Genesis 18:16-19:38 + Matthew 6:25-7:14 + Psalm 8:1-9 + Proverbs 2:6-15
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Old Testament - Today in Genesis chapter's 18 & 19 we get a great look at how God responds to intercessory prayer and also clearly see God's judgment in chapter 19. Ch. 18 Verse 17 is a powerful start to our readings: "Should I hide my plan from Abraham?" the LORD asked." I think what we see here and in the following verses is that God obviously really cares for Abraham - as a friend - and as one who has been credited as righteous because of his faith. And I do think this is an important point before we read about Abraham's intercessory prayer to God - that for intercessory prayer really to have any standing before God, we need to be in right relationship with God. If we are being disobedient to God or being unrepentant of sins or bad habits that God wants us to give up, then I think our intercessory prayer for others can lose its effectiveness. Check out James 5:16 for this point: "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." Abraham was credited as righteous because of his faith (Genesis 15:6). Hence, his intercessory prayer was powerful and effective. Below is a portrait of Abraham by Guy Rowe - I imagine Abraham praying to God in Genesis chapter 18 in this portrait:
In verse 25 we begin to see Abraham's several requests, or intercessions, to God to spare the city of Sodom for the sake of the righteous living in the city: "Surely you wouldn't do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn't do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?"" And from here we see Abraham bringing down the number of righteous that would need to be in the city for it to be spared. I don't necessarily see what Abraham was doing here as haggling with God - but, I think he was acting out of compassion for the righteous few in the city - and surely Lot and his family were on his mind during these intercessions...
In Genesis chapter 19 there is a lot going on. And I'm sure a few things that jump out at you when you read them, and create a lot of questions in your mind. (Lot offering his two virgin daughters (v. 8) & what happened in the cave (v. 30-36), for examples) Let me recommend you take 10 minutes and read through Bob Deffinbaugh's "From City Councilman to Caveman: “What a Difference a Day Makes” (Genesis 19:1-38)" at this link at Bible.org. I think this will answer a lot of your questions on why certain things happened in this chapter, from Bob's perspective. One great quote from Bob at this link above is this: "Lot attempted to live his life in a city and then in a cave. We cannot become one with the world, but neither are we to flee from it. The proper balance between the city of Sodom and the cave is the tent of Abraham. We are to live in the world, but without becoming attached to it or conformed to it. We are to be strangers and pilgrims." I like that! How are you doing with the idea of being in the world, but not of it? Are you living in the city or in a cave? Will you seek to live in the tent of Abraham? Below is a map of the approximate area of where Sodom & Gomorrah and the Cities of the Plain (including Zoar) were thought to have been located, on the south side of the Dead Sea and now possibly under water:
One verse that immediately stood out to me in chapter 19 is verse 16: "When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the LORD was merciful." What struck me in this verse is that Lot hesitated. In the previous verse, the angels say very clearly and strongly - "get out of the city! hurry! God is going to destroy it!" And yet... Lot hesitated. This jumped out at me because in our couple of previous day's readings we have seen how promptly obedient Abraham was to God's commands. When God said to get circumcised and circumcise everyone in the house - it happened that same day! And yet, here we see Lot hesitating on a very clear command from angels... And I guess I do have to ask myself, and maybe you can ask yourself too - are we more often like Abraham or Lot? Are we promptly obedient to God's will and commands for our lives? Or do we hesitate? A great thing about verse 16 above is we read that even though Lot hesitated, God was merciful. God will still show us mercy when we hesitate... the grace of God is still clearly there for we who hesitate. But, even though there is amazing grace, maybe the question still is - what are we hesitating for? What are we waiting for? Below is an image by the artist Raffaello (Italian painter and architect of the Italian High Renaissance), circa 1500, of Lot and his daughters finally fleeing Sodom, while his wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt:
And below is an image of verse 24: "Then the LORD rained down fire and burning sulfur from the heavens on Sodom and Gomorrah."
