ISSL Reflections August 8 2021 Hebrews 11:1-8, 13-16 Post 1

I.
We take a look at what the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews has to say about “faith.”

We start with the often repeated, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

But that’s not the only thing the writer has to say about faith. The word “faith” is repeated about 11 times.

Read the passage first to get an overview of the passage; rest there a moment; then read the passage again pausing after each sentence calling attention to faith.

II.
Hebrews 11:1-8

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.

Hebrews 11:13-16

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

III.
So “faith” is at least about “assurance,” “hope,” “conviction,” and “things not seen.”

It may also be about being “called to set out for a place,” and “seeking a homeland.”

Does this suggest “faith” is not something static but part and parcel of journey?

How would you describe your journey of faith and journeying with faith toward …. a place, a homeland?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections August 1 2021 Romans 10:5-17 Post 3

VII.
Allow me to repeat the closing sentence of my last post,

“Might it be said that faith comes by “the word that is near you” being heard and recognized and finding expression in our own words and lives?”

As you read Paul’s words once again what do you find to be “the word that is near you”?

VIII.
Romans 10:5-17

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

IX.
Did you notice how many times Paul mentions “confess … call … hear … proclaim”?

What do you see as Paul’s participation in and role in those actions?

As I consider that question I have to ask about my own actions.

I have to consider how I can be one who can and does “bring the good news!”

The good news that “ … there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.”

How in my life can I exemplify and communicate the grace and generosity of God?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections August 1 2021 Romans 10:5-17 Post 2

IV.
As you spend time with Paul’s words today, may I suggest you take his last sentence as your first and your entrance into hearing what he says to us,

“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”

Let that lead you prayerfully into Paul’s words and thoughts –

Romans 10:5-17

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

V.
“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

Paul writes of what not to say, what not to give voice and words to, and then of confessing, acknowledging by giving words to, and of believing. Might believing be an aspect of not only giving voice to words but of allowing the words to find their place more deeply in our consciousness and life?

VI.
When Paul writes to us, “For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved” do you take “justified” and “saved” as two different things involving two different actions?

Or is he writing of how one gives words to and voice to what is already finding rootedness in one’s heart and being?

“So faith comes from what is heard ….”

Might it be said that faith comes by “the word that is near you” being heard and recognized and finding expression in our own words and lives?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections August 1 2021 Romans 10:5-17 Post 1

I.
In a few sentences Paul has packed a lot. I have to say “almost too much” for me to process.

Read these sentences a few times, pausing between each reading to let the words begin to sink in and find a home in your consciousness.

What do these words awaken in you?

Where are you called to spend more time in reflection?

What would you like to ask Paul to elaborate on?

II.
Romans 10:5-17

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

III.
As I read this passage, three words draw my attention the most – righteousness, faith, believes.

Do they stand out for you? If so, what about these words hold your attention?

Does something else hold your attention more?

Spend time with Paul’s words and let’s see what might open for us?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 25 2021 Romans 5:1-11 Post 3

VIII.

Might we be able to see things in this passage that highlight the kind of living God desires for us.

Read the passage paying attention to what God wants for you – makes available to you – and you might pause each time you notice something.

IX.
Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

X.
Allow me a moment to share what I notice –

“Since we are justified by faith we have … peace … grace … hope … glory of God … sufferings … endurance … character … hope … God’s love … the Holy Spirit … his love … reconciled … much more fully we having been reconciled by his life

Quite a list.

But not a list. More a pattern for our life with God. Our life in the world God has given us.

Don’t make this a checklist to measure what you “have.” Better to think of it as a map for the journey with Jesus.

It helps us know what to expect along the way and to smile when we come upon such and maybe even to offer an acknowledgement.

May we smile often.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 25 2021 Romans 5:1-11 Post 2

IV.
This week’s reading has some phrases that are probably familiar to many church-goers, especially those often called “evangelical.”

For instance – “we are justified by faith” – “while we still were sinners Christ died for us” – And we dare not leave out “we have been justified by his blood.”

What about the phrase – “much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.”

Hold onto that phrase, “saved by his life” as you read this passage. Maybe it can be a lens through which you approach this passage.

V.
Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

VI.
Some of the sermons I have heard over the years suggest (either implicitly or explicitly) that Jesus was born to die on the cross. As it were a “theology of the death of Christ” with little attention to Jesus’ life, ministry and teachings. Maybe I had too “sheltered” an upbringing?

VII.
Take some time and consider “saved by his life.”

As you consider that phrase, think about the Gospel accounts of the life, ministry and teachings/parables of Jesus.

What do you recall from the life, ministry and teachings/parables of Jesus that make real to you Jesus’ bringing life, healing, health and wholeness to your life?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 25 2021 Romans 5:1-11 Post 1

I.
We hear some familiar words from Paul this week – “justified by faith.”

As you read our focus passage, pay attention to what Paul tells us follows from our being “justified by faith.” Look at what he writes here, not for what you expect him to tell us.

II.
Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

III.
So what did you notice?

I noticed that immediately he mentiones “peace” and “access.”

What else do you see?

Of the consequences of “justified by faith” that you notice today, what stands out to you the most?

How do you experience that in your daily life?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 18, 2021, Romans 4:1-12 Post 3

VI.
Let’s go back for a few moments to the several verses I focused on in the last post. Take a moment to quiet yourself and read this slowly to allow time for Paul’s words to sink deeply.

Romans 4:1, 9, 11-12

“What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?”

“Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?”

“The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.”

VII.
Read the verses again paying attention to what Paul says regarding “the circumcised” and the “uncircumcised.”

What separates them?

What unites them?

VII.
Read the verses again and see if anything comes to mind that separates members of the Christian community today.

Can you think of anything (or maybe several things) that create barriers between Christians today?

What do you think would be Paul’s counsel to us today?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 18, 2021, Romans 4:1-12 Post 2

IV.
Let’s look again at our focus passage for this week.

As you read it think about his intended audience, the community of Christians in Rome, and consider how they might hear this.

Romans 4:1-12

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say?

“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?
We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.

V.
Who will hear this the clearest, the most deeply, the most personally in the community of Christians in Rome?

The Jewish followers of Jesus or the Gentile followers of Jesus?

“What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?” (Romans 4:1)

“Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?” (Romans 4:9)

“The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:11-12)

VI.
Is Paul attempting to put the Jewish followers of Jesus and the Gentile followers of Jesus on equal footing before God?

How do folk react when they find out they are not as unique, as special, as “blessed” as they thought they were?

How do folk react when they find out their standing before God is not based on their heritage, their family roots, their ancestors, their nationality, maybe even their religion?

Maybe the community of Christians in Rome was an ethnically and religiously mixed group.

Can they see beyond that and see themselves as a community of people created by their following Jesus? Can they see what they share with one another? What makes them the same before God?

Can we?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ISSL Reflections July 18, 2021, Romans 4:1-12 Post 1

I.
This week we will take some time to notice some of the things that Paul learned by watching Abraham and living with Abraham’s walk with God.

As you read this passage what themes do you notice? What words stand out to you that you sense speak to the core of Abraham’s journey with God and speak to the essence of what Paul is learning from Abraham?

II.

Romans 4:1-12

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say?

“Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.”

Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?
We say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the ancestor of the circumcised who are not only circumcised but who also follow the example of the faith that our ancestor Abraham had before he was circumcised.

III.
What word or words move you through this passage?

Take a word (or words) and follow them, noticing how its repetition draws you forward and into what Paul wants to communicate.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Posted in ISSL, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment