Sunday 16 June, 2019

Genesis 19:14-29

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking. 15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

So often I’ve read this passage as one about God’s judgement. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah had become so evil in God’s sight that He could not even find ten righteous people in them (Gen 18:32), so He destroyed them.

But today I’m struck by God’s mercy. For the sake of Abraham He saved Lot and his daughters. But Lot did not respond to this saving mercy instantly. He had to be told repeatedly by the angels to flee. When he still hesitated he had to be physically led out of the city. Once out, he begged not to have to go too far from his old life, asking to stay in a nearby town instead. Despite all this his wife still looked back as they fled, back to her old life, becoming a pillar of salt in the process.

So often I’m like Lot. I get stuck in thought patterns that I know are destructive to myself and aren’t glorifying to God. Yet despite knowing this I repeatedly return to these old habits and still sometimes need to voice my thoughts to someone I trust to have them pull me out of them, pointing me back to Jesus.

Reading this passage today I praise you God that you are merciful and so patient with me. Help me to respond to you when you first call, loving the life you call me to more than the one I’ve left behind.

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Saturday 15 June, 2019

Genesis 19:1-13

19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” 3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” 9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

In the previous chapter we have Abraham bartering with the Angels/God for the lives of at least 10 righteous people in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah, although we are not told the reason for the pending destruction. In this passage we get the description of why, its raw & blunt; homosexuality of the men of the city.

Today this lifestyle is socially, legally & politically acceptable & charged with emotion. So what do I take from this passage?

I see Abraham in the previous chapter interceding with hope & believing the best in both people & God, I see Lot acting in protection, care & hospitality & I see God merciful yet acting in righteous judgement.

Lord may I be like Abraham & Lot being hopeful for your mercy in every situation, offering protection, care & kindness and leave any judgement to You who sees all our hearts through the cross of Jesus. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Friday 14 June, 2019

Genesis 18:22-33

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.” 29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?” He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?” He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.” 33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Undoubtedly Abraham was aware what an appalling place Sodom was (his nephew, Lot, was living there). Chapter 19 leaves us in no doubt either. And yet he intercedes boldly for them with God.

I’m guessing this exchange is recorded here because I should pay attention to what Abraham is doing. Intercession for the people was one of the roles of a priest. Jesus (our ultimate high priest) intercedes with God for us (Hebrews 7:25). As a result, we become members of his modern kingdom of priests: we also have the role of interceding for people. Paul urged Timothy to intercede with God for some church members who had been expelled because their “faith has been shipwrecked” and they continued to speak against God (1 Timothy 2:1).

God’s response is significant here too. His anger does not burn against Abraham. He willingly receives his intercession. His judgement is not indiscriminate or unjust. But it can’t be dismissed: It’s an implicit part of his holy nature that loves justice. Sin can’t simply be tolerated. That is why Jesus had to take my place in judgement so that I could come into my place as God’s child.

The other side of interceding to God for people is to speak to people for God. ‘And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”’ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

Jesus, speak into the appalling things in my life; and the appalling things in my world. Give me your compassion to speak, together with you, for and to those who still reject you.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 13 June, 2019

Genesis 18:16-21

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

I find it interesting that even though Abraham lives close to Sodom and Gomorrah, even though he had (family) connections there, he is still set apart from that place. Sodom and Gomorrah are marked as places of sin ruled by rampant human nature at its worst. Abraham is called by God, marked as His, with a destiny that goes into future generations.

The parallel to my own life is clear. As a believer I am marked by Christ with a destiny set before me by the Father. Although I live along side the world , I need to be separate from the sin and degradation found there. That doesn’t mean I have no concern for those in the world- Abraham went on to plead for the righteous of those cities. I too can love and lift before God those who are in the world. But I need to be careful to keep my eyes on the path that God has set before me. In the world but not of the world, with a heart of compassion for the lost.

Heavenly Father help me to stay true to your calling on my life. Help me Lord to always honour you above all else. Help me to love those around me, to have a heart for the lost. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Wednesday 12 June, 2019

Genesis 18:9-15

9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said. 10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” 13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

The birth of Isaac is connected with laughter.  In fact, the name “Isaac” means “laughter.”  Abraham had laughed in joyful faith when he heard the news that God would give him a son (17:15–18), but Sarah laughs in unbelief.  Why should we doubt the promises of God?  “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  Mary’s, Jesus’ mother, expressed faith in Luke 1:34, when she asked, “How shall this be?”  Here, Sarah is saying, “How can this be?”

What happens when God promises something to you.  Do you laugh in incredulity or in amazed faith?  When Isaac was born Sarah did laugh in faith and joy (21:6–7) which suggests here repentance and growth.  So even if we ‘miss’ it at the beginning, we can repent and receive God’s blessing with joy.

