Introducing Abram, and ‘the heart of the problem’.

6 01 2011

DAY SIX : Genesis 11 v. 10 – 13 v. 18; Matthew 5 v. 21 – 42; Psalm 5

A wandering people : “Leave your county, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make your name great and you will be a blessing….”
After the folly of the Babel tower builders wanting to “make a name for themselves”, here God shines His light on Abram and promises to “big him up”, making a name for him. The key will be faith, obedience, a willingness to go anywhere, do anything.
I noted, too, the second altar in the bible in Gen 12. where God appears to Abram, saying, “To your offspring I will give this land”.

Egypt – not a place Abram would be proud to remember. To save his skin, he passes his wife Sarai off as his sister, giving her to Pharoah as his wife. Bizarre. How did Pharoah find out the truth (we are not told) – some divine revelation, angelic visitation, Sarai let it slip ? Surely Abram learnt a valuable lesson through his actions there. Graciously, though, Abram was protected from losing his family, his possessions (he actually became wealthier), and his own life.

Abram gives Lot first choice of the land (east or west). Wherever Abram settles his tents, he builds an altar – growing sense of God’s presence north, south, east and west.

Jesus’s teaching : Yesterday it was motivations, today, again, a delving into the heart of humanity, rooting out sin.
The origins of evil and destructive actions are to be found in a heart / mind which lets anger fester, which lusts after others, which is not true to its word, which is vengeful.
The better way, the purity of heart God desires and enables by His Spirit, taught by Jesus’s words today in the Sermon on the Mount, is to be found in forgiveness, reconciliation, fidelity in relationships, honesty (let your “yes” be “yes”, and your “no” be “no”), and a letting go of bitterness and any desire for revenge.
These are intense, deep words from Jesus, cutting to the core of who we are. But they present us with the choice Christian spirituality offers us, a decision towards holiness, a will and a way, by God’s Spirit, to become more Jesus-like daily.
It’s gritty, honest and is ruthless in its determination to root out sin (‘it is better for you to lose one part of your body (eye / hand, if they cause you to sin) than for your whole body to go into hell’), but clearly, in the new kingdom heralded by Jesus, God’s spotlight and favour rests on those who seek to live this way, who choose to live by these words, aim for these standards, seek purity and holiness in living.

The message is :
We can be better today than we were yesterday.


and in today’s psalm :
“let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy.
Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.
For surely, O Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favour as with a shield.”

We have a friend who has been very, very ill in hospital, who has been clinging to the words of her favourite hymn :

A Sov’reign Protector I have,
Unseen, yet forever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend;
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.

Great words of faith and praise.

Thanks to Kate Austin – CHRISTART – for the pictures in today’s blog. Check out her inspirational website
http://www.christart.co.uk

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