Devotions for September 14-20, 2015
Genesis 18:1-5, 21:1-7
Monday, September 14, 2015
“The Lord appeared to Abraham” (Genesis 18:1).
The Lord appeared to Abraham in human form on that sunny day by the oaks of Mamre. God spoke to Mary of Nazareth by the angel, Gabriel, and appeared to Joseph in dreams. Paul saw the Lord in a flash of light. Throughout the scriptures God appears and communicates to God’s people in a variety of ways. God continues to do so today.
Many think that God is silent because very few see God in human form, or are visited by angels or hear God speaking to them in their dreams. God may not use these avenues today, but God does speak to us in different ways. God may speak to us with a still small voice during our time of meditation
, or through the words of the Bible. Sometimes God guides us with gut feelings or intuitions and at other times through circumstances or the insights of our friends. God is not distant. Rather, God is intimately involved in our lives and seeks to guide us.
Have you heard God speak to you? If not, have you taken the time and made the effort to listen? What is God saying to you today?
Speak Lord for your servants are listening. Amen.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
“Do not pass by your servant” (Genesis 18:3).
It isn’t every day that you are visited by the creator of the universe. Abraham did not want the moment to slip away, so he asked the three men (the Lord and two angels) to tarry. We might pause to ask ourselves if we would do the same.
It can certainly be said that we are moving at a faster pace than Abraham did. We have full day planners while Abraham only looked forward to the day ahead. The question is, “Can we slow down and stop long enough to tarry with the Lord?” We who bring our cell phones to a meal so that we can text while ignoring the people with whom we are eating, can we ditch the phones long enough to listen to God’s message for us? For those of us who spend hours on social media keeping in contact with our “friends”, can we shut down our computers long enough to keep our conversation current with God?
Like Abraham, we are in the presence of God. Abraham stopped what he was doing, rearranged his plans for the day and entertained his guests. We can, too.
Loving Lord, forgive us when we are so busy that we neglect our relationship with you. Help us to keep you the number one priority in our lives. Amen.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
“Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour” (Genesis 18:6).
Akio had a few minutes and didn’t really know what to do. Though he usually didn’t have time for devotions, Akio decided to try out a new Bible app on his phone and read a devotional comment. The ushers were coming with the offering plates. Linda reached in her purse and pulled out a couple of one dollar bills and some loose change to drop in the plate. It had been a tough week and Francisco had partied with his friends a little too hard on Saturday night. Now that it was Sunday morning, Francisco decided to skip worship and sleep in. Besides, there was a big game on television that afternoon. In different ways we offer to God our second best.
There were strict customs in Abraham’s culture that demanded a person be hospitable to a traveler or a stranger. Abraham was doing what was expected of him. But Abraham didn’t need to offer his guests his choicest flour and he didn’t need to kill a calf that was “tender and good.” Abraham could have gotten by with much less, but he chose to offer his very best.
Today we have the opportunity to give our best. It’s not that somehow God needs our best, but it is important for us to offer the best that we have.
Forgiving Lord, forgive us when we offer you hand-me-downs and second bests. We love you and we want our lives to shine with that love by giving you the best we have to offer. Amen.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
“I will surely return to you in due season and your wife Sarah shall bear a son” (Genesis 18:10).
The Lord promised three things to Abraham and Sarah if they left their family and traveled to the Promised Land. God promised them wealth, land and descendants. The first promise had been fulfilled. Abraham was a rich man, but they resided in the land as aliens and they had no descendants.
Abraham and Sarah waited. For sixty or seventy years they waited for God to give them a son. During those years they had doubted. They had tried to fulfill the promise themselves and had Ishmael to show for their efforts. Now they were beyond their childbearing years. The situation looks hopeless. Into that situation God visited them and spoke a word of hope. God renewed the promise and reassured Sarah that she would become pregnant and bear a son. The darkness of hopelessness was shattered by God’s word.
We face hopeless situations just like Abraham and Sarah did. We try to solve the problems in our own way and fail miserably. Things are beyond our control and we can only wait for God to act. In those situations God comes to us, speaks to us and gives us hope. In God’s time the answers come and the situations are resolved.
Mighty God, in you we have our hope. May you move powerfully in our lives and may your will be done. Amen.
Friday, September 18, 2015
“So Sarah laughed to herself, saying ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure” (Genesis 18:12)?
Sarah overheard what the Lord said to Abraham. She couldn’t believe it. Looking at her body and feeling the creases of time on the skin of her face Sarah reminded herself of her age. Her body could no longer bear children. She looked at her situation and laughed. What the Lord had said was impossible; it was too good to be true. If the absence of doubt had been key to Sarah becoming pregnant, she would have lived out the rest of her years childless.
Our faith is important, but our faith is not the key element in God moving in our lives. God is. Our faith is erratic. Sometimes we are positive that everything will turn out okay. At other times we doubt and can’t see how anything good can come of the situation that we are in. Our doubt, though, is not an enemy of our faith. Rather, doubt is simply a sign that we are out of our comfort zone and we have to trust God in a way that we are used to. Doubt can be a sign that we are growing in our faith.
In our doubt and in our faith, God continues to move. Sarah became pregnant and Abraham and Sarah had a son. God will move in our lives, too, in whatever way God needs to move. God will not act because of our faith, but because God is able to act.
Wonderful Lord, we believe, help our unbelief. Amen.
“Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son” (Genesis 21:2).
Fresno firefighter, Captain Pete Dern walked out of the hospital 164 days after falling through a roof fighting a fire. Dern had 20 surgeries and more dressing changes than anyone can count. More than 50 nurses had been a part of his care, as well as physical, occupational and respiratory therapists. There had been a fellow firefighter in his room 24/7 along with his wife and two children. Modern medicine, love, determination and the prayers of a nation all played a part in Dern’s recovery. Now it is time to celebrate.
It was time to celebrate for Abraham and Sarah, too. After years of waiting for a child, their son, Isaac, was born. The hopeless situation of being beyond childbearing years and childless was transformed into a wiggling, crying baby. Prayers of thanks and praise were appropriate.
Our times of waiting eventually come to an end. God moves and our hopeless situations are resolved. God once again demonstrates that God is faithful and that God keeps God’s promises. It is time to celebrate.
Faithful Lord, thank you for keeping your promises to us. Thank you for moving in our lives. Thank you for your steadfast love and your overwhelming grace. Amen.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
“Everyone who hears will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6).
Last week Desert Streams Lutheran Church in Surprise, Arizona celebrated a groundbreaking for their worship and community center. This congregation that normally worships around 130 people on Sunday morning is building a $5 million structure that will minister to the needs of the thousands of young families in their community. People said it couldn’t be done, but it is now becoming a reality. The people of the community aren’t necessarily impressed with the tenacity of the congregational members, but they are amazed at how God has moved powerfully in and through the congregation.
If Abraham and Sarah would have had Isaac when they were twenty years-old, their friends and neighbors would have celebrated their good fortune. Abraham probably would have received pats on his back and comments that, “He’s the man.” The women would have been glad that Sarah had survived her ordeal and Sarah would have grown in her self-worth because she was able to bear children. That didn’t happen, though. Isaac was born when Sarah was beyond childbearing years and Abraham was an old man. When the community celebrated with Abraham and Sarah, they also gave praise to the Lord who had moved so powerfully in Abraham and Sarah’s lives.
It is tempting to seek the praise of people. We want people to think well of us and to admire our talents and abilities. But, the praise of people is not to be the goal of our lives. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to live in such a way that God’s receives the glory.
Oh Lord and King, J.S. Bach composed beautiful music and wrote “Glory to God alone” at the end of every composition. May we live our lives in such a way that you receive the glory. Amen.