warrior was! When he was told of the job he had to do of taking on the Midianites he made excuses: My clan is the weakest in our tribe. My family is the weakest in our clan & I am the least in my family! I am nothing, a nobody. I’m too young to die!” Yet God used him to become a mighty warrior and overcome an army of tens of thousands with 300 men. God wants to use you to do exploits for him. But you say I have all these disadvantages – The Message says, “They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies.”
They were made strong and so will you and I be – (made strong = enable, (increase in) strength(-en), be (make) strong. People lacking in ability found ability they didn’t know they had, people with disadvantages found that God turned the very disadvantage into advantage. One of the things I am learning in our situation is that in our weakness, frailty and pain, God empowers us to cope, to go forward - trusting his purpose. He is using the very things we struggle with to use us more. Although they were weak, they were given the strength (CEV). They found strength when they were weak. (God’s Word translation). Lay all your weakness before him and trust God to use it and turn it into strength. They conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised. What kind of a difference will you make?
2. Be prepared for it won’t be easy
But we should also realise that if we are to be truly incredible – it’s not going to be easy. We are not promised an easy ride – but I think most of us have found that out. The writer to the Hebrews makes mention of people escaping the flames referring to Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, this is one of my favourite bible stories. The faith of the three young men was something – prepared to be burned to death. They are confident God can deliver them, but even if he doesn’t they will not worship the image the king had set up. There are going to be challenges, there will be lions that may devour us, flames to consume us – but God will be with us. Jeremiah was stoned to death, Isaiah traditionally it has been said was sawed in two under the evil king Manasseh. Who ever said following God would be easy? Who ever said it would be for wimps? Who ever said it was going to be boring? Beware opting for an easy life, thinking that way you can avoid the challenges. Sometimes they find you!