Day 8

Day 8 already? It’s been so interesting reading those bits of Genesis that I didn’t know. And this scheme, the You Version’s Bible app “The One Year Bible” (TM) from Tyndale House Publishers, is interesting because of the way they’ve broken the text into 365 readings. What are the links between them? Sometimes it’s obvious. Genesis 15 follows Genesis 14, for example. But sometimes the links are more tenuous. How does the Sermon on the Mount relate to the story of Abram and Sarai? It’s also the case that my Bible studies are set against the backdrop of work, family and what I call “real life”. Those little everyday things that crop up and mean you can’t just do what you want – even if what I want to do is read the Bible!!! It’s also the case that this is my first attempt at blogging, so it’s a learning curve Jim, but not as we know it.

So I’m mixing all these ingredients into about 700 words of – hopefully – interesting and entertaining prose. How is success measured? I still really don’t know. Tonight’s technical question is how do I link a friend’s blog so that people who read this (that’s you!) can then go and read my friend’s blog? I’d like a column down the right hand side with blogs I follow. That’d be great. A work-in-progress, as you can see.

Genesis 18 and 19. Oh my goodness, it’s all kicking off in Sodom and Gomorrah, isn’t it? I only knew this bit by reputation. And that’s not surprising. This bit is X rated. God himself had heard about the evil and wicked things that were happening in the cities and had popped in to see Abraham for a chat about it. He was worried that he’d have to wipe out the cities because they were so evil. Abraham pleaded for them to be saved. God said that if even ten righteous people are found, the cities will be saved.

So God sends two angels. Lot puts them up for the night. And that’s when all hell breaks loose. The men of Sodom want to “attack” (that’s a euphemism) the angels in Lot’s house. The angels tell Lot to take his sons, daughters and anyone else and flee the city before dawn. Because that’s when God will destroy it. But early next day, when Lot tries to get his family to leave, the only people who are willing to go are his wife and two daughters. They set off to a nearby village.

Genesis 19:26 and a verse everyone knows. Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters go up into the mountains. But Lot’s daughters are also evil and get him drunk and have sex with him. So two new nations are born when they each give birth to a son.

It’s with a sigh of relief that we leave all that behind and go back to the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:34 is worth a whole chapter on its own: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Remember the song, Don’t worry, be happy? That’s what we’re talking about here. Jesus is full of reassurance. And we need it after reading Genesis 19! People worry about all sorts of things that, really, aren’t all that important. Leave all that stuff to God. He’ll be your worry beads. You don’t need a good luck charm, you’ve got prayer. God feeds the little birds, they don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from. And you are far more important to him than they are.

What a lovely notion! Can we believe it? Well, yes we can. Prayer works. I’ve seen it happen. But you don’t have to see something to believe it, do you? A scientist wants proof, and quite rightly. But how would you define proof? There are countless occasions when people have prayed for a miracle and got one. But there are countless occasions when the reverse is the case. Does that mean God doesn’t listen? No. Does that mean he doesn’t care? No. So why doesn’t he answer every prayer? Ah… that I don’t know. But it’s a good question and one I’m sure we will keep returning to through the year.

Matthew 7 has so many lovely verses that it’s difficult to single just one. But Jesus says this: (7:14) “The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” I’m sure we can all say Amen to that!

There’s a show on BBC2 tonight called “Stargazing Live”. How co-incidental that Psalm 8 marvels at the whole of creation and especially (3) “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place…” Have you ever been out in the countryside, away from light pollution, and looked up at the night sky? I’ve seen so many amazing sights that it’s difficult for me to accept that it’s all there by accident. And yet, God has made us able to look at such things and even visit space and the planets. The more we explore space, the more we see for ourselves what an incredibly beautiful and mysterious place the universe is.

Proverbs 2 strikes a slight note of caution. The Lord grants wisdom. But evil is everywhere. They have twisted words and delight in wrongdoing.

So be careful out there. Goodnight!

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