Daily Devotion for July 1, 2020

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran” (Genesis 12:1-4)
We have heard people say, “belief is power.” If you want something and strongly believe in it and you take actions for it you will receive it in time, such as higher education achievement, retirement investment, and business success. This kind of belief is based on the will of the individual and personal actions.  In other word, it is based on our own power—the individual self.  There is another kind of belief that is greater and not based on the will or action of the individual but based on God’s action and promise.  This belief is called “faith.”  Scripture defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This faith is based on a higher power—a belief in God, God’s power, action and promise.  As a believer, which of these two beliefs do you have, or would rather have?  Or perhaps both are needed.
In times of challenge and uncertainty such as the coronavirus pandemic and racial turmoil in our justice system we might rather have the second kind of belief.  The story in the call of Abraham is a good example of this belief which is faith.  Abraham believed, had faith, not in his individual self or power but in God’s power and promise.  As I studied Genesis 12, I saw that Abraham’s faith is built upon three components or elements that define it, which is the basis of our Christian faith.
First, for Abraham, faith is a call to a life-long journey with God.  God called Abraham to leave his home and family to a journey of the unknown with God, to a foreign land.  The journey was not an easy one.  Imagine taking your family to a foreign country to stay where you know nobody and don’t speak the language.  Second, Abraham’s faith is a total trust on divine promises.  He went, he risked, and he hoped for better life (great name, great nation) because God had promised him a great name, a great nation, prosperity/blessings, and protection.  God did as God had promised.  God blessed him and protected him wherever he went, and in difficult times such as when he was in Egypt.  As for Abraham and for all of us, truly, our Christian faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  The third component is obedience and worship.  Abraham left Haram without question when God called him.  He did not forget God when he got to Canaan.  He built altars to worship God wherever he went regardless of the challenge or situation he faced—in good times and difficult times.
What is your faith in these days?  Is it grounded in a life-time journey with God, God’s promises, obedience and worship?  Let’s not lose our faith as we face our many challenges in these difficult times.  Our belief in God is not based on our own power, but the power of God.  As we all know, with God, “nothing is impossible.”  I hope you will take courage in your faith in difficult times and be faithful, even if it means you have to worship online with Facebook or Youtube, or by yourself at home.
God of life and God of promise, we pray for faith today.  In our difficult times, may we never lose heart and trust in your power and promise.  Amen.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.

(Hmong Version)
“Yawmsaub hais rau Aplas tias, “Koj cia li tawm hauv koj lub tebchaws thiab tawm hauv koj cov kwvtij thiab koj txiv lub tsev mus rau lub tebchaws uas kuv yuav qhia rau koj. Kuv yuav tsa koj ua ib haiv neeg loj thiab kuv yuav foom koob hmoov rau koj thiab ua rau koj lub npe nrov nto moo lug mus, mas koj yuav ua rau lwm tus tau koob hmoov. Kuv yuav foom koob hmoov rau cov uas foom koob hmoov rau koj. Kuv yuav tsawm foom cov uas foom koj tsis zoo. Ib tsoom neeg hauv lub ntiajteb yuav tau koob hmoov ntawm koj los.” Mas Aplas kuj mus raws li Yawmsaub tau hais rau nws” (Chivkeeb 12:1-4a).
Peb nov luas has tas, “kev ntseeg yog fwjchim.”  Yog tas koj xaav tau dlaabtsi hab koj ntseeg es koj ua dlejnum rua ces koj yeej yuav tau raws le sab xaav hab lub sijhawm, sis le kev kawm ntawv qeb sab, kev tso nyaj laug hab kev ua laag luam.  Txuj kev ntseeg nuav yog lawv le tuabneeg tugkheej kev xaav tau hab lub peevxwm.  Txhais tau has tas nws yog yug lub fwjchim lossis peevxwm ntawm yug tugkheej.  Muaj dlua ib txuj kev ntseeg kws tseem zoo tshaaj kws tsi yog lug ntawm yug lub peevxwm, tabsi yog lug ntawm Vaajtswv lub peevxwm hab lug cog tseg.  Qhov kev ntseeg nuav yog “kev ruaj sab rua.”  Vaajlugkub txhais qhov kev ntseeg nuav tas, “yog qhov uas ruaj siab rau tej uas vam ntsoov, yog qhov uas cia siab tias tej uas qhov muag tsis tau pom muaj tseeb.”  Txuj kev ntseeg nuav yog lub fwjchim luj dlua, Vaajtswv lub fwjchim, dlejnum hab tej lug cog tseg.  Ua ib tug ntseeg, ob qhov kev ntseeg nuav qhov twg yog koj qhov, lossis yog qhov kws koj xaav tau?  Lossis tej zag xaav tau ob qho tuabsi.,
Nyob rua lub sijhawm kws muaj kev txhawjxeeb hab tsi paub yaav peg suab yuav zoo le caag xis le kws najnub nua muaj tug kaabmob kuslusnav hab kev tsi ncaajnceej rua haiv tuabneeg, peb yuav xaav muaj txuj kev ntseeg ob.  Zaaj keebkwm Vaajtswv hu Anplahaas yog ib zaaj zoo rua peb totaub txug kev ntseeg.  Anplahaas kev ntseeg tsi yog ntawm nwg tugkheej lossis lub peevxwm tabsi yog lug ntawm Vaajtswv lub fwjchim hab kev cog lug tseg.  Thaum kuv tshawb kawm Chivkeeb 12, kuv pum tas Anplahaas txuj kev ntseeg muaj peb yaam tseemceeb kws suav tas yog peb cov ntseeg txuj kev ntseeg Vaajtswv.
