Year B – Lent 2 – Genesis 171-7, 15-16

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.”Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations.I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you.  I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you…God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Summary— The fall of Adam into sin made a break between the relationship of human beings to God. God was not “God” to the wicked that perished in the flood. God was “Judge” to them. In order to bring restoration, God graciously approached pagan Abram. God put Abram into covenant with Him, and promised him many things: God promised him land, offspring, and a unique role in global blessing.  But these weren’t the only things that God promised Abraham; they weren’t the greatest thing that God promised Abraham: the greatest thing that God promised Abraham was Himself.  “I will be God to you and to your offspring after you”—this was the centerpiece of God’s kindness.  In fact, God said as much back in 15:1, “I am your shield, your very great reward.”  God Himself was Abraham’s reward.  And He would be the same to Abraham’s offspring if Abraham “commanded them to keep the way of the Lord” (18:19).

Insight— In Psalm 63:1, David cried, “O God, you are my God!”  How did he know that?  Why could he say it?  Because he knew his Bible: God had promised to be God to Abraham and to his offspring, and that meant him.  It means you, too, according to St. Paul: “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:26-29).  You may, indeed you should, draw from God’s covenant with Abraham the same comfort that David did: God is your God.  Because of this covenant, you are not “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:11-13).  God has chosen you, loves you, and by your baptism has promised to be yours.  And if God is your God then God is for you, and if God is for you then who can be against you (Rom. 8:31)?  If God is your God, then He Himself is your portion forever (Ps. 73:25-26).

Child Catechism— What is the greatest thing that God promises us?  To be our God!

Discussion— Could God have born you to an unbelieving family?  If He had done so, would this covenant relate to you in the same way?

Prayer— Everlasting Father, none but Yourself compelled You to make Yourself Abram’s God; none but Yourself compels You to make us his offspring.  Because of these great kindnesses, O God, You are our God.  Whatever else fails, You are our portion forever: You are our very great reward.  Grant that we might treasure You as Your greatest gift, and that we might lead our children to do the same so that You may bring to us what You have promised, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline

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Year A – Easter Day – Colossians 3:1-4

Easter Day
Colossians 3:1-4: So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Summary – Paul explains that we are to a) Put on Christ (vv1-4). Since we are spiritually united with Christ in His death, resurrection and ascension in baptism, we are to see life from that point of view. He contrasts the heavenly (rule) and earthly (slavery) (v2). We have died with Christ through our union with Him (Rom. 6), so the life we live is hidden in Him (Gal. 2:20) (v3). “Christ who is our life…” (v4).  In the next verses we are to b) Put off sin (vv5-8). Setting our minds on Christ leads to repentance and obedience. Paul uses “members of your earthly body” (sacrificial image of body parts), as a more graphic way to say “your person”  (e.g., Dt. 6: heart, soul and might). Don’t offer any part of yourself to immorality (porneia), impurity, passion, evil desire (v5). These are greed-desires for more and more, rather than contentment in Christ alone. Greed is idolatry since it values and appraises something higher than God. These internal desires are paralleled with “expressive” or “reactive” sins: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech which must also be put aside.

Insight – Do you have relatives that live in another city? Do have a close relationship with them? My brother and sister live in different states and only see each other every year or so. However, I am still united to them as members of my family (both children of my parents). This is one example of objective “union.” The NT teaches everywhere (especially Paul’s epistles) that we are united with Christ through our baptism into Him and we are to activate that union in faith and obedience. We are to believe that in our union with Christ, our true identity is “hidden with Christ” and we are “in Christ” at the Father’s right hand. Every first day of the week (Sunday) is an Easter, but on Easter proper, we celebrate the Resurrection annually, taking into account the events of Holy Week. Paul wants us to see in this passage that every day is Easter and every day is Ascension. In order to apply this, memorize verses to keep your mind on Christ. Recite truth (like Gal. 2:20, 2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 3:4). Galatians 2:20 (NASB) – “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Meditate on Christ’s reign over the world. Establish a daily routine of prayer praising Christ’s rule and supremacy. For He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! We are Risen with Him! We are Risen with Him, Indeed!

Child’s Catechism – What is our relationship with Christ? We are united to Christ in baptism and through faith.

Discussion – Can you think of other examples of “union” in ordinary life? In what groups are you united?

Prayer – Might God, our heavenly father, we thank you that we have a relationship with the risen Christ spiritually and covenantally and that because of this we receive every benefit of Christ’s life and work. Grant that we may ever trust and obey in light of our union with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection and ascension. In His name, Amen.

