The Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost August 7, 2022
Text: Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16 CW-21 Series C 22:2337
Theme: Faith Is….
If I were to ask you to complete this sentence, how would you finish it: Faith is…? Maybe you would give me a single word definition like “Faith is trust.” Maybe you would describe what faith does with an example from the Bible like: “In faith Daniel knew that God would rescue him from the lions’ den. So, he went to Him in prayer.” What would you say? Faith is….
Sometimes that which people call faith isn’t what God calls faith. So, if you really want to know what faith is to God, go to His Word. Here He defines and describes faith for us. The author doesn’t tell us everything about faith, but he tells us a lot. Our text on faith is from the grandest chapter in the Bible. What is faith? God responds: (text)
I. Confident conviction that stands firmly on God’s promises…
Here is a simple definition: “Faith is being sure about what we hope for, being convinced about things we do not see.”
Faith is sureness; it is certainty; it is conviction that is based on things that are real (upostasis). Since it is based on reality, one has confidence in what he believes and stands firmly upon it. Faith stands firmly on God’s Word and promises.
A story about this that helps illustrate its point for me goes back to the pioneer days of our country. A weary traveler came to the banks of the Mississippi River in winter. There was no bridge over the river, and it was covered in ice. Could the man dare to cross? Would the ice bear his weight? With hesitation and fear he began to creep cautiously across the surface of the ice on his hands and knees.
Halfway across he heard the sound of singing coming up behind him. Out of the darkness burst a man on a wagon, driving a horse-drawn load of coal across the ice, singing merrily as he went. Here the timid traveler crawled on hands and knees, trembling lest the ice was not strong enough to hold him! And there, as if whisked away by the wind, went the other, horses, sleigh, and load of coal upheld by the same ice on which the first man was creeping!
Sometimes we can be like the weary traveler, only creeping upon the promises of God. Cautiously, timidly, tremblingly we venture forth in life as though the lightness of our step will make His promises and our lives more secure. That’s not the way Abraham approached faith. He approached God with confidence even though he had no idea where God was taking him.
It says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance, and he left without knowing where he was going.” Abraham had no idea where God was taking him.
What if God came to you and said, “Alright ______ I want you to get up, leave this place, and go wherever I take you. I’m not going to tell you where you are going; I’m not going to tell you what the place is like; I’m not going to tell you how long it will take you to get there. Just go. Leave behind your family and everything familiar to you. You won’t know the language of the people who are there. You won’t know where anything is. Just go. I will be with you.”
How hard would that be? But Abraham was sure and went since God promised that He would take him to a good land, bless his descendants, and the Savior would come from him – all things that Abraham hoped for. So, he went with confidence that stood on God’s promises. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for.” Sure! This is a different kind of hope from that which many people talk about today.
For example, I don’t play the lottery, I don’t keep track of the lottery, I don’t care about the lottery. I only know from listening to the news the other day that the lottery jackpot was at a high number, one of the highest ever. Don’t you know how many people were buying tickets, hoping that they would win. What were their chances? Infinitesimally small. All those people, except for one in how many millions, would lose. Yet, they hoped, a hope that ended in failure.
That’s not the type of hope God gives to us in His Word. The hope He gives us in faith is a certainty because it is set on God’s doing, not man’s. “God is faithful; and Christ is faithful (1Co.10:13;Hb.3:6). They will do as they say.
He promised to be with us (Mt.28:20). He promised to uphold us with His hand of righteousness (Ps.63:8;Is.41:10). He promised that in all things we are more than conquerors (Ro.8:37). He promised to fully and freely wash away all our sin for Jesus’ sake (1Jn.1:7). He promised to come and take us to the mansions of heaven (Jn.14:1f) like He promised to take Abraham to a new land. Don’t creep upon those promises as though they are thin ice, too fragile to hold you. Stand firmly with confidence and conviction that God is as good as His word. He will do as He has pledged. Faith grabs hold of it.
What is Faith? It is confident conviction that stands on God’s promises. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for…”
II. …resting its whole weight on Him, “being convinced of things we do not see.”
Don’t go about your faith-life as though you are “following a hunch” or “taking a blind leap into the dark,” like some say. Abram didn’t “follow a hunch” when he left his home nor did he “leap blindly into the dark.” He followed where the Lord took him.
He did not “follow a hunch” when he and Sara believed they would have a son, as though “somehow it would all work out.” My goodness, he was 99 years old, and Sara was 89 at the time. I think it is said that the oldest woman to have a child in our day was a lady in India. She was 72 years old when she gave birth to twins in 2008 (Med., vol.53,No.3, p.84). Abraham was 99, Sara 89, without the medical advantages of our day. They knew, humanly speaking, that they were beyond the years of having children. But God promised and they trusted His word, even though they could not see it.
