DBRP- WEEK 1, Day 4, Thursday, 4 Jan 2018
Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 4 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 7:1 — “Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.’” The children of Noah faced a significant decision. They lived in a world where everyone blatantly disregarded God. Wickedness was the norm. No one would have condemned Noah’s sons for living evil lives like the rest of society—no one except their father. In a world rampant with ungodly attitudes and every form of wicked behavior, they were fortunate to be Noah’s sons. When their father invited them to spend the next hundred years building an ark in obedience to a word from God, Noah’s sons had to choose whether to believe those around them or to trust their father. They chose to join their father. What a wonderful testimony of Noah’s godly influence in his home! How fortunate for Shem, Ham, and Japheth that their father refused to compromise his integrity, even though everyone else in his society had done so. Your life has an influence on those around you as well. Your spouse and your children are profoundly affected by your choices. Your coworkers, your neighbors, and your friends will all be impacted by your life. As the world tries to persuade people to follow its standard, your life should stand in stark contrast as an example of a righteous person. Your life should convince those around you of the wisdom of following God. Do not underestimate the positive effect that your obedience will have upon those close to you. (Henry T. Blackaby)
2. Genesis 7:5 – “And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.” Noah’s key attribute was unconditional obedience. The Christian life demands unconditional obedience as God directs us down paths we never intended to go. Obedience is not required just in the ‘big’ things but especially in the small things as we strive for holiness. Every small decision you make both reveals your character and shapes your character, for better or for worse. Obedience is a product of faith that also strengthens our faith for the future.
3. Genesis 7:13 — “On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark.” The Christian life is a life of leadership, guiding others in God’s will. Leadership starts with those closest to you. Christians serve God in relationships, not in isolation. We have a responsibility to serve as Christ’s Ambassador in the lives of those around us. A leader knows the way and shows the way. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life….” A true leader is closely following Jesus and directing others towards Him. Fortunately for Noah’s family, Noah was walking with God, and his family were willing to follow Noah against all practical reason.
4. Genesis 7:16 – “And the Lord shut him in.” Noah did all that God commanded, but God completed the work in a way only He could enable. God demands that we work diligently for His purposes, but He works beyond our abilities to glorify Himself. The Christian life trusts in and depends upon the power of God. God’s path will be impossible for us to walk in our own strength, though we are called to press forward with all our might in faith that we do not labor in vein. Our dependence in God, which requires faith, reveals the power of God in our lives, both to ourselves and to those around us. It does not take faith to do what we already know we are capable of doing.
5. Genesis 8:20 — “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” The Christian life begins with worship, is lived in constant worship, and ends in worship. In ALL things, God gets ALL the glory. Noah began his new life on earth with worship and sacrifice (a tremendous act of faith considering his scarcity of resources). Begin this year in worship.
6. Proverbs 4:7 – “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” Wisