Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 30: Leviticus 1, 2 and 3

Season all your grain offerings with salt. (Leviticus 2:13)
The inclusion of salt in the grain offering was linked to salt's preservative qualities. In the absense of their Egyptian Frigidaires, these travelers preserved their food supplies with salt. Salt in the grain offering signified the lasting nature of the covenant between Israel and Yahweh.
One of the attributes of humans is that we have long memories when someone offends us and short memories when we make a promise. As the years pass, our firm commitments seem to lose their significance and don't hold as much weight as they once did.
By adding salt to their offerings, the people of Israel were reminding themselves that they could trust God to keep his promises. And maybe God was reminding them that their promises were meant to be kept as well.
What promise will you keep this week?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29: Exodus 37, 38, 39 and 40

When Moses set up the tabernacle, he put the bases in place, erected the frames, inserted the crossbars and set up the posts. (Exodus 40:18)
During their nine months camped at Sinai, the people of Israel have gathered materials, woven fabrics, tailored priestly garments, and built the tabernacle and everything that went with it. Their accomplishments are a testimony to the benefits of working cooperatively with others focused on the same goal.
All the Levites had a part in the creative process, either in construction or as craftspeople. And after the creative work was complete, there was still something significant for everyone to set their hands to.
I seriously doubt it was actually Moses who set up the tabernacle, putting the bases in place, erecting the frames, inserting the crossbars and setting up the posts. There were teams responsible for all those tasks. And yet who gets the credit? Moses.
Any good leader knows that when his team accomplishes something grand, even though he might get the credit, it's really the people working behind the scenes who deserve the accolades. We only know the names of a scattered few craftsmen who contributed to the work of the tabernacle, but there must have been hundreds. Just as 4/5 of an iceberg sits beneath the surface of the water and is not visible to the casual observer, there are many unseen, unsung people who are deserving of our thanks when things go right.
To whom do you owe a thank you?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28: Exodus 34, 35 and 36

Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin. (Exodus 34:9)
Twice in the previous two chapters, God refers to Israel as stiff-necked. The first time (32:9) he was informing Moses on Mt. Sinai of the people's sin in creating the golden calf. His intention was to destroy the nation and start over with a people from the line of Moses himself. Moses stood between God and the people, pleading for their lives.
The second time occurred after the dust from the first storm had settled. God told Moses he would send an angel ahead of them to drive out the present inhabitants of the Promised Land, but that because of them being stiff-necked, he would not go with them. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you (33:5). I guess that's what happens when and irresistable force meets and immovable object.
In Chapter 34 with things put to right, Moses celebrates God's mercy and faithfulness. We included his words (34:6,7) in our Day 27 discussion. Then Moses makes his request: If I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance (34:9).
No arguments; we know how we are. Been there - done that. It may take a lifetime for us to learn to submit. Thank you for not giving up on us.
Been stiff-necked lately?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27: Exodus 31, 32 and 33

Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. (Exodus 32:14)
First Samuel 15:29 reads: [God] does not lie or change his mind. One of the classic attributes of God is his immutability - the idea that God does not change. Some have taken this so far as to mean that God never changes his mind, because that would prove he is imperfect. (Picture me with a perplexed look on my face.)
That kind of thinking doesn't bode well for the Israelites. After the golden calf fiasco, it sounds like God was ready to wipe his chosen people off the face of the earth. Then Moses interceded for them and God relented. Isn't relented another way of saying changed his mind?
When the biblical writers state that God doesn't change his mind, they are referring to his character. His character is constant. Who God was yesterday is who God will be tomorrow. We don't have to worry about him forgiving us today and taking it back a week from now, because that would be inconsistent with his character.
The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . . forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6,7).
Would you rather have a God who cannot change his mind... ever, or a God who responds to the prayers of his children whom he loves with an everlasting love?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26: Exodus 28, 29 and 30

Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. (Exodus 28:29)
This is a good lesson for any pastor, elder, deacon, Sunday School teacher, ministry volunteer, parent, sibling, boss, employee, and anyone else I've left out. On Aaron's breastpiece he wore twelve stones, each engraved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel. On his shoulders were two more stones, each one engraved with the names of six tribes.
On those days when he might not have felt like fulfilling his duties before God, he would be reminded by the stones on his chest and shoulders that in neglecting these things he was not only affecting himself, but neglecting his responsibilities to God's people. And when he entered the Holy Place, the stones would remind him that he was there not only for himself, but as a representative of thousands.
Maybe we don't represent thousands when we enter the Holy Place of God's presence, but someone needs our prayers. God has surely placed at least one name on our hearts.
So let me ask, whose names are written on your chest and shoulders when you go before the Lord in prayer?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25: Exodus 25, 26 and 27

Have them make this sanctuary and I will dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
Tabernacle - verb - to dwell
Tabernacle can of course also be a noun and brings to mind different things, such as the traveling tent considered the house of God in the time of Moses.
It also refers to the small huts made by the Jewish people during the Festival of Tabernacles [Booths]. For seven days, the Jewish people built and lived in small makeshift shelters to connect with their ancestors who traveled through the wilderness in search of their promised land.
The root word of tabernacle also gives us the word tavern. In this usage, it would refer not so much to a bar, but more to an inn, where travelers could dwell on a temporary basis.
Psalm 90:1 turns the thought around from God dwelling with us to God being our dwelling place. Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
Ezekiel 37:27 reads: My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God and they will be my people. The bottom line is that God wants to be close to us, to live in us, and for us to live in him. Read: Revelation 21:3. What a blessed promise! We will live with God and God will live with us for all eternity.
This week, how will God's presence in your life be manifested to those around you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24: Exodus 22, 23 and 24

If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it. (Exodus 23:5)
Whether these words were spoken by Moses, or (as most critical Bible scholars suggest) were expansions of a later time, they give us a picture of a nation's developing legal interpretation.
All these laws stem from the very first: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3). Jesus spoke that first commandment like this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30). Together with what Jesus termed the second greatest commandment, it can be summed up like this: Love God, love people.
Only a life filled with the love of Christ could live up to Exodus 23:5, as printed above. Don't just shower with kindness those who can benefit you, those who will appreciate it, and those who will pay it back; love your enemies too.
But this is not something that can really be planned ahead. These are the kinds of circumstances that come out of the blue. One's heart must already be transformed with the desire to love one's enemies, and we must ask God to prepare us for when the opportunity arises.
This week, make it a matter of prayer to ask that God's love fill your heart, even for those who have treated you badly.

Day 23: Exodus 19, 20 and 21

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine... (Exodus 19:5)
That's pretty much the way most translations seem to read that verse, but (especially if you're reading from the Bible Gateway links available on this blog) maybe you've seen a different translation: ...out of all nations you will be my treasured possession, for the whole earth is mine. The original word can be translated both ways, and translators work from the context to determine which word fits best.
Is God saying, I've chosen you because I love you the best? Or is God saying, I've chosen you because I'm going to use my relationship with you to express my love to all nations? Granted, most translations use the word although, yet the word for seems to fit best with the context of all Scripture.
What if you applied the same rationale to your Christian life?
Are there those walking alongside you who need to receive an expression of love? How will you intentionally show them God's love this week?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22: Exodus 16, 17 and 18

The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. (Exodus 18:18)
Like most good pastors, Moses doesn't realize it, but he's riding a runaway train toward burnout in his attempt to care for the people who followed him out of Egypt. They are depending on him; he knows it, and he's feeling the weight of that responsibility.
Thank God for his father-in-law Jethro, who can look at the situation objectively and give the younger man some good counsel. We all need a Jethro in our lives. From the very beginning, God never intended us to go it alone. The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18)."
[Choosing capable people who can help you fulfill your mission] will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you . . . and [everyone] will go home satisfied (Exodus 18:22,23)."
We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:3,4)."
From Adam and Eve, to Moses and Jethro, to the Apostles and their newly appointed deacons, God has never intended us to shoulder the burden in solitary confinement. That's why he places us in a church family.
Are you taking on more that your share of the burden? Is your pastor? What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21: Exodus 13, 14 and 15

