A New Testament Look at Our Old Testamen

A New Testament Look at Our Old Testament Text

The crucifixion of Jesus is interpreted in a variety of ways in the New Testament and in Christian theology. One way of interpreting it is to say that God took upon himself the curse that was meant for us: Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. When God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, is this not good news that empowers our trust? And is not the God of the Old Testament much like the God of the New Testament in putting himself on the line?

Genesis 15 recognizes that it is sometimes hard to believe when we are in bad situations. But God addresses our bad situations with promises that ring true to our needs, just as God doubled down on the promises to Abraham and Sarah. God lives up to his relationship with us by demonstrating that his news for us is indeed good, that he is willing to risk his very self so that we might believe.

Today’s Text for Children This is a com

Today’s Text for Children

This is a complicated passage for children, but a part of the familiar story of God’s promises to Abram. Recalling some of the rest of this story (Abram’s moves and Isaac’s birth) will help children understand the promises God made in this chapter.

To help children follow God’s conversation with Abram, read from the Good News Bible and take time to explain Abram’s concern about not having a son.

If children hear nothing else in this reading, most of them will tune in to the details of the gory covenant-making ritual. The idea that God passed between the split animals in the form of a flaming pot and torch—which, in effect, said to Abram, “May I be split open and left to die if I do not keep the promises I have made to you today”—has great appeal to children. (Remember, this is the age of “blood-brother” rituals and tree-house rites.) The message to children is that God is serious about this and other promises. God’s promises can be trusted.

Devotion for the Day Psalm 105:42-43 “F

Devotion for the Day

Psalm 105:42-43

“For God remembered [God’s] holy promise, and Abraham, [God’s] servant. So [God] brought [God’s] people out with joy, [God’s] chosen ones with singing.”

Kenneth L. Samuel

There are not many things in this life that can match the power of a promise. “I’ll try,” or “I might,” or “Maybe I will” are the sources of endless hesitation and doubt. But when someone says “I promise,” there usually follows an expectation that will not be easily swayed. People who fail to keep promises are not easily forgotten or forgiven.

We all know that promises are only as good as the persons who make them, but there is another side to promise-keeping. Those to whom promises are made must keep faith in the promise as well.

Psalm 105 is a dramatic recitation of Israel’s history. A history that spanned the generations from Jacob to Joshua. A history that tells of how God brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage through the desert sands of Sinai and delivered them into Canaan land. A history that bespoke God’s provision in the midst of scarcity, God’s direction in the midst of uncertainty and God’s presence in the midst of giants.

Then, at the end, the Psalmist declares that the entire epochal history of Israel emanated from a promise that God made to Abraham. To be sure, it was a promise that God took responsibility for keeping, but it was also a promise that the Israelites had the responsibility of not forgetting. The history of Israel is not just about the promise God made. The history of Israel is just as much about the promise that Israel never abandoned; the promise that guided them when they could not see; the promise that comforted them when were weak; the promise that gave them the light of hope in the valleys of their deep despair.

The power of a promise is not only in the person who makes it. The power of a promise is also in the person(s) who believe it and who remain committed to it despite the obstacles to its fulfillment.

America’s promise is as strong as those of us who still hold it as a sacred trust. A nuptial promise is as strong as the spouse who will not let any problem overtake it. A parent’s promise is as strong as the expectations of a child who will not let the parent forget. And the promises of God are as strong as our determination to hold on to them, come what may from day to day.


Dear God, give us strength today to keep faith in every promise that you have given us. We promise to never forsake your promises. Amen.

Today’s Prayer O Lord, godliness with c

Today’s Prayer

O Lord, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and water we shall be content. For those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Protect me Jesus. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Thoughts on Today’s Text In our Genesis

Thoughts on Today’s Text

In our Genesis text, we find Abram responding to God’s call to make a covenant with God. The Hebrew phrase for “making a covenant” is “berith kathav” — literally, “I cut a covenant.” Cutting a covenant generally involved the literal “cutting” of one or more animals and passing between the cut pieces as a sign that should the promises made be violated, the same fate should befall the one who defaults. That’s exactly what this chapter describes.

As we saw in last week’s reading from Deuteronomy, Hebrew worship was far from merely notional. It was visceral, indeed, literally so in the case of covenants. Abram gathered up real animals, some of them rather large, sliced them in two, and placed the halves on large rocks he had placed on either side. There is sweat and blood abounding here. Abram kept chasing the scavenger birds away all day long. Exhausted by the labor, he fell asleep and encountered the voice of God in his dreams. On awakening that night, with the birds now long dormant, he made a torch and coals for a firepot, and processed with them between the pieces. Allthese actions, ritually and really, sealed the covenant between God and Abram. Ritually, as noted above, cutting and sealing this covenant meant “so be it to me if I not be found faithful” on both sides, God’s and Abram’s (covenants were risky business for all who entered them). Ritually and really, it meant a commitment to face even suffering, pain, and death and not turn back from what was promised.