Year A – Lent 1 – Romans 5:12-19

First Sunday in Lent
Romans 5:12-19:
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned- sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Summary – Paul expresses the core action of Christ over against the fall of Adam into sin. Earlier in the lectionary readings for this Sunday we saw the fall of Adam. Here we see the parallel in the salvation of Christ. As the one act of unrighteousness brought death, so Christ’s one act of obedience brings life to all. In the background of this text is Isaiah 53. The suffering servant’s actions will justify the many and he will be obedient to death. So in this passage Christ’s obedience is the obedience of his one act of forfeiting his life to justify the many on the cross. The result of this obedience is that instead of death reigning over the sons of Adam, now life reigns over the sons of the second Adam. We receive this life by faith in Jesus.

Insight – Many people struggle with the doctrine of original sin. This doctrine is that we are somehow guilty for Adam’s original sin of eating the forbidden fruit. In order to make sense of this, we must understand that there is covenant representation in the Bible. A husband may represent his wife or his children. A leader such as Moses may represent the people. A sacrificial victim on the altar represents the worshiper. And Adam represented all the human race in the garden. While this may seem unfair, our salvation in Christ rests upon the same principle. Unless Christ represented his people on the cross taking the wrath of God for them, there could be no salvation. So rejoice in the doctrine of original sin, but rejoice more in the doctrine of Christ’s representation and covenant headship of his people.

Child’s catechism – How are we made righteous? By the obedience of Jesus, the second Adam.

Discussion – What are some other examples of one person or thing representing another person thing?

Prayer – Almighty God, we praise you that you sent Jesus Christ as the second Adam to be obedient on our behalf, to do that which we could not do. Strengthen us as we seek to follow him , our covenant head, in all things even during this Lenten season. We ask this in his name, Amen.

Year C – First Sunday in Lent – Luke 4:4-14

Luke 4:4-14 (NRSV)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,’

11 and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”

12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 

Summary – Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, went into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil. These temptations attacked his trust in God for bread, for authority, and his trust in God’s Word. Jesus responded to all these temptations with absolute and unquestionable trust in God and His Word. The devil then departed from him for a season, and Jesus came back out of the wilderness still filled with the Holy Spirit.

Insight – It has been said there is a difference in being “alive” and “truly living.” This means that there is a way to be physically alive and yet completely miss out on the joy and excitement of what life is all about. Jesus refers to this “true living” when he answers the devil, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” There is a way of living that is more important than simply remaining physically alive. Adam was told that in the day he ate from the Tree of Knowledge that he would surely die (Gen 2:17). Yet that day he did not die physically, but he did certainly die spiritually. His covenant relationship with God was destroyed, and that was the death of which God spoke (Rom. 5:12-14). Now Jesus, as the Second Adam, succeeds where Adam failed. Jesus reveals that our covenant life in God is true life (John 14:6) and is way more important than just being physically alive. In fact, the only way we are to truly live is with this covenant with God intact and unbroken. The bond that keeps this living relationship alive is the Holy Spirit, who gives us an unquestionable love and trust of God and His Word. This is where the devil tried to make Jesus sin, at the very core of his love and trust for his Father. Jesus’ death and resurrection re-connected our broken bond and He brings us back into that true life of God (Ezek. 20:37). The faithfulness of Jesus is now ours by faith, and like Jesus, when we are tempted to sin against God, we must remember that we too are filled with the Spirit and have the power to be unmovable in our commitment to God and His Word. This is what it means to “truly live.”

Catechism – How are we to truly live? Answer; Not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Discussion – How can a person be physically alive and yet dead at the same time? How does a person become “truly alive”? How is a person supposed to remain “truly alive”? What is more important than being physically alive? Discuss what a “bond” is.

Prayer – Heavenly Father, please grant to us in the day of our temptation the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Strengthen in us the bond of love and trust in You and Your Word that we may not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from Your mouth. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Michael Shover

Year C – Third Sunday of Advent – Luke 3:7–18

Luke 3:7–18 NRSV –  John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” 15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.”

