Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, August 22. Read Deuteronomy 31:6-7. 1) What does Moses tell Israel the basis of their courage should be? 2) What would God enable them to do?
Tuesday, August 23. Read Matthew 25:31-39. 1) How did Jesus describe the end of time? 2) What did Jesus say those “on the right” will hear from the King? 3) What was the basis of the King’s judgment?
Wednesday, August 24. Read 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. 1) How would you describe today’s world from the point of view of sexual ethics? 2) What did Paul teach the Corinthian church about this matter?
Thursday, August 25. Read Philippians 4:10-14. 1) How did Paul characterize his life in 4:10? 2) What does “content” or “contentment” mean, according to Paul?
Friday, August 26. Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10. 1) What does Paul describe as “great wealth?” 2) What does Paul believe about how we enter and leave this world? 3) What does Paul think wealth can do to us?
Saturday, August 27. Read Hebrew 13:1-8. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
O God, above all else we pray for attention to you, and you alone. May we see your majesty and wisdom. Never trusting our own instincts rather than your eternal truth. Keep us from thinking that we know best. Amen
Hymn of the Week:
Sweet Is the Promise
by Charles H. Gabriel, 1910
Sweet Is the Promise, ‘I Will Not Forget Thee,’
Nothing Can Molest or Turn My Soul Away;
Even Though the Night Be Dark Within The Valley,
Just Beyond Is Shining an Eternal Day.
I Will Not Forget Thee or Leave Thee,
In My Hands I’ll Hold Thee, In My Arms I’ll Fold Thee.
I Will Not Forget Thee or Leave Thee
I Am Thy Redeemer, I Will Care For Thee.
How Can I Show My Gratitude to Jesus,
For His Love Unfailing and His Tender Care?
I Will Proclaim to Others His Salvation,
That They May Accept Him and His Promise Share.
Trusting The Promise, ‘I Will Not Forget Thee,’
Onward Will I Go with Songs Of Joy And Praise;
Though Earth Despise Me, Though My Friends Forsake Me,
Jesus Will Be Near Me, Gladdening My Days.
When At The Golden Portals I Am Standing,
All My Tribulations, All My Sorrows Past,
How Sweet To Hear The Blessed Proclamation:
Enter Faithful Servant, Welcome Home At Last.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Exercising the Spirit: Hospitality
When was the last time you entertained angels?
by Scott Owings
To a disciple who was attempting forms of spirituality that bordered on the bizarre the Teacher was heard to say, “Holiness is a mysterious thing: The greater it is, the less it is noticed.”
An 18th century icon of the Holy Trinity was painted by the Russian artist Andrei Rublev. It was inspired by the mysterious but wonderful story of hospitality found in the Torah (Genesis 18). As you may recall, three strangers appear at the home of Abraham and Sarah and are treated royally, as if they were God himself. And that, in fact, is what the Genesis narrative and Rublev’s painting wants us to see.
Hospitality, as practiced by Abraham and Sarah, blesses God and in turn brings a surprise blessing to us!
Hospitality is indeed a lost art, practice, and virtue. Our lives are busy — full of noise, crowded with appointments, ballgames, deadlines, and numerous church activities. Hospitality takes time and an unhurried presence, something few, if any of us, have these days. Tragically, when hospitality is eliminated or neglected, the Trinity’s presence is missed!
The good news is that hospitality can, and must, be reclaimed. Call it what you will, but we must slow down, creating “down time,” “family time,” and “unhurried leisure” so that hospitality becomes possible. This will not be easy and will likely require a re-prioritizing of our busy calendars. While hospitality takes great intentionality and can be costly, the rewards are without measure-far greater than we can ever imagine! Consider what the Hebrew writer said when he wrote:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV)
This passage confirms what the Genesis 18 story highlights: when we welcome guests or strangers into our midst and treat them with kindness, we are blessing God. Seldom will we recognize with our physical eyes a guest as the face of God; however, in a very real sense this is reality, the meaning behind the sacred symbol of hospitality.
The story of Abraham and Sarah declares another mystery about hospitality. That is, as we show hospitality to others and seek to bless them, we are in turn blessed by God. Make no mistake: I am not saying we practice hospitality so that we might benefit. However, God is present in each person — even in the least and the last … perhaps more so! Unexpectedly, God also uses the guest to become in a sense the host — that is, the one who often brings the greater blessing. This happens in Genesis 18 as the Three not only are served, but serve, bringing laughter into the home by the long-awaited promise of a child.
Like all the disciplines, hospitality is a spiritual exercise and one that takes effort and practice. But, hospitality is more than worth any effort we might exert, for not only will it strengthen our spiritual muscles, it will also bring a delightful blessing to God, others, and ourselves.
In closing, here a few concrete exercises you might want to try as a means by which you can grow in the grace of hospitality.
- Look for a guest at church and invite them to lunch, asking them to tell their story and share yours as well. As Eugene Peterson points out in his fascinating book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, “Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.”
- Have an Ice Cream party in your neighborhood, asking each person to bring their favorite flavor.
- God is present in each person!
- Be a mentor for a youth.
- Volunteer to be a guide for recently arrived foreigners in your city.
- Host an exchange student or volunteer to take an exchange student on a tour of your favorite site.
- Invite someone that you don’t know well into your home for a meal or dessert.
- Last-but certainly not least-seek to “be present” to each person you encounter. Simply being aware of others, looking them in the eye, and welcoming a stranger into your space may be the most important and neglected hospitable practice of all!