The details of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar's relationship confound me. Yet because of sin, all of us struggle with the same issues. Sarai and Abram were impatient waiting for the son God promised (Genesis 15:4) and decided to take things into their own hands. The consequences of this decision have been long lasting, since Ishmael's descendants become the Arab nations. Hagar apparently had no say about this decision but when she became pregnant, she looked with contempt on Sarai. Many translations use the word despised. The underlying problem seems to be pride because of her pregnancy.
Holy Spirit quickly show me the areas of my life where I do not wait on the Lord and grant me an understanding of the inevitable consequences. Please open my eyes to see my own sinful pride.
What a great way to know and understand God, "a God of seeing...him who looks after me". To know that God sees me in everything--that He sees me in my need as much as He sees me in my pride.
It seems these Pharisees and scribes had forgotten what Hagar learned about the all-seeing God. They acted as if God did not know their thoughts and intentions (Genesis 6:5). They thought God only saw their self-erected facade. "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me". The fact God sees not only my outward activity, but also my thoughts and motives, is a double edged sword because my outward and inward self do not always align.
Father, I must confess to being more like these Pharisees than I would like. I do present an outward appearance of righteousness while allowing worldly inward activity. Please forgive me. I do not want to be a double minded man. May I love You and Your ways above my own.
In Nehemiah's day, just as in ours, there were families struggling to stay intact and feed themselves. When Nehemiah heard of their complaints, he confronted those who exacerbated the problem by charging their kinsmen interest. This was against God's instruction in Exodus 22:25. This passage reminds me of Acts 2:44-45 where we are told of the care and concern the first church in Jerusalem had for each other. We know there will always be greed and selfishness in the world, but the church is to be uniquely different. Jesus addressed this in John 13:34-35 when he told His followers, they were to love one another just as He loved them. Additionally, He said treating believers this way proves to the world who His disciples truly are.
Lord Jesus, You speak so clearly about Your care for those the Father gave You. Instill in me the same care. Forgive my greed and selfishness toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.