The Priest-King and His God

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

The Priest-King and His God
September 23, 2020

Read: Hebrews 7:1-3

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him. (v. 1)

“I give this land to you,” said God to Abraham in Genesis 13. Since he had the power to give it, the land obviously belonged to him; then it belonged to Abraham, too. So how do the various kings of Genesis 14 fit into the picture? Did not the land also belong to them?

If we were to read that chapter as well as our verses from Hebrews, we would find that one of these kings is powerful and aggressive, and Abraham has to fight against him. Another king reckons that on account of this he and Abraham must be allies.

But a third king, the mysterious Melchizedek, introduces Abraham to a further name for God beyond the ones he knows already. El Elyon means “God Most High,” ranking not only above all other so-called gods but also far above all the powers of this world. Abraham bows before this God and his representative priest-king Melchizedek (a wonderful Old Testament picture of our heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ). Because he binds himself to them, Abraham is free to take a stand for godly principles in a world of conflicting values. That is the highest duty that Christians owe to those who govern their countries. —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to guide you as a citizen in your own country and community.

Yahweh Speaks Again

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Yahweh Speaks Again
September 22, 2020

Read: Genesis 13:1-18

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.” (v. 14)

Aren’t you exasperated by people who repeat themselves? Abraham’s God would be an exception, though. He says the same things over and over, yet his words come up fresh and new and relevant time after time, and his people are always learning more of him through them.

When Abraham first arrived in Canaan, Yahweh, the God of promise, told him this was the land destined for his descendants. When he came back to the same place after his stay in Egypt, he was given the same message. But see how Yahweh put it this time: All this land, in every direction, as far as the eye can see, is for all your countless descendants. And for you. And for ever.

For us it opens up a double promise, doesn’t it? The promise of the land looks ahead to the day when all who share Abraham’s faith will come home to the heavenly country that Hebrews 11:16 speaks of. In the meantime, God’s promise tells us that this world, where we are only pilgrims passing through, from another point of view actually belongs to us. After all, “This is my Father’s world.” Doesn’t that make it mine, too? —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to help you look forward eagerly to the next world, and make the most of your time in this one.

A Role Model of Class, Persistence and Justice

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 32

September 21, 2020

A Role Model of Class, Persistence and Justice

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this week. There are those who celebrate her decisions and those who condemn them but this is not about politics. This blog is about character.

I confess that despite her long and distinguished career I really knew little about her until I saw the movie “On The Basis of Sex” two years ago. I really was impressed by the portrait painted of this amazing woman. She is a role model for all of us.

Justice Ginsburg was born in 1933 to Jewish parents in Brooklyn. Few people prospered in that era and there was tremendous anti-Jewish sentiment in a city that was politically dominated by Christians. She was also female in a world dominated by men. Ruth, however, did not see these as obstacles. She viewed them as bumps to overcome.

After marrying and having a child, she and her husband both enrolled at Harvard Law School. He was a year ahead of her. She, and the few other women at the school were not greeted warmly by many of the other students and faculty. The women were actually told that they were “taking seats away from men.” She persisted.

Tragically, her husband became ill with cancer while still in law school. She sat in on his classes, took her own classes, taught him his classes at night and cared for her child. Can you image? I can’t. She could have played a “victim” and asserted that pursuing a law degree was too much given her circumstances but she did not. She simply worked harder.

In the years to come, Ruth became a strong advocate for women’s rights, arguing several times before the Supreme Court. She had a reputation for always keeping decorum despite instances where she was greatly provoked. As she explained it, her mother always told her to act “like a lady.”

Having class, persistence in overcoming obstacles, and fighting for justice for all are the traits that I admire in her, but often fail to live up to. I believe that these traits are worthy for us as individuals, and the church to be striving toward. Too often we give in to impediments, watch out for ourselves instead of seeking justice for others, and forgetting to act well, as we are role models for others. What a different world we would live in if our churches and all people would strive for these things.

I thank God for the role model he gave us in justice Ginsburg and pray that I, you, and our congregations will draw closer to her example.

A Modelo de Rol de Clase, Persistencia y Justicia

Lunes Reflexiones Ministeriales
Por rev. Mark William Ennis
Blog Número 32
Eberiembre 21 de diciembre de 2020
A Modelo de Rol de Clase, Persistencia y Justicia

La jueza de la Corte Suprema Asociada Ruth Bader Ginsburg murió esta semana. Hay quienes celebran sus decisiones y los que las condenan, pero no se trata de política. Este blog trata sobre el carácter.

