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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

Verse 2: And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,”

God has blessed our church with a pastor; it has been approximately 17 months since our previous pastor was called to a church near where he grew up. We miss him and his family, but we knew that God was in the call and in the move. These last months have felt like we were in a wilderness; all we could do was pray and wait on God’s perfect timing in between visiting and interim preachers. We knew our pastor search committee was doing just that: praying and waiting on God’s timing. Of course, we didn’t know at the time that our new pastor was being led by God through a series of destinations that would bring him right where He wanted him to be. Now, we are at the beginning of what I pray will be a long relationship between pastor and church; I wondered if that’s how it felt when our previous pastor was first called to this church years ago. There were people here who were there for that previous beginning as they were for this new beginning.

Stephen is pointing that out to the council. The God of their fathers was there when He called Abraham to a place he’d never been, out of a land he called home. Abraham followed God’s command, not being able to see what was ahead, but trusting in God. Stephen is reminding the council that God has been, is, and ever will be. There’s more to the story.

What if you knew that you were about to deliver the last message you’d ever speak…what would you say?

Something to think about.

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Romans 4:11 “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,”

Remember Thurston Howell III? You know, “the millionaire” in the Gilligan’s Island opening theme song, played comically by Jim Backus? Here was a man and his wife going on a “three hour tour” yet they brought enough luggage, clothes, and a trunk full of money for a summer vacation (why? Because money talks!) When push came to shove, Thurston would be there for his fellow castaways, but otherwise, he acted like the caricature of “old money”, not really associating with people who were not rich. There were a few plotlines in both the live-action series and the Saturday morning cartoon, when his attitude would change if he thought someone came into money and was now rich (such as Gilligan once). To him, money changed the status of the person; until then, he wouldn’t invite them into his social circle.

There was an argument that Paul is commenting on here: was Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, declared righteous after he got circumcised or before? Most assuredly, Paul writes, before! His faith in God already had sealed him as righteous in God’s eyes. Now, he followed circumcision according to Jewish law, but this act alone didn’t make him righteous in God’s eyes. Paul was expounding that fact that salvation/righteousness was available to the circumcised (Jewish) and uncircumcised (Gentile) alike.

Back to a particular Gilligan’s Island cartoon: Howell and his wife weren’t allowing the other castaways to be members of their private beach resort that Thurston had tricked them into building. But when a storm threatened the island and wrecked the resort, Thurston and Lovey managed to make it to the emergency cave shelter…only to find a door! The Professor and Gilligan greeted them; however, the Professor asked if they had membership; meekly Howell admitted, they didn’t. “Good! We don’t believe in exclusion…come on in!” said the Professor. They were welcomed into the cave because they were fellow castaways and were their friends.

For your information: God’s gift of salvation doesn’t hinge on who you are, or what your status is…only if you have accepted Jesus, God the Son, as your Lord and Savior. If that’s the case…come on in!

Something to think about today.

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Verse 28: “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.”

Folks, it’s been a whale of a game this afternoon. The hometown team was taking it on the chin from the cross-town Judaizers for some time, almost to the point where the Judaizers had them thinking they were the team to listen to! But ever since the return of that top ace pitcher, Paul, it’s looking like they’re fighting back! Paul has been on the mound for the team, striking out the Judaizers left and right. He’s been shredding their offense with all manner of attack from fastballs to sliders to curve balls…you name it! Now he’s retiring the side with another of his dazzling pitches…the beautiful, thought-provoking allegorical knuckleball!

The above didn’t really happen; there was no baseball in Paul’s day. But studying Galatians to this point has helped me appreciate the God-inspired display of intelligent argument Paul used to counter the Judaizers’ false teachings. Here in this passage, he uses an allegory of Abraham and his two sons: Ishmael, born through Hagar, and Isaac, born through Sarah. One represents the law, Mount Sinai, the old Jerusalem that the Judaizers know, one of legalism yet of bondage. The other represents salvation, the heavenly Jerusalem (the city of God), and the freedom it brings. One is man’s attempt to bring about the promise of God, while the other is God fulfilling His promise to man. When presented side by side here, there really is no choice. Man cannot save himself; only God, through salvation in Jesus, can.

So…which team are you playing for?

Something to think about.

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Verse 6: “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Not too long ago, DC Comics ran a storyline through all its major titles called DC ONE MILLION. In this plot, the future descendants of the Justice League from the 853rd century came into the present to invite the present-day Justice League to the future for a celebration. As always, there were villains, present and future, lurking in the midst to mess things up. In the future, Superman was accused of being a Bizarro clone through the devious machinations of the villains, and was on the run from the populace. He was caught by a squadron of Thanagarian elite Wingmen, under the command of Mahol Toj, who responded to the rioting. During their conversation, Superman mentioned the name of his present-day teammate Hawkman; that name was Katar Hol. The mention of the name of a legendary figure in the Wingmen’s history gave Mahol Toj pause, and he gave Superman a chance to prove he was the original, allowing both sides to help each other confront the real villain in the game (some of this research I remembered with some help from a DC wiki: http://glcorps.dcuwiki.net/w/Mahol_Toj_(DC_One_Million) )

The Judaizers were very fond of quoting the law of Moses…Paul “one-ups” them here, and mentions Abraham. Abraham was saved by faith in God, long before there was “the law”. Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 in this verse. So if Abraham didn’t need the law to be saved, why should the Galatians? It was faith in God…for Abraham, faith in God the Father; for the Galatian Christians and us today, it’s faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son, the One who took our sin punishment upon Himself, and paid a debt we couldn’t pay.

In this case…it is Who you know!

Something to think about.

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