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Thoughts: When Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him and said, “I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”
Several times in the past, God has promised Abram that he will be the father of nations. Yet Abram has only one son, Ishmael (now 13 years old), whose mother is Hagar. Hagar was the maid of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
This time, God promises the newly renamed Abraham and Sarai, likewise renamed Sarah, that a son will be born to them.
Discussion: Why did God keep promising Abraham that he would be the father of nations and make him wait so long for the promise to be fulfilled?
Activity: Remember a promise you have made and not yet fulfilled. Do your best to keep this promise.
Thoughts: God is straightforward, specific, and – yes – repetitive. He promises he will establish a covenant with Noah, his sons, and their descendants that never again will he destroy the earth by flood. In fact, the covenant extends to include all the beasts of the earth.
And, as token of this covenant, God will set his bow in the clouds. When we see a rainbow, it is a beautiful reminder of God’s promise.
English poet, William Wordsworth was dubbed “Wordswords” because his writings were often lengthy. This poem is short and exquisite.
“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky.
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old…”
Discussion: What memories are awakened when you see a rainbow?
Activity: Look for a small beauty in nature every day.
Thoughts: Elijah: The Lord has directed me to leave Gilgal and go to Bethel. You stay here.
Elisha: Oh no, I won’t leave you.
(They go to Bethel.)
Prophets’ sons: Elisha, don’t you know that God is going to take Elisha away from you today?
Elisha: Yes, I know. Be quiet.
Elijah: The Lord has directed me to go to Jericho. But you stay here.
Elisha: I will not leave you.
(They go to Jericho.)
Prophets: Don’t you know, Elisha, that God is going to take Elijah away from you today?
Elisha: Yes, I know. Be quiet.
Elijah: Now Elisha, you stay here. The Lord is sending me to Jordan.
Elisha: I’m coming with you.
(They go to the Jordan River, where Elijah hits the water with his rolled-up robe, and the river parts. Elijah and Elisha cross over on dry land.)
Elijah: What can I do for you before I am taken from you?
Elisha: Give me a double portion of your spirit.
Elijah: If you see me when I am taken from you, you will receive the double portion.
Not brilliant dialogue? True. Repetitive? Yes. Building toward a climactic end? Ponderously.
But one great servant of God was taken up to heaven, and His chosen successor began his work.
Discussion: Why was it important for Elisha to see Elijah taken up into heaven?
Activity: Watch for small miracles- a child’s shy smile, a friend’s understanding heart, a familiar Bible verse that you hear with new understanding.
Thoughts: Mothers-in-law are often the objects of unkind jokes. The plant called mother-in-law’s tongue has long leaves with vicious points, and “they” say you can’t kill it.
The disciple Peter had a mother-in-law, and Peter and his wife lived with her in Capernaum. Peter had invited Jesus and the disciples to come for dinner.
With his customary economy of words, Mark does not say that Peter’s wife couldn’t cook, but he implies it. Now a pretty hostess can be very delightful, but there were thirteen hungry men looking forward to a home-cooked meal, and Peter’s mother-in-law “lay sick of a fever.”
Miraculously, Jesus cured her, “and she ministered unto them.: You can just picture the dear old soul scurrying out to the kitchen, tying on her apron and bringing the potatoes to a boil.
Discussion: In what ways can we minister unto others?
Activity: Choose a ministry – however small, however humble. Send a thinking-of-you card. Sweep snow off the church sidewalk. Invite someone who lives alone to Sunday dinner.
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