Xubthawj, Anplahaas kev ntseeg yog qhov Vaajtswv hu lug nrug Vaajtswv moog uake taag lug neej.  Vaajtswv hu Anplahaas kuas tawm huv nwg lug zejzog hab nwg tsev tuabneeg nrug Vaajtswv moog rua lub tebchaw kws nwg tsi paub.  Txuj hauv kev tsi yoojyim.  Muab xaam tas nwg yeej tsi yoojyim rua koj coj koj tsev tuabneeg moog nyob rua lub tebchaw kws koj tsi paub leej twg hab tsi txawj lug.  Qhov ob, Anplahaas txuj kev ntseeg yog kev tso sab rua Vaajtswv tej lug cog tseg.  Nwg moog, nwg tsi ntshai, hab nwg ca sab tas yuav tau lub neej zoo vim Vaajtswv tej lug cog tseg tas nwg yuav muaj koob nto npe, ua ib haiv tuabneeg tseemceeb, muaj kev vaammeej, tau koob moov hab kev tsomkws lug ntawm Vaajtswv.  Vaajtswv yeej ua le kws Vaajtswv tau cog lug.  Vaajtswv foom koob moov rua nwg hab tsomkwm tivthaiv nwg txhua txuj hauv kev kws nwg moog hab nyob, xws le lub sijhawm muaj kev txhawjxeeb nyob rua tebchaw Iziv.  Ib yaam le Anplahaas hab rua peb najnub nua, tseeb tag, peb kev ntseeg Vaatjswv yeej yog, “  Qhov peb ntawm Anplahaas kev ntseeg yog kev noog lug hab kev pehawm.  Anplahaas tawm huv lug zog Halaas moog yaam tsi nug ib lu thaum Vaajtswv hu nwg.  Nwg tsi novqaab Vaajtswv thaum nwg moog txug Kanaaas.  Nwg teeb thaaj pehawm Vaajtwv txhua qhov chaw nwg nyob hab moog txawj tas yuav muaj kev txhawjxeeb le caag raug rua nwg—sijhawm noj qaab nyob zoo hab sijhawm ntsib kev txomnyem.
Koj txuj kev ntseeg yog le caag najnub nua?  Puas yog lawv le kev moog nrug Vaajtswv uake hab kev tso sab rua Vaajtswv lub fwjchim hab tej lug cog tseg?  Ca peb tsi xob tso kev ntseeg tseg thaum peb ntsib kev txhawjxeeb hab txomnyem.  Vim peb txuj kev ntseeg tsi yog lawv le peb kev muaj fwjchum ua tau tabsi yog lawv le Vaajtswv lub fwjchim.  Peb txhua tug puavleej paub, “yeej tsi muaj ib yaam twg kws Vaajtswv ua tsi tau.”
Kuv vaam tas koj yuav tso sab tsi ntshai rua koj txuj kev ntseeg tsi has thaum sijhawm ntsib kev nyuabsab hab yuav muab sab rau ntseeg, txawm yog tas koj yuav pehawm Vaajtswv nyob rua huv Facebook hab Youtube, lossis huv tsev.
Vaajtswv tug tswv ntawm peb txuj sa hab tej lug cog tseg, peb thov kuas peb muaj txuj kev ntseeg nub nua.  Tsi has thaum muaj txhawjxeeb txomnyem lossis thaum noj qaab nyob zoo, thov kuas peb tsi xob tso kev ntseeg tseg, tabsi kuas peb txawj tso sab rua koj lub fwjchim hab tej lug cog tseg.  Amees.