It’s Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Today is my father’s birthday. Happy birthday! Hope you have a great day today! It was a joy to get to have our celebration on Saturday.

Not really much else to talk about today, so I guess I’ll jump right into the devotional.

Today’s Bible readings:
Hebrews 11; Ezekiel 21-22; Proverbs 27:1-9

Ah, Hebrews 11. The great chapter of faith. The “Hall of Faith,” as it were. The writer begins with is definition of faith. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. This is the ESV translation, of course, as are all of my Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted. It’s interesting that it is exactly the same in the NASB. Anyway…what makes faith faith is that it is based on what we cannot see. It is, as John Piper described, “Future Grace.” Our faith is in future grace. But we also have faith in what is passed. As verse 3 says, we have faith that God created the universe. We did not see that happen…no one did. But we have faith in that truth. And then the list of people commences: Abel, Enoch (with an interjection that without faith, it is impossible to please God, in verse 6), Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses (actually Moses’s parents), THEN Moses, all of the people of Israel who crossed the Red Sea (note that this writer says it was faith that brought down the walls of Jericho!), Rahab (yes, the prostitute), Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. By faith, people “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” But others did not fare so well…in faith, some “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (vv. 33-38 ) And not one of these people received what was promised (at least not in this life). They did not see the promised salvation of the Messiah. Yet their faith did not falter. They believed, in the face of insurmountable odds.
I read this chapter and I am ashamed of my feeble faith, that wavers when the least little thing gets in my way. Today, I commit to holding fast to that faith. Today, I resolve to fight the good fight. Today, I resolve to finish the race.

Two things have stuck out to me in the Ezekiel reading. Both are in chapter 22. Verse 26 says, Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. “They have made no distinction between the holy and the common…” I think we need to take a hard look at that phrase. Are we guilty of this same crime? So many of our modern churches have assimilated so much of the world’s methods that they don’t appear much different. This does not mean that I am opposed to using technology and modern music in our worship and service. Not at all. But when the church sinks to the level of secular marketing to try to appeal to more people, I think we have a serious problem. We need to make sure that we know the difference between the holy and the common.
The other thing is in verse 29. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. I’m pretty sure no commentary is necessary.

Father, I pray that you would open our eyes to the extortion and oppression of the poor and needy that is rampant in our country, and even worse in other countries. I pray that you would guide the hearts of our leaders to do the right things and consider what is good for all, rather than just for a select few. I also pray that you would guide our church leaders to understand the difference between the “holy and the common.” Let us not profane your name with the practices of our churches. Let us seek to obey your command to be holy, just as you are holy. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, realizing that, because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been made holy! We are not sitting around waiting for some future holiness to come upon us; we are holy NOW! I pray that we would act accordingly!
Father, I pray that my faith would honor you today. Dare I ask for you to increase my faith? I dare not ask you to test it. But if you desire to do so, I cannot ask otherwise. I know what kind of things test faith. I honestly don’t know if I am up for those. However, I believe that Christi and I have been through some serious tests of faith in the bast few years, and we have come out believing in you stronger than ever. I just pray that this faith will work itself out in smaller things in our lives. Let us not be guilty of thinking that faith is only applicable for big things. We need faith for the little, every day things, as well. And perhaps that is where we fail the most.

I pray for this day. Give Christi a good day at work today. Let the anxiety level by minimal today. I pray that she can have a productive day, getting accomplished what needs to be. I pray for a smooth day for me, as well. I pray for Stephanie today. Show her how much you love her. And I lift up Rachel and Justin to you, Lord. Show them your love today.
I also pray for our lifehouse members today. May you shower them all with your grace and mercy today. Jeremy, Jennifer, Jacob, Mary, and Alex, and their families.
I pray for Joel’s continued recovery from his accident last Friday. I also pray for The Exchange to have a place to meet that is our own, that we can call home. Let us have a visibility in the community that exists at times other than Sunday morning.

Faith…it’s not just for crises.

Grace and peace, friends