We close this week by reading one of the most beautiful yet practical calls to evangelism in the Bible. Paul has just explained his concept of salvation, but he understands that not everyone will “get it” on his or her own. For this reason, God has called, equipped, and empowered us to help carry the message of God’s grace and mercy. By working back through the process logically, Paul lays out the progression.
Reliance on God comes as a result of belief. Belief comes as a result of hearing the gospel. Hearing comes as a result of someone proclaiming the gospel. Proclaiming comes as a result of being sent. And—hint, hint—it is going to take everyone playing his or her part to fulfill the mission of God, who is Lord of all and generous to all.
Which of these steps do we find easy and comfortable? Belief? Hearing the gospel? Proclaiming the gospel? Being sent? If we are honest, for the majority of us none of them is easy or comfortable—at least not in the beginning. Ask a pastor how attendance at evangelism events compares to fellowship events, and you will get the picture.
Yet, we have seen this week that comfort is not God’s pri- mary concern. It is not God’s desire for us to suffer, but the unwavering source of contentment and joy is not our physical and emotional condition moment to moment. Rather, it is God.
Nor is discomfort a stumbling block to God’s will being worked in the world. The One who most clearly embodied God’s will in the world faced death on a cross. It is often through, not in spite of, discomfort that God achieves incredible things in and through people who place their trust in God.
God, remind us of your eternal love for us, especially when we face the discomfort and challenges that come our way. May we be an active part of your will being done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
The Genesis text begins the story of Joseph. Things would have turned out very different for Joseph (and for Israel) had it not been for the watchful care of the One who called Israel into being. Psalm 105 brie y recites the saving events in Israel’s life, and this week’s portion remembers the story of Joseph, stressing both the hiddenness and the crucial significance of God’s mercy. In Romans 10 note the manner in which Paul brings the past to bear on the present in terms of God’s saving activity. Notice also Paul’s insistence on the universal availability of salvation. The Gospel lesson of Jesus stilling the storm points to the inexplicable wonder of God’s redeeming love, which can be appropriated and answered only in doxology.
• Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. The writer says, “Not all the challenges we face are a divine plan.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b. How well does your memory serve you in times of distress to recall God’s presence and past action?• Read Romans 10:5-15. In what situations have you chosen to rely on God?
• Read Matthew 14:22-33. The writer says that comfort and safety should not be our “primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
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