"God's Word is Living & Active!" ~ Hebrews 4:12
Old Testament – These are some great readings today about Abram and his faith! Chapter 13 verse 9 stood out to me today as Abram was trying to settle the arguments between his and Lot’s herdsmen over pastureland: “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want that area over there, then I’ll stay here. If you want to stay in this area, then I’ll move on to another place.” I guess what I really like about this is Abram is giving Lot the first choice of the land. It seems like Abram is confident that he will personally be okay with whatever 2nd choice is left-over to him because he is in a relationship with God. I like this. And I hope that we each do this in my life from time to time. Think about this random example – parking spaces in a crowded mall can be hot commodities and arguments can ensue.
Below is an image of Abram and Lot in Genesis 13 about to part ways:
Chapter 14 verse 14 also stood out in regards to Abram’s character: “When Abram learned that Lot had been captured, he called together the men born into his household, 318 of them in all. He chased after Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them in Dan.” I don’t know about you… but I’ll be honest. If my nephew got captured by a band of marauding kings and their army, I’m thinking I might just let my nephew go and chalk it up to very bad luck on his part… But not Abram! When he heard the news that Lot had been captured, it looks like he did not even blink! He called together his household immediately and they were off and running after Kedorlaomer’s army. Yes, they were chasing after an army… again, I’m not so sure I would do this… though, hopefully, maybe I now would if I can keep in mind Abram’s character here….
Below is an oil painting by Peter Paul Reubens, circa 1625, of Abram and Melchizedek meeting:
Genesis chapter 15:9-21 is the first Abrahamic Covenant. It was an unconditional divine promise to fulfill the grant of the land to Abram and his descendants. Verses 5 & 6 in chapter 15 are powerful: “Then the LORD brought Abram outside beneath the night sky and told him, “Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that–too many to count!” And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD declared him righteous because of his faith.” And verse 6, the preceding sentence to this one I think is important for each of us to consider.
New Testament – Matthew 5:27-30 are Jesus’ teachings about adultery. And really I think these teachings, along with many others in the Sermon on the Mount, are even more so about what is going on inside our hearts. Jesus discusses how the law says clearly how we are “not to do” something – it’s very apparent and very “exterior” if we commit a sin like adultery. Jesus says that the exterior/apparent/obvious sin is wrong for sure – but Jesus is equally as concerned with what’s going on in the “interior” – inside our hearts. Jesus proposes that if we have looked at someone lustfully with our “interior”, we have committed the same sin as if we had actually committed adultery on the “exterior.”
I know these can be seen as “hard teachings.” Please note that I do not believe that Jesus is advocating self-mutilation in these readings – he is being figurative, not literal, in his speech about gouging out an eye or cutting off a hand. (someone can be blind and still lust) But he wants the point to be made very strongly. These teachings are obviously important for us to meditate on and learn from and obey. I am sure we all know it is true that what we “think” can often become what we “do”. So, it seems to me that Jesus is trying to stop us from even committing sin at the “thinking” level, because it may later manifest itself into action. Or – even if it does not manifest itself into action the thinking of the sin can actually affect us just adversely as much as the actual doing of the sin. Let us not let our minds wander into cloudy territory, but let us keep our minds clean and focused on Jesus, His Kingdom, and His Righteousness. Jesus’ teachings today in Matthew 5 can certainly keep us from cloudy thinking and the confusion of internal sin:
I do actually want to say a few more things about the whole adultery / lust issue brought up in today’s readings. And it is this – probably many of us have struggled with lust, or are struggling with lust right now. I am sure God grieves for us so much more. I guess I just want to encourage anyone now who is reading this that might be struggling with lust or pornography or adultery or pre-marital sex etc. – there truly is freedom from what you are struggling with. And that freedom ultimately only is found in the healing love of Jesus. I just pray that you will do everything you can to allow Jesus to free you from what’s enslaved you – seek professional counseling, find an accountability partner, confess your sins, read empowering books about freedom from what you are struggling with, avoid sex-rated movies or entertainment magazines if you need to, avoid situations or locations that will tempt you, and above all pray to Jesus and ask for healing continually. He will heal you. It may take time. But Jesus will heal you. God bless you as you work your way out of this and into amazing freedom! God will get you there! Let the healing begin!
Psalms – As I read Psalm 6, it seems very penitential to me – like David was making a confession of sins and praying for forgiveness from God. As you read through these verses, have you ever felt like this? I have. And it ain’t fun. But, it’s part of the healing process. I do think we need to allow ourselves to get fully broken before God before we get fully healed. We can’t mask over or hide from God what’s really going on – we have got to put it all out there on the table before God, for him to be able to truly fix it. However – there is great encouragement and confidence from David in this Psalm in verse 9: “The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD will answer my prayer.” The Lord will hear your plea! The Lord will answer your prayer! Please plea and pray to him if you need to. He will listen and answer.
Proverbs – Proverbs 1 verse 31 is a strong teaching to consider: “That is why they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way. They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen.” I guess what jumped out at me is the simple word “path.” Such a simple word… but a profound one. Every single day there seem to be various paths in front of us. Various options. Choices we can make. Paths we can take. Paths that can lead to light and life. Paths that can lead to full terror.
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 NIV
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