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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Faith and Trust

5 July 2017

Opening Prayer/Worship

Theme: God Our Maker

Topic: Faith and Trust

Reading: Genesis 22:1-14
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 2He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ 3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.’ 6Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘Father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?’ 8Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together. 9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ 13And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt-offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’

There are moments in life that we wonder, “where is God in all of this,” and that, “if God is with us, things will be different.” There are times we have done our very best, and believe that God is leading us, only for matters to seem like they have turned out for the worst. As a people of faith, we go through situations that shake us and make us cry out to God in earnest prayer. It may be an illness, financial troubles, family issues, loss of a loved one, or other things that make us realize how much we need God; and just then it appears that God is not with us. Like Abraham did, God wants us to trust God, even when it looks as if there is no way out. God is faithful, and even when we are on an unfamiliar path, God is with us. When God does not make sense, we should try and be faithful and trusting. God has not and will never fail.

1. Discuss some of the situations that make us feel God is not with us. 
Job 23:1-17
Then Job answered: 
2 ‘Today also my complaint is bitter;
   his hand is heavy despite my groaning. 
3 O that I knew where I might find him,
   that I might come even to his dwelling! 
4 I would lay my case before him,
   and fill my mouth with arguments. 
5 I would learn what he would answer me,
   and understand what he would say to me. 
6 Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power?
   No; but he would give heed to me. 
7 There an upright person could reason with him,
   and I should be acquitted for ever by my judge. 
8 ‘If I go forward, he is not there;
   or backward, I cannot perceive him; 
9 on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him;
   I turn to the right, but I cannot see him. 
10 But he knows the way that I take;
   when he has tested me, I shall come out like gold. 
11 My foot has held fast to his steps;
   I have kept his way and have not turned aside. 
12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
   I have treasured in my bosom the words of his mouth. 
13 But he stands alone and who can dissuade him?
   What he desires, that he does. 
14 For he will complete what he appoints for me;
   and many such things are in his mind. 
15 Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
   when I consider, I am in dread of him. 
16 God has made my heart faint;
   the Almighty has terrified me; 
17 If only I could vanish in darkness,
   and thick darkness would cover my face! 

Mark 15:25-38
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days,30save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

2. What are the lessons for us in Matthew 10:40-42 regarding the faithfulness of God? 
Matthew 10:40-42
‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’ 

3. What are some of the things that may weaken our faith in God; and how do we keep our trust in the Lord especially during stormy days in our lives? 
Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
   from where will my help come? 
2 My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth. 
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber. 
4 He who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep. 
5 The Lord is your keeper;
   the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night. 
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life. 
8 The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time on and for evermore.

Luke 8:22-25
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, 23and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. 24They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. 25He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

Romans 6:12-23
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Whenever we encounter challenges that make us feel abandoned by family and friends, may we remember that God is always with us, and will save us.

Closing Prayer

Almighty God, you have taught us through your Son that love fulfils the law. May we love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, and may we love our neighbour as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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