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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, August 9, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Hebrews 11:1-3, 8–16

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By 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. By 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. By 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. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By 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. Therefore 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.” All 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, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But 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. (NRSV)

Reflection
The Common English Bible translates the first three verses of Hebrews 11 like this: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible.”

In this passage we are given spiritual wisdom beyond our full understanding. What a difference it would make in our lives if we lived by faith as the elders in the past did! We would live as if we knew our lives had purpose beyond what we can see from our limited earthly human perspective. We would realize that our words create reality, just as the universe was created by the word of God. We would be confident that we hold gifts, abilities, and have promises and responsibilities beyond what we can imagine. We would know that we are called to move in faith beyond our accustomed capacities to a new spaciousness of consciousness, increased capability and awareness of our empowerment to be co-creators. That is why we are here.

Prayer
Dear Creator of all that is, may we live into the mystery of this faith that offers us the opportunity to sacrifice that which no longer serves us, the courage to go into the unknown parts of our lives, the grace to receive the abilities that will enable us to fulfill our purpose, and a longing for and the certainty of a homeland that is found in you. With deep gratitude, love, and faith. Amen.

Written by Susan Schemper, Spiritual Counselor, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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