Dear saints of God, the readings for Sunday are Matthew 16:13-20; Romans 11:33-12:8; Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138.

“Undefeated!” As sports teams gear up to play their first games of the fall season, the possibility of going “undefeated” is a common dream. And that dream – however unlikely it may be – can have players flying high so long as the dream remains unspoiled by a loss. That first loss, consequently, brings a dose of reality and perhaps even discouragement.

Looking at the state of the Christian Church today can also be discouraging. We hear of Christian persecution in the Middle East, and we count it as a loss. We see Christianity in this country infected by apathy or opposed by secularism, and we grow cynical. We look in the mirror at our own glaring sins and we feel defeated. The readings for Sunday inject hope into this depressing picture. Jesus promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against his Church (Matt 16). Why? Because we didn’t build it – Jesus did! Isaiah urges us to “Look, look!” not to our own sad condition, but to what the LORD has done, is doing, will do for us (Is 51). Saint Paul praises the surprising mercies of God who calls us to be a LIVING sacrifice – not a dead one (Rom 11).

Is there something that’s been discouraging you lately? Remember who made you. Remember who loves you. In Him, every defeat is only temporary. The victory is forever. Keep your head up this week!