Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

Because a good Bible study (and the time spent writing it up for a friend) shouldn’t go to waste:

Passage: Genesis 18:16-33 (you should re-read it!)

Why did God feel the need to tell Abraham about what would happen to Sodom and Gomorrah?  I believe there’s a sense in which Abraham’s chosenness has now affected the way that God will act toward him.  In order to be the God that Abraham and his descendants will worship, God wants to prove that he is just and righteous in his dealings with humanity, that his character is good.

This relationship between God and Abraham (and implicitly Abraham’s descendants) is not a static one in which God would demand mindless obedience.  Rather, it is one in which God’s people will have a voice in the way God will ultimately work in the world (think also of Moses’ and Joshua’s intercession for their people when God’s wrath was against them).

Isn’t it amazing that God doesn’t just presuppose that humans do not know that justice and righteousness is?  Even if our concept of justice is not to the standard of God’s justice, we are not given the excuse to simply shrug away our moral beliefs as being ultimately flawed.  We do not know as well as God (that is a given), but we should still be in the process of working out what justice means in relation to what God says, to God’s character, to the sense of “oughtness” that we all have.

Wrestling with God just seems like a risky thing to do at times.  And it is!  We open ourselves to being vulnerable or wounded.  Abraham’s insistence that God will be just and not kill the righteous with the unrighteous did cause him some hesitation and uncertainty.  And yet it was effective (and this is the kind of risk-taking that I would encourage).  He was honest with God with his intercession.  Though the prayer did not ultimately change the outcome of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham would undoubtedly be changed by his experience and relationship with God.  God heard him and responded positively to him.

Why stop at ten?  I suggested that when we say that Abraham should have gone down to one (any number smaller than ten), we are looking at it from an individualistic society.  While that’s not completely wrong, they would have understood faith in a communal context.  Ten is large enough to be considered a community of believers, and an effective presence in the city.  In the Jewish tradition, they have the minyan, the presence of the minimum of ten to be considered an official gathering.  Perhaps this concept is loosely correlated?  But perhaps the number isn’t the main issue here at all, and the point is simply that God has heard Abraham and has responded.

What would have happened if God did not include Abraham in this dialogue?  How would Abraham have reacted to the news of Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed knowing that his nephew is there as well?  As strange as it sounds, God’s reputation was on the line.  If ever an attack against God’s character was thrown at Abraham, he now can say that God is indeed righteous. God did not just destroy the cities because of whim or cruelty or malice, but because the cities were indeed so wicked that not even ten righteous could be found.

How does this story affect your perception of how you should pray? How have your past experiences with prayer changed?  What works for you now?

As for me and my own wrestling with God, I’ve found that no matter how angry or hurt or upset I am with God, it is good to know that he is big enough to carry all the weight of my accusations and pain.  That he listens and that he does not strike us down for our audacity and wayward behavior is a testament to the amount of intimacy that he will allow.  Without the direct confrontations I’ve had with God, my relationship with him would not be as straightforward and heartfelt.  After all, we serve a God who wants our honesty, who wishes us to speak to him about where we are and what we desire, and who is able to respond to us when we come to him with that honesty.  I think that’s worth a lot.  🙂

Anyway, I hope you have found this to be a good source of reflection and encouragement.  Peace.

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Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

This tiny gift book is a daily devotional that is intended to invite the reader to meditate on God’s presence.  It is written in the first person perspective as God addressing the reader directly and serves as an encouragement to consider what God has spoken through scripture.  The book would be most suitable for young adults and adults who are looking for a brief daily devotional message.

My first reaction upon looking through the book was one of disappointment.  The devotions were smaller than I expected, about a paragraph or two for each day.  After taking time to read through the devotions, I found that I enjoyed the perspective of God speaking to me.  The author integrates scripture verses seamlessly into the message.  The Bible passages are referenced at the bottom of each page and are well worth looking up.  This book is valuable if solely for the fact that it encourages direct interaction with the Biblical text as part of the believer’s lifestyle.  The concept of the presence of God is also a worthy concept for consideration. Overall, It is one of the better gift books I have read, and I would give it four stars out of five.

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