January 6

Read Genesis 16 -- 18

In Today's Reading:

Ishmael; Abram's name changed; covenant of circumcision; Sarai's name changed; Isaac promised to Abraham and Sarah; Abraham's prayer for Sodom.

Abram and Sarai were childless. Although God had promised Abram a son, he still had no son when he was 85 years old. At that time, Sarai said to Abram . . . the LORD has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave (Hagar); perhaps I can have children through her (Genesis 16:2) At the age of 86, Abram did receive a son, Ishmael, by Hagar.

Thirteen years passed after the birth of Ishmael (16:16; 17:1). Then God again spoke to Abram: I am God Almighty. . . . Your name will be Abraham. . . . I will keep My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring. . . . I will confirm my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this time next year (17:1-21).

Abraham was now 99 years old and Sarah was 90. At her age, it was humanly impossible for Sarah to have a child. But God revealed to Abraham: I am the Almighty God, meaning the One who is all-sufficient. Through Abraham, God would teach us how our faith can be strengthened when He said: I have chosen him . . . he will command his children and his house after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right . . . in order that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him (18:19).

One of the great tests of our faith is waiting upon the Lord. It may take two weeks, two years, or, as in Abraham's situation, 25 years.The Holy Spirit led the apostle Paul to write concerning Abraham's faith that he was fully convinced that what He (God) had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore, it was credited to him for righteousness (Romans 4:21-22).

God had said to Abraham: Live before Me . . . and be devout, meaning devoted to God (Genesis 17:1). We too have a responsibility in our covenant relationship with God. Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time (Hebrews 4:16).

Christ Revealed:

As the Seed of Isaac (Genesis 17:19). Christ was a descendant of Isaac. Jesus. . . . son of Jacob, son of Isaac (Luke 3:23-34; Heb. 11:18).

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Frank Lucas (OK) and Rep. Bob Wise (WV) · Country: Laos (5 million) in Southeast Asia · Major languages: Lao and French · Great suppression of all Christian activities · 58% Buddhist; 33% belief in spirits and ancestor worship; 2% Christian; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Seek the guidance of God in meekness (Psalms 25:9).

Optional Reading: Matthew 6

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:3