The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Faithful! (OT and Epistle for 03.12.06)

with 3 comments

I think I’ll post a little differently this week.

Today, Genesis and Romans, both in this post. Tomorrow, the Gospel and Psalm. Thursday, impressions.

Last Sunday we shared Communion together with the song “Never Will I Leave You” in the background. I had spoken about God keeping his promises. The Scriptures were about God’s covenant with Noah (and everything living) after the flood and Peter’s beautiful update on it from 1Peter 3.

My first take on this Sunday is “Oboy! Here We Go Again!” Look at these juicy first two Bible segments, and you’ll see just what I mean. Covenant all over again:

Genesis 17:1-7
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, GOD showed up and said to him, “I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! 2I’ll make a covenant between us and I’ll give you a huge family.”
3Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face.
Then God said to him, 4″This is my covenant with you: You’ll be the father of many nations. 5Your name will no longer be Abram, but Abraham, meaning that “I’m making you the father of many nations.’ 6I’ll make you a father of fathers–I’ll make nations from you, kings will issue from you. 7I’m establishing my covenant between me and you, a covenant that includes your descendants, a covenant that goes on and on and on, a covenant that commits me to be your God and the God of your descendants.
Genesis 17:15-16
15God continued speaking to Abraham, “And Sarai your wife: Don’t call her Sarai any longer; call her Sarah. 16I’ll bless her–yes! I’ll give you a son by her! Oh, how I’ll bless her! Nations will come from her; kings of nations will come from her.”

AND . . . now watch the same thing through New Testament eyes:

Romans 4:13-25

13That famous promise God gave Abraham–that he and his children would possess the earth–was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. 14If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. 15A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise–and God’s promise at that–you can’t break it.
16This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father–that’s reading the story backwards. He is our faith father.
17We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. 18When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
19Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. 20He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, 21sure that God would make good on what he had said. 22That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” 23But it’s not just Abraham; 24it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. 25The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Ah, this will be fun. Results of last week are just below. Thanks for being here with me!


Written by Monte

March 7, 2006 at 5:24 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Wow….great insights about being “marked by God” but then not being aware of it all the time. Then connecting this to the idea of a covenant…what a great connection! I’m sorry I’ll have to miss this Sunday….this could be great.
    I am thinking about the deep work of the Holy Spirit in my life…it is unseen, unlike the OT covenant which had outward signs and rituals. Paul says in Ephesians that the Holy Spirit works in the “inner man.” It is the reality and essence of what Abraham experienced only without the outward signs or “markings.” Same thing as Abraham, only we get to experience it in the deep inner working of the Spirit in our hearts…..whoa. But, it is when other people can see it in me (hopefully) that the outward “mark” becomes evident. Talk about faith.

    Dan - Washington

    March 9, 2006 at 7:52 am

  2. Ah, thanks!

    I’ve been thinking something similar about “marked by his love,” but I wasn’t conscious of it until reading your words.

    The mark that comes to my mind is one that is invisible to me but sometimes visible to others. Unconscious of it, I walk through my days, falteringly moving toward God. Some see something. When they tell me about it, it is obvious that it wasn’t what I did. I know that what I did was small, and simply unable to communicate that sort of transcendence on its own. I don’t see it that way out of modesty – I just really do know how small and mixed in intent it was.

    So, like another onlooker, I think, “Huh. Imagine. God ran his train on the tracks of that which I seemed to stumble into (as if by accident) and someone saw Him. How good he is!” As you say, it really wasn’t about me – though it was an immense honor to be a player in it.

    And, by the way, I wanted your comments here for the opposite reason that you felt like not leaving them here: I thought they were so much deeper than mine! I saw God in them. They made me want to experience God in Scripture, not analyze him.


    March 8, 2006 at 2:36 pm

  3. I, too, want to thank the worship team for leading us in the new song Indescribable. I was blessed as you led me in worshipping our amazing God! Thanks! Please encourage us to stand and sing with you. We have so much to praise Him for!
    I think I will like this new way of posting better. When all the Scriptures are separate, I have trouble keeping track of what’s what and which one said what. And I didn’t find an easy way to switch back and forth between them.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about being “marked by His love” At first, I was thinking about it as: if I was marked, I would do X, Y or Z; I would be this or that; I would show I was marked when I attained some level of “goodness.” But, no, that didn’t seem like it at all. I think to me, it is all about God marking me, only instead of a brand burned into my skin, its His love burned into my heart.His love surrounding me, growing me, growing in me, changing me and guiding me, protecting me and filling me. His love as the reason and motivation for all I do and am and aspire to.
    I think it ties in to Romans 4:14-15. I wanted to make His mark be about me, but it isn’t. Its about Him and about grace.
    Thanks, too, for the encouragement the last time I spoke up on your blog. I don’t feel that I can think such deep thoughts as the rest of you do. But I love His word and how He speaks to me through it. Thank you for your acceptance.


    March 8, 2006 at 12:53 pm

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