Tag Archives: Abraham

Through the Bible, January 21

Read: Catch up if needed.

Today is the scheduled “catch up” day for the third week of January (15-21), so no reading is scheduled.

Reflection and Thought:

Here are some things to think about based on this past week’s reading.

  1. Abraham had his failures. He misrepresented (lied?) about his relationship to Sarah for fear of physical harm (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18). How have you, even unintentionally, demonstrated a lack of faith in God’s provisions and protection?
  1. Everything about Abraham and Sarah’s circumstances screamed the impossibility of their ever having a child. Do God’s promises and assurances ever seem as impossible to me?
  1. The wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had barren wombs. Repeated insurmountable obstacles–from a human perspective–demonstrate the work of God through the chain of events from generation to generation among the Patriarchs. What obstacles do you presently face, believing they are keeping God’s will from being accomplished in your own life?

Devotional Thought:

Be Genuine

Are you hesitant to allow other people to see your weaknesses, faults, and foibles?

Most of us are.  We present our public persona as orderly, happy, well-managed, and well-nigh-on-to perfect.  When the reality tends more toward confused, messy, weak, and befuddled.

We are hesitant–to say the least– to allow people to see the real us.

Why?

Probably fear of rejection.  We want to be worthy of other’s acceptance so we present the very best “us” we can muster, whether it’s really true or not.

Now, I’m not suggesting we just throw out for public consumption every tidbit of negativity about our lives for the sake of openness.  There is something to be said for thinking and doing better than we may feel, for ruling our own emotions and overcoming our circumstances.  You know, not being a victim, but choosing and living the life we want.

Think about how God presents Abraham.  Yes, he is the man of remarkable faith, but he’s also the man who was afraid and wasn’t fully honest about his relationship with Sarah.  He was not perfect.  And the Bible is sure to let us know that.

Neither are we.  God knows it and despite our best efforts to convince people otherwise, they know it too.  Our acceptance by God, and others, is not based on perfection.

We need to get over ourselves and be genuine.

Through the Bible, January 20

Read: Genesis 23-25

Summary: Sarah dies, Abraham remarries and Isaac finds a wife.  Abraham dies.  Isaac and Rebekah’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau, are born.

Even for great Patriarchs, life goes on.

Devotional Thought:

Angels at Work

I’m glad I wasn’t Abraham’s servant.   Imagine being given the job of traveling to a distant land to secure a wife for your master’s son.  The servant was justified in his concern that he might have trouble finding a woman willing to take him up on this outlandish offer.  Imagine: “Come with me and become the wife of a man you’ve never met, based solely on what I, a stranger, am telling you!”

Here’s why I love this story.  Abraham’s assurance to the servant was that God would “send his angel before you” (Gen. 24:7). Now, just go ahead and read the story of how Rebekah agreed to this stranger’s offer and became Isaac’s wife. Find the angel.  What did he do?  What role did he play?

We just don’t know.  We know he was there and contributed to the success of this improbable venture, but we don’t know how.

Here’s something else we know.  God’s angels are at work still today ministering on behalf of “those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  I don’t know how or when or where.  I just know they are.

I love that.

Through the Bible, January 19

Read: Romans 4; Galatians 3

Summary: When Christians need to know the foundational truth that our justification is by faith, not by works of the Law, the Bible appeals to Abraham as an example of that kind of faith.  Particularly Abraham’s experiences in regard to Isaac, the promised child.

Yes, even for Christians, Abraham is the one who shows us what living by faith looks like.

Devotional Thought:

Pros and Cons

Have you ever drawn a line down the middle of a page and on one side written all the “pro’s” and the “con’s” on the other side? That can be a useful exercise in trying to think through a choice or a decision.  Getting it on paper can clarify our thinking.

Or, it might be misleading.

I don’t know that Abraham ever did this kind of thing or not.  But if he had, his piece of paper would not have supported his conclusion. Regarding the notion that he and Sarah, his wife, would have a child, the paper did not look promising.

On the “con” side of the ledger, were several notable and weighty entries. Things like “physically unable”, that is, his own body “was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old)” (Rom. 4:19). Also, there was “Sarah’s barren womb.”  Ninety-year old, childless women just don’t have babies. Further, it had been so long since the promise had been made–25 years to be exact.  All of these appeared to add up to impossible.

