February 1, 2011

Today you should read Genesis 22:20-23:20

So, Abraham has passed the faith test and God has reminded him of His promise to bless him and make a great nation of his family. The next thing that happens is Abraham finds out how his brother, Milcah, is doing. He has 8 sons with his wife Nahor and 4 more kids with his concubine Reumah. Have you ever been jealous of your siblings before? I know I have. This is a very personal illustration, but it rings so true here. I sometimes find myself jealous over my little brother because he has two kids and I have had two who have died.

I know this sounds awful to say, but, I hope this makes sense of this portion of scripture that may otherwise get skipped over. Children were prized in Abraham’s culture, especially boys, so, for his brother to have at least eight boys and him only two, would definitely put him in an inferior position in most everyone’s eyes. This may have caused him to doubt God’s promise that his family line would become a great nation. How could two boys, really just one of which had God’s blessing, compete with a family of eight or more boys? We often consider quantity to be a sign of God’s blessing, when in fact, often times it is the exact opposite.

Just because you have more of something does not mean that God is blessing you more than those who do not have as much. This is a good lesson to learn in all areas of our lives.

From here we read of the death of Sarah. So, Abraham is facing another big test. Have you ever had a spouse or someone close to you die? This always has one of two effects in a person’s life. It can either draw you closer to God or it can become a barrier between you and God. We see that Abraham drew closer to God as evidenced by the rest of his story in Genesis.

Now Abraham has a dilemma. He is living in a foreign land and has no place to bury his wife. He goes before the Hittie men and asks them to sell him a burial place. We see that Abraham had a great rapport with these people because they offer him any spot they have. He chooses a cave owned by a man named Ephron. He offers to pay full price but Ephron offers to give him the cave and the field it is on free of charge.

Scholars tell us that this was actually just a friendly gesture and that Ephron was not about to give up his land for nothing. Abraham insists on paying for it so Ephron sets a price of 400 silver pieces. Typically, there would be a negotiation between the two as this price was extremely high for their day. Abraham, however, pays the first asking price so as not to be indebted to the Hittite people. The transaction is made and Abraham buries his wife Sarah.

Posted by Robbie Byrd

January 31, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 22:1-19

The BIG Test

1. God’s Test (v.1-2)
When we read the Bible we often confuse the terms, so we confuse the meaning. Are trials, tests, tribulation, and temptation all the same thing?

– Temptation comes from within ourselves (James 1:13-14) and results in death (James 1:15).
– Tribulation comes from the world (John 16:33) and produces destruction in our lives (John 15:18-20)
– But Tests and Trials come from God (Ps 17:3) and their purpose is our good (1 Pet 1:6-7).

God’s test was not to prove anything to God – but to show Abraham what his faith was made of. Sacrifice his only son… wow!

2. Abraham’s Obedience (v.3)
Abraham obeyed God – even though it hurt – even though he didn’t understand what God was up to…
– He rose early (I would have had a late day)
– He split the wood
– He went
Abraham fully intended to sacrifice Isaac just as God asked him to. Amazing!

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son. Hebrews 11:17

3. Abraham’s Faith (v.4-19)
Abraham believed God!
Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. James 1:23

He trusted that God loved him and had his best interest in mind. You can see this in his words… “stay here and I and the lad will go over there and we will worship and RETURN TO YOU” (v.5) or, in verse 8 where he says, “God will provide a lamb”…and, God did – not only then – but in a couple thousand years, He gave His one and only Son to be the lamb for the world (John 3:16).

You can trust your Father… but remember, the greatest experience with Him only unfolds when we obey Him and fully trust Him. How does God want you to experience Him today through obedience and trust?

Posted by: Tim Parsons

January 29, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 21:8-34

It’s rare to find a blended family that hasn’t gone through significant pain. God’s original design was {and is} for one man to be married to one woman for life. Abraham, in a moment of disbelief and sin, had a child with his slave, Hagar, because he took God’s will into his own hands. The pain of this blended family raged on. Ishmael longs for his father’s approval, Isaac is the accepted son, and Hagar is put aside in shame because of Sarah’s jealousy.

The good news for Hagar and Ishmael is that God keeps His promises. The covenant commitment God made to Abraham was not only true for the “good” son Isaac, but also for Ishmael:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” Genesis 21:12-13

If you read Zach Monroe’s post yesterday, you were reminded of some of the promises God has made us. There are so many that we can bask in. What other promises from God do you delight in?

Did you notice the profound moment of grace today’s reading? In verses 17-18, God sends an angel to comfort Hagar. This is a slave woman, a lower-class citizen. She’s been kicked out of her home by her master, yet the Lord comes to her and ministers to her. WHAT AMAZING FORESHADOWING OF THE GOSPEL!

We have nothing to offer God in and of ourselves. Our sin makes us the lowest of low — wretches deserving of God’s wrath. In fact, Ephesians 2 calls us enemies of God. The last thing we deserve is heaven or even a hearing before the holy God of the universe. And what did God do for us?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

He sent His own Son to this earth for us, a moment of profound grace much greater than Hagar experienced.

Questions For Application
1) Are you basking in His grace today?
2) How will the grace of God affect the way you live today?
3) How long will you wait to tell someone else about the amazing grace of God?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

January 28, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 21:1-7

We see now in verses 1-7 that God is a God who keeps His promises. Read verse 1.

“Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.”

Take note of the following phrases: “the Lord took note of Sarah,” and, “as He said,” and, “as He promised.”

God made sure that Abram and Sarah knew that He was the one that brought about the birth of Isaac. God is trustworthy!

(a little side note -– I think it’s funny that Abram and Sarah conceived Isaac at such an old age and Isaac means laughter)

So what can we draw from this verse? The main thing I am walking away with today is this, “God is a God who keeps His promises”! But what promises has He made to us?

Here are a few:

Ephesians 1:1-8
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So, we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us. A promise that we are His – He adopted us. If we have come into a relationship with God through Jesus He has blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm and has freed us from the bondage of sin through Christ’ sacrifice on the cross.”

HE PURCHASED US BACK AND forgave us all our sins! Live in that freedom.

Philippians 1:6
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

What God has started in you, He WILL complete it!

1 John 5:13
I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”

You can know that you know that you know you are a child of God if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So, encourage each other with these words.”

Simply put: YOU CAN GUARANTEE HE IS COMING BACK FOR HIS PEOPLE! WOW…haste the day of the return of our Savior. Until then, let’s labor for the kingdom of God!

Posted by: Zach Monroe