The writer of Hebrews now focuses on the men and women of the fledgling church and tells them, “You can also live faithfully!” I suspect they listened, nodding wisely, as the letter was read to them and each name was mentioned. They knew about these giants of faith—great men and women. But I suspect they sat up in astonishment when the letter writer said, “You too!”
“Lay aside every weight, . . . Run with perseverance!” Once again the words trumpet through the generations; we hear the challenge as clearly as those early Christians. We run, looking to Jesus, the embodiment of faithfulness, who leads the race.
What is your biggest hindrance to persevering in your relationship with God? Where do you need to cut the ties to things that ensnare you and hold you back? Will you be the first to step into the dry riverbed with the water impossibly piled up on either side? Will you march around your Jericho if that’s what it takes?
Jesus has crossed the finish line. He endured the shame of the cross for the sake of joy. We stay focused on Jesus because he has walked the path ahead of us, and he did it willingly.
And what a reward: the salvation of humankind! By faith, even his own faith in his Father God, he accomplished it.
By faith we too can finish the race—and persevere!

Lord, may I cut myself free from things that ensnare me and persevere as I follow only you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 12:49-56

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Lectionary Week
August 8–14, 2016
Scripture Overview

Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:8-19 employ simi- lar images to represent the people of God—a vine or a vineyard. The image clearly communicates the careful commitment of God to God’s people. Unfortunately, the people do not respond in kind, so God must destroy the vineyard. The people plead for restoration, and their future life will depend not on their repen- tance but on God’s repentance! Jesus issues a radical call for human repentance in Luke. God will bear the burden of human disobedience, and God’s gracious turning to humankind makes life possible. Hebrews shows that the story of God’s people does contain outstanding episodes and exemplars of faith and sug- gests that God never gives up on calling us to follow, to run the dif cult race that leads to life.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Isaiah 5:1-7. What fruit are you growing—wild grapes or sweet ones? How can God redeem you?
• Read Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19. How do you recognize God’s love and presence?
• Read Hebrews 11:29–12:2. Think of a cirumstance when your faith in God was all you could rely on.
• Read Luke 12:49-56. Where do you recognize the urgency of the kingdom of God? How does this awareness affect your daily actions?

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