Devotions: August

The emphasis of the divine services in July was on the various instructions that show us how to live in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We were called upon to allow the love of God to guide us, to make peace, to be magnanimous, and to take action for the well-being of our neighbour, even as regards his emotional and spiritual state. Those who act in such a manner fulfil the will of God and will be strengthened in their life of faith through such deeds. Jesus explained this to His disciples with the words, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4: 34). His strength, His trust in God, and His composure in times of trial and injustice were the result of His obedience—the “spiritual food”—and serve as an encouragement to us in our own life of faith.

We too receive the help and strength of God when we master our path of life in faith and trust. We will also hear about such experiences of faith in the divine services in August, which fall under the theme “Experiencing our faith”.

On the first Sunday of the month, the focus of the divine service is on knowledge. Only those who believe can even discover the will of God. They act with complete trust, in accordance with the instruction of Jesus, “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 10). Through faith in Jesus Christ, His life, and His doctrine, it is possible for believers to properly understand the commandments of God and utilize them in the right manner for their lives. Then they will also experience that they have certainty in their actions—in all situations of life—and will feel the help of God. It does us good to feel an immediate joy within our hearts every time we act in accordance with the will of God—that is to say, when we align our lives by His commandments. This joy already attests that God—in His favour and strength—is with those who inquire into His will and earnestly and genuinely follow Jesus Christ.

In the second Sunday service of the month, we are encouraged to occupy ourselves with Scripture and the content of our faith as described, for example, in the Catechism. Thereby our conviction will be strengthened, which will allow us to become a testimony to others. The people around us will be able to detect that we have made progress in our faith. Those who live their faith in conviction and speak of it, will themselves experience God and, in addition, will be able to give direction, comfort, courage, and joy to their neighbour.

The article for the third Sunday of the month makes it clear that those who are humble and compassionate, who forgive others, and who are happy to give, will also be richly blessed by God. They experience that divine blessing opens up access to sources of strength that are closed to other people. It is a special kind of experience of faith to absorb strength and security from the sermon, the forgiveness of sins, and the fellowship of Holy Communion. We only experience this kind of access through faith (Romans 5: 1–2).

The divine services on the fourth and fifth Sunday use the example of the people of Israel to demonstrate that God’s kindness and strength can also help us in situations that seem unchangeable or hopeless. Those who believe simply put all things into the hand of God in complete trust, and there – by experience that unimaginable things—and things that are impossible by our human efforts and abilities—really can become a reality.

In August there are two Bible study topics. They complement the theme series of the month. In one of them, the focus of the sermon is on Elijah, who was able to experience in such impressive fashion that one really can rely upon the promises of God, and that God is always at the side of those who profess Him. Even the centurion of Capernaum was able to experience a miracle: as a result of his faith in the authority of Jesus his servant was healed. Although the centurion was a Gentile, he still summoned up a degree of faith the likes of which Jesus had not found in all of Israel. Unimaginable experiences of faith always happen when God sees the faith of the individual and responds to it in His omnipotence and kindness!

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