We're so glad you decided to join us for the first Sunday of 2024!
Yesterday was Epiphany, the day when we celebrate the wise men coming to see Jesus.
We meet in person most weeks, and discuss the lesson together. We also share any prayer requests we have. Consider the last week, and any prayer requests you might have. You can add these as a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Loving Father, I can be so entrenched in my own thinking that sometimes I doubt Your Word and question Your promises, often wishing I had some concrete proof of Your love for me. Forgive me, Lord - I know that Your Word gives me all the affirmation of this absolute reality that I need. Your Word and promises are sure, and Your faithfulness stretches beyond the limits of time and space. Thank You for the gift of faith. I pray that, day by day, my loving trust in You will become increasingly established within my heart for I long to please You in all I say and do and am. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
Today's lesson is on Hebrews 11:1-4a, 7a, 8, 17-18, 20-23, 32, 39-40. If you would like to read the passage uninterrupted, Hebrews 11:1-40.
Luke says he writes so that you can know for certain. John writes so that we can believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The book of Hebrews is a bit of a puzzle. Scholars can’t agree on who wrote it or when it was written. They do agree that Hebrews offers a description of faith, and a history of God’s people. This letter was written to encourage a people not to give up on their faith because of the suffering they endure.
Faith, for Hebrews, is always linked to hope. Faith is looking at God and trusting him for everything. Hope is looking at the future and trusting God for it. Over two thousand years later we still have a similar faith. We believe in things we cannot see. You can’t see electricity but when you flip a switch, you see the light. You can’t see anything on a CD or DVD but you know that sound and pictures are there. Yes, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
In various translations, this chapter is introduced by many titles: “The Meaning of Faith,” “By Faith we Understand,” “Description of Faith,” and in the Bible most of us use, NIV, “Faith in Action”. The chapter’s list of saints who have gone before us is often called a cloud of witnesses. Each of us has our own cloud of witnesses: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, Sunday School teachers and pastors. Remember them and be thankful. In 2024 we have the advantage of knowing about Jesus, the cross and his resurrection. We have been empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God has called each one of us to work for his kingdom.
Some faithful people have some significant imperfections. We are to walk by faith not by sight. We have an advantage over Old Testament teachers because we have the privilege of knowing about Jesus and his resurrection. Because we believe in the promises of God, it becomes our duty to do what God calls us to do, believing that the Holy Spirit will empower us to do so.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for these faithful servants of yours whose deeds inspire us in our faith. May we prove to be at least as faithful as they were. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Thought to Remember
Faith overrides imperfections!
Questions for Discussion
Today's benediction is from the Tree of Life Version.
Next week's lesson is on Proverbs 3:1-8.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.