OT: Gen. 16:1-18:19
It's sad how much I can relate to Sarai. As a child, I did not think highly of her, cooking up these hair-brained schemes and then pitching a fit when they actually worked. But now, I really do understand the desire to take matters into my own hands, to try to figure out God's will on my own. After all, in Gen. 15:4, God promises Abram specifically that the offspring will be from his body; He does not mention Sarai. So after a time, she started scheming on how God might want her to "help" him keep his promise. And so she gives Abram her maidservant. Now, I am just speculating here, but I can see how in her eagerness to fulfill God's plan and give her husband a son, she did not take the time to fully think through the consequences. Thus, when the plan worked, and the reality dawned that her husband was going to have a son by another woman, that hit her hard.
Now, to be fair to Hagar, the text does not say if Sarai's accusations of Hagar are true, or if the charges of bad behavior are trumped up by Sarai's hurt feelings. Regardless, Abram gives Sarai the go-ahead to retaliate, which eventually causes Hagar to flee.
I love how the angel of the Lord appears to her. I love how God cares enough about a lowly servant woman in a primitive, patriarchal culture to seek her out, comfort her, and send her back home. Her son is not even the son of His promise, and yet He still takes the time. I love it. So does Hagar. And I love her description of God: "You are the God who sees me...I have now seen the One who sees me" (Gen. 16:13). How comforting, especially to someone in such a low and powerless position, that God sees them. That He sees us all. The fact that God cares enough to send an angel apparently makes up for the awful prophecy she receives about her son.
Moving on. God's covenant with Abraham was pretty hard core. He went straight for the circumcision. It says a lot about God's choice of this man that Abraham was all about it. That very day, he gets to circumcisin'!
God's different responses to laughter here are interesting, too. He seems cool with Abraham, despite the fact that Abraham laughed at the idea of having a son. But He calls Sarah out on it. My take is that Abraham laughs out of joy, while Sarah laughs out of disbelief. But that's just my opinion:).
NT: Matt. 6: 1-24
I have always loved and been convicted by these passages. It is amazing to me how my own selfishness and pride can creep in to the good things that I do for others. I might start out completely sincere, trying to help someone. But I end up taking perverse joy and pride whenever my actions are noticed by others. God understands the human nature so well that Jesus addresses this selfishness thoroughly in the sermon on the mount. We must be careful, he says, not to do our 'acts of righteousness' to be seen by men, but to be seen by God. Whether we are giving, praying, or fasting, we must be truly doing it for God and not for our own egos.
This past year, I have also gotten really attached to the phrase, "your kingdom come, your will be done" (Matt. 6:10). To me, God's Kingdom is anywhere that Christ reigns supreme. I so very much want His Kingdom to come every day in my life, in my family, in my church, and in my world.
I also love 6:21--"For where your treasure is, your heart will be also." It's odd, b/c right now, my treasure is not money at all. It is my family. I am so thankful that God has given them to me, and I try everyday to glorify Him through my treatment of them.
I've never fully understood 6:22-23 about the eyes. I don't know exactly what Jesus is saying, and I don't know why He placed those thoughts at that point in the sermon. At different times, I've had different insights into that passage, but I always forget them:).
Psalm 7: 1-17
I love the idea, so prevalent throughout the psalms that God is our refuge (v 1) and shield (v 10). I also thought that v 14-16 (which talked about how violence and trouble fall back on the one who causes it) was very reminiscent of Prov. 1.
Prov. 2: 1-5
I thought these verses were beautiful! So poetic; so true! And I love the reassurance in verse 4 ("and if you look for it as for silver/and search for it as for hidden treasure,/then you will understand the fear of the Lord/and find the the knowledge of God.") I love that wisdom is truly attainable for all those who search for it diligently.