As I begin a new year, I have always made some New Year's resolutions. A plan to change something, accomplish something, or just to make a focused goal. I don't always reach all of the goals that I set out to but I do like to have something to work towards. This year I have done something a little different and I have chosen a word of the year to focus on. I have chosen the word "STAND" as my word of 2015. (You can read more about my decision here if you interested.) My plan for the coming year is to recognize opportunities to stand.
As I read today's passage, a song started running through my head and it was only after I tried to find a youtube version that I realized that it totally matched up with my word of the year.
The final verse says:
Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.
Today's passage showed us some of the promises we can stand on:
14"The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward,15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. "
When we let others choose first, or go first, or put the needs of others before our own just as Abram did when he let Lot choose his lands first, the Lord will look favourable on us just as He did to Abram. God can use us in whatever land or place we are if we call on Him...just as Abram did.
15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue[f] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son[g] shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
God has big things ahead for us, just as He did for Abram. Even when we try as rush things as Abram did when he married Hagar and produced his son Ismael, God did not change His plan for Abram's life. Sometimes we can't fully comprehend what God is doing or how He will accomplish something so grand. We doubt God, we often rely on our own way, we try and "help" God's plan along. May we become like Abram when it says" He BELIEVED the Lord" in verse 6. Let us have the faith of Abram in the promises of God.
19 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give[h] this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Not only did God promised Abram that his offspring would outnumber the stars, God promised that these many offspring would live in a land that currently belonged to nations of others. It seems impossible. Can we believe God's promises when they seem too big or too out of reach? We know that this promise did come to be fulfilled. Nothing is impossible with God. We can stand on His promises....even the ones that seem too big.
2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We STAND in grace. We have hope where there should be no hope. God promises that we can rejoice in suffering and hard times because to makes us stronger. God promises that the Holy Spirit goes with us. These are hard things to swallow in a world that demonstrates a lack of hope. It is through Jesus that we have hope. Through His sacrifice that we can live. What a promise!
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
We just finished reading about the wrath that God displayed when he destroyed the earth and everyone in it during the flood. But Noah and his family were saved, even though they too were sinners. "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" We have the promise that God takes us as we are. Imperfect, undeserving sinners and yet Christ died for us to pour out His mercy and save us from the punishment we deserve.
18 Therefore, as one trespass[f] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[g] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man'sdisobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It was one sin that separated us from God and it was one act that brought us back. What an amazing promise to stand on. We are one step away from turning our lives around. Stand and step towards God.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 16-17; Romans 6
The ceremony God performs to seal the covenant with Abraham seems so bizarre to us. I found the cultural implications of this fascinating!
In the Middle East, this practice gave way to the sharing of animal blood in a ceremony that surely seems strange to us today. Even today in some Middle Eastern societies, when a covenant, such as a marriage, is made, the heads of the household make a solemn pact that the wife will be true to her husband and that the husband will not abuse his wife. The two men take an animal, cut it in two, then take turns walking between the two halves, stepping in and through the blood.
The ceremony has this meaning: if I do not keep my promise, you may do to me what we’ve done to this animal. The two men pledge their lives to seal the covenant. And in those societies today, when a husband beats his wife or the wife commits adultery, the head of the offender’s household is often found dead, killed by the other family in fulfillment of the oath.
(The next part of the post is thanks to Ray Vander Laan.)
Now consider God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15....
God wanted to assure Abraham of the certainly of his promise, and so he made a solemn covenant. Abraham’s end of the bargain was to have faith in God. God’s promise was “offspring,” which is literally the word “seed,” which is singular. In Galatians 3:16, Paul interprets this as referring to the Messiah.
God also promised to make a great nation of Abraham’s descendants.
Before the ceremony, Abraham suffered “a thick and dreadful darkness” (v. 12), which means he was very afraid. What was there to fear in making a covenant with God Almighty?....
Abraham’s end of the covenant was not just intellectual assent, accepting God’s word as true. Abraham was to be loyal to God.
Now, imagine having God himself come to you and ask for a blood oath of loyalty. You could hardly say no! But then, would you really want to bet your life on your ability to keep your word?....
But when night fell and it was time for God and Abraham to each walk between the animals, an amazing thing happened. God passed through both as a torch of flame and as smoke pot. He went through twice — and Abraham didn’t pass through at all.
Rather, when it was time for Abraham to walk in the blood, saying if I don’t keep my promise, you may do to me as we have done to these animals, God himself took the walk — and only God. God promised to pay the penalty for Abraham!
Thousands of years later, God indeed paid the price for the sins of his people. This is the nature of God’s covenant with Abraham.
When God cut that covenant with Abraham, the death of Jesus was sealed.
Hope. This is one of the things that stood out for me in this passage. We just passed a season in which many people put their hope into something. It may be hope in receiving a particular gift, or hope in finding that perfect gift to give their special someone. We all place our hope in meaningless things. I just finished watching two hockey games at one time where I had hope in having my teams winning - yay Canada!
Romans 5 1-5 reads, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." It is counter cultural to have hope and peace in time of suffering, and yet as Christians we can because of our understanding of God's love for us. We know that our hope in God is not futile, and that God's great plan will one day be revealed.
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