Who’s laughing now

10 01 2011

DAY TEN : Genesis 21 v. 1 – 23 v. 20; Matthew 8 v. 23 – 9 v. 13; Psalm 7 v. 10 – 17

ISAAC – What a great name, meaning ‘laughter’, as Sarah tells everyone :
“God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”
Laughter at what God has done, though it seemed impossible.
Laughter at the notion of God doing something amazing through us.
Laughter – the best medicine, they say.
I hope something or someone really makes you laugh today. It’ll do you the world of good !

ISHMAEL – “God was with the boy as he grew up……”
Don’t you just get the sense of God’s protection over Hagar and Ishmael – he sees their plight, the cruely of their lot, and promises to make a great nation out of Ishmael also.

BEERSHEBA – love the intricate detail about Abraham’s treaty over the well he’d made, and the purchase of land for Sarah’s burial. Definitely someone trying to ensure the legal facts about ownership are on record ! ‘Land’ is important, isn’t it. So much misery caused over disputes about land. I do keep in mind praying for the dispossessed, the land-less, the refugee.

GOD WILL PROVIDE THE LAMB – However horrific it sounds to us, the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac  is a test of Abraham’s trust in God (both his entrusting everything to God, and his faith in God’s covenant promise to make, through his offspring, a nation as numerous as the stars and sand-grains). There are such beautifully touching moments in this story too – all too easy to see paralleled in the image of Jesus as God’s only Son, the Lamb, offered as the sacrifice once for all. I was touched by Isaac carrying on his back the wood for the sacrifice, and it brought images to mind of Jesus carrying his own cross of wood….
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
(brings back memories, too, of the beautiful song and moment in Leyland Methodist Church’s MADMOB production of Genesis some years ago….God will provide a lamb)

MATTHEW’S STORIES OF JESUS:
We have Jesus calming the storm on Galilee (so many memories flooding back of a wonderful afternoon in a boat on Galilee….nothing quite like it (looking forward to being back there in November)), Jesus sleeps through the storm is woken and commands the storm to be stilled. “It became completely calm”.
He is teaching the disciples, and you and me, not to fear, but to trust the one whom, “even the wind and waves obey”.
He makes the link between faith and fear.

We have Jesus healing two demon-possessed men (note that the demons recognise Jesus as “Son of God”). With one word – “GO”, the demons are cast out, and a whole town is stirred to encourage Jesus to leave, such is the powerful act they’ve just witnessed (and the power of the one word of Jesus). But Jesus has also brought peace to that town, where people had been fearful of the possessed men.

We have Jesus healing a paralytic: when Jesus sees the faith of the friends he says to the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven”
Knowing their evil thoughts…..
When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe, and they praised God…

And we have the calling of Matthew: “Follow me”; the dinner with other ‘undesirables’ at Matthew’s house; Pharisees complaining about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners and Jesus’s response : “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice” – “I have come to call sinners…not the righteous”.

Finally,
PSALM 7: My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart
(harbouring evil is like being pregnant- you will give birth to harm and destruction;
 digging pits to trap others heightens the probability that you will fall into a pit yourself).

In summary, today, I’m learning that Jesus (God’s chosen Lamb), comes to
restore peace for the planet (wind and waves)
restore peace for people (casting out evil)
restore peace for those crippled with guilt (your sins are forgiven)
restore peace for the sick, the de-valued, the dishonoured (I have come for the sick, sinners)
and that the true Sacrifice Himself,
is more interested in seeing ‘mercy’ in us, than ‘sacrifice’.

Ultimately, that God will provide (and has already done so)….all that He asks or requires of us.

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