Athlete, Be Reminded

*This devotional series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 18:1-15

‘Three men” visit Abraham and Sarah, but they are no ordinary men.  Two of them are clearly identified as angels in Genesis 19:1.  The precise identity of the third is a much-debated subject.  We’re told that the “LORD appeared to Abraham” through these men, and the LORD seems to be the primary speaker among the three men (18:10, 13, 17, 20ff.).  Whenever we read “LORD” in all capital letters, this is a translation of the name “Yahweh,” the name by which God personally revealed himself to Moses and his people.  This third man is in some way an appearance of the LORD himself.

We do not know exactly whom Abraham believed these men to be, but he knew that they were special.  He is quick to show them hospitality, running all over the place in order to provide them a generous meal.  In Hebrews 13:2, this act of faith, expressed through hospitality, is provided as an example for all believers.

Why does the LORD visit Abraham and Sarah?  For the same reason we have come to expect -- to remind and reassure them of his covenant promises!  Sarah’s skeptical response shows that they definitely needed it.  Like us, she doesn’t want to be seen as unfaithful, so she lies to cover up her lack of faith and is (somewhat humorously) exposed like a child (18:15).   She knows that it is physically impossible for her to bear a child who would inherit God’s covenant promises, but God is calling her to believe that He can bring life out of death (see Romans 4:18-25).  “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”  (Compare to Luke 1:34-38.)

Questions for Reflection & Prayer

 1. Unlike Abraham, we have the advantage of knowing how God ultimately brought about life out of death for his people.  In what parts of your life do you need to remember the words, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”  Is it believing God’s ability to bring a friend or family member from death to life?  Believing that He will bring you from death to life?  Believing God’s ability to heal a broken relationship, a broken church body, a broken city, a broken body?   Something else?

2. Sarah puts up a front of spirituality in this passage, claiming that she did not laugh at God’s promise.  In what ways do God’s promises sound too good to be true?  In what ways do you put up a front of spirituality before others, and maybe even before God?  Take time to be honest with God, to receive perfect forgiveness in Christ for faltering faith, and to dwell on the power and goodness of God.

3. In this passage, we see Abraham’s faith expressed through the kindness and generosity of hospitality.  We never know the depths how God uses our hospitality to make his love and kindness real to others.  How is God calling you to show hospitality through your personality and the use of your home, possessions, and time?

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