Such trust in God is not a hunch or leap into the dark. Rather, it brings the future into the present as if we already hold our hope in our hands. “Who hopes for what he sees?” Paul writes. “We hope for what we do not see and wait patiently for it” (Rm.8:24f). Hope brings the future into the present, based on God’s word and promises. It rests the whole weight of something to be done on Him.
Think of it this way. Many years ago, a missionary to Africa preached to those who had no written language. He set out to translate the Bible into their language for them to keep.
He soon found that they had no word for “faith” in their vocabulary that captured the idea of a Biblical faith in God. One day, as he was mulling over what to use to get across the idea of such faith, one of the native workers came into his office, sat down on a chair, rested his feet on the desk and used a phrase that meant “I’m resting my whole weight on this chair.” That’s the phrase he used for faith – “resting one’s whole weight upon.”
Faith in God’s word and promises rests its whole weight on Him, especially when it can’t see the outcome.
I never saw God create the world in just 6 days. I never saw Jesus die on the cross. I wasn’t there when floodwaters covered the highest mountain, or when the Savior rose triumphantly from the tomb. I haven’t heard his voice tell me that my sins are forgiven and that He is coming back someday for me. Yet, I believe it, even though I do not see it, because His Word says it. I rest my whole weight on Him “certain of what I do not see.”
III. …patiently waiting for something better.
Abraham did not see all the things God had in store for him. In fact, most of the things God promised didn’t come into play until he departed this life. It says, “(People like him) died in faith, without having received the things that were promised, but they saw and welcomed them from a distance.”
Think of it this way. I love the mountains. To me they are beautiful and hold many memories from childhood. I’d love to live where I could see them. If I lived in eastern Colorado, I could see them. That would make me happy. But there is a difference in seeing them from a distance and living up close in them.
That’s the way it was for Abraham. He rejoiced in the promises God gave him. He enjoyed a son born in his old age. But he never got to own any of the land God promised him; he never got to see those who became his descendants. Most of all, he never got to see the Savior. It’s like he saw them all from a distance but not up close.
Abraham left every symbol of earthly security he knew. He travelled to a land he had never seen. The only pledge of security he had for the journey was the promise of God to be with him and to bless him. “He believed God,” and patiently waited for something better – not here but in heaven. That was the something better that he longed for. So, in faith, he waited – patiently.
You and I have the same promises of God. He has placed our feet on unknown paths in life. He is leading us to a land that “He will show us.” We have the promise that He will go with us all the way, and that we shall live with Him forever. Here we live for just a time, strangers tenting in a foreign land. But there we shall be at home with Him, where we belong – not seeing from a distance, but up close, personal. This is faith.
It calls for patiently waiting for something better, with confidence and conviction that stands firmly on God’s promises, and with a trust that rests its whole weight on Him. Lord, give us such a faith as this, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on Facebook
The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost August 7, 2022
“Abraham believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Gn.15:6
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. The LORD watches over you” (Psalm 121).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Faith Looks Forward. The Christian life is constantly looking ahead. When eyes cannot see what God promises, the heart receives it in faith. So it was with Abraham. His eyes could not see the son which God promised him in his old age. Yet, he believed God, and in faith the LORD counted him righteous in His sight as Abraham patiently waited.
May we learn from Abraham to patiently trust the LORD and look forward to the time when God fulfills His promises to us. He will do whatever He has promised. Such a faith lives at peace. It is content with what it has in the present and eagerly looks to what lies ahead.
To that end we pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we desire or deserve. In the abundance of Your mercy, pour upon us a rich measure of faith. Forgive us those things of which our conscience is afraid and give us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except trusting in the merits and mediation of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 15:1-6
Beyond all hope, Abraham believed the Lord’s promise of a son and great blessings to come. Such faith resulted in righteousness for him.
The Epistle: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Faith is not an empty wish for something that is uncertain; it is a sure hope that trusts God’s promises. Faith clings to what is not seen, like God’s creation of the world and His promise of a heavenly home.
The Gospel Lesson: Luke 12:22-34
The Savior encourages us to not be afraid for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to those who trust in Him. He will provide for our needs more richly than we think. Treasure His Gospel Kingdom first, and all that you need will be added. First be found through faith in Him.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “Unbelief always wants to see and feel where to go…. Faith, however, thinks: ‘I know not where I am going. Go I must. I see and feel nothing, but I will commend myself to Him who has said in the psalm: Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you.’(Ps.55:23). In reliance on these words, I pass on.
