January 25, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 18:16-33

In this passage we find a very interesting conversation between Abraham and a person who is deemed as “the Lord.” Many who have studied the Bible believe this to be what is called a Christophony, simply put, an appearance of Jesus before He was born into this world. There are several other places where this type of language is found and could very well mean that Jesus came down to earth in some sort of physical form before He was born to Mary. This person called “the Lord” is accompanied by 2 other “men” who most scholars believe were angels. Abraham has just given these 3 men a meal and now they are heading toward Sodom.

The Lord begins to seemingly think to Himself about whether or not he should tell Abraham what He is up to. He decides to tell Abraham what He is going to do. He tells him that He and the 2 other men are there to check out Sodom and see what is going on there. They had heard that it was an evil, wicked place and they wanted to see it for themselves.

After the Lord tells Abraham about this he realizes what the Lord is about to do. No doubt Abraham is thinking about Lot, his nephew, and wants to make sure he is okay. Abraham begins an interesting dialogue with the Lord. He asks Him if He would spare Sodom if at least 50 people there were innocent. The Lord responds that He would spare it for 50 people. Abraham continues on by asking if He would spare it for 45people.. all the way down to 10 people. The Lord tells him that He would indeed spare it if He found 10 innocent people. Then the Lord and Abraham part ways.

So, what can we take away from this?

We see Abraham’s intercession for Lot. We should always be praying for our family and friends, as well as those we don’t even know. We also see very clearly here that no one is innocent (see Psalm 143:2, Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8). God is completely justified in destroying anyone and everyone but, in His great love and mercy, He saves us through Jesus’ blood.

Let us praise God today that He has withheld His judgment from us and instead gives us grace.

Posted by Robbie Byrd

January 24, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 18:1-15

Thanks for hanging in there with JumpStart! I hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are! Make sure and keep your family and friends accountable to their commitment to it.

In today’s reading Abraham gets a heavenly visit. Three men come to his tent. Most theologians believe this is a Theophany – or a visit from God himself in the form of a man.

In the verses that follow we witness God’s servant exhibiting extreme hospitality to his guests. This seems to be a bit of a lost art today. Most of us are too busy to entertain people in our homes. We are missing out. There is so much to be gained from this personal interaction – not to mention it’s a godly character quality for us to practice.

The Bible speaks of this in many places including 1 Peter 4:9, Romans 12:13, Titus 1:8, and 1 Timothy 3:2. Hebrews 13:2 tell us, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

In verse 10, God puts a timeframe to the promise He made Abraham in Genesis 12. In one year you will have son! Now the dream becomes a reality. God always keeps His promises!

So… in verses 12 -13 Sarah doubts that God can do it – laughs and then lies to God about it – like He didn’t know?!?

Ask yourself the following questions…
• How often do we miss “angels” in our lives and how can we be more aware to others? Lost? Needy?
• How can I improve in hospitality? What are some basic steps I can take?
• How do we doubt God and miss blessings?

Pray today for…
• Lost opportunities
• CPC’s building dilemma

Posted by: Tim Parsons

January 22, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 17

I can almost hear Abraham’s voice now:

“But God, You gave Noah a rainbow . . . and You want me to do WHAT?!?”

But that’s not what the text says. In fact, there isn’t a hint of complaining in Abraham’s tone. The covenant of circumcision is, no doubt, the most awkward of all the covenants you’ll find in the scriptures, yet Abraham understood God’s heart and motive behind the unpleasant medical procedure.

Imagine the faith Abraham must have had. He had to go to all the males — infants, young men, warriors, elderly — and explain God’s covenant and what they must do. He didn’t hesitate, he obeyed. A season of tension was worth it in light of an everlasting relationship with the God of the universe.

This says something about Abraham’s character.

For a moment, I put myself in this story. If I were one of his workers or a soldier or even just a friend, it would cross my mind that Abraham went certifiably insane. Something must have been slipped into his wine and made him delusional.

The Bible says no such thing about Abraham’s followers, family, or friends. He walked with God in such a way that people KNEW that this was of the Lord. They knew that this was a man of radical faith:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
(Hebrews 11:8-10 ESV)

The cool thing I find in this passage is that God not only gives Abraham the “what” and “how”, but also the “why”, which He is not required to give. He does so in order to reinforce the purpose of the covenant. Circumcision would set God’s people apart as different, as holy. It would serve as a reminder to every family throughout Jewish history from this point forward that God is a covenant God of covenant promises:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
(Genesis 17:7-8 ESV)

Questions For Application:
1) Is my faith so evident and real that people know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a Christ-follower, even when life is hard? Why or why not?
2) In what area in my life is God calling me to radical obedience? Will I follow through?
3) Is my character worth emulating?
4) Do I truly believe God’s promises?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

January 21, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 16:1-16

My first thoughts from this passage strike a deep nerve within me. I asked myself, “how often do I move ahead of God’s timing?” God is clear in chapter 15 that He will make Abram the father of many nations…

And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “this man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “so shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”

Yet, we see Abram begin worrying and moving ahead of God’s timing in chapter 16. He does not trust in God’s timing and Sarai and Abram both develop a plan to carry out the covenant God had established. The only problem with this plan is it was not God’s plan. The result? Sin. Abram and Sarai moved ahead of God and as a result Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant, bore a son by Abram whose name is Ishmael.

Now, at first glance, we see that the only immediate consequence of Abram’s lack of judgment led to Sarai’s contempt toward Hager and Sarai being upset with Abram. This is where sin begins to have a ripple effect. If you read on to chapter 17 God makes it clear that He will bless Ishmael, but the covenant will be established through Sarai’s son, Isaac.

Now, this is not a big deal in and of itself because God always carries out His promises, but please answer this question. What nations were produced from Ishmael?

The nations that come from Ishmael’s line are the primary enemies of the Jews – the group God established through Isaac. Now, although there is grace upon grace even within these hostile nations, we see the beginnings of a foothold that would eventually lead to a religion that is hostile toward God’s chosen people (many trace Mohammad, the founder of Islam, directly back to Ishmael and his lineage). The beautiful grace found in Abraham’s lack of judgment is that God will, in the end, carry out His covenant, which was established through Isaac, and bring all people from all nations to Himself for those who call Him Lord and Savior.

What I asked myself…

-Am I remaining faithful in the little things?
-Do I trust the plan God has for me?
-In what ways have I moved ahead of God in the past and what lessons can I learn for the future?
-Are there any leadership lessons to learn from Abraham and the way he dealt with this situation?
-In what ways does this push me to KNOW that God is trustworthy?

Posted by: Zach Monroe