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Daily Bible Readings

Monday, August 21. Read Hebrews 11:1-2. 1) How does Hebrews 11 define faith? 2) What is the result of faith in the lives of “the people in days of old?”

Tuesday, August 22. Read Hebrews 2:1-2. 1) What caution does the Hebrews writer issue in this text? 2) What is the antidote for this caution?

Wednesday, August 23. Read Hebrew 5:11-14. 1) How much more would the Hebrews writer like to say? 2) What made this difficult? 3) What did he say his listeners needed?

Thursday, August 24. Read Hebrews 12:14-17. 1) What did the writer tell his writers to do for one another? 2) What did they need to look out for? 3) What do you think this text says about the importance of community for Christ-followers?

Friday, August 25. Read Hebrews 11:8-12. 1) What did Abraham do in verse 8 that distinguished him and his faith? 2) What did God promise Abraham? 3) What was extraordinary about Abraham’s faith?

Saturday, August 24. Read Hebrews 12:18-25. This is Sunday’s sermon text.

Hymn of the Week:

O for a Faith that Will Not Shrink
by W. H. Bathurst, 1931

O for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe,

That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chast’ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain
Will lean upon its God.

A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without,
That, when in danger, knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt,

That bears unmoved the world’s dread frown,
Nor heeds its scornful smile,
That seas of trouble cannot drown,
Nor Satan’s arts beguile,

A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life’s last hour is fled
And with a pure and heav’nly ray
Lights up a dying bed.

Lord, give us such a faith as this,
And then, whate’er may come,
We’ll taste e’en here the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Father, please help us to not become dull and indifferent to your purposes for us. May we not be deceived by a false metaphor, satisfied by an inadequate vision, and distracted by trumpets, fire, and gloom. Keep us on the path to you. As a community of people rather than a lone hiker on the way to nowhere. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

Devotional Article of the Week:

C.S. Lewis and the Struggle to Find Faith
The final destination of our journey to faith often depends upon the orientation of our hearts.
by James Nored & Phil Ware

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Faith! Faith? Faith can be a struggle whether the struggle is intellectual or based on hard life experiences with withering losses.

Jesus had just revealed himself to Peter, James, and John in his heavenly glory during his transfiguration. These three closest disciples had been startled into a new understanding of their Teacher. Moses was Israel’s greatest leader and lawgiver. Elijah was considered Israel’s most important prophet. They appeared next to Jesus in his glory. Then, Moses and Elijah suddenly disappeared from their sight. Only Jesus was left for his closest three to see. God then forcefully spoke to these disciples and told them that Jesus was his beloved Son and that they must listen to him (Mark 9:2-13). Jesus must be the goal of his disciples’ faith. His words must be his disciples’ guide to their lives.

As Jesus and his three disciples descended from this glorious experience, they were met by the rest of the twelve caught in the middle of an embarrassing mess (Mark 9:14-21). These other disciples couldn’t help a man whose son was controlled by a demonic spirit. As a group of teachers of the law and Jesus’ disciples argued with them, a crowd had gathered. The father was frustrated at these other disciples because they could not help his son.

The father of the boy begged Jesus: “[I]f you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).

Jesus responded by saying, “If you can? … Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). To which the father immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

The father’s words ring through the centuries and bring you and me back to the core issue of life.

Faith! Faith? Faith can be a struggle whether the struggle is intellectual or based on hard life experiences with withering losses.

Today’s video with James Nored focuses on C.S. Lewis’ early struggle with unbelief. This struggle was rooted in a series of painful losses, emotional wounds, and intellectual doubts all experienced at a young age. Despite this unbelief, common mythic stories appealed to Lewis’ heart. Their common themes challenged his scholarship. With the help of friends, the call of God gradually led him back to faith. This faith then sustained him through late life challenges and losses. His life of honest struggle with belief and unbelief has, in turn, blessed countless thousands.

If you can’t see the video, and you sure don’t want to miss it, view it online. For additional ideas to consider and some things to discuss with others, we encourage you to see the Study Guide.

Struggling with faith is a challenge nearly every believer goes through at some point in life. That struggle can leave us crying out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” That struggle can also leave each of us unwilling to continue our search for sustaining faith during the dry times in our heart and in our dark nights of the soul. Life, however, drags us in and out of experiences whether we are ready to face or not. The Holy Spirit can use these experiences to reawaken us of our need to make sense of life with faith.

Our Father in heaven can use the beauty of creation to call to our hearts. He can use the arts and stir them and beckon them through music, dance, sculpture, and painting. He can invite us closer through the timely presence of friends who bring us comfort, help us process our intellectual doubts, and survive our most painful experiences. God even uses the stories of books and movies to tap into our heart and pull us back to his unfolding saga of grace. Many of the best secular stories echo the hope we find in Jesus’ story.

This parallel doesn’t discount Jesus’ story but rather reminds us that God wired us to respond to these kinds of stories so that we could connect with his great story of grace. These stories help us long for the day when our story could be caught up in God’s grand story! C.S. Lewis would go on with his group of friends — “The Inklings” — to write beautiful, imaginative, and faith-awakening stories to make us think of faith for this very reason.

Our final step toward faith, or back to faith, can be clothed in mystery. A seeking heart may never be able to discover precisely how this faith happens, just as C.S. Lewis’ trip to the zoo began with him not believing and ended with him believing before he arrived. However, the final destination of our faith journey often depends upon the orientation of our hearts.

Are we seeking the truth? Jesus promised us:

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Luke 11:9-10).

Do we recognize our yearning for God? Paul told the philosophers in Athens:

God [created us] so that [those he created] would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own prophets have said, “We are his offspring” (Acts 17:27-28).

The final destination of our journey to faith often depends upon the orientation of our hearts. Are we seeking a better story than the one in which we find ourselves? The apostle Paul promised us long ago that faith in Jesus offers us a fresh start for a whole new story:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Like the father who desperately wanted his son healed by Jesus, each of us can cry out to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Our Savior waits longingly to meet each of us personally on our unique journey. He longs to do for us what he did for that desperate father: He answered his cry for help and changed his story for the better, forever.

Please continue to join us in seeking faith and celebrating God’s grace as we journey together to find our story joined to God’s story of redemption.

Aslan, C.S. Lewis’ powerful mythic character of a powerful, yet sacrificial lion, awaits us!

As John reminds us in the book of Revelation, Jesus is both conquering lion and sacrificial lamb!

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne… (Revelation 5:5-6).

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