No wonder the Bible says he “believed against hope” (Rom. 4:18).  The “against” list was quite formidable. Except for one thing–literally, one thing.  The “pro” list was short.  It shouldn’t be called a list at all as it contained a grand total of one entry: “God promised.” For Abraham, that trumped everything.

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:20-21).

It’s no wonder why Abraham’s faith stands as the kind of faith to which I should aspire.

Through the Bible, January 18

Read: Genesis 20-22

Summary: The child of promise finally arrives.  God then asks Abraham to do the unthinkable and Abraham obeys.

Devotional Thought:

God Promised

Simplicity can mask profundity.  Such is the statement, “the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised” (Gen. 21:1).

The long promised child finally arrived.

From Sarah’s vantage point, “she considered him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:11).  Not that she contentedly waited 25 years for the fulfillment.  After eleven years with no child, she took some regrettable action trying to fulfill God’s promise for Him (Gen. 16).  Still later the whole notion seemed laughable to her (Gen. 18:12).

Still, God did as He had promised.

That assures us that He will continues to do as He has promised.  No more genuinely profound truth can be known. No matter how unlikely, improbable, or laughable it may seem; God’s word is sure.

Sarah counted on it and so can we.

Through the Bible, January 16

Read: Genesis 15-17

Summary: God formalizes the covenant with Abraham, while also telling him of the bondage his descendants would experience in Egypt many years later.

Sarah and Abraham both attempt to bring fulfillment to the promise for a child.   That, of course, ends up in the consequent problems with Hagar and Ishmael. God, rather, repeats the promise that this elderly couple would indeed have a child of their own.

Devotional Thought:

Time is On God’s Side

On occasion, the promises I make require time to be fulfilled.

I have promised to pay back a loan to the bank.  Time isn’t just an incidental feature of that arrangement, it is absolutely necessary.  Without the benefit of time the loan would be pointless.

God does not require time to fulfill His promises.  He can do so immediately, if He so chooses.  By Genesis 17:1, Abraham has reached the age of 99 years.  He was 75 when God called him and promised that he would have a child (see Gen. 12:4).

It’s been 24 years!  What’s the hold up?

It certainly isn’t that God has been unable to get things worked out so He can give Abraham what He promised.  Time, when it comes to God’s promises, is immaterial.

But not to us.

That’s where the testing of our faith comes in.  Are we willing to have the patience and be satisfied in full assurance that whatever God has promised, it will come to pass? No matter how long it takes?

Through the Bible, January 15

Read: Genesis 12-14

Summary: God calls Abram (soon to be known as Abraham) and gives to him remarkable promises.  Nearly immediately Abraham faces some challenges to his faith and trust in God.

Devotional Thought:

Abraham and Me

The first thing Abraham did after arriving in the land to which God called him was to build an altar (Genesis 12:7).  The second thing he did was move to another location, pitch his tent and build another altar (v. 8).  These wouldn’t be his last.

It’s been suggested that one way to study the life of the great patriarch Abraham is to trace the smoke of the fires of the altars he built throughout his life.  Not bad.

It is no mere coincidence that Abraham was a giant of faith and that he was continually and repeatedly worshiping God.

What he did and what we are supposed to do are no different at all.  Not that we are going to build altars and offer sacrifices, but rather that “he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8; see also 13:4 and 21:33).

Though Abraham pre-dated even the covenant with Moses, this principle was true for him and it remains true today.  In Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the last line of Joel’s prophecy that he quoted was, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32).  Paul uses it as well, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13).

Do not think Abraham has no relevance for us.  He did exactly what God wants us to do. So, let us all “call on the name of the Lord.”

Through the Bible, January Week 3

Week 3: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

January 15-21

The stage having been set in Genesis 1-11, Moses now turns his attention to introducing Abraham.  Not only is he the man from whom the Israelites trace their origins, he is also the man known as the “father of the faithful.”  He occupies more space, by far, than any of the other “heroes of faith” in Hebrews 11 (vv. 8-19).

