Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16:
- This text ties directly with the Romans passage for today - it is the text Paul is speaking about in his argument.
- God comes to Abram when he is 99. We should be reminded that we are never beyond the point in life where God can and wants to use us and guide us. There is no retirement from discipleship!
- Often in the Bible, God changes someone's name as a sign of God's promise to them. Do you have nicknames that are meaningful to you because of what they symbolize? If you chose a name for yourself based on God's work with/in you, what would it be?
- "[God] did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted . . . [God] heard when I cried to him" People tend to shy away from the pain and hardship of others. It is hard to watch others in pain, suffering, because we feel so helpless. But God never turns away from us in the midst of our trouble.
- "The poor shall eat and be satisfied." What a day to look forward to. But think also metaphorically - how often do we fill ourselves and our lives with things that don't really satisfy us? Whenever we do, we are outside of God's plans and hopes for us.
- This was a text I studied carefully when I was writing a paper my freshman year of college on sola fide. Ah, how enlightened I was! But the texts I used still bring me straight back to the paper I was working on: are we saved by faith or works? We answer faith with our lips, but sometimes works with our actions and attitudes. We're always trying to earn God's love, and always convinced we (and others) can never live up to it.
- According to Paul, Abraham's faith is in God's promises. "No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God." Sometimes I think we get confused and try to have faith simply in our own abilities. That's an impossible task. Instead, our faith should focus on God's promises and the fulfillment of those promises in our midst.
- Jesus tells them to take up their cross before he is crucified. His words, then, mean more than literal crucifixion for his followers. What do you think the disciples thought he meant? What would it mean for you to take up a cross and follow Jesus?
- To save your life, you must lose it, if you lose your life for Christ, you save it. Certainly there is a degree of literal-ness here. But also, I think of things we say we "lose ourselves" in, like our work, our art, our passions, our music, our spouse, etc. Christ wants us to lose ourselves . . . in him!