The Israelites were dressed for fighting when they left the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:18 - NCV)
This verse sounds like the Hebrews marched out of Egypt with their shoulders thrown back and their chests puffed out - a conquering army, but the truth is in the context. The previous verse reads: When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."
The people were dressed for battle, but they were still thinking like slaves. They looked the part of conquerors, but inside their tails were tucked between their legs and they just weren't ready to fight.
It takes more than wearing a uniform to be a soldier. Maybe the Hebrews were feeling a little too cocky, pockets jingling with their neighbors' gold, and leaving behind the dazed Egyptians reeling from God's one-two plague punch. Maybe they were itching for a fight they weren't ready for. Were their egos writing checks their bodies couldn't cash? Either way, God knew that if they tasted battle too soon, they would lose heart, turn tail and run back to Egypt.
Sometimes God sends us into the battle; and other times God knows the better part of valor is living to fight another day. Either way, to be sure, the battles will come.
When is the last time you prayed through Ephesians 6:10-18?

Day 20: Exodus 10, 11 and 12

Many other people went up with them. (Exodus 12:38)
Usually, when I think of the exodus, I think of an entire nation of Israelites crossing the Red Sea to find freedom. The truth is that the group was not nearly as pure pedigreed as we sometimes take for granted. In fact, this is not the last time other people groups will be folded into Israel.
There's something about finding freedom that attracts other people. Maybe they have been stuck in their old ways a long time, but seeing someone else break free of their chains makes them long for freedom as well. If it had not been for Moses leading his people out of slavery, chances are those others would have settle for the status quo, just staying where they were and making the best of it. But they wanted what Israel had. When the Hebrews gathered their belongings, their neighbors likewise packed up and headed out of Dodge.
When God's people walk in freedom, there's no telling how many others will be delivered as a result.
Who brought you to Christ? Was it someone who had already found him? Or someone who was still enslaved? As you walk in freedom, who are you bringing with you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19: Exodus 7, 8 and 9

I have raised you up for this very purpose. (Exodus 9:16)
Did you notice how the magicians matched Moses miracle for miracle at the beginning? (Okay, I know Aaron's rod/snake ate their snakes.) Even though the magicians could unleash some pretty amazing stuff, once it was out of the box, they couldn't put it back in. Pharaoh pleaded with Moses: Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me.
The gnats were gnext. The magicians tried but couldn't produce. Then with the flies is where things get really interesting. God made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites. From that point on, the plagues were specifically aimed at Pharaoh and his people.
Here's our highlighted verse in its entirety: But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
Do you remember the words of Mordecai to his niece Esther? Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
The further my walk takes me, the more I realize the importance of submitting my will to God. Esther and Pharaoh were both raised up by God to save the Jewish people and to bring him glory in the process. Esther submitted; Pharaoh did not. How would his story be different if he had?
What difference would it make if you honestly said, "Thy will be done."?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18: Exodus 4, 5 and 6

You have not rescued your people at all. (Exodus 4, 5 and 6)
We are continuing our discussion from yesterday. One benefit of reading the Bible through like we're doing is seeing connections that span several chapters. Let's recap what we've been talking about the past few days. On Day 14 Jacob was singing, Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me. On Day 15 he exclaimed, My son Joseph is still alive! On Day 16 Jacob looked back over his life and saw the beautiful work of art God had made from all its seemingly disjointed pieces. Leave Genesis behind and open Exodus on Day 17: The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out to God. And today, with things apparently taking a turn for the worse, Moses accuses God: You have not rescued your people at all.
In The Clowns of God, Morris West's middle book from his papal trilogy, deposed Pope Gregory XVII, birth name Jean Marie Barette, cries out to God in desperation: Why do you ask me to make so many bricks with so little straw?
Time after time, story after story, God's people give up before God does. Perhaps because they cannot see the endgame, they think God has forfeited, not realizing they just don't understand his strategy. We would do well to remember that allowing things to get worse before they get better might just be a very necessary component of God's plan for our deliverance.
Is God working in your pain?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17: Exodus 1, 2 and 3

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. (Exodus 2:23)
I know we've been banging this drum a lot lately, but it seems to be a repeating theme in our readings. The Israelites cried out to God to rescue them, and God heard their prayer and set the wheels of deliverance in motion. Unfortunately, due possibly to impatience or a lack of faith (or both), the Israelites were anything but gracious. If they could have they would have fired Yahweh and taken applications for a new god.
It boiled down to tunnel vision. They had expectations how God would come through for them, and they probably had it all orchestrated in their own minds, but God didn't dance to their choreography. God already had a plan in the works - he didn't need their advice. And because things didn't work out the way they expected, they didn't even see God coming. They had no idea he was working in their midst.
Have you lifted up a prayer to God? He heard; he's coming. You just wait!

