‘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.
‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Luke 11:33-36 A friend of mine once told me that when she lived in Seattle Washington she always made sure there were fresh flowers on her kitchen table. The flowers were not just for her but her family and visiting friends as well. When it comes to the number of cloudy days, Seattle ranks fifth averaging over 200 per year. The fresh flowers helped my friend see light when there was no light. We know that cloudy days don’t negate the light that emanates from the sun. For the believer Christ is light. However like those cloudy days in Seattle, the light that is inside of us sometimes needs help to shine. We see and experience so much in this world which can sometimes leave us feeling as if that light is dimming. Blessed are we when the light of Christ is fully within us and everything we see and experience is interpreted by that light and not by the darkness that sometimes surrounds us.
Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.’ Luke 11:34,36
Most assuredly, if blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe, faith then is confidence in God. True confidence nurtures expectation. Expectation shapes our hope in Christ and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5). Pentecost, the gift of the Holy Spirit, is given to all those who have faith in the Son sent by the Father. As his disciples today, we fulfill the scripture when we witness and testify to his love, faithfulness and truth, and the ministry of Christ continues to make available to every one who believes, the reconciliation of our lives to the Father and the Son. And through the Holy Spirit our 1 day recognition of this gift becomes a 366 day celebration of life redeemed in the spirit of truth, giving all glory to God. Amen.
“When the Day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Acts 2:1-21
‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’ Even today we often find ourselves looking for a sign from God and one never seems to come. It is most important that at this kind of juncture in our journey, we know Christ for our self and allow our faith in him to carry us to the victory we can expect to receive. We realize that every moment in our lives is a cause for praise and stop looking for God’s presence in a sign because the sign of his presence is the belief that is within ourselves. It is then that we know that the new covenant has been made manifest within us. Instead of looking for a sign to come, we focus on the signs he has already given in this journey both great and small. We will be encouraged and know that God is faithful and will provide according to the order of Melchizedek, the high priest himself. In every circumstance we are both blessed and never forgotten.