Summary – John the Baptist challenges the crowds and especially the leadership of Israel to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” They are not to rely on their ancestry for God’s approval, rather they are to show themselves to be God’s people by faithful living. John also teaches that he is not the Messiah, but the Messiah is coming. John baptizes with water be He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Insight – Do you know anyone whose ancestors are famous? Are you especially proud of your parents or grandparents? Israel had a strong pride in their unique relationship to Abraham. They proudly wore their badge of membership in the covenant, but this connection can be abused and this abuse is what John addressed. 1) Being in a covenant family is not enough (vv 3-9). We may enter into a covenant relationship by birth (graciously), but we must “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (3:8). There should be no presumption in nor rejection of the covenant. 2) Acting in our best interest is not enough (vv 10-14). We must act like a renewed people in generosity (v 11). This requires ceasing from corruptions, like theft and lying (v 12-14).  We must  be “content” rather than use our positions in self-serving ways.  3) Receiving sign is not enough (15-18). Israel (including the leadership) should have heard John’s voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way. They should have received the sign of John’s baptism (Lk. 7:30). But accepting the preparation is insufficient if it does not lead to the One (Christ) (Acts 19:5). John would “baptize you with water; but One is coming who” “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (v 16). In the same way our participation in Church “actions,” from baptism to worship to communion are insufficient if they are not realized in faith in Christ by the power of the Spirit.

Catechism – How does Jesus baptize? With the Holy Spirit and fire.

Discussion – The Jews at that time said, “We have Abraham as our ancestor.” Are there similar appeals used by Christians today?

Prayer – Father we praise you that in your wisdom and grace you have not limited salvation to one nation but through Christ you have provided salvation to all nations and by your Spirit you give living faith which produces repentance and good works in those who trust in Jesus. Grant that we may live out our faith in Christ as your renewed people. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.

Year B – Lent – 5 – Jeremiah 31:31-34

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Summary – As we draw near to Passion Week, the lectionary texts become increasingly more focused on Christ’s death for our redemption and forgiveness.  This week’s selections do just that, and forgiveness of sins is the theme that runs through all four.  This passage from Jeremiah is the key to so much of the Bible, especially New Testament, as it falls in the context of the later and increasingly more evil kingdoms of Judah and Israel, especially during over-rule and some captivity by the Babylonians.  Jeremiah, seeing this bleak situation, prophetically looks to the future and to the coming of the Messiah who would initiate the New Covenant.  Of note, too, is the fact that this passage is fully quoted in Hebrews 8; the longest unbroken quote of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

Insight – I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old playing at a family reunion and one of my 2nd cousins told me he was eleven.  ELEVEN!  Wow, that seemed so old and grown up to me.  I had no idea what it would be like to be eleven, or if I would ever make it there, it seemed so far away.  Now of course, looking back, it is hard for me to imagine being less than eleven.  I’m sure most of you have had something like that–maybe a birthday you were looking forward to–where you knew it was coming, but had only a small picture of what it would be like.  For us, it seems so obvious and normal that Jesus has come to earth to die for us, but for those who lived before He came, it was not so.  They related to God partly through anticipation of His coming work, while we think more in terms of recollection of His past work.  Their covenant was founded on commandments carved into tablets while ours is written on our hearts; they had to learn to “Know the Lord” through sacrificing animals which gave them a picture of who Jesus would be while we know Christ because He has come and made Himself known to us, from the least to the greatest.  They anticipated the forgiveness He would bring; we now share in that actual forgiveness!

Child Catechism – How do you know God?  Because He sent Jesus to Earth for me.

 Discussion – What are some other ways the Old Covenant was different from the New Covenant we live in today?  What are some ways that they are the same or similar?

Prayer – Thank you Lord for remembering your promises.  You promised your people in the Old Testament that you would forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.  Now you have proven yourself truly faithful as you have fulfilled your promises in Christ.  In His Name we ask for faith to believe your promises as we remember your faithfulness to us.  Amen.

-JHerr

Year B Fourth Sunday of Lent Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 “1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. . . . . 17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.”

Summary – The psalmist in verses 1 – 3 gives thanks for God’s steadfast love on behalf of those the “redeemed of the LORD”. He praises God alone for His deliverance and for the children of the covenant. The psalmist in verses 17 – 22 speaks to those in rebellion, those whose sickness of sin resulted in their being led into exile. However, after their crying out in their time of need and desperation, God once again delivered them by his Word.

Insight – The psalmist began by giving thanks in his ongoing experience of God’s steadfast love with a sense of in-depth spiritual understanding of how the Lord has worked on behalf of those the “redeemed of the LORD”; the groups of which referred to here were those gathered out of the lands who had been dispersed throughout the Babylonian empire and re-gathered. In part he was referring to those brought through the Red Sea (Psa. 114:3), which was to the south. For us looking retrospectively and also into the future regarding believers in Christ that did and will follow; we can know who will experience God’s deliverance as all the children of the Covenant will be saved. The psalmist in verses 17-22 speaks to those in rebellion; their sickness of sin resulted in their being led into exile. It also led to human or physical sickness. This does not refer to the ignorant only, but more at those willfully given to doing evil and acting in violation of God’s ways (Psa. 14:1). They were afflicted, even tormented with disease. However, crying out in their need, God once again delivers them by his Word allowing those who were sick to participate in the cultic festivities of thankful praise. We too can count on being delivered from our circumstances and sickness due to our own sinful passions. ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”” (Romans 10:13, NSRV)

Childs Catechism – If we confess our sins and repent will God restore us who call out to Him alone? Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Discussion – What dose it mean to “call on the name of the Lord”? Can we too rejoice with the psalmist?