Day 16: Genesis 47, 48, 49 and 50

Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. (Genesis 47:31)
I can envision this old man (even though some might say he seemed young for 130), full of years and full of life, looking out over the land of Goshen, but not seeing the fields or the sheep. He was seeing the years of his life - conspiring with his mother to get his brother's blessing, the twenty years working for his Uncle Laban, wrestling with God (at this point he automatically and without thinking reaches down to massage his hip), his reunion with Esau, the death of his sweetheart Rachel, the loss of his son Joseph; Jacob - an accomplished deceiver - now deceived by his sons, the famine, his astonishment at hearing Joseph was alive, and then seeing him once again, second-in-command over all Egypt.
What a life! There was good and there was bad. There had been things that brought him shame and some that had brought him honor. There were times God's will was accomplished in his life, not in cooperation with Jacob, but in spite of Jacob. It was like a tapestry being woven from the day of his birth, some of the threads beautiful, and some ugly. Only now, in looking back, was he able to see the hand of his God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and yes, the God of Jacob.
Could the things you fret about today actually be revealed as threads of a beautiful tapestry tomorrow?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 15: Genesis 43, 44, 45 and 46

My son Joseph is still alive! (Genesis 45:28)
The Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me of Chapters 37 and 42 become the Hallelujah Chorus of Chapter 46. Who would have thought Jacob would ever again have reason to rejoice after everything he'd been through? Apparently the fat lady hadn't yet begun to sing.
Could it be the very event that is causing you pain today will be the catalyst for rejoicing in days to come? Whether we have a good day or a bad day often boils down not to circumstances, but to perspective.
How's yours?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14: Genesis 40, 41 and 42

Everything is against me! (Genesis 42:36)
Jacob had already lost his wife, his favorite son, and now he was being asked to give up his youngest son, the only remaining son of his wife Rachel. And yet not all was as it seemed.
What appeared to him to be misfortune (Gloom, despair and agony on me), was actually the providential hand of God getting ready to grant Jacob's wildest dream. He had no idea what God had in store for him.
Have you ever asked, Ever had one of those days? Changes the meaning; doesn't it?
Have you ever had one of those days when God was working in your behalf, but you couldn't see it?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13: Genesis 37, 38 and 39

While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord . . . showed him kindness. (Genesis 39:20,21)
Here we have another one of those Bible quotes that just doesn't sound right: While Joseph was in prison, God showed him kindness. I might have had the attitude: If you want to show me kindness, GET ME OUT OF HERE! And yet Joseph was in prison for a substantial length of time - estimates suggest as much as ten years.
Joseph held captive in an African prison seems somehow changed from the young man sporting his brightly colored coat, parading among his brothers that he was his father's favorite. Joseph among the Egyptians is still a confident man, sure of his relationship with God and willing to stand by his dreams, but this Joseph has been humbled through hardship - first being sold into slavery by his own brothers, then being falsely accused of being a sex offender and tossed into prison.
My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8)
Have you ever been humbled? Did it feel like God was being kind to you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12: Genesis 34, 35 and 36

Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me." (Genesis 34:30)
This is one of the R-rated stories of the Bible. Jacob's daughter Dinah was raped by Shechem, son of the local chieftain. To make things worse, Shechem's townspeople thought they would use this crime to their advantage and cheat Jacob out of his livestock and property (how's that for turnabout?). When Dinah's brothers heard about the attack, they hatched a plan to avenge her. When the dust had settled, Shechem and all his fellow citizens were dead.
Jacob panicked. What have you done? What if the other towns of this land join forces against us? We'll be destroyed!
Three days ago we read about a dispute involving Jacob's father Isaac. He chose the non-confrontational route when some Philistine hotheads plugged up his wells. There's something to be said for diplomacy and allowing cooler heads to prevail. It sounds like Jacob would also have preferred avoiding confrontation. But now it was too late. His children's impulsive reaction could not be taken back.
When the enemy is bigger and stronger, it's usually wise to tactfully negotiate a settlement that doesn't include getting your butt kicked. But sometimes the most important question is not, What are my odds? Sometimes the principles are important enough that someone has to stand up for what's right. Is it possible there are times when it's better to go down fighting than to compromise?
When is diplomacy the best path? When is confrontation necessary?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11: Genesis 31, 32 and 33

Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. (Genesis 33:4)
What drama! Twenty years after cheating Esau out of his birthright, Jacob returns home. How will he be received by the brother who swore to kill him.
In reading this solitary chapter, one might be tempted to say, Happy ending! But this is not the end of the story. Esau settled his extended family in the hill country of Mt. Seir, near the southern tip of the Dead Sea, to the south and east of Israel. Esau got a bowl of soup; Jacob got an inheritance, and their descendants were enemies for a thousand years. Was it worth it?
Have you every congratulated yourself for taking advantage of a sweet deal only to find out later the price was higher than you originally thought?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10: Genesis 28, 29 and 30

The Lord will be my God. (Genesis 28:21)
Jacob, his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham were not monotheistic - that is they did not believe in the existence of only one God. They were henotheistic. Henotheism is the belief that one God is superior among a range of lesser gods. It can also mean choosing to worship only one god, even though one still believes in the existence of other gods.
Listen to Jacob: If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the Lord will be my God (Genesis 28:20,21).
Some might say the First Commandment betrays the same belief during the time of Moses: You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3). What about during the time of Joshua?: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). Jacob traveled to Haran in approximately 1700-1650 BC. The nation of Israel's repeated flirtations with its neighbors' gods wouldn't stop until its Babylonian exile, between 587 and 536 BC, over a thousand years later.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God makes it clear: I am the Lord and there is no other (45:5 - also vss 6 and 18). And yet we worship all kinds of other gods, don't we?
Who (or what) receives your worship?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9: Genesis 25, 26 and 27

He moved from there and dug another well. (Genesis 26:22)
Ever notice there's a lot of biblical material about Abraham and Jacob, but not that much about Isaac? Most of the Isaac accounts have Isaac being passive while things happen to him, like for instance, when his father lays him out on the altar of sacrifice, or when his wife and child conspire to trick him into blessing the wrong son.
For a time Isaac lived among the Philistines. Because they were envious of his riches and nervous about his family's strength, they filled up all his wells. He dug a new well, and the Philistines filled it up and it sunk into the swamp. He dug another well and... that one burnt down, fell over and sunk into the swamp. So he dug another well, and finally the Philistines left that one alone and it was the finest well in all the land. (For those who didn't notice, there is perhaps a small amount of poetic license included in this account.)
Isaac is to be commended for his response. I would probably have come back with a few other knee-jerk reactions: 1) throw a tantrum; 2) quit and go home; or 3) beat the living daylights out of the Philistines.
Isaac didn't do any of those things. He just moved down the road, dug another well, and waited to see what would happen. That time, the Philistines left him and his well enough alone.
What can we learn from Isaac?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8: Genesis 22, 23 and 24

He reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. (Genesis 22:10)
The account of Abraham's near sacrifice of his son is dear to Christians, Jews and Muslims... only in most Muslim accounts it is Ishmael that Abraham takes to the mountain, not Isaac.
Do you notice the parallel between Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son borne to him by Sarah, and God's willingness to sacrifice his only begotten Son?
With his hand grasping the knife, do you think Abraham breathed a sigh of relief when he was restrained from killing Isaac and the ram was provided to take his place? Do you think a person of Jewish tradition (if that person could put aside his prejudice long enough to imagine that Jesus might have been God's Son), in reading the crucifixion account, would have noticed the parallel? As the Son was readied for sacrifice, what would be that reader's expectation? Perhaps as the hammer arced (or arcked - awkward) through the air to connect with the nail and pierce Christ's hands and feet, would the Jewish reader expect God to make a substitution? A perfect lamb in place of his Son?
But no substitution was made. Christ was the substitute.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain. (Revelation 5:12)
Have you paused lately to thank God for providing a Lamb in your place?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7: Genesis 19, 20 and 21