Confieso que a pesar de su larga y distinguida carrera realmente sabía poco de ella hasta que vi la película “On The Basis of Sex” hace dos años. Realmente me impresionó el retrato pintado de esta increíble mujer. Ella es un modelo a seguir para todos nosotros.

Justice Ginsburg nació en 1933 de padres judíos en Brooklyn. Pocas personas prosperaron en esa época y había un tremendo sentimiento antijudío en una ciudad que estaba dominada políticamente por los cristianos. También era mujer en un mundo dominado por hombres. Ruth, sin embargo, no los veía como obstáculos. Ella los veía como golpes para superar.

Después de casarse y tener un hijo, ella y su esposo se inscribieron en la Escuela de Derecho de Harvard. Estaba un año por delante de ella. Ella, y las pocas otras mujeres en la escuela no fueron recibidas calurosamente por muchos de los otros estudiantes y profesores. En realidad, se les dijo a las mujeres que estaban “quitando asientos de los hombres”. Ella insistió.

Trágicamente, su marido enfermó de cáncer mientras todavía estaba en la escuela de derecho. Se sentó en sus clases, tomó sus propias clases, le enseñó sus clases por la noche y cuidó de su hijo. ¿Puedes imaginarte? No puedo. Ella podría haber interpretado a una “víctima” y afirmar que perseguir un título de derecho era demasiado dadas sus circunstancias, pero no lo hizo. Simplemente trabajó más duro.

En los años venideros, Ruth se convirtió en una firme defensora de los derechos de las mujeres, argumentando varias veces ante la Corte Suprema. Tenía una reputación de mantener siempre el decoro a pesar de los casos en los que fue muy provocada. Como ella lo explicó, su madre siempre le dijo que actuara “como una dama”.

Tener clase, persistencia en superar obstáculos y luchar por la justicia para todos son los rasgos que admiro en ella, pero que a menudo no estoy a la distancia. Creo que estos rasgos son dignos para nosotros como individuos, y la iglesia para esforzarse hacia. Con demasiada frecuencia cedemos a los impedimentos, nos cuidamos a nosotros mismos en lugar de buscar justicia para los demás, y nos olvidamos de actuar bien, ya que somos modelos a seguir para los demás. Qué mundo diferente viviríamos si nuestras iglesias y todas las personas se esforzarían por estas cosas.

Doy gracias a Dios por el modelo a seguir que nos dio en justicia Ginsburg y ruego que yo, ustedes y nuestras congregaciones se acerquen a su ejemplo.

Abraham Still in the Shallows

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Abraham Still in the Shallows
September 21, 2020

Read: Genesis 12:10-20

And when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake. (vv. 12-13)

The other Sunday I was about to preach on the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and was dismayed to hear the whole of Genesis 12, not just the first part, being read out to us. Sure enough, several people waylaid me afterwards to ask accusingly why I hadn’t said Abraham’s behavior in Egypt does raise questions. But I think my one or two questioners who seemed to be actually shocked by it were being a tad unrealistic. To be called by God doesn’t turn anybody into an instant paragon of virtue. Abraham’s would be an ever-deepening faith, and these were early days. He was still paddling in the shallows.

“Trust and obey” was the watchword. He had trusted God to bring him to the Promised Land; possibly he should have trusted that even in a time of famine he would be provided for in Canaan, and certainly he should have trusted that if he did go to Egypt, he would not need to resort to half-truths in order to be safe there.

He was going to fail the same test a second time (Genesis 20), so clearly it was a lesson he needed to learn. But he had a patient Teacher. —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to help you learn the lessons you need to learn.

Hidden Depths

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Hidden Depths
September 20, 2020

Read: Exodus 6:2-8

I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. (v. 6)

There is always something more to know about God. For Abraham, God was first a god, then the God, then the God who made himself known to some people as Yahweh, the Lord. Over the years Abraham would get to know him by further names and in new ways.

But that first name, Yahweh, was the best. The Lord revealed to Moses that the name Yahweh means, “I am Who I Am.” This can also be translated, “I Will Be What I will Be” (Exod. 3:14). Well, who exactly was he, and what would he be?

Not till Abraham’s descendants were slaves in Egypt, in helpless, hopeless misery, did they grasp that for Yahweh to fulfill his promise to make them a great nation he would have to save them. Abraham was never in quite that situation. It was as if he had learned to call his God “rescuer” but always had at the back of his mind the puzzling question “rescuer from what?”

Old Testament people from the exodus onwards knew him as the rescuer from slavery. New Testament people know him as the rescuer from the slavery of sin and death. This name, Yahweh/Savior, says God, “is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exod. 3:15). —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to be your rescuer, and praise him for rescuing you.

Faith and Obedience

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Faith and Obedience
September 19, 2020

Read: Hebrews 11:8-12

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (v. 8)

Would you like to know what the future holds? Yes and no! Some of it Christians do know, including the best things of all—the big things like the promise of heaven and the promise of the Lord’s unfailing guidance all the way there. But not knowing the details is a positive advantage, because that develops our faith in him. As the song says, we don’t know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.

Of the many portraits of people of faith in Hebrews 11, Abraham’s is given the most space. It’s worth remembering that of all the Old Testament details that go to make up this New Testament picture, Abraham knew nothing in advance except the promise of a family and a homeland at the end. At the beginning, he “set out” at the word of Yahweh, “not knowing where he was going.” Perhaps he was not even told in which direction to go, and had to trust God that his own decision would be the right one!

But what loomed largest in Abraham’s mind was the simple command that God had made crystal clear. He did what he was told, trusted God for the consequences, and “looked forward” to the fulfillment of the promises. That’s faith! —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, thank God for the Bible, which gives us all the directions we need.

Yahweh Speaks

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Yahweh Speaks
September 18, 2020

Read: Genesis 12:1-3

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (v. 1)

Of the many gods (elohim) in that ancient world, the only real God (Elohim) was the one that Abraham came to know. This God had a personal name; traditionally in English Bibles it is “Jehovah” or “LORD” in capital letters. It was probably pronounced something like “Yahweh.” Not till long afterwards, in the days of Moses, did people discover the full meaning of this name. But some had addressed him as Yahweh practically from the beginning (see Genesis 4:26).

The reason they could talk to Yahweh was that he had first talked to them. And the Lord who had once spoken to Adam now spoke to Abraham. We need not trouble ourselves with wondering exactly how God’s words were heard in those days, because we know how he speaks today. His Holy Spirit lights up the truths of the Bible for us, and so we hear his voice. Even more important is what he says. Always it is a message that expects a response; never mere information, let alone entertainment. In Abraham’s case it was first a command to leave his home and go where God would lead him. Abraham had to believe and therefore obey. And then along with the command came a promise of a land and descendants, which would one day come true and confirm what Yahweh had said. —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to speak to you, and listen for his answer.

Which God?

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Which God?
September 17, 2020

Read: Joshua 24:1-15

And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. . . (v. 2)

When the Old Testament authors write about God, which of course they do a great deal, their regular Hebrew word for him is Elohim. This word is there from the outset, when the very first verse of the Bible tells us that “in the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The opening verses of Joshua 24 shine a light back onto the early story of Abraham from a much later time. The intriguing thing about these verses is that they use exactly the same word. They tell us that Terah and his family, being dyed-in-the-wool pagans, were therefore worshipers of Elohim! Like English words such as sheep and fishElohim can refer either to a singular or to a plural. Abraham had grown up among people who worshiped many different elohim (gods). But the day came when he got to know the one true Elohim (God).

Many people say they believe in God. The question is, which one? What does that word God mean to them? We may be tempted to think that believing in any God is better than nothing. But that is irresponsible and unloving. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to inspire you with his love and care for people who do not know him.

A Peculiar Family

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

A Peculiar Family
September 16, 2020

Read: Genesis 11:27-32

Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. (v. 27)

What an uninspiring introduction to one of the Bible’s grandest stories! You might also find some of it rather curious. Terah’s three sons, for instance. Why is “Abraham” spelled “Abram”? Isn’t Haran the name of a town? And as for Nahor, did he actually marry his own niece? Yes, he did. Odder still, we learn later that Abraham’s wife was his own half sister. Isn’t that illegal, or immoral, or both? Did they live in a very crude, uncivilized society?

Not really. Their technology may have been primitive, but in fact Abraham appears on the stage of history more than half way along the time line of human civilization. Abraham’s culture and way of life was very different from mine. God planned all along to reveal what he is like, and what his principles are for the way of life he designed for the human race. But he was going to do it gradually.

God’s blueprint for marriage was just one example of all the things people had been misunderstanding ever since the days of Adam and Eve. Abraham didn’t get that quite right, but it would eventually become clear. The question for Abraham was, would he act on something else God was going to make clear to him there and then? —Michael Wilcock

As you pray, ask God to make you more concerned with what God has shown us than what God hasn’t shown us.

The Friendly Church