Monday, October 22, 2018

Inherit the Blessings of Marriage


God Destroys and Recreates

Isaac and Rebekah Continue the Legacy


1 Peter 3:1-12 The Message 

Cultivate Inner Beauty

3 1-4 The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.
4-6 Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.
7 The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.

Suffering for Doing Good

8-12 Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
    and see the day fill up with good,
Here’s what you do:
    Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
    run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
    listening and responding well to what he’s asked;
But he turns his back
    on those who do evil things.

For Reflection

Marriage is an adventure in mutual respect. Each partner supporting the other; delighting in their achievements and comforting their sorrows.  Each borrows strength from the other and in troubled times, shows the path to peace and joy.

Pray

Pray together and separately.  Pray so that you and your life partner can travel the same path and rest in the household of God.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Noah to Abraham, Faith in Action

God Destroys and Recreates

God Is Always Working


Hebrews 11:4-10 The Message

4 By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.
5-6 By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
7 By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
8-10 By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.

For Reflection

Those that live as an act of faith live a life of connections with their history, their present, their future, with each other, and with their Creator.  Those that do not live a life as an act of faith but rely on their own devices to manage a life course live a life mired in a heap of unrelated fragments without any robust connection.   They cannot rest in their struggles.


Like the pilgrims who trecked to Canaan, we who travel with one single aim, to suffer the will of God, are delivered from the miseries of conflicting desires, and we walk with force and a calm spirit. We rest in the hope of the divine promise.

Pray

Pray so that you can rest in the hope of God's divine promise that all will be made right.


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Lord Scatters the People

God Destroys and Recreates

God Is Always Working


Genesis 11:1-9 The Message

“God Turned Their Language into ‘Babble’”

11 1-2 At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language. It so happened that as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down.
3 They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and fire them well.” They used brick for stone and tar for mortar.
4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.”
5 God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built.
6-9 God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next—they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into “babble.” From there God scattered them all over the world.

For Reflection

Many of the offspring of Noah forgot their history. Because they had free choice, many reverted to the status before the flood.  They aspired to be God in substance and create a gateway to that end.
God, having promised never to destroy the world with water again increased the difficulty of cooperation by separating the people by distance and different languages.

Pray

Pray so that you never forget that you are a child of God.  Pray so that you remember that the Bible is our story and our name is Christ.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Abraham, Sarai, and the Lot in Canaan


God Destroys and Recreates

God Is Always Working


Genesis 12:5-9 The Message


4-6 So Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot with him, along with all the possessions and people they had gotten in Haran, and set out for the land of Canaan and arrived safe and sound.
Abram passed through the country as far as Shechem and the Oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites occupied the land.
7 God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him.
8 He moved on from there to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent between Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an altar there and prayed to God.
9 Abram kept moving, steadily making his way south, to the Negev.

For Reflection

Abram amassed much land and wealth. He never lost sight of his relationship with the Creator and influenced many conversions to the One God. As he and his household began the 300 mile trip to Canaan, they acquired the name Hebrew (the passer over) after conquering a problematic Euphrates river crossing.

Abram was guided only by the hope derived from his commitment to his Creator. He has no idea of the dangers which had lain before him or of the sufferings of the journey to which he subjected his household.
Pray
Pray so that you do as Abram did: leave Haran and its idols behind. Pray so that you can forsake the temporal and reside in the presence of God


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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Descended from Noah


God Destroys and Recreates

God Is Always Working


Genesis 9:18-19,10;1-4,6-8,21-23 The Message

18-19 The sons of Noah who came out of the ship were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah; from these three the whole Earth was populated.

The Family Tree of Noah’s Sons

10 This is the family tree of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After the flood, they themselves had sons.
2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras.
3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, Togarmah.
4-5 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, Rodanim. The seafaring peoples developed from these, each in its own place by family, each with its own language.
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, Canaan.
7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, Sabteca.
The sons of Raamah: Sheba, Dedan.
8-12 Cush also had Nimrod.
21 Shem, the older brother of Japheth, also had sons. Shem was the ancestor to all the children of Eber.
22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.
23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, Meshech.

For Reflection

God commanded Noah to repopulate the human race.  His offspring accounts for the creation of many nations. Not all of his progeny were destined to remain faithful to God.  Only Shem led to the birth of Abraham and eventually Christ. God restored God's creation and to humankind the power to choose to whom one held allegiance. 

Pray

Pray that you remember that you are a child of God and that all you have done and all you have been is not entirely of your own doing. Pray so that you can understand the special relationship between you and God can be realized by emulating God' son Jesus.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

God's Covenant with All Living Things

God Destroys and Recreates

God Is Always Working


Genesis 9:8-17 The Message (MSG)

8-11 Then God spoke to Noah and his sons: “I’m setting up my covenant with you including your children who will come after you, along with everything alive around you—birds, farm animals, wild animals—that came out of the ship with you. I’m setting up my covenant with you that never again will everything living be destroyed by floodwaters; no, never again will a flood destroy the Earth.”
12-16 God continued, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.”
17 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I’ve set up between me and everything living on the Earth.”

For Reflection

It is interesting to note that God made his covenant with all living things; plant, and animal. It is another indication of the organic network of all things in God's creation. It emphasizes the notion that God values all things equally.  Humankind is only as necessary as the lowliest plant, the smallest grain of sand, or microbe and the microbe is as important as the human.

Sometimes we forget that what happens in the material world, the plant world, the animal world, and the human world are inexorably interconnected. The flapping of a butterfly wing in China indeed influences all creation. If for example, we dam a stream we change the erosion pattern of the earth, the types of vegetation in the upstream, the living creatures that inhabit the stream and the impact of the environment on the life of human beings.

Humans, indeed, play an influential role in God's creation.  But, then again the evolutionary nature of God's creation balances all creation's elements. Each of the parts does as God has designed them.

Pray

Pray so that you see yourself as an integral part of God's universe.  Pray so that you can understand and perform according to God's grand design.  Pray so that you can live in harmony with each other and with the universe.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Abraham Hosts God's Messengers

God Destroys and Recreates

Abraham and Sarah Birth God's People


Genesis 17:15-22 The Message

15-16 God continued speaking to Abraham, “And Sarai your wife: Don’t call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. I’ll bless her—yes! I’ll give you a son by her! Oh, how I’ll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell flat on his face. And then he laughed, thinking, “Can a hundred-year-old man father a son? And can Sarah, at ninety years, have a baby?”
18 Recovering, Abraham said to God, “Oh, keep Ishmael alive and well before you!”
19 But God said, “That’s not what I mean. Your wife, Sarah, will have a baby, a son. Name him Isaac (Laughter). I’ll establish my covenant with him and his descendants, a covenant that lasts forever.
20-21 “And Ishmael? Yes, I heard your prayer for him. I’ll also bless him; I’ll make sure he has plenty of children—a huge family. He’ll father twelve princes; I’ll make him a great nation. But I’ll establish my covenant with Isaac whom Sarah will give you about this time next year.”
22 God finished speaking with Abraham and left.

For Reflection

Two nations and two primary spiritual paths from one source.
One blessed with a covenant and the other blessed with a great nation.
Both both blessed under one covenant.


Ishmael was a product of human reproduction.  Isaac was the product of miraculous birth. Ishmael was bestowed material blessings. Isaac was given spiritual blessings. In common sense, Ishmael was the epitome of material success, Isaac began the line of Solomon, David, and eventually Christ. The arrangements reveal one of the major themes of Scripture, contrasting the spiritual and material ways of being.

Pray
Pray so that you will understand the difference represented in the contrast of material and spiritual ways of seeing and acting.  Pray so that you will understand the deeper meaning of a God who loves and blesses all of us. 


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