Devotion 80 – Wednesday of Epiphany 3

Opening Prayer

Lord, increase our faith! Lord, make our faith strong! Amen.

Text: Hebrews 11:8-12

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

Devotion

The Lord said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. … So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him… and he came to Canaan and passed through the land” (Genesis 12). Abraham had only the Lord’s Word to go by and to hold to. The Word led him forth. He had not seen the land and had no geographical knowledge of it. Only because of the Word did he know the land, but the Word was enough for him. Neither did he get to own the land during his lifetime, but he wandered as a stranger and bought for himself a grave there. Yet he firmly believed that his descendants would inherit the land, and Isaac and Jacob did the same also, even if they didn’t get a foot of it for their possession while they were alive. God’s Word was their only assurance of it, but that was a deed and title more than all attested recorded deeds. And after earthly Canaan they hoped for a heavenly one and expected an eternal, incorruptible place.

Abraham’s faith is like the centurion’s in last Sunday’s Gospel. But even Sarah is praised for her faith, though it was still weak for a long time. She tempted Abraham to “marry” Hagar, and she laughed at God’s promise of Isaac as a fable. But this is very comforting to us, for we are more like Sarah than like Abraham. Yet she was honest and let herself be corrected, and faith in her heart overcame unbelief. I hope this is also true of you. Eternal life is promised to us: Take your heart out of Mesopotamia, and enter Canaan! Out from the old things of earth! Leave all that is dear to you, and devote your heart to life in the Lord, to love’s eternal treasure in Christ, in His Church! God Himself has told you that you shall inherit everlasting life. He has promised this to you by name, placed it in your hand when you were baptized. Here on earth you are a stranger. So live as a stranger here, and hold on to God’s gift. Surely His promises are more certain than all the pledges of mankind. It has pleased Him to give you life by grace in Christ Jesus. At the right time you shall see that it is as He says and as you believe in His assurance. Or perhaps Abraham’s family didn’t get the land? Or Abraham’s family of believers haven’t become many?

Closing Prayer

Lord God, help us to believe so that we do not make You into a liar. You have promised us eternal life, just as clearly as You promised the land of Canaan to Abraham. Grant us grace to believe as You gave Abraham grace to believe, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Hymn

O Lord God, grant us true faith,
Guard us from all unbelief
That opposed Your Son the Christ
And His precious blood despised,
All His work turning away,
Closing to us heaven’s way,
Leading us in night astray!
Father, help us all today!

Grant, O God, that we all may
Walk upon truth’s holy way,
And Christ reach to us His hand
That on His sure Rock we stand,
Holy Spirit, good and pure,
Help us build a house secure,
Stormy weather to endure,
Till we have our mansion sure.

Praise to You who all things gave,
Not to judge us, but to save!
Be exalted over all;
Draw us by Your Word and call!
Praise to You who freely gave
Life and Light into the grave,
Strongest hope in You we have,
Blest Redeemer, strong to save!

Landstad: Til Guds Hus velkommen vær L 159:4.6.7 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Spanish Chant (ELH 510); alternate hymn: The God of Abr’ham praise ELH 69

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