~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 13:5-15:21 ~ Matthew 5:27-48
Psalm 6:1-10 ~ Proverbs 1:29-33
K-LOVE poll? Okay, so I gotta ask - how many of you have heard K-LOVE radio promoting and giving away the One Year Bible this week?? It has given me great joy every time I hear them mention it! And the New Living Translation to boot! (I know, I know, I've got a diverse readership here and that not everyone is as big of a fan of the NLT as I am.... :) Anyway, thanks K-LOVE for making this One Year Bible blogger happy when driving!
Old Testament - These are some great readings about Abram today and his faith! Chapter 13 verse 9 jumped out at me today as Abram was trying to settle the arguments between his and Lot's herdsmen over pastureland - "I'll tell you what we'll do. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want that area over there, then I'll stay here. If you want to stay in this area, then I'll move on to another place." I guess what I really like about this is Abram is giving Lot the first choice of the land. It seems like Abram his confident that he will personally be okay with whatever 2nd choice is left-over to him. I like this. And I hope that we each do this in my life from time to time. Think about this random example - parking spaces in a crowded mall can be hot commodities and arguments can ensue. What would it be like if we let others get the first choice and we continued on in confidence that we will be okay with whatever 2nd choice is left-over to us? Who knows - maybe we'd end up with the parking space in the boonies - and get an extra quarter mile of a walk for exercise... maybe not such a bad 2nd choice? Okay, I'm not really sure how I got from Abram's pasturelands to our parking spaces... :) But, hopefully you see my point. Is it possible for us to get in the habit of letting others get the 1st choice of things whenever there is an argument about to ensue - and us being confident that 2nd choice will still be great for us - maybe in ways we don't foresee?
Chapter 14 verse 14 also jumped out at me in regards to Abram's character - "When Abram learned that Lot had been captured, he called together the men born into his household, 318 of them in all. He chased after Kedorlaomer's army until he caught up with them in Dan." I don't know about you... but I'll be honest. If my nephew got captured by a band of marauding kings and their army, I'm thinking I might just let my nephew got and chalk it up to very bad luck on his part... But not Abram! When he heard the news that Lot had been captured, it looks like he did not even blink! He called together his posse immediately and they were off and running after Kedorlaomer's army. Yes, they were chasing after an army... again, I'm not so sure I would do this... though, hopefully, maybe I now would if I can keep in mind Abram's character here.... What about you? Would you chase after an army? Is there maybe someone in your life who has been "captured" by something - an addiction, a sadness, some bad luck - will you go chasing after that person and help to free them from the "army" that has ensnared them?
In verses 17 through 20 in chapter 14 we read about Melchizedek. And I definitely would like to get others opinions on this - Who was Melchizedek? The reason I ask this question is due to Hebrews Chapter 7 - click on this link to read this chapter of Hebrews. (Hebrews 7 is well worth the read at this point in our Genesis journey.) I guess my thinking currently is that Melchizedek was a very great priest - but I'm not sure he was Jesus Christ preincarnate? But, again, I'm willing to listen to others on your thoughts on this. My thoughts on this is that Hebrews 7 seems to be saying that Jesus is "like" or "in the order" of Melchizedek - but not quite saying Jesus is Melchizedek. I've read there are 4 basic theories on who Melchizedek is - 1. simply a king of Salem and Abram was showing him respect, 2. Melchizedek was a standard title for the kings of Salem. 3. He was a "type of Christ" and he illustrates a lesson about Christ. or 4. He was Jesus preincarnate in a temporary body form. So - whaddya think?? :)
Genesis chapter 15:9-21 is the first Abrahamic Covenant. It was an unconditional divine promise to fulfill the grant of the land to Abram and his descendants.
Verse 5 & 6 in chapter 15 are powerful - "Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, "Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that--too many to count!" And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith." And verse 6, the preceding sentence to this one I think for each of us to consider. Do we believe God's promises? What are God's promises for us? Do we have faith that God's promises for us through his son Jesus are true? Even if we've been walking with faith for a while now - are we still as "on fire" with our faith as we once were? Can we pray to God to show us his promises anew (or maybe for the first time) for our lives? Can we pray to God for faith like Abram's?