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains. (Genesis 19:30)
When Lot and his family were rushed out of Sodom, the angels told them to run for the mountains: Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away! (19:17)
Yeah... about that; I'm not overly fond of the mountains, you know - vertigo, and all that. Couldn't Witness Protection set us up in a nice little town in the valley somewhere? Zoar?
Why did he resist the angels' counsel to head for the mountains? Did he have ulterior motives? It seems that Lot left Sodom begrudgingly, and didn't want to relocate any further away than absolutely necessary. As an objective observer, I think he was holding on to something.
Then the sun came up (vs 23) and Lot could see devastation all around him. Zoar was an oasis in the middle of a desert of destruction.
Hey, those mountains don't sound so bad after all.
Have you ever tried to talk God out of something only to find out later He really does know best?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6: Genesis 16, 17 and 18

You are the God who sees me. (Genesis 16:3)
This is the story of Sarah's Egyptian slave girl Hagar. Abraham and Sarah lived in Egypt for a time, and that is no doubt when Abraham procured Hagar for his wife. But Hagar is not an Egyptian name; it's Hebrew, and means forsaken. What father would name her that? Her Hebrew name, likely given by her mistress, makes her story all the more fascinating.
after Hagar got pregnant with Abraham's child, she despised Sarah and in return Sarah mistreated her, provoked by jealousy. When Hagar (Forsaken) could take it no more, she ran away to the most forsaken place she could find - the desert. There she had an encounter with God, who assured her that her cries had been heard.
As a woman, a foreigner and a slave, Hagar had no standing in society, and yet the God of the universe found her in the wilderness, met with her and comforted her there. And in the loneliest place on earth, she gave God a new name: You are the God who sees me. Can't you almost hear her? Even though I am Forsaken, you are the God who does not forsake me. Even though I am rejected, you are the God who does not reject me. Even though I am unseen, you are the God who sees me.
We all feel forsaken from time to time, but we are not forsaken, we are not rejected, and we are not unseen

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5: Genesis 13, 14 and 15

The sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. (Genesis 15:16)
God warns Abraham that his descendants will be enslaved in a foreign land for a time. But what was going on in Canaan during the 400 years Abraham's people were in Egypt? The writer states that a wickedness was taking hold of the Amorite people.
What would have become of the Hebrew people (though they were not called that yet) if they had remained in Canaan? Is it possible the wickedness that was growing in the Amorites, but had not yet reached its full measure, would have infected the twelve tribes of Jacob too?
As bad as the Egyptian enslavement might have been, we don't know but that something even worse might have befallen them if they had remained in Canaan.
Has God ever allowed you to go through a bad time that later proved to be his providential hand of protection?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4: Genesis 10, 11 and 12

Let us build ourselves a city . . . that we may make a name for ourselves. (Genesis 11:4)

The story of the Tower of Babel provides a wonderful contrast to what’s coming in Chapter 12. God had commanded humanity to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). The people of Shinar had a different idea. They didn’t want to be scattered; they wanted to stay where they were, grow powerful, and make a name for themselves.

In Chapter 12 we are introduced to a new player. Abram was cooperating with the plan of God when he moved from Haran to Canaan. God promised him: I will make your name great (12:2).

What the people of Babel wanted for themselves, was what God willingly gave Abram. When we seek to honor ourselves, God has a way of allowing us to be humbled. When we seek instead to honor God, God delights in honoring us.

How will you bring honor to God this week?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3: Genesis 7, 8 and 9

Take with you . . . two of every kind of unclean animal. (Genesis 7:2)

Never mind that this is pre-Moses and pre-law, and that animals have not yet been catalogued as clean and unclean; or for that matter never mind that it would seem humanity is still vegetarian (it is not until chapter 9 that God gives man permission to eat meat, so what would an unclean designation even mean?); it is nonetheless interesting that God specifies the rescue of unclean animals.

If God cares enough to orchestrate the preservation of the human race, of whom the writer of Genesis states: Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (6:5), and even went the extra mile to rescue unclean animals, should it come as any surprise when God hears our prayers and lifts us out of deep waters?

When has God reached down and lifted you out? What’s that say for those approaching storms on your radar?