On Sunday I am preaching at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Illinois for one of my former students. Adron Robinson who turned his back on the gang culture of Chicago, trained at Northern Seminary and became the first African American pastor of this church. He's invited me to preach at its 42 anniversary.
Actually, more than that he has given me the sermon Bible text Heb 11:1 in King James Version: Now faith in the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Coupled with this the service theme runs: "We've come this far by faith" - the first line of a hymn!
It's a mixed blessing being given such details. Usually I rejoice at such guidance. But when swamped with work, it means extra effort. Yet it is a wonderful (yes, really!)discipline to be forced to listen to Scripture for such a great purpose as declaring its good news.
Looking at Heb. 11:1 I realize that I need to begin my text earlier at Heb 10:19. Actually this verse itself marks a big division (it could have begun a new chapter), because it moves from doctrine (Heb 1:1-10:18) to vital practicalities about living by faith. Here is a church which is called to persevere on its faith journey. Apparently some are giving up meeting with others - worship attendance is declining (verse 25). Sound familiar? Great encouragement is needed. I love the challenge of verse 24: And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
Persevering faith is such a vital topic. I'll let you know how this develops. And, as always, all insights are welcome.