“So sharp are the eyes of faith. Faith can see in the dark where nothing whatever is visible. It feels where nothing is to be felt. Thus, we believe in the Lord Christ…working everything in us. We do not see this, nor do we feel it; yet through faith the heart sees it as surely as if it were looking at it with bodily eyes.”
— Martin Luther on Faith is the Evidence of Things Not Seen
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Opening Hymn: #620
Order of Worship: The Service: Setting One with Holy Communion: page 154-160
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
The Gospel Acclamation pg.161
Sermon: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 “Faith Is…”
The Nicene Creed pg.162
Our Response to the Word
Prayer of the Church: pg.164
The Lord Blesses Us
Preparation for Holy Communion Hymnal page 165-169
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Distribution Hymns: #816 & 932
Thanksgiving & Blessing Hymnal page 170
The Ninth Sunday After Pentecost – Series C
Old Testament Lesson: Genesis 15:1-6 Abram Believed the LORD.
1After these events the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. He said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
2Abram said, “Lord God what can you give me, since I remain childless, and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3Abram also said, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a servant born in my house will be my heir.”
4Just then, the word of the Lord came to him. God said, “This man will not be your heir, but instead one who will come out of your own body will be your heir.” 5The Lord then brought him outside and said, “Now look toward the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” He said to Abram, “This is what your descendants will be like.” 6Abram believed in the Lord, and the Lord credited it to him as righteousness.
Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16 What Is Faith?
1Faith is being sure about what we hope for, being convinced about things we do not see. 2For by this faith the ancients were commended in Scripture.
3By faith we know that the universe was created by God’s word, so that what is seen did not come from visible things.
8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance, and he left without knowing where he was going.
9By faith he lived as a stranger in the Promised Land, as if it did not belong to him, dwelling in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
11By faith Abraham also received the ability to conceive children, even though Sarah herself was barren and he was past the normal age, because he considered him faithful who made the promise. 12And so from one man, and he as good as dead, descendants were born as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand along the seashore.
13One by one, all of these died in faith, without having received the things that were promised, but they saw and welcomed them from a distance. They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14Indeed, people who say things like that make it clear that they are looking for a land of their own. 15And if they were remembering the land they had come from, they would have had an opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better land—a heavenly one. For that reason, God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he prepared a city for them.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 12:22-34 A Heart Is Where Its Treasure Is
22Jesus said to his disciples, “For that reason I tell you, stop worrying about your life, about what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23Certainly life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no warehouse or barn; and yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! 25And who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? 26Since you are not able to do this little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these. 28If this is how God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you, you of little faith? 29Do not constantly chase after what you will eat or what you will drink. Do not be worried about it. 30To be sure, the nations of the world chase after all of these things, but your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, continue to seek the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you. 32Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not become old, a treasure in the heavens that will not fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
| 9:00 am
Divine Worship Service
With Holy Communion
Fellowship & Bible Study
|Elders, Trustees, and Church Council Meetings are being postponed until next Tuesday||11 am
Divine Worship Service
online – Facebook
Fellowship & Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
None of us likes to be kept waiting in today’s instant-gratification world. We want to see results now! We want to see the doctor now! We want to see our car fixed now! Promises aren’t worth much; we want to see it! That’s what makes a Christian’s faith-life difficult because faith-life means waiting patiently. Often it means waiting and waiting and waiting some more! But that’s exactly how faith is exercised; that’s how faith is strengthened; that’s how faith grows! And our faith in God will not disappoint us because He always keeps His promises. We just need to wait patiently upon the Lord!
The Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 (answers are found on the back side)
- What is the scriptural definition of faith?
- How is Abraham such a wonderful example of faith?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister); Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis; Elizabeth Lisenby; Barbara Long; Lois Wiese.
Forward in Christ’s latest edition for August can be found in the narthex. Pick up a copy before leaving. Also, the next series of Meditations daily devotions has arrived. They will begin at the end of this month. There are plenty of copies for family and friends in the narthex.
Postponed till Tuesday, August 16 – Elders/Trustees Meet Individually at 6:30 pm, Church Council at 7 pm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 26; Bible Class: 14; Midweek Bible Class:6; Offering: $1,560.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Pentecost 10: Jeremiah 23:23-29; Hebrews 12:1-13; Luke 12:49-53 (CW-21, Series C)
Answers to Today’s Epistle Lesson Brief Study:
- “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In other words, seeing is not believing. Instead, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Faith-life is exercised by waiting patiently upon the Lord.
- The writer to the Hebrews points out the many times that Abraham trusted the Lord “even though” (see vv. 8 & 11) the visible evidence suggested he should not.
This week I am praying for … …