Though Moses is recording these accounts for the benefit of the people of Israel leaving slavery in Egypt to become a nation and people for God’s own possession, he is also tracing out the ultimate plan and working of God that will lead to Jesus Christ. Remember, this is not merely an account of the events that happened to transpire in the life of one man from ancient history, this is the record of the direct, deliberate, and planned action of God leading to Jesus Christ and humanity’s salvation.  The opening words of the New Testament are, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1).

Abraham’s thrilling story dramatically depicts the power and working of God through feeble and faulty men.  God’s plan worked not because of these people, but despite them.

Even so, Abraham is truly a spiritual giant.  When Paul sought to drive home the role of faith in man’s justification, it was to Abraham–who preceded the Law of Moses–to whom he turns to show genuine faith and righteousness.  One day of our reading this week will turn to those discussions from Romans and Galatians.

My Delight is the Lord, October 30

Promise

October 30, Sunday: Praise God

Scripture Reading: Psalm 105

We are familiar with the biblical account of how Abraham’s descendants went down into Egypt and then brought them out again four centuries later to give them the land He had promised to the man from Ur. The question is, “Why?”. Why was God so good to these people in particular? Why did He protect and provide for them? There was but one reason, and it had nothing to do with any measure of worthiness on the their part. Instead, it had everything to do with His promise (see vv. 7-11). The message for us is that there is nothing more certain than God’s promise. Nothing! He intends for us to base our life, our future, our hope, our eternal destiny upon His promise (see 2 Pet. 1:3-11, noting the foundational “precious and very great promises”). This is why this Psalm begins with a call to make known his deeds among the peoples (v. 1). These deeds prove the incontestable reliability of His promises.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How are Abraham’s descendants described prior to going to Egypt? (vv. 12-13)
  • To whom did God say this? (v. 15)
  • How is Joseph’s prison time in Egypt described? (v. 18)
  • Why did the Egyptians hate the people of Israel? (v. 25)

My Delight is the Lord, March 12

March 12, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 46:1-34

Take a Step Back

As it is happening, what is happening isn’t obvious. We have to step back and think about it a minute. Jacob and his family are moving to Egypt. They are leaving the land that had been promised to Jacob, as well as his father and grandfather before him. Now he is leaving. God even has to intervene and convince Jacob to do it (v. 3). Think about all that has happened to even make this possible. Think about what is going to happen in coming generations to this family turned great nation. Think about how God told Abraham all of this years previous (Gen. 15:13-14). Think about all of the people and all of the events with and through whom God has worked and will work. Jacob moving his family to Egypt is one part of this; an event seen by God previously and one that will set the stage for still more to come. My God and your God is Jacob’s God. It is a wonder to watch Him work.

Questions to Ponder:

  • Why would Jacob be afraid to go down to Egypt? (v. 3)
  • What sons of Joseph were born in Egypt? (v. 20)
  • How did Jacob respond to seeing Joseph? (v. 30)
  • How did Egyptians view shepherds? (v. 34)

My Delight is the Lord, February 25

February 25, Thursday: God’s People

Scripture Reading: Genesis 29:31-30:43

What’s In a Name?

God saw to it that Leah, the unloved of Jacob’s wives, bore children quickly and frequently, while Rachel remained barren. Four boys had arrived before Rachel took action. Those four, though, were carefully named; “See, a son” (Reuben), “heard” (by God, Simeon), “attached” (to her husband, Levi), and “praise” (the Lord, Judah). Each name meant something to Leah and her situation. Each emphasized her wishes, desires, and intentions. Present culture has largely rejected meaning as a motivation in choosing names. Family lineage, trending names (they cycle in and out of popularity), and uniqueness (even if it’s an unusual spelling) appear to be primary naming criteria. Names mean something to God. He changed Abraham’s, Sarah’s, and Jacob’s. If we presume to wear His name by calling on Him as Father (1 Pet. 1:17), it better mean something to us as well.

Questions to Ponder:

  • How did Jacob respond to Rachel’s demand? (30:2)
  • To what is Rachel’s finally having a child attributed? (30:22)
  • What had Laban come to understand about his prosperity? (30:27)
  • Did Jacob’s action effect the outcome of the flock’s offspring? (30:27ff)