‘O that Ishmael might live in your sight!’ … Genesis 17:15-27 I had not seen my niece for a good while so when I learned that she had gone the way of Islam, I was naturally concerned. We understand Abraham as righteous because he had faith (Hebrews 11) in God that he would have a son by his wife Sarah. Yet if only for a moment, in this passage of Genesis it sounds as if he had some concern, some doubt that at the ages of 100 and 90, he and his wife respectfully could have children. But I also sense that his love for Ishmael was true and it is that love for Ishmael to which God responds in love; “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous…”. I will always love my niece. Her desire to be closer to God took a turn that I didn’t anticipate, but I remember God’s blessing upon Ishmael out of God’s love for Abraham and know that my prayers for her are heard as well. She is beautiful. She is loved. She is blessed.
…the law…can never make perfect those who approach. Hebrews 10:1-10 It is interesting so see how throughout generations fashion claims to take on “new images” when in reality it’s simply taken on a new name. I remember the first time I heard my niece call a pair of jeans I was wearing “flairs.” She was attracted to the styling, and why wouldn’t she be? When I was her age I was attracted to them as well. Back then we called them bell bottoms. I suppose in another generation they will take on another name but in the end it really is simple. They are an attractive style of jeans. Whomever designed it first, created an everlasting fashion that continues to appeal. I believe the same could be said about Gods Love. Yet God’s Love unlike jeans is not a fashion statement that comes and goes, even though we sometimes treat it as if it is, and refuse to accept God’s love for ourselves and therefore have difficulty with healthy expressions of love for others. Throughout the generations of time humanity has added and taken things away from God’s love expressed in scripture form. It’s through Christ I understand that God’s love is always in style. Our love for one another should be as well. While God’s love gave us the law to help guide us, we can never be perfect by the law, and I believe only by God’s Love we are continually saved.
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength… They shall run and not grow weary, walk and shall not faint. Isaiah 40:31. The tools of faith envisions forward. The tools of fear looks back. Faith conquers fear. Today, let us use the tools of faith to worship and praise without fear.
“….and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ John 5:1-18 Sometimes it seems as though there is always someone ahead of us in life. News Break! There will always be someone who is ahead of us! But that is merely a physical concept. We all have some limitations, some of which we caused and some caused by no fault of our own or anyone else. The man in this story was ill but this day he had the good blessing of crossing paths with Christ. Jesus knew that the man had been at that portico a long time trying to get in the water and no one else would help him. I think one of the worst things about achieving goals is the feeling that no one will help you. Feelings of abandonment can sometimes be misunderstood or miscommunicated. Yet as believers, as long as we are making our way, God will not abandoned us. By our faith we are already ahead and are always where we need to be so that God’s glory may be revealed and not our own. Everyday, with every praise and every prayer, we cross paths with Christ. So while we are making our way, we must remember to ask ourselves, “Have we crossed paths with Christ today?”
For I do not rely on my bow, and my sword does not give me the victory. Psalm 44:6 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will give you thanks for what you have done and declare the goodness of your Name in the presence of the godly. Psalm 52:8-9 It is said that with the right tools anything can be done. Yet clearly, this passage in Psalm 44 reminds me that something far deeper is needed. It is possible to physically have everything one needs to get a job done and still come up short. However, the glory in the battle belongs to God and a war waged against a heart for God, ultimately has no chance for eternal reward. Every ministry for the glory of God, both new and old is like a mini battle set against a world view, but we have the Master Tool that will ultimately win the war.
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Saturday’s Meditation: Eve of 3 Epiphany
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?
Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
They pay me evil in exchange for good; …But when they were sick I…humbled myself by fasting. I prayed with my whole heart, as one would for a friend or a brother… Psalm 35:12-14, 28 There certainly are days when I struggle to hear God’s voice. It is the perfect opportunity for my thoughts to take a serious turn away God’s presence. In times like these I turn to the Psalms. This passage caught my eye because it reminded me of what it means to love enemies in spite of circumstance. As hard as it is on occasion, it is in fact possible and perhaps necessary (at least for me) when I really don’t want to. I understand that I can never really know who all of my enemies are. Of those I do know, I’ll start with letting the one I battle in my head be the first to go, by letting a spirit of praise takes over and unleash God’s Spirit on the rest as as well. And my tongue shall be talking your (God’s) righteousness and of your praise all the day long.
…and let us make a name for ourselves. Genesis 11:1-9 Just this morning I heard a news story concerning a rabbit in the ear of the recent Mandela statue that was unveiled in Pretoria South Africa. Admittedly, the sculptors, Prinsloo and van Vuuren inserted a tiny rabbit in the ear as a “small trademark” after authorities refused to let them engrave their names on the statue’s trousers. Apparently, it’s not visible when viewing from any distance. However, by revealing that the rabbit was there, I had to wonder if they believed that it was important (at least for them) that somewhere down the line (should they be forgotten), people could identify who built the statue, and (at least for the moment), making the reveal more about themselves. How high is the honor to be commissioned by one’s government, to recreate the image that represents a nation’s struggle with justice and its reward for not surrendering to that struggle, in order to see justice manifest at its highest level of government? The gift of creativity is given by God and at times we can be very self-serving with God’s gifts. Thus, at every moment of our own expression of God’s gifts, we must ask ourselves how important is that “rabbit in the ear?”
…Shem and Japheth took a garment… walked backward and covered… their father. Genesis 9:18-29 I often wondered about this passage from Genesis concerning Noah and his sons. I used to think that Ham got a raw deal, that it was unfortunate that he came across his fathers nakedness first. The reality is that someone was bound to be first in seeing Noah exposed. Without knowing why Ham entered his father’s tent in the first place, Ham’s consequence which followed seemed unfair. If you live long enough you realize that there is always more to anyone’s story including our own. There are times when it’s not necessary to place one another in awkward situations. John the Baptist said it best when he was asked about why some were going to Jesus to be baptized; “He must increase but I must decrease.” Ham forgot Noah’s authority, then compounded the situation by telling his brothers! His penalty was harsh; the status of his descendants eventually becoming lowest among the people of Israel. Yet as we know through Christ, and his interaction with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), by faith we are not beyond forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation.
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You need milk, not solid food. Hebrews 5:7-14 The writer of Hebrews is a bit frustrated with his readers because while liquid food is easier to digest, solid food must be chewed. He finds himself having to go back to teaching them as infants in the Word. It’s kind of like a mother having to go back to nursing her infant because the child is unable to digest the oatmeal that has been mixed with the milk so that she is full over a longer period of time. If we accept the Word of God then we must also begin to live by the Word of God. Only then does it become like solid food able to sustain us through the challenges that are mixed in with this life journey. Once we are able to chew the solid food, the more we are filled, strengthened and sustained as a soul satisfied along the way.