Bring some Spirit-filled peace into your hectic schedule every weekday morning with this new Daily Devotional.
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Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
I love laughter. It’s a pleasure to see people really letting rip and having a good laugh. Laughter can be sparked off by any number of things, but it is often sparked off by absurdity. We laugh at clowns because everything they do is ridiculous and turns our normal expectations of life upside down. Sarah’s laughter was for precisely this reason. She was about 100 years old, decades beyond child bearing age, and although she had longed for a child in earlier years she had long since got used to the idea that it wasn’t going to happen. And then three mysterious visitors turn up at Abraham and Sarah’s tent in the desert and inform them that she will give birth. The very thought was hilarious because it was so completely absurd.
'I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them! I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.'
It’s a big moment when you enter into a binding agreement with someone. Whether you are thinking of marriage, buying a house or starting a new job it’s a moment to stand back from life and take a deep breath. This was just such a moment for Abram as he entered into a covenant with God that was going to change everything – including his name!
“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
Never forget this! God is in the business of blessing people! That’s what he loves to do and that’s what Abram was just about to discover. At a time of life when most people would be seeking to take things more slowly, God calls him to be the father of a nation. Nothing suggests that this is remotely likely. One practical problem was that Abram and his wife Sarai had no children, but with God around that wasn’t going to be a major difficulty.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.”
I wonder what your life looks like at the moment. I would guess that for many of us there are plenty of aspects of our lives that suit us really well. Life isn’t perfect, and we can easily come up with some suggested improvements, but the thought of it all changing completely would come as quite a shock. Well, if that’s true for us, imagine how much greater the challenge would have been for Abram. We would be able to reach for our computers and find out information about the wider world, but not Abram! God was taking him away from the security of his home and leading him on the most incredible adventure into a land of which he knew nothing.
Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
God hates arrogance because it is a complete rejection of him. Here the story of the Tower of Babel could be described as an ultimate example of arrogance. The people came together to build a tower which would reach to the heavens. This would be the final proof that humankind was in control. God acted decisively. He scattered the people and, as a result, people no longer spoke one language but many. Division was the inevitable result of men and women putting themselves in the place that is rightfully God’s.
So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him. When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.”
The Bible is full of wonderful stories – and this is one of the best! Noah is asked by God to produce an enormous boat and to fill it with his family and a wonderful collection of animals and birds. We don’t know where he lived but it may well have been in the desert and the whole idea of building a boat would have seemed laughably absurd. The key to the story is that Noah trusted God and was happy to do exactly what God told him to do. He is described as being righteous, which literally means he loved doing the right things.
One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” “I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
This is the world’s first murder. How terrible that so early in this Holy Book, the Bible, we have to confront such an appalling evil. If you have ever known a family that has experienced a murder you will know the awful impact that it has for years to come on everyone concerned. It isn’t clear why Cain’s offering to the Lord was unacceptable but he is furious about it, and determined to do away with his brother.
The Lord God asked, “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has a very contemporary ring to it. Blaming others is as much a way of life today for many people as it was for Adam long, long ago. He knew he had done wrong because he had eaten the forbidden fruit but he was desperate to wriggle out of the situation and dump the blame on Eve. But he even went further than that, suggesting that God bore some responsibility because he had given Eve to him.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
People fascinate me. I can happily sit watching people because they are so incredibly different from one another. In size, shape, colour, height, age and ability they are all absolutely unique. However, we have one thing in common – we have all been made in the image of God.
'Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.'
It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of light. Without light there is no life. It’s as simple as that. So it is not surprising to discover that on day one of creation God created light. No life could occur until that had happened. But with the introduction of light, life was able to burst out in all its amazing variety over the following days as God created vegetation, fish, animals, birds and human beings.