August 6 – August 12, 2019

WORD

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. 8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” 13All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Reflection: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

I am challenged by this passage to consider how much of my faith is built on true trust and how much is simply the byproduct of being born in a wealthy, privileged society in which I have never truly felt want.  When I think of how many people in the world today, and throughout history, have had to actually trust for daily bread, I am humbled.  My faith has existed without much real testing in my life.  Not that I am complaining, necessarily, or inviting trial!  And there are things I have had to wrestle and struggle with, but my life has been easy compared to many.

I guess what I am saying, is that as I grow into my middle adult years, I want my faith to grow too.  I don’t want to come to the end of my life and realize, “You know what?  I never really did step out in faith and do the things God called me to do.”  All of this brings the question into my mind and heart: “What steps of faith is God asking me to make?”  Abraham and Sarah’s acts of faith changed the whole trajectory of the world’s future and there was nothing special about them that qualified them for that impact more so than you and me.  The choices we make by faith can change the trajectory of someone else’s future.

Vision and faith are vitally connected.  When we have faith, we can envision a future in which God changes the outcomes that seem destined by circumstance.  Gabriel assured Mary that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).  This also means that no situation will ever be so dire that it cannot be positively influenced by people of faith who trust in God.  This is not some hokey “imagine it and it will happen” type of new age nonsense.  This is an act of trusting that God is actively working within the world to bring all things under his shalom peace.  This is a subversive confidence in redemption.

I wonder what someone might be able to say about my faith when my life is complete.  Notice in the Scripture above how many statements start out with “By faith…”  Imagine someone saying that about you: “By faith Josh ___________.”  What would fill in the blank for you?

Journaling Focus: All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.

Have you ever considered that some of your work on earth will not bear fruit in your lifetime?  How does this make you feel?  It is often the case that we do not recognize the fruit of our godly labors in an expedient manner.  Perhaps we will never see the fruit.  As you journal this week, reflect on the long lasting (even eternal) effects of your actions.  Try to see the forest – the big picture – that your life will help sprout.

Sacred Reading:

This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.

  • Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture.  As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
  • Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time.  As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
  • Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time.  As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.

Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!

 

SPIRIT

Scripture Song:

Listen to the song, God Is in Control(try not to get distracted by the incredibly silly and dated 1990s music video!).  When we trust that God is the ultimate authority in the heavens and on the earth, then faith can grow within us.  What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?

Prayer Focus: Indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

We’ve seen in the past few days how little our society resembles what God is working to prepare for us through the kingdom of God.  Violence has no place in God’s kingdom.  Pray for those who have been harmed by violence and for those who mourn.  Trust God to comfort us and change our hearts of hatred into hearts of love.  Ask God to begin the work with you.

Meditation Focus: By faith…

Having faith begins with abandoning your own plans and trusting that God will lead you onto the right paths.  Like the child holding their parent’s hand (like in the image above) we must hold on to God’s hand, wrapping our whole trust around him.  Sit with the image above and contemplate this idea of trust.  How are you wrapping your hand around the finger of God?  Where is God leading you?  How does it feel to let God lead?

Examen:

Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week.  Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week.  Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.

  • Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
  • Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
  • Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week.  For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening.  If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
  • Ask God to guide you through these questions:
    • How has God asked you to step out in faith?
    • When have you felt afraid or unsure?
    • How have you trusted God?
    • What have been the results of trusting in God?
  • Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week.  Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.

Holy Action: 

Visit this list of historic creeds of the Christian Church.  These creeds are the statements of faith that have been collected by the children of God over the centuries – statements which give expression to our deepest experiences of trusting God.  Clink on a few of the links on the list and read those creeds.  Express your own trust in God through claiming these truths for yourself.

Breath Prayer: LORD God, help our unbelief.

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