Father help me to hear and respond to your promises with faith – even when they are beyond my wildest dreams!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Tuesday 11 June, 2019

Genesis 18:1-8

18 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. 3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.” “Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” 7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

What amazing hospitality Abraham shows his guests. It says he was resting in the shade in the heat of the day, but after the guests arrive he is on a mission. The word ‘hurried’ is used three times, as well as ‘quick’ and ‘he ran to’. Abraham treats the needs of his guests as an urgent priority and so communicates to these guests that they are supremely important. He serves the guests his best – bread from the finest flour, curds and milk (at that time much more generous and desirable than water) and freshly cooked meat.

Am I hospitable like Abraham? Am I prepared to be interrupted, to be uncomfortable and give my best to others? Do I see it as an incredible opportunity to serve others? Do I catch Abraham’s sense of urgency and excitement? Do I employ my thinking and resources to ensure the comfort and refreshment of others?

God, please help me to be like Abraham. Help me to see the opportunity to serve and show hospitality as a privilege. Where I have underestimated the significance of caring for people’s needs please lift up my eyes again. Abraham was serving God and he did not know it, but may I serve people knowing that as I love others I am serving and loving you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh

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Monday 10 June, 2019

Genesis 17:15-27

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” 17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him. 23 On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen; 26 Abraham and his son Ishmael were both circumcised on that very day. 27 And every male in Abraham’s household, including those born in his household or bought from a foreigner, was circumcised with him.

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare famously asked. Apparently quite a lot in God’s eyes, as He makes a very specific point to change Sarai’s name to Sarah here.

Sarai is translated “my princess” (over a specific family), whereas Sarah may be translated as “Princess” in general, or “Princess over many”, indicating the new role that God was assigning her.

As a little girl I grew up being very aware that I was my daddy’s little princess. But I have a very clear memory from when I was about 20 years old and received the revelation that God called me a Princess – a daughter of the King of Kings. It revolutionised the way that I viewed myself, my destiny and my purpose in life.

I grew up in a small town, and my vision for my life was not much bigger than my own small community. But when I received this revelation of my high calling, I could see that God’s purposes for me were so much bigger than just the family I grew up in, or the town where I lived. God has called me to build His Kingdom and called me to the whole world.

What an honour to be part of God’s Kingdom and His plan. May I leave behind small mindedness and live according to His destiny for my life.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Sunday 9 June, 2019

Genesis 17:9-14

9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. 13 Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

God has just finished telling Abram all the wonderful things that he was going to do for him, and it’s not a small thing either to be the father of a mighty nation. But in this passage, God then tells Abram what his part is going to be and in the NLT it says that “Your part of the agreement is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility.”

Obedience is not just a once off event, like a box to be ticked. God’s requirement of us is not just to say that we have obeyed him, but to say that we are obeying him. Obedience to God is meant to be continual, a lifestyle. This is what sets us apart as God’s people.

God takes it a step further. If anyone does not bear the mark, in other words refuses to be obedient they will be cut of from the covenant family. That is what our obedience means to God. To obey God is to be a part of his family. Jesus said in John 15:15 if you love me you will obey me. Our obedience to God, is proof that we love God, and means that we are a part of his family.

How do I make sure that I always obey God? As David said, by keeping his Word in my heart (Ps 119).

Father I thank you for all the wonderful things that you have promised for me. I choose to be obedient and to keep your Word in my heart always.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 8 June, 2019

Genesis 17:1-8

17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” 3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

As I read this passage, I have just been reflecting on one of the sessions from the C3 Presence conference.

In the session, Chris Hodges from a church in America, was sharing on 4 things that will grow me closer to God. They were:

1) Get connected to God (salvation)

2) Get free from slavery (sanctification)

3) Connect with others (church and connect group community)

4) Make a difference (service)

He promised that these 4 steps are found right throughout scripture and I was surprised to find them here in this passage!

1) I AM the LORD almighty

2) walk beside me faithfully and with righteousness

3) I will make you the father of many nations

4) There will be an everlasting covenant between you and your descendants (that you will need to maintain)

Also under point 4 from a different passage is the promise that all nations on earth will be blessed because of the blessing that is on Abraham.

Lord, I praise you today because you have made a way for Abraham and a way for me to live a life that has an incredible relationship with you.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Friday 7 June, 2019

Genesis 16:1-16

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” 13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

This is just a bad idea. What was Sarai thinking?! She suggested that her husband sleep with her maidservant, Hagar, in order to produce an heir, yet when this plan works and Hagar is pregnant, Sarai is upset. What did you think would happen Sarai?? This is so messy. You wanted an heir but at what cost?

What was Sarai motivated by? Was it out of guilt and shame because she was barren? Did she want to help her husband “save face” amongst society? Did she want to secure their livelihood/future by having children? Whatever the reason, Sarai seemed ruled by her fears.

So while this may obviously seem like a bad plan, I wonder how often am I motivated by my own feelings and self-preservation? What “reasonable” plans am I blinded to because I am motivated to take care of something to make sure it happens?

Lord, may I not make hasty decisions in order to make dreams and plans happen as I think they should. May I seek wise counsel and Your guidance. Lead me Lord, I pray.

Written by Gab Martin

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