Prayer – O Lord O God, please forgive us and open our eyes to our sins, remind us that as we sin against others and ourselves we also sin against You. Help us to see into Your ways for our lives and behaviors thus revealing our evil hearts filled with evil human worldly passions. Forgive us and teach us in Jesus name, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Third Sunday of Lent – Exodus 20:1-7

“1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”

Summary –  The first of the Ten Commandments starts  with God Himself Who spoke in a way so to be heard and understood by the all those standing in the valleys below. God was speaking to those who were fallen and sinful making it clear that a change in their understanding and character was required of them; to give greater understanding of the character and sanctions of the Law revealed from heaven which was and is an example of the Character of God in His perfection as no one could keep the Law humanly speaking other than Jesus Himself. To summarize the first three commandments we have the first against idolatry, the second against worshipping idols and the third against false swearing, blasphemy, and ungodly use of the name of God.

Insight – Many biblical scholars since the 1950’s have recognized the similarities of the covenants written form to the structure of ancient Near Eastern treaties, particularly the type made between a ruler and those depending upon him. Such forms or patterns were used in legal documents although they might have varied somewhat.  It is interesting to note that God in his revelation of the commandments uses literary forms that were common to the Jewish peoples so that they could better understand the nature of their relationship with God.

Childs Catechism – When looking into the perfect law of God whose character do we see and whose character do we seek to imitate? We see Gods perfect Character and we see k to be imitators of God.

Discussion – What was the purpose of the commandments when originally given and has it changed the way we live under those commandments today?

Prayer – Dear Lord God and Heaven Father, we see Your perfect law and we realize that it is impossible for us to keep Your commandments perfectly on our own. Our every attempt reveals our weakness. Teach us O God to live and serve You alone while still in our fallen condition. Give us a new heart that we might be able and even desire Your ways over our ways serving You alone no matter how difficult times may get. Bless us, heal us and forgive us when we fail and allow us to continue in service to You for all the days of our lives, in Jesus name, Amen.

Contributed by Rev. Tom Miller, MA

Year B – Lent – 2 – Romans 4:13-25

Romans 4:13-25

“For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.  If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.  For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.  For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.  Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”  He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being  fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.  Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.”  Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also.  It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.”

Summary – Paul’s teaching in this passage follows a progression.  Having just finished explaining that Abraham was circumcised after having believed in God so that he would be the father of the circumcised and uncircumcised, Paul continues his argument by referring to the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 15 and 17.  The promise speaks of land which Abraham’s offspring would inherit, but here Paul understands the promise to be not of a certain piece of the world, but the world itself.  This fits into his point here:  the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant would not be narrow (i.e. through one people group in one piece of land) but broad (through all of the faithful–Israelite or not–in the whole world).  This makes it based on grace.  Paul then explains Abraham’s faith:  Abraham believed God’s promise even though the state of things made it seem impossible.  This faith was strengthened while Abraham praised God!  Paul turns from his Abrahamic example to make his point: Abraham’s faith was his righteous deed.  But not just his, this applies to anyone who has faith in God and His work through the Son.

 Insight – It can be hard to believe God’s promises.  We have all been told, “Be like Abraham in your faith,” but that is easier said than done.  Can you make yourself believe God’s promises just by trying really hard?  That would be like believing a pig could fly if it just thought it could, or like thinking your bed could become a spaceship if you just pretended hard enough!  Faith in God doesn’t come through our effort.  This passage tells us that Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”  So as Abraham thought about who God is and praised Him for those things, his faith grew.  When we worship God at church and hear through His Word what He has done for us, our faith, too, will grow.

 Child Catechism – What is one thing you learn through worshipping God?  I learn that I can trust Him totally.

Discussion – What does it mean that “Father Abraham had many sons”  (vs 16)?  Who are Father Abraham’s many sons?  Why does Father Abraham have many sons (vs 14)?

 Prayer – Faithful Heavenly Father, your Word teaches us that you will remain true even when everyone else is false.  We ask for your grace to believe your promises like our father Abraham did.  Help us to hope against hope.  Help us to trust when it seems impossible.  Make us strong in our faith as we give glory to you.  Through Jesus our Lord, Amen.

-JHerr