Going Deeper 8-8-2019

‚ÄčThe second reading for Pentecost 9...
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.

Hope is a very important part of faith.  Perhaps the most awful existence possible is living in hopelessness.  

Abraham's whole journey was founded on hope.  He left his home with the hope and trust that God would prove to be faithful to His promises.  As yesterday's devotional pointed out, there were many times when Abraham's trust wavered, but eventually, hope returned.  As this text proclaims, even though he could not see the ultimate fulfillment of God's covenant promises, Abraham trusted in God and hope endured... albeit inconsistently.

At one of the most hopeless points in the history of Abraham's descendants, the Lord spoke these words through the prophet Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  At that point, the future looked bleak at best.  Many thought there would be no future, that the end had come.  But for the people of God, there is always hope.

The ultimate future is important for our current state of hopefulness.  During times of stress and difficulty, we always hope for things to improve in our immediate future, and trust that God can and will make all things work together for good, as He has promised.  But while we cannot see exactly how things will work out-- at least not on this side of the grave-- we know that our ultimate destiny is assured.  By grace, eternal salvation awaits us.  This can always keep hope alive.

With You in Hope,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."