Almost through your first week. How are you doing so far? Still with me?

Genesis

13:10-13 Lot took a long look at the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley in the direction of Zoar. Lot chose for himself the whole Jordan Valley to the east of them...and moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain. But the people of this area were extremely wicked and constantly sinned against the Lord. Lot picked what looked like the best land for himself, but what we desire with our eyes is not always the best thing for us. Heading toward wickedness to set up camp can look like the beautiful and abundant option with our physical eyes. But we find, like Lot, that it leads us into a land that can cost ourselves and our families a great price.

13:15 "Look as far as you can see in every direction-north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your [countless] descendants as a permanent possession." This is prophetic to the day when Jesus will reign from Jerusalem and the Israelites will finally occupy the land in peace and permanence. Of course, his spiritual descendants are all of the believers throughout all of time (Acts 3:25).

14:18-19 Nobody knows much of anything about Melchizedek (especially how to spell it). His name means "king of righteousness," and he is from Salem, which is the original Jerusalem and also means "peace." So... "king of righteousness from the city of peace." One thing that makes Mel unique is that he is both a king and a priest. It is obvious he's a "Christ type," as Jesus was also both of those. He also served Abram bread and wine. Can you think of any other King/Priest who served bread and wine? He symbolically fellowshipped with Abe through the body and the blood of Christ. Hebrews 7:3 describes Melchizedek as being without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. "Because of this passage, some have thought Melchizedek is actually a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus (David Guzik)."

14:23 "...otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich!'" Commentary: Abram refused the spoil because he would let no man say a man had made Abram rich. Abram demanded all the credit go to God and God alone. When we are willing to pursue human measures of success in the flesh through worldly, fleshly methods, how can we really say God has given success, if it should come? How much better to let God raise you up, so He gets the glory, and so you know it was His work. Julie adds: AMEN!

15:9-20 In a nutshell based on commentary: Abram understood God was telling him to get a contract ready for signing. In those days, contracts were made by the sacrificial cutting of animals, with the split carcasses of the animals lying on the ground. Then both parties to the covenant would walk through the animal parts together, repeating the terms of the covenant. The Lord "made" a covenant in Genesis 15:18 is literally, "the Lord cut a covenant."

God, represented by the smoking oven and the burning torch, passed through the animal parts by Himself; as Abram watched, God showed this was a unilateral covenant. Abram never "signed" the covenant, because God "signed" it for both of them. Therefore, the certainty of the covenant God makes with Abram is based on who God is, not on who Abram is or what Abram does. This covenant cannot fail, because God cannot fail.

In a symbolic sense, the Father walked through the broken and bloody body of Jesus to establish His covenant with us, and God signed it for both of us. We merely enter into the covenant by faith.

For more understanding, read even more commentary about this covenant.

Matthew

5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Why did Jesus say such hard words? I think at least two reasons. First, because what we think about is who we truly are. We can't escape that harsh reality. Second, He was trying to tell us that none of us is any better than another. We try to deceive ourselves into thinking so, but we're not. And adultery is one of those sins that we find great justification in condemning others for. Yes, it is bad, but any sin that harms our relationship with God is bad. God was making the point that not one of us is above adultery, at least at the heart level. And in fact, we are all adulterers in a spiritual sense as we have worshiped things other than God. He actually calls it "prostitution."

5:48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. How do we do this? It's impossible! Jesus says many similar things, and I believe He frequently used intrigue to pique curiosity while also setting people up to discover that, in our own strength and intentions, it is impossible for anyone to be saved.

So how can we be made "perfect?" Paul describes the two kinds of righteousness in Philippians 3:6-9: Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, [I was] blameless. But what things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Christ. But indeed, I count all things loss . . . that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. Remember, our "perfection" or righteousness in Christ is demonstrated through love.

Proverbs 1:29-33 Again, when we go our own stubborn, rebellious way, we often find ourselves asking, "Why is God punishing me?" When really, it is just our foolish choices catching up with us.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Where have you set up camp? Are you dabbling in the sinful lifestyle because it looks more fun? Or do you choose the harder looking path that results in more abundant living?

  • What is a dream or desire you have that you might be tempted to use human methods to find success or promotion? Are you willing to ask God to do it His way instead?