Devotions for Genesis 15:1-6
September 12-18, 2016
Monday, September 12, 2016
“Do not be afraid” (15:1a).
The playground was filled with children. Screams of excitement along with laughter filled the air. The children didn’t have a care in the world. They were free to enjoy the moment and celebrate life. All around the playground were the parents and the caregivers. While they watched the children play, they worried about having enough money to pay the bills, rehashed office arguments, speculated what the flashing “service engine” light in the car meant and cast a wary eye toward the sky wondering if they’d have enough time to mow the lawn before it rained. The division between those who lived without fear and those who lived in fear was obvious.
Freedom from fear does not come from convincing ourselves that there is nothing to fear. Living fear free comes from know that we are a sheep of the Good Shepherd’s flock, that God is our rock and our fortress and that God is with us always. The world is filled with scary things, but we really do have nothing to fear.
Loving God, thank you for being intimately involved in our lives so that we have nothing to fear. Amen.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
“I am your shield” (Genesis 15:1b).
The battle scene filled the screen. Men swung swords at their opponents, while their adversaries fended off the blows with their shields. The shields took a beating but they saved the lives of the soldiers wielding them. The men were able to live to fight for another day because of their effective use of their shields.
God is our shield. God doesn’t prevent the conflicts of life. God never promised that God would. The Lord, however, is there with us when the peace breaks down and the battles begin. As our shield, God fends off the blows of others that would wound, maim or kill us. The Lord gives us the ability to live to fight and serve for another day.
We enter the day not knowing what skirmishes, conflicts, battles or wars we will face. Our shield is with us, though, and we are well prepared to face the day.
Oh God our Shield, thank you that you defend us against the people and forces that seek to harm us. May you not only be our shield but also the shield of others as we stand with them against the forces of injustice. Amen.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
“Your reward shall be very great” (Genesis 15:1c).
We all want to have rewarding lives, but we seek different rewards. An athlete may strive after gold medals. A chef might seek a raving review by a food editor. A raise might be a goal for an employee and flowers or a bottle of wine for a stay-at-home parent.
Abraham and Sarah were richly rewarded as they lived their lives of faith. They had flocks and servants, and the clan of Abraham was an economic and physical force to be reckoned with. Many people of faith have taken the story of Abraham and Sarah as an assurance that they too will be financially rewarded for their lives of faithful obedience. There are many sincere Christians for whom such a hope is ridiculous for number of reasons. Do these followers of Jesus lose their rewards because they live and minister in war torn countries, or serve the poor, homeless and needy?
Our understanding of how God moves in our lives has progressed so that we no longer see a person’s net worth as a measurement of their righteousness. So what rewards might we anticipate as followers of Jesus. Going beyond the physical rewards, rewards that we all can share, is God’s steadfast love, adoption as God’s sons and daughters, God’s presence in our lives and God’s promise never to be separated from us. No matter what our physical situation in life is, we can consider ourselves richly rewarded and give thanks.
God of Wonders, keep our eyes open that we may see the blessings you have given us and live lives of thanksgiving and gratitude. Amen.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
“You have given me no offspring” (Genesis 15:3).
In one of the areas of the world where poverty is rampant, a pastor was asked what he felt was the greatest challenge the people of his congregation faced. Without hesitation he replied, “Materialism.” The person who asked the question was taken aback so the pastor continued with an explanation. “No matter what our economic situation is in life we always want more.”
This was certainly true in Abraham’s life. Abraham had been richly blessed by God. Still, Abraham wanted more. He wanted heirs. Certainly this was an important need in the ancient world. While we can understand the importance Abraham placed upon having heirs, we see that Abraham focused on what he didn’t have rather than celebrate and give thanks for the abundance that he had been given.
We see ourselves when we look at Abraham. We too are tempted to look at what we don’t have instead of giving thanks for what we do have. Changing our perspective so that we focus on our blessings rather than our needs is a sure way to transform our lives.
God of Grace and Mercy, we are such complainers. Forgive us. Direct our attention away from what we don’t have to the abundance we have received from you. Amen.
Friday, September 16, 2016
“Look toward the heaven and count the stars—so shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5).
God took Abraham out into the starry night and told Abraham to look up and start counting the stars. That would be how many descendants Abraham would have. Abraham didn’t need to worry about the one heir. God challenged Abraham to look at the big picture; to consider the long-term. We can imagine that all the starry nights that followed, Abraham would look up into the sky and stand in awe at what the Lord was going to do.
We can become transfixed on our needs. When we do, we lose our perspective. We begin to see God as stingy rather than as a God of abundance, and we begin to grumble and complain rather than give God thanks and praise. When this happens, God invites us to go outside and look at the starry sky. In our case that means pausing for a few minutes and counting our blessings; name them and give thanks for them. Like Abraham, we will receive the assurance that God is true to God’s promises.
Faithful Lord, enable us to live each day in the reality that you keep your promises. May such knowledge empower us to live lovingly and generously. Amen.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
“And he believed the Lord” (Genesis 15:6a).
What did Abraham believe? Did Abraham believe that God was three in one; that God was Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Perhaps Abraham believed that God was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Certainly these were doctrines that we were told by pastors, parents and teachers we needed to believe in order to be Christians. These theological niceties had not been developed when Abraham walked the earth. Abraham had a much, more simple faith.
Abraham believed the Lord. He believe that God was able to keep promises and that God would keep promises. Abraham believed that God lived in a relationship with Abraham and that this relationship with God was a gift. God had told Abraham that God had blessed him so that Abraham could be a blessing to others. Abraham’s beliefs shaped his life.
We have doctrines that we can believe. But we can also believe—put our trust in and live in the reality—that God loves us and is present in our lives. We can celebrate that all that we have is a gift from God and that God has blessed us so that we can bless others. Such beliefs are life transforming
Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief. Amen.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
”The Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6b).
This statement is shocking to some people. They will exclaim, “We can only be righteous by keeping to law and living good lives!” Other people will insist that righteousness is earned only by doing good deeds such as visiting the sick, feeding the hungry and serving those in need. The fact that God reckoned Abraham as righteous because of Abraham’s faith is beyond comprehension to such people.
Though contrary to some people’s beliefs, the truth that Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness is good news to us. Righteousness is not earned. Abraham believed that God was whom God claimed to be and would accomplish what God said God would do. Righteousness is a gift. God gave it to Abraham and God gives it to us. We are people of faith—we are “righteous dudes!” God has transformed our lives through our faith, and seeks to change the world by our lives of faith and righteousness.
Changeless God of Change, change us into your image and, through us, transform the world into your kingdom where love, peace and justice reigns. Amen.