New Testament - Today in Matthew we continue the Sermon on the Mount! Chapter 6 verse 27 is solid science from Jesus: "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not." Wouldn't you agree that scientific studies show that severe worrying (anxiety) can actually decrease the longevity of your life? Jesus knew his science! :) Truly... I do think you'll continue to be amazed by the scientific validity and Truth that is exhibited in the Bible over and over and over again as we read it this year!
Chapter 6 verse 34 (in image below) has always been one of my favorites to remember: "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Great great truth here. I'm not sure if anyone has ever read a Dale Carnegie book about worrying? It's called "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living." It's been probably 20 years ago since I read this book. But, I remember Dale writing about how he lived his life in what he called "day-tight compartments". He used a cargo ship analogy, which I won't be able to explain here well. But, basically, Dale got to the point where he mentally segmented his time off into morning prep time, time with family over breakfast, morning work time, lunch time, afternoon work time, dinner time, family time, time to read, sleeping time. And while he was in the present time of each of these "compartments" of his day he would not worry at all about the other compartments even in that very same day! It's pretty interesting to think about... when you are at work, you focus on work and you don't daydream or worry about your personal life - but, once you are off work, you then don't worry about work at all. I don't know... maybe this Dale Carnegie "day-tight compartments" is only helpful to me... I recommend you listen to Jesus' advice on worrying before you listen to Dale or mine! :) But, if you do worry a lot, this Dale Carnegie book may very helpful for you as well.
Matthew chapter 7 verses 1 through 6 are interesting. Jesus clearly says to not judge others - but then in verse 6 he says: "Don't give what is holy to unholy people." So, my thought is that we are not to "condemn" people judgmentally - but that we are to be aware of and perceptive of other people's character traits. I don't think Jesus is calling for us to walk around blissfully thinking everyone is perfect... but he is saying don't "condemn" others for their actions. God is the only true judge of anyone's actions. I think it is still okay for us to take note of how people act or behave. Remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to: "Test everything." So, I do think it is okay (and even wise) to evaluate a person's character. Let me know your thoughts on this one in the Comments section below.
Psalms - Today we read Psalm 8! Verses 3 & 4 I love: "When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers-- the moon and the stars you have set in place-- what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us?" What I love about this verse is that before I had faith in Jesus, and even God, I used to always look toward the night sky and just be amazed by the stars! I would always think to myself - there is no way that this all just happened by chance. There's gotta be something bigger going on making all of this happen. The night sky was evangelizing me!! :) What a beautiful thing. Have you ever had the experience of nature, God’s creation, evangelizing you? When you are out in nature, do you offer up praise and thanks to God for His amazingly beautiful creation?
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 2 verse 10 is amazing: "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy." I like that thought that wisdom will enter your heart and then knowledge will fill you with joy! What a great proverb! Do you believe that knowledge can fill you with joy? What type of knowledge? What type of wisdom should enter your heart? Today - are you filled with joy? Proverb 2:11 in today's readings is powerful too:
Worship Video: Today's readings in Matthew reminded me of the Casting Crowns song "Only Jesus:"
Do you know Only Jesus? Click here for Only Him!
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that God would show you what the narrow gate is in your life. Pray that you would enter through the narrow gate. Pray that Jesus alone is your narrow gate.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Back to Matthew chapter 7 verse 6: "Don't give what is holy to unholy people. Don't give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you." I understand what is being said here - and I can think of specific instances in my life where this type of thing has happened. My question though for each of us is this - how do we show our friends, family, neighbors the love of God? Honestly, I have an evangelistic heart - but I don't think I really openly evangelize much. I love God so much - and it tears me up when I see my friends struggling with addictions - particularly when it seems like they are seeking God but settle for an addiction. So - I don't think this verse 6 is referring to these types of situations - people seeking God in all the wrong places. I think we are called to share the love of God with our hurting friends - with a hurting world. How do you do this? Do you pray for others? Do you give others books or Bibles? Do you send them spiritual emails? Do you invite them to church? Do you "preach the gospel at all times, and use words when only necessary?" Please let me know in the "Comments" below what you do to share the love of God with others? Thanks. Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
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