Living in the Spirit
June 19, 2017

Scripture Reading: Genesis 21:8-21

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.’ The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named after you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. –Genesis 21:8-14

Does this story leave a bad taste in your mouth like it does mine? I wonder how the sudden loss of Isaac’s older brother, one he apparently enjoyed, impacted Isaac? For all the hubbub about Ismael and Isaac that surrounded Isaac’s birth, Isaac’s only accomplishment recorded for posterity was fathering Esau and Jacob, and Jacob tricked him.

God seems to work within human falterings and failures. At least I hope God does because I have made a few missteps along the way. We learn from our mistakes or we should. Paul says in Romans 8:28, We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

There it is again. We are called to be intentional about our purpose. What is God’s purpose for us? How do we know we are on the right track? There is an old ponderous hymn written in 19th-century language dealing with God’s purpose that says we must grow love in all people and work for the reign of the Prince of peace. I think those both are fitting for today.

God is working his purpose out,
as year succeeds to year,
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

What can we do to work God’s work,
to prosper and increase
the love of God in all mankind,
the reign of the Prince of peace?
What can we do to hasten the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea?*

Prayer: Lord guide us in your prospering and increasing your purpose and when we go astray show us the way back to your path. Amen.

*First and third verses of God is Working His Purpose Out, Words by Arthur Campbell Ainger see at http://hymnary.org/text/god_is_working_his_purpose_out

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.