January 5

Genesis 16-18, Psalm 5

A teacher poses this scenario to his students. The grandmother is an alcoholic and the father spends his evenings out drinking in the taverns. His mother has tuberculosis. She has already given birth to four children. The first child is blind, the second child died, the third child is deaf, and the fourth child has tuberculosis. Now the mother is pregnant again. Given the extreme situation, would you recommend an abortion? The class debated the situation, and at the conclusion, decided that the child should be aborted. The teacher said, "You would have just aborted the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven." God often works in the realm of the humanly impossible. Though West Point studies the battles of all nations to understand the strategy, etc. It does not study the battles and wars of Israel, for they often prevail supernaturally, defying all human logic. When plagued by the Midianites in the book of Judges, Gideon is told to fight against them. He raises an army of 32,000. He tells Gideon in Judges 7:2, "And the Lord said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into your hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.' " God has Gideon reduce his troops to 300 before attacking victoriously.

When God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:16, "And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her." Abraham responds like most of us would in 17:17, "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" We read a little further, when The Angel of the Lord arrived and announced that this promise would indeed be fulfilled, Sarah's response in 18:10-12, "And He said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." (Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.) Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" Notice the response of The Angel of the Lord in 18:14, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?...". Immediately after this, they rise to leave, and The Angel of the Lord wants to show Abraham one more lesson so that when judgment comes it will not be explained away by natural means. We read in Genesis 18:19, "For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him," God was teaching Abraham that when we walk in the Lord's path, as Abraham did, there would be blessings for obedience. However, God could not overlook the sinfulness of Sodom, showing that when we give ourselves over to sin and disobedience, it leads to destruction.

Things that we consider impossible, God finds very easy. After Jesus' encounter with the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19, the disciples ask in 19:25-26, "When his disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Do we lead our Christian lives believing that? Do we think too hard when we pray? Do we not want to "waste God's time" with the smaller or mundane things? Do we avoid asking for things which seem humanly impossible? We should never put limits on our God, Who has no limits. Abraham waited 50 years from when he was initially called from Ur of the Chaldees to see the answer to the promise and his prayer. God has His own timing, for our own good. Sometimes the answer to our prayer is yes, sometimes no, other times there is a delay. We must first ask if what we are praying for is according to His will. If indeed it is Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7-8, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Realize in the Greek, these words are not ask, seek and knock. Instead, it actually reads, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. We must be patient and persevere. God is always listening.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster