Highlights In Today's Reading:
Fire and brimstone destroy the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah (19:24) as well as consume Lot's wealth and wife. Lot and daughters escape.
By faith, Abram left his homeland and journeyed to the new land of promise. Much to our surprise, when the father of the faithful was faced with famine, he forsook the land where God had told him to live and went to the well-watered land of Egypt (12:10). We are a little surprised by Abram's deception in telling the Egyptians that Sarai was his sister just so his life would be spared, rather than say she was his wife, who was also his half-sister (12:12-17). About a quarter of a century later, this event was repeated, when Abraham went to live with the Philistines in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah (20:2).
It is difficult to understand why Abram would tell a "half-truth" to protect himself after God had already told him: Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield (15:1). Furthermore, it could have led Abimelech into sin. God apparently allowed these events to occur to reveal how easily our decisions are influenced by selfish motives.
Throughout the Scriptures, God tenderly and patiently leads us from sin and self-seeking and shows us that true happiness is the result of integrity in all circumstances. Abraham remained committed to God even though there were times he had — as we sometimes have — difficulty believing God's promises under circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, or a disaster.
Abraham lived a remarkably godly life since he had only direct appearances and his conscience to live by — no Scripture and no indwelling Holy Spirit. God, in mercy, once again strengthened Abraham to see himself as a powerful prophet whose prayer for God to bless a heathen nation was answered (20:7,17).
Although we are prone to criticize the failures of God's leaders, God often turns those failures into blessings. So, Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up (Rom. 14:4).
When Sarah died, Abraham bought from the Hittites a field in Canaan with a cave in which to bury her. That act made Canaan his permanent home within the land promised by God to all his generations. Fearful, lest his descendants be absorbed by intermarriage into the pagan peoples around them, Abraham forbade Isaac to marry a Canaanite woman. He was concerned that his son have a wife worthy of their high calling of God. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for . . . what communion hath light with darkness? (II Cor. 6:14).
Thought for Today:
Many of the decisions we make influence the rest of our lives. We should be careful to make decisions based on the authority of the Word of God.
By Isaac, the promised son of the Covenant of God (Gen. 21:12). Faith in Christ sets us free from the bondage of the Law (Salvation by works) because God made a new and better Covenant through Christ who dwells within the true believer (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; I Cor. 11:25; also Heb. 8:6; 12:24).
19:1 at even =in the evening; 19:2 tarry =stay; 19:3 pressed upon =urged; unleavened bread =bread without yeast; 19:4 compassed =surrounded; 19:5 know =have homosexual relations with; 19:8 as is good in your eyes =as you wish; shadow =protection; 19:9 will needs be a judge =keeps acting as our ruler; sojourn =live temporarily; 19:11 smote =defeated; 19:13 is waxen =has grown; 19:14 mocked =joked; 19:15 consumed =destroyed; 19:16 without =outside; 19:21 accepted thee =shown favor to you; 19:22 be come thither =arrive there; 19:25 overthrew =devastated; 20:6 suffered =permitted; 20:8 sore =exceedingly; 20:16 covering of the eyes =compensation for what I did; 21:3 Isaac =laughter; 21:9 mocking =ridiculing; 21:11 grievous =distressing; 21:12 hearken unto her voice =agree to all that she asks; 21:15 spent =used up; 21:16 over against =in front of; 21:25 reproved =complained; 21:26 wot =know; 21:27 covenant =agreement.
Pray for Staff: Jennifer Cunningham • Government Officials: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA) and Sen. John Thune (SD) • Country: Tibet (province of China) (4.6 million, from 1990 census) in eastern Asia • Major language: Tibetan • The Chinese government is still committed to promoting atheism, while at the same time, officially permitting Lamaism (a form of Buddhism) • 97% Tibetan Buddhist; 1% Muslim; 1% Bon; 1% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Pray with a heart of righteousness, keeping the truth of God, and know He will hear your prayers (Is. 26:2).
Optional Reading: Matthew 7
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 1:21