New Testament - Matthew 5:27-30 are Jesus' teachings about adultery. And really I think these teachings, along with many others in the Sermon on the Mount, are even more so about what is going on inside our hearts. Jesus discusses how the law says clearly how we are "not to do" something - it's very apparent and very "exterior" if we commit a sin like adultery. Jesus says that the exterior/apparent/obvious sin is wrong for sure - but Jesus is equally as concerned with what's going on in the "interior" - inside our hearts. Jesus proposes that if we have looked at someone lustfully with our "interior", we have committed the same sin as if we had actually committed adultery on the "exterior".
I know these can be seen as "hard teachings." But I think they are important for us to consider. I think it is true that what we "think" often becomes what we "do". So, it seems to me that Jesus is trying to stop us from even committing sin at the "thinking" level, because it may later manifest itself into action. Or - even if it does not manifest itself into action the thinking of the sin can affect us just as much as the actual doing of the sin.
I know this is getting into some tricky territory - our interior lives! :) I actually just typed a bunch of thoughts that I just now deleted - simply because it's a bit tough for me to fully articulate my thoughts here on how we get free from sin (without typing up some horribly choppy theology... :). I will simply say that there is an answer for freedom from and forgiveness of sin. And that is faith in the crucified and risen Jesus - whom we will be reading about for the remainder of this gospel of Matthew! So, please keep reading! I'll let Jesus give you the theology. :)
I do actually want to say a few more things about the whole adultery / lust issue brought up in today's readings. And it is this - probably many of us have struggled with lust, or are struggling with lust right now. I have. And I know many of my friends who have. I am very saddened by many things I have seen and heard and experienced over the years. However sad I am or have been though, I am sure God grieves for us so much more. I guess I just want to encourage anyone know who is reading this that might be struggling with lust or pornography or adultery or pre-marital sex etc. - there is freedom from what you are struggling with. And that freedom ultimately only is found from the healing love of Jesus. I just pray that you will do everything you can to allow Jesus to free you from what's enslaved you - seek professional counseling, find an accountability partner, confess your sins, read empowering books about freedom from what you are struggling with, avoid R-rated movies if you need to, avoid situations or locations that will tempt you, and above all pray to Jesus and ask for healing. He will heal you. It may take time. But he will heal you. God bless you as you work your way out of this and into amazing freedom! God will get you there!
Okay, whew.. deep breath everyone... :) Onto Psalm 6!
Psalms - And Psalm 6 actually ties in sort of nicely with what I just typed about... As I read this Psalm, it felt very penitential to me - like David was making a confession of sins and praying for forgiveness from God. As you read through these verses, have you ever felt like this? I have. And it ain't fun. But, it's part of the healing process. I do think we need to allow ourselves to get fully broken before God before we get fully healed. We can't mask over or hide from God what's really going on - we gotta put it all out there on the table, for him to be able to truly fix it. However - there is great encouragement and confidence from David in this Psalm - "The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer." The Lord will hear your plea! The Lord will answer your prayer! Please plea and pray to him if you need to. He will listen and answer....
Proverbs - Okay, I gotta apologize... I feel like this has been quite a "heavy" post today... and I'm gonna go at it one more time here... :) Proverbs 1 verse 31 jumped out at me today - "That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way. They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen." I guess what jumped out at me is the simple word "path." Such a simple word... but a profound one. Every single day there seem to be various paths in front of us. Various options. Choices we can make. Paths we can take. What type of path are you on now? Are you on the right path? Who is leading you down this path? Is it God? I'll close out this way-too-heavy of a posting day with one of my favorite Proverbs, that I have memorized and repeat to myself often, which also discusses paths - Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
Okay... I feel like I should "close" the Comments on this posting today.... :) Please be kind!
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!