How hard are we working to keep the covenant we have with our Lord?

Today’s Scripture Genesis 15:1-12, 17-1

Today’s Scripture

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

15:2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

15:3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”

15:4 But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

15:5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

15:6 And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

15:7 Then he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.”

15:8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

15:9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

15:10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.

15:11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

15:12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.

15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.

15:18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates….”

Thoughts on Today’s Text Luke himself i

Thoughts on Today’s Text

Luke himself invites us to make such a comparison with the Genesis fall by the way he has set the story. First, he has put the genealogy of Jesus immediately before it. Since Luke’s genealogy traces Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Adam, the reference to Adam immediately precedes the temptation account. Moreover, Adam is identified in the genealogy as the son of God (3:38), rather obviously inviting comparison to Jesus. The temptation story, then, fleshes out the comparison — and the contrast!

Second, the temptation story is followed by Jesus’ announcement of the nature of his ministry in the Nazareth synagogue. The temptation story, as we will see, has as a primary point to show what Jesus is not going to do in his ministry. The Nazareth synagogue sermon then gives us the positive: Jesus will bring “good news to the poor… release to the captives… recovery of sight to the blind… the oppressed go free… the year of the Lord’s favor” (4:18-19). Mary was told by the angel that Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom (1:33); thus what Jesus describes in the synagogue is the nature of his kingdom, the kingdom of God.

His kingdom, of course, is not about the political rule of Israel but rather the reclamation by God of the entire fallen world. So whereas the succumbing to temptation by Adam and Eve resulted in the loss of life in God’s presence, Jesus’ resistance of temptation was the beginning of the restoration of life in God’s presence. Romans 5:12-21 famously makes the Adam-Christ comparison explicit, while here in Luke it is mainly implicit.

Prayer for the Day Hope beyond all human

Prayer for the Day

Hope beyond all human hope, you promised descendants as numerous as the stars to old Abraham and barren Sarah. You promise light and salvation in the midst of darkness and despair, and promise redemption to a world that will not listen. Gather us to yourself in tenderness, open our ears to listen to your word, and teach us to live faithfully as people confident of the fulfillment of your promises. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Devotion for the Day Matthew 9:35 “Jesu

Devotion for the Day

Matthew 9:35

“Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.”

Matt Laney

Last October I went to a gathering of ministers in the beautiful and bounteous land of Boulder, Colorado.


• Where the streets are paved with granola;
• Where there are more yoga studios and spas than churches;
• Where people are in better health than anywhere else in the country;
• Where the average house costs $477,000.

Needless to say, Boulder is a top-notch place and I wouldn’t mind living there myself. But it got me thinking, Jesus might find a tough work-out (of a different sort) in Boulder. It might be hard to find people to heal in Boulder because, by all appearances, most folk are happy, healthy, wealthy, self-satisfied, self-actualized people.

So I asked Rev McMane, Minister of First Congregational Church in Boulder, how she makes the case for Sunday morning worship over the siren call of the mountains and the healthy, outdoorsy, good-life gospel of Boulder.

She said, “It’s hard, but people here aren’t much different from people everywhere who need the gospel. Just like the church everywhere, we offer something people can’t provide for themselves: the grace of God.”

And no doubt Jesus finds plenty of ways to stay busy in even the most affluent community. Illness, heartbreak, failure, despair and death do not check the status of your financial portfolio before staging an invasion.

Discovering and experiencing God’s grace in a Christ-centered community is what we all most desperately need and often it’s the last thing we make time for. Yet faith in this good and gracious God is what gives us the strength to move mountains (not just climb them) and the endurance to weather life’s storms.


Holy One of Blessing and Eternal Goodness, remind us that the one thing we need most is the very thing we cannot provide for ourselves: grace.

Approaching Easter The spiritual discipl

Approaching Easter

The spiritual disciplines we take on to celebrate Easer are limited to this season, but perhaps re-invigorated and given their proper purpose. We fast to break ourselves free from control by some bodily desires and increase our capacity and time for prayer. We examine our lives both to give thanks for ways the Spirit has freed us from the power of sin, and to acknowledge where we need more help from the Spirit and others around us for the next chains to be broken. We pray regularly, individually and with our community of faith, to fulfill part of our vocation as intercessors in the world, priests to the Most High. We read and listen for the Word of God in Scripture to remind ourselves what it means to be faithful disciples of Jesus and members of his body engaged in his mission in the world. We deny ourselves, not just our cravings, but ourselves as our own masters, as a means to be submitted more fully to the Lordship of Jesus and the leadership of the Spirit.

These disciplines aren’t undertaken by Christians to make us better people or simply to improve our lives. They, and others, are concrete means of grace by which the Spirit can make us more faithful disciples of Jesus, growing in holiness of heart and life, toward perfection in love in this life. Praise to the Resurrected Lord!

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