This next week is quite intense: I start back at work and taking language lessons in the evening. Let’s see if I can keep it up!
- Psalm 7:1-9
- Matthew 7:24 – 8:22
- Genesis 19 & 20
Once again, today’s readings have been somewhat troubling and difficult. There are many things at odds of what seems to be a modern view of God or of ethics, morality and judgment. However, there seems to be on-going undercurrent of God’s mercy, justice and righteousness.
The Psalms passage emphasises God’s judgment and righteousness. God punishes those who do wrong and protects those who do right. However, the image of God as judge seems to sit uncomfortably with me. I know that this is the more secular cultural baggage that I have grown up with. Words such as judge, vindicate all seem to jar with me. Perhaps I’m just a typical triggered millennial (to use that terrible turn of phrase).
However, God’s judgment is good. David calls on God to “Bring to an end the violence on the wicked and make the righteous secure”. Surely that’s something for us to pray too.
The Matthew reading emphasised Jesus’ authority and the faith that it bought about in people. Jesus’ word have power. The people in the crowds heard it, the leper knew it and the centurion believed in it. Furthermore, the parable of the houses being built either on a rock or on sand shows the authority and power in Jesus’ words. They bring blessing and security when followed and obeyed.
Lord God, help me live my life in obedience and with a firm foundation found in Your word. Amen.
I love what the man with leprosy says to Jesus: “if you are willing, make me clean.” Then the simple and powerful response: “I am willing.”
Jesus, if you are willing, make me clean. Amen.
I love the story of the centurion too. First he understands Jesus’ power. Jesus’ comment about not finding such faith in all of Israel seems a little cutting, especially as there are those, such as Jesus’ disciples and the man seen previously, that seem to show a lot of faith. But it’s interesting as the centurion is an outsider to this religious world and he still seeks Jesus and he still trusts him. I wonder how much the modern Western church is like first century Israel: often the outsiders have more faith than those within.
Again, Jesus talks about the global plan for the church, which resonates for me. I love it because I’m on the mission field.
Genesis 19 is just disturbing on quite a few levels. There’s the threat of gang rape, a father offering his virginal daughters to be raped, incestuous rape, blindings, fire and brimstone and someone turning to salt. It makes you wonder what Lot’s family had been through. It also makes the world seem terribly perverse.
However, in this, there is still a story of God’s mercy. God showed judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah but showed mercy on Lot, his wife and his daughters. He bought them out of that sinful and wicked place and to safety. Lot’s wife didn’t make it, as instantly Lot’s daughters do something horribly repugnant. But still, God was merciful.
I think the call to “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back!” needs to be heeded by us today when being bought from the wickedness in our own lives. Jesus took us by the hand to drag us from our sin, even if at sometimes we are hesitant. But we still need to flee for our lives and we can’t look back on our old life and our old sin.
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me a new life. Thank you that you saved me from judgment and from the wickedness I was in. Help me to pursue righteousness and to flee from sin. Amen.
Genesis 20 also shows God’s mercy. This time, God is picking up the pieces after Abraham lies about Sarah being his sister again. God picks up the pieces and the consequences of our sins. I expect we often don’t realise it, but I know there are times when the consequences of my actions should have been much worse. However, God protected me in that.
Lord God, thank You for picking up the pieces again and again. You remove my sin from me and protect me from the consequences of my behaviour. As You protected Abimelek from sinning against Sarah, I pray that You protect me from sinning against others. Also, protect those that are caught up in the consequences of my sin. Lord, I repent of the times that my behaviour has affected others. Amen.