Knysna Methodist Church

13 March 2022

Knysna Methodist Church – lectionary notes – 13.3.2022

Genesis 15:1-12
Abram had just defeated an army led by four kings, so there was a good reason why he might be afraid. When God appeared to him in a vision He immediately told him not to be afraid. God was his protection. He was also Abram’s reward for Abram had refused a large reward offered to him by the king of Sodom.

Abram’s response is heart-wrenching. He had no heir to inherit his wealth, so why would he need more wealth? Eliezer of Damascus was a servant, not a son. Abram was honest in his prayer to God. The man longed for a son of his own. God had promised to make him a great nation, yet he was still waiting. God reassured him that he would have a son and told him to look at the stars to see Him how many descendant he would have.

Abram trusted God and believed what He told him – and as a result he was called righteous. This was not so much because he believed in God as that he believed God. Once again God promised the Land to Abram. This time Abram questioned Him, asking how he would know the promise would be fulfilled.

God gave Abram a list of animals to gather. He then told him to cut them in two and lay them out in a precise order. Abram knew that this was a contract – a covenant – which was formalised by the parties walking amongst the animal parts. This covenant would be sealed in blood and so was unbreakable. Abram believed God would come and perform His part in the covenant and so he waited and watched, whilst he fought off the vultures. God made Abram fall into a deep sleep. What followed seemed to be part of a dream.

Abram watched as God passed between the animal parts. The smoking oven and the fire are reminders of the many times God had appeared as a cloud, smoke or flame to His people. It is interesting to note that Abram never signed the covenant himself. God did this on his behalf. This covenant would not fail because God does not fail. God assured Abram this was a real promise as He named the lands that Abram’s descendants would inherit.

Psalm 27
David is the author of this psalm. It seems as if David is going through a tough time yet he praises God who had saved him and had brought light into David’s life. This is the only time in the OT that God is linked to light. In spite of being a strong soldier, David still looked to God for his strength and his life. As a result, David knew he did not have to be afraid of anything or anyone. David’s trust in God’s protection had been tested many times on the battle field. He had no reason to be afraid.

David only longed for one thing. He longed to stay in the tabernacle, surrounded by God’s beauty and presence, so he could learn more about God and His ways. David knew he would be safe there and would be filled with such hope that he would be able to celebrate all that God had done. He would praise Him with gratitude and joy.

In spite of this, David does know moments of anxiety when he cries out to God for help. There is a sense that, whilst God invited David to seek Him, David could not see Him. David was not angry but prayed with increasing desperation, begging God not to leave him.

David said he wanted to live God’s way. He did not ask for an easy path but one that was secure in the face of his enemies, who were waiting to ambush him. He would have given up, he said, but he knew God was faithful. So he encouraged others in all ages to trust God too. If people will wait on God, He will provide the strength they need to go on.

Philippians 3:17-4:1
Paul knew he wasn’t perfect, but he also knew he was a good role model to follow. He told the Philippians to look for others they could use as role models too. He knew there were many who did not follow this way of life and these people he called the enemies of the message of the cross. It seems these people had verbally accepted Jesus, but they then celebrated their liberation from the law by self-indulgence. Their teaching brought about false accusations that Paul preached cheap grace which was the cause of deep grief for him. He wept for them because of their guilt as they rejected the cross. He knew there would be bad consequences of their behaviour, and he understood the future that awaited them. (Paul only wept for others. There is no record of his ever weeping for himself through all his trials.)

The Philippians were Roman citizens even though they were far from Rome. It was something they valued highly. In the same way those who follow Christ are citizens of heaven, even whilst they are still on earth, and as such they should stand apart from those who live in the world and do not believe in Christ.
Paul is certain the bodies of those who follow Christ will be transformed into the same sort of body Jesus had when He was raised from the dead. God is omnipotent and can do all things. When people are unable to do something impossible, God can do it.

As a result, the Philippians (and all followers of Christ) can stand firm in the Lord. They will then receive the crown of achievement (stephanos) which is awarded to successful athletes.

Luke 13:31-35
Not every Pharisee opposed Jesus. Here we find a group of them coming to warn Him that Herod was seeking a way to kill Him. A fox was seen as a symbol for a cunning but weak ruler. Foxes are considered to be sly, destructive animals. Jesus wanted Herod to know that he could not stop Him from doing the work He had been sent to accomplish. In fact His work would soon be completed. His words about a prophet not dying outside Jerusalem may have been a proverb. Jesus was not concerned about any threat from Herod.

However, He was concerned about the city of Jerusalem. His repetition of the name showed the deep feelings He had for the city. He entreated the city to turn back to God. He had longed to nurture them on His many visits but they were not interested.

Jesus seemed to foretell the city both about its destruction in AD 70 and about His Second Coming when the Jewish people would, at last, welcome Him as Lord. Although this seemed to be impossible at the time, God would make it happen as He had promised He would.

Points to Ponder

• Do you believe in God or do you believe God? Why do you respond in this way?
• When you read that God said to Abram he was not to be afraid, how does that influence your own feelings of
fear about anything in your life at this time? Can you hear God saying the same words to you? What
difference does your response make to the way you view your future?
• Where do you go, what do you do to feel the presence of God? How do you know He is near you? How does His
presence make you feel?
• Who has been your role model in your Christian faith? Why have you chosen them to model your own faith on?
Have you ever told them? What would you say to them today if they were here?
• How does the thought of being a citizen of heaven make you feel?
• Think for a moment about the town where you live. What is happening that you know would break God’s heart?
Spend some time praying for your town to close this session.

Genesis 15; Psalm 27; Philippians 3; Luke 13

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