Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 7

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.


  1. I loved your observation about God seeing Hagar. It reminds me of Jesus with the prostitute at the Pharisee's house when he asked Simon "Do you see this woman?"

  2. (Gen) "He will be a wild donkey of a man". I tried to imagine what he would look like and act like. Wow. I am so glad that Abram persuaded God to ease up on Ishmael and give him a blessing. Prayer often will change God's mind, so pray on. Also, circumcision...the cutting away of the skin, a sign; baptism, the cutting away of sin, a sign. They have always reminded me of each other. (Matthew) It's just so important that our actions are to praise God not goes back to the heart issue. If we receive "praise" now then we are not storing up our riches in heaven.

  3. Psalms: Sometimes it amazes me when David says things to the effect of "God, look into my heart and see my innocence." Wow. I know I can't hide things from God, so I don't generally try. But, I know that on the inside I am full of wickedness (as is every human, but I guess some are more pure-hearted than others). If I wrote a Psalm, it would be more like, "God, I know I'm guilty of a multitude of sins, but please save me anyway." (The good thing is, He does.) Anyway, I just think David was incredibly hard-core. How does one get to that point?

  4. I noticed today that the first time that Abraham was promised a son, it doesnt say that he told Sarah about it. When she suggests Hagar make babies with Abraham, is she doing it out of lack of faith, or a cultural thing that is not accepting of a barren wife? Is the first time she hears about the kid thing when she heard it in the tent? I would laugh too :)

    And, the circumcision thing is amazing. I heard a comedian talk about that before, and I have to admit hearing that in my mind everytime I see that part :) "you want me to what?" And, how different our culture is from theirs that everyone in his family was accepting of that suggestion? They respected him as their patriarch and had to submit to a degree to let that happen to them. Interesting.

    Matt - I am still amazed with how down and dirty Jesus is getting. He is taking all their preconceived notions about what following God is about and upping the ante big time. And, I especially noted how so many of the instructions today are related to religious practice themselves.

    So much of that is directly applicable to our worship and practice of Christianity today.

    Psalms ..also loved and noted the shield verses. It effects me stronger since being a mom - I love the idea of having my kids surrounded by a shield and knowing God as a refuge.

  5. 2012 Thoughts:

    RE Matt. 6:24 in the NT ("No one can serve two masters"). I think our goal as Christians is not to simply serve God instead of money, but to make our money actively serve God. In that way, it's like God is our master, and we are the "master" (or manager) over our money. Our purpose is for it to serve Him. That all seems really obvious as I type, but I guess I usually see that verse as a simple choice between God and money, and if you choose God, you won't care about money. But today I read it that if you choose to be a slave to God, then you will make your money a slave to God, too.