+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Sabbath Rest – Saturday)
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and set aside a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared to meet you in worship, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading from the Book of Hebrews 11:32-40 (NLT)
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
Faith makes heroes.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith,
yet none of them received all that God had promised.
– Hebrews 11:30
The Old Testament is full of good models of persevering, living faith and today we are reminded of several of them, and what they accomplished. It’s important to note that none of these heroes was perfect, and yet God approved of the faith of each one.
- In some cases, by faith these heroes accomplished great things.
- In other cases, these heroes were persecuted, tortured and killed because of their faith.
- But in every case they stayed the course by faith because they believed in the better future that God had promised them.
“. . . it is the future, and not the past, that molds the present. . . .” (William L. Lane)
Hebrews Chapter 11 is intended to inspire us to trust and obey God, even if we don’t realize God’s promises to us in our lifetime.
Questions for consideration:
- Do you believe that God can make you a hero of faith? Why / Why not? Please explain.
- How has God positioned you to uniquely bear witness to your faith? What are your opportunities? What are your challenges? Please explain.
- When you think of God’s promises for a better future, what comes to mind? Please explain.
- What would it / does it take to live as a child of that promise? Please explain.
- What do you need to do? What do you need God to do? Please explain.
Life Support Prayer:
Heavenly Father: Fill us with Your Spirit, that all who work to protect life will show that we belong to you by how we love one another and how we treat others. I pray for those who are facing life and death decisions right now, that they may be attracted to you, and receive your love and hope and help through us. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Prayer in Times of Suffering or Weakness:
Dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: I hold up all my weakness to your strength, my failure to your faithfulness, my sinfulness to your perfection, my loneliness to your compassion, my little pains to your great agony on the Cross. I pray that you will cleanse me, strengthen me, guide me, so that in all ways my life may be lived as you would have it lived, without cowardice and for you alone. Show me how to live in true humility, true contrition, and true love. Amen.
“Press On” – Selah
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen