January 8, 2016

Genesis 18-20
God appeared to Abraham while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent.  It was the hottest part of the day.  He looked up and saw three men standing.  He ran from his tent to greet them and bow before them.  He then asked them to stay as his guests and went about preparing/serving them them a fine meal.  The men said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”  He told them, “In the tent.”  One of them said, “I am coming back about this time next year.  When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.”  Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man....Sarah laughed within herself while questioning such a possibility.  God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh?...Is anything too hard for God?...Sarah lied.  She said “I didn’t laugh, “ because she was afraid.  But he said, “Yes you did, you laughed.”

When the men got up to leave, they set off for Sodom, Abraham walked with them to day goodbye.  Then God said...Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation...Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him....

The cries of the victims in Sodom and Gomorrah are deafening, the sins of those cities is immense...the men set out for Sodom, but Abraham stood in God’s path, blocking his way.  Abraham confronted God, “Are you serious?  Are you planning on getting rid of good people right along with the bad?...Abraham went on, “Do I, a mere mortal, made from a handful of dirt dare to open my mouth again my Master as he questioned what would happen to the good people of Sodom....He wouldn’t quit, “Don’t get angry Master---this is the last time, What if you only come up with 10?”  God said, “For the sake of only 10, I won’t destroy the city”.  When God finished talking to Abraham, he left and Abraham went home.

The two angels who had accompanied God to Abraham arrived in Sodom.  Lot was sitting at the city gate and invited them to his house.  While the angels indicated that they would sleep in the street, Lot insisted and they relented and went home with him.  Lot fixed them a hot meal and they ate.  Before they went to bed men from all over the city, young and old, descended on the house and boxed them in.  They yelled to Lot to bring the men out so they could have their sport with them.  Lot went out, barring the door behind him and tried to reason with the crowd by offering them his two virgin daughters whom they could take out their pleasure with but not to touch his guests.  The crowd would listen and began to charge past Lot.  But the two men reach out and pulled him inside the house, locking the door.  Then they struck blind the men who were trying break down the door, both leaders and followers, leaving them groping in the dark.  

The men informed Lot that the city would be destroyed so he went out and warned the fiances of his daughters but they treated it as a joke...Lot was told by the two men to hurry and leave.  Lot was dragging his feet.  The men grabbed Lot’s arm and the arms of his wife and daughters--God was so merciful to them!---and dragged them to safety outside the city and told them to run for their lives, not look back...but Lot protested and indicated he couldn’t run for the mountains but asked if he could travel to a small town close by which they could get to.  The two men let Lot have his way to the small town of Zoar.  Once Lot arrived, God rained brimstone and fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed these cities and the entire plain and everyone who lived in the cities...But Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt....When God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham and first got Lot out of there before he blasted the cities.

Lot left Zoar and went into the mountains to live with his two daughters;  he was afraid to stay in Zoar.  He lived in a cave with his daughters.  One day the older daughter said the the younger, “Our father is getting old and there’s not a man left in the country.  Let’s get our father drunk with wine and lie with him.  We’ll get children through our father--its our only chance to keep our family alive.”...Both daughters became pregnant by their father Lot.  The oldest had a son and named him Moab...The younger daughter had a son and named him Ben-Ammi, the ancestor of the Ammonites.

Abraham traveled from his place south to the Negev where he again said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.”  So Abimelech, king of the region, sent for Sarah and took her.  But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and told him of the trouble he was in for taking Abraham’s wife...Abimelech stated his case of being told that Sarah was a sister and not Abraham’s wife.  God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know your intentions were pure, that’s why I kept you from sinning against me...So now give the man’s wife back to him.  The next morning Abimelech called in Abraham and asked why he had done this to him...Abraham said, “I just assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they’d kill me to get my wife.  Besides, the truth is that she is my half sister, she’s my father’s daughter but not my mother’s....Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his maidservants.  For God had shut down every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.     

John 6:1-6:26 -

After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee... A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick...he said to Phillip, “Where can we buy bread to deed these people?”  He said this to stretch Philip’s faith.  He already knew what he was going to do.   One of the disciples --it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter--said, “There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes.  But that is a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”  Jesus said, “Make the people sit down” (about 5,000 of them)....then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated...When the people had eaten their fill, the disciples gathered the left overs and filled 12 large baskets from the 5 barley loaves.  The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done...Jesus saw their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself. 

In the evening, his disciples got back in the boat and headed back across the water to Capernaum...A huge wind blew up... they were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat.  They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me.  It’s all right.  Don’t be afraid.”  So they took him on board. In no time, they reached land.  The next day, the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples....So when the crowd realized that he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into boats  and headed for Capernaum.  When they found him, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”  Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions, but because I fed you, filled your stomachs---and for free.”