Notes from my Bible Study for January 24, 2010

Today’s Reading: Psalm 23, Genesis 22, 1 Chronicles 27, Luke 15

Psalm 23 –
One of my favorite parts of being a pastor the privilege that I am given to enter people’s lives at some of their most tender and precious moments. I love when I get to be in a hospital room with a new mother and her child. I love being there to celebrate moments like high school graduations, weddings, and special anniversaries. And, at times I am in the room when a person says “Good bye,” to this life and walks into the arms of Jesus.

I remember one of those times a few years back. I was called at midnight to join a family who was gathered around the hospital bedside of Geva Lou, the matriarch of the family. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren were gathered at her side, as was her sister and brother-in-law. It was a shocking day for them. Just earlier in the day, this dear woman was getting her hair styled at her favorite salon. Now, she lay dying in a hospital bed. She had been unaware of the fact that her organs had been shutting down for the past couple of weeks. When she experienced abdominal pain and went to the ER, she had no idea that she would be in surgery minutes later, only to be closed back up with the dire realization that nothing could be done. She would die within hours.

I joined the family in those dying moments. They asked if I would read Scripture, so I opened my Bible to Psalm 23. As I read this precious Psalm, Geva Lou’s breathing grew more faint. I came to Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
As I finished reading that verse, Geva Lou’s sister said, “Go. Dwell in the house of the LORD forever. I will see you on the other side. I love you.”

And with that, Geva Lou died. She went from suffering in a bed into the arms of Jesus.

Psalm 23 has been a psalm of comfort to so many generations of people. David truly wrote words that were inspired by God. What is your favorite part of the 23rd Psalm?

Genesis 22 – I have a confession to make. For years I hated Genesis 22. I didn’t like what the passage said about God. I didn’t like to think about the trauma that God’s request caused Abraham. And, I sure didn’t like what it would have done to Isaac. But, I’ve grown. And, today I see Genesis 22 in an entirely different light. It is a beautiful picture not only of God’s love but of the growth of a man and his faith.

If you’ve been taking The Challenge you may have noticed that Abraham’s faith frustrates me sometimes. He is seen as a giant in the faith, and yet he blows it over and over again. He lacks faith in God’s ability to protect him, two different times calling Sarah his sister instead of his wife to save his own skin. He impregnates his wife’s servant when he ceases to trust that God will follow through on his covenant with him. And, there are a host of other situations.

But, in Genesis 22 an entirely different Abraham emerges. This is a man who is convinced that if God can grant him a child at 100 years old, that God can protect that child even if it is from God’s hand that God might be protecting the child.

When God asks Abraham to shed his own son’s blood, it isn’t because God wants Isaac dead, it’s because he wants to see just how far Abraham would obey Him. Abraham has now passed the point where I would ever go. I couldn’t do what God asked Abraham to do. My faith would be so weak. But, Abraham follows God, even so far as to put Isaac on the altar. Then God says, “Stop,” and provides Abraham with a sacrificial lamb.

Abraham had grown in his faith. There was hope for this sinful man. And, there is hope for you and me. But, our hope is in Jesus. While God allowed Abraham’s son to live, He did not spare His own Son, Jesus Christ. Christ came into the world and became our salvation. Through His death, we can be healed. Through His resurrection power we can be forgiven. Our God is THE AWESOME GOD.

1 Chronicles 27 –
The preparation for the transfer of the monarchy continues as David numbers the army and appoints officers for the tribes and overseers of the king’s business. I’m impressed at the order of the divisions, each with 24,000 men. I’m also impressed by David’s new obedience when it comes to the census. He refused to number all men 20 and under, because God had promised his descendents would be as numerous as the stars. David knew that he could count in God’s promise. This was a step of growth in David’s relationship with the Lord.

Luke 15 –
The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son are perhaps the most famous of all of Jesus’ parables. He tells them together in Luke 15 to show the incredible joy that He has when a sinner repents from the error of his or her ways.

Jesus lived his life with a purpose. He came to earth to set the captives free. Jesus had joy then and still has joy when the lost are found. He gave us all a Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples. Scripture tells us that the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner comes to faith in Jesus Christ.

The parable of the lost son, or the Prodigal Son is almost always referred to by these names, but a better title might be, the parable of the faithful father. It’s not tough to become a prodigal. The strength in this parable is in the Father’s love for his child. The Father is representative of God. May your rejoice in your Father’s love today!