September 8, 2019
Old Testament: Genesis 15:1–6
The Lord spoke his word to Abram in a vision. He said, “Abram, do not be afraid. I am your shield. Your reward will be very great.”
Abram asked, “Almighty Lord, what will you give me? Since I’m going to die without children Eliezer of Damascus will inherit my household. ou have given me no children so this member of my household will be my heir.”
Suddenly, the Lord spoke his word to Abram again. He said, “This man will not be your heir. Your own son will be your heir.” He took Abram outside and said, “Now look up at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” He also said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” Then Abram believed the Lord, and that faith was regarded as the basis of Abram’s approval by the Lord.
Epistle Reading: Hebrews 11:1–16
Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. God accepted our ancestors because of their faith. Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen. Faith led Abel to offer God a better sacrifice than Cain’s. Through his faith Abel received God’s approval as shown by God accepting his sacrifices. Through his faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
Faith enabled Enoch to be taken instead of dying. No one could find him because God had taken him. Scripture states that before Enoch was taken God was pleased with him. No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.
Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going. Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations. Faith enabled Abraham to become a father even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise. Abraham was as good as dead. Yet from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.
All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left they could have found a way to go back. Instead these men were longing for a better country, a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.
Gospel Reading: Luke 12:22–40
Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat or wear. Life is more than food and the body is more than clothes. Consider the crows. They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even have a storeroom or a barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth much more than birds. Can any of you add an hour to your life by worrying? If you can’t do a small thing like that why worry about other things?
Consider how the flowers grow. They never work or spin yarn for clothes, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his majesty was dressed like one of these flowers. That is the way God clothes the grass in the field. Today it’s alive and tomorrow it’s thrown into an incinerator. How much more will God clothe you people, who have so little faith?
Don’t concern yourself about what you will eat or drink, and quit worrying about these things. Everyone in the world is concerned about these things and your Father knows you need them. Rather be concerned about his kingdom. Then these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid little flock. Your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your material possessions and give the money to the poor. Make yourselves wallets that don’t wear out! Make a treasure for yourselves in heaven that never loses its value! In heaven thieves and moths can’t get close enough to destroy your treasure. Your heart will be where your treasure is.
Be ready for action, and have your lamps burning. Be like servants waiting to open the door at their master’s knock when he returns from a wedding. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I can guarantee this truth: He will change his clothes, make them sit down at the table, and serve them. They will be blessed if he comes in the middle of the night or toward morning and finds them awake.
Of course, you realize that if the homeowner had known at what hour the thief was coming he would not have let him break into his house. Be ready because the Son of Man will return when you least expect him.”