Great Plains Daily Devotional for 5/19/2022

Today please be in prayer for

Great Plains Area Bishop
Topeka District
Area Bishop Executive Assistant
Topeka District
Clergy Excellence Director & Assistant to the Bishop
Topeka District
Clergy Excellence Administrative Assistant & Records Archivist
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

Hebrews 3:7-19 

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
    though they had seen my works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,
    and they have not known my ways.’
As in my anger I swore,
    ‘They will not enter my rest.’”

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Today's Devotional

Pour encourager les autres or “In order to encourage the others” is a phrase that is originally associated with the French Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire. It’s also a phrase that has made its way into popular culture usually in reference to an extreme act of punishment administered in order to convince others to make a different choice. I would call this “negative encouragement.”
I thought negative encouragement as I read the passage from Hebrews 3:7-19, probably because this passage appears to highlight a negative encouragement for faith (the forty years of wandering in the wilderness after the Hebrews rebelled against God), yet it also leaves open the possibility for positive encouragement in faith: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” (vv. 13-14)
What might positive encouragement look like in our lives of faith?
For those more inclined to internal encouragement, I suggest individual prayer, regular reading of devotions (such as this), or journaling. For those more inclined to external encouragement, I suggest regular participation in a faith-based group such as a Sunday school class or other small group, being part of a prayer group or putting your faith in action such as happens during a mission project. Both of these lists only scratch the surface of all the possible ways we can encourage and be encouraged in our faith.

What will you do today?
-- Rev. Karen Jeffcoat, registrar, Board of Ordained Ministry
Originally published Oct. 11, 2018

Prayer for Reflection

Open my heart, O Lord, to experience the encouragement for my faith that comes through others – and to offer encouragement in faith to each person I meet. Amen.


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