Old Testament: Genesis 16:1-18:15
Genesis 16:1-18:15 Hagar Slacks
Abe has a son, Ismael, but not through his wife, Sarai. Sarai means princess. So she is royalty, a barren-ness. (Get it?) Ishmael becomes the father of all of the Arabs. Fortunately, Abe and Sarai get name changes to indicate in Abe’s case that he is the “father of many.” In Sarai’s case, the name change indicates a change in dialect, maybe. Or maybe it just indicates that Sarah sounds better than Sarai. Anyway, God re-affirms that He is making a one-way promise to Abraham by instituting the rite of circumcision (ouch!).
Then Abraham is promised a son. Sarah hears the angel (who could be Jesus making a special OT appearance) promise a son and she laughs. The angel said, “you laughed.” Sarah says, “no, I didn’t.” The angel says, “yes, you did.”
In Chapter 16, Abram’s wife, Sarai, had a better idea than God. That always results in trouble. She had already obtained a promise for a son but she was afraid that God couldn’t work it out so she thought she’d work it out herself. She suggested to Abram that he take her slave, Hagar, as a concubine according to the custom of the day. After Hagar conceived, she started to think she was better than Sarai and, naturally, Sarai was upset about it (cf. Pr. 30:21 – 23). Things may have gone well but Hagar slacked off in her role as second to Sarai. So Sarai asked Abram to officially demote Hagar back to slave. Abram said, “sure,” so Sarai treated her harshly and Hagar fled to . . . Shur.
“The Angel of the Lord” found Hagar there (v. 7). “The Angel of the Lord” is an Old Testament appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 16:7-14; 21:17-21; 22:11-18; 31:11, 13; Exod. 3:2; Judg. 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). There were no such appearances after Christ came in the New Testament. The Angel comforted Hagar and told her to return to Sarai (v. 9). The Angel said He (who else could fulfill this promise other than God?) would multiply the descendants of the boy (cf. Gen. 17:20; 25:12-18). This has become the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The descendants of Isaac (yet to be born at this point) and the descendants of Ishmael have opposed each other up until the present time.
Hagar had a son and named him, Ishmael, which means “God hears” (v. 15). Obviously, Abram was still able to have children. God was waiting till it would be obvious that He had caused the birth of the son of promise, after Abram was too old to procreate. He was only 86 at the time of Ishmael’s birth (v. 16).
In Chapter 17, Abram turned 99, thirteen years after the episode with Hagar and Ishmael (v. 1). The Lord appeared to Abram to reaffirm His promise. He told Abram, twice (v. 4b, 5c), that he’d be the father of a multitude of nations (v. 5). That would be something considering he was 99 and wasn’t the father of one yet. Yahweh changed his name from Abram, exalted father, to Abraham, “father of a multitude” (v. 5b).
God established a sign of the covenant with Abram by commanding that he and all his male descendants and servants be circumcised eight days after they were born (vv. 9-14, cf. Rom. 4:11). It was a rite to be performed by the parents to mark those destined for the fulfillment of promise.
Sarai which meant “my princess” was to have her name changed to Sarah which meant simply “princess.” The meaning doesn’t change much so it may have been just to make the occasion of God’s promise to Abram at age 99.
Abraham laughed when he heard what God was telling him. He thought it was funny that God would think he could bear a child at the age of 100 (which he would be if in 9 months, v. 17). The Lord wasn’t as amused and named the baby Himself, Isaac, which means “he laughs” (v. 19).
Abraham circumcised all the males in his household on that same day he heard from the Lord (vv. 23-27). Ishmael was 13 years old on the day he was circumcised along with his father Abraham who was 99 (vv. 24-25).
In Chapter 18:1-15, Yahweh visits Abraham with two angels (vv. 1-8). Though the passage reads “Lord” in verse 3, Abraham probably didn’t realize his visitor was the Lord at that point (v. 3). The text should read “lord.” The visitors ate what Abraham offered them, indicating this was not a vision (v. 8).
They said that Sarah would have a baby by the time they returned in a year (v. 10). When Sarah heard it, she laughed inside (v. 12). The Lord asked Abraham why she laughed (v. 13). Sarah denied laughing because she was afraid but the Lord said He knew that she did laugh (v. 15).
New Testament: Matthew 6:1-24
Matthew 6:1-24 The Layman’s Prayer
Jesus sets people straight on how to really give in the right way, how to pray, and how to go without food to be really spiritual.
In verses 1-8, Jesus really rips on the religious leaders. He chides them for trying to act holy in public (v. 1). First, he chastises them for letting everyone know about their giving in public (v. 2), saying that their giving should be so secret that their left hand doesn’t even know what their right hand is doing (vv. 3-4).
Praying is not for showing off (v. 5). Rather, the best prayer is offered up in private where we can talk to the Father privately (v. 6). He will reward us accordingly (v. 6b). The best way to pray is simply not repeating ourselves like the pagans who think they can wear God down with their prayers (v. 7). God knows what we need even before we ask Him (v. 8).
Verses 9-14 are known as “the Lord’s Prayer” but would be better named “the Disciple’s Prayer.” It is how disciples should pray. The Lord prayed in the garden and what He said was written down in John 17. That is “the Lord’s Prayer.”
Verses 9-13 are a model prayer. It is not to be recited rote! Ick! That misses the whole point! God wants us to pray from the heart (cf. the verses you just read!!!). It is a model of prayer for all of regular Joes.
We should pray 1) that God’s name be honored (v. 9) 2) that His kingdom and His will would come down to earth (v. 10, cf. Rev. 21: 9-27, it will be) 3) that we would have provision for life (v. 11) 4) that He would forgive us as we are forgiving of others (v. 12) 5) and that we would not fall into temptation but that the devil’s purposes would be thwarted (v. 13).
Jesus then re-itereated that if we didn’t forgive others, our relationship with the Father would be broken until we did forgive them (vv. 14-15, cf. 12).
I don’t know why fasting is called fasting. When I fast, that is, forego food for spiritual reasons, time seems to stand still. Again, the religious leaders were showing off, trying to look like they were really hurting when they were fasting (v. 16). Jesus told them to wash up and look healthy when they were fasting so as not to draw attention to themselves (v. 17). God rewards that kind of person (v. 18).
Disciples should use their money for spiritual reasons (vv. 19-20) instead of buying stuff for down here. It will just decay or get stolen down here (v. 20a). As someone once said, “You can’t take it with you.” Actually, he was wrong (v. 21). You can send it ahead.
If you watch out what you look at, it’ll be easier to stay away from sins like lust and greed (v. 22- 23). If you let yourself be filled with bad images and pictures of what you’re lusting for, you’ll be in bad shape (v. 23). Your light will go out.
You can’t love the things of the world system (1 John 2:15-16) and love God at the same time (v. 24a). You’ll end up defecting from the faith (v. 24b).
Psalm 7:1-17 A Cush Job A Lament Of David
Psalm 7:12-17 A Cush On You
What’s bugging you today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food to eat? Do you have money to pay all your bills? Does your car start? If you answered yes to most of those, you’re doing OK.
I had a dream last night that a couple thugs were following me. For David, it wasn’t a dream. It was a reality.
It wasn’t just a couple thugs that were following him but in particular was bugging him. According to the superscription to this psalm, David was being chased by a guy named Cush. He is only mentioned here in Scripture. He wants to drag David away (v. 2). David asks the Lord to deliver him (v. 1). Is there something dragging you away today? Maybe it’s a persistent sin that it keeping you from being close to the Lord (cf. Heb. 12:2; Isa. 59:1; Ps. 66:18)? Maybe it’s some sort of lust (cf. Rom. 7:7; 1 John 2:14-15).
David hopes he never acts like Cush is acting (vv. 3-7). It’s always good to ask yourself the same question when you think people are wronging you. “Am I ever acting like them?” You should be careful not to “project” your actions onto others and then dismiss them in yourself. We are psychologically mis-wired to do that (cf. Jer. 17:9). So be careful not to do it!
David asks the Lord to vindicate him (cf. 8, Prov. 4:18). David confessed that he wanted to follow the Lord but he was trusting vengeance against his enemies with the Lord (vv. 8-14, cf. Rom. 12:19). He prays talionic justice on his enemies (vv. 15-16). He prays that his enemy would fall into the same pit he had dug for David. You might remember Haman was hung on the same gallows he had prepared for the righteous Mordecai (see Hanging Together Or Hanging Separately?). Pharaoh tried to off all of the Israelites’ children yet all of the Egyptians’ children died including the Pharoah’s own son (cf. Exod. 1:22; 11:5). Joseph’s brothers tried to subdue him by throwing him in a pit but they ended up being subdued under him (cf. Gen. 37-50). Talionic justice. It’s like a boomerang. You reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7).
Notice David starts out all whiney but ends up trusting the Lord at the end of the Psalm again (v. 17)
How are you ending up?
Proverbs 2: 1-5 A Silver Line
If you really want wisdom, you can find it (vv. 1-5). You’ll end up fearing the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom (cf. Prov. 1:7). So if you want to find wisdom, you’ll fear the Lord. And if you fear the Lord, you’ll find wisdom. It’s a vicious circle of being smart. And it’s better than a bunch of dimes (v. 4). Are dimes still made of silver?
Be smart. Fear God, that is. Revere Him and respect Him. You’ll find wisdom. Then you’ll fear Him even more. And have even more wisdom.
Choose Life: Scripture: Matthew 6:22 NASB “Sunshine Soul”
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22
The Living Bible renders verse 22, “”If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul.” I’m a big proponent of being “sensitive to the Holy Spirit” (see Get The Led Out). I think being sensitive to the Spirit is the key to having an ongoing relationship with the Lord, along with knowing and studying the Word every day.
If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our lives, our eyes will be pure. Then we’ll have sunshine in our souls and we’ll be full of light.
I’ve been kind of bummed recently by Christians who know nothing about being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Some may have a lot of doctrinal knowledge but have no clue how to interpret verses like “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).
Christians often don’t know what it means to be “led” by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). Many can’t name the four commands in Scripture regarding the Holy Spirit.
1) Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30)
2) Don’t quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19)
3) Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16)
4) Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)
The Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us (cf. Rom. 8:9) is a large part of the Christian life and yet many Christians simply ignore Him (and the Scriptures as well!).
Today, let the sunshine in and then let your light so shine (Matt. 5:16).
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Do you know the four commands regarding the Holy Spirit. If you don’t memorize them, can you learn them and their references?
You’ll be blessed if you do and you will be learning how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit!
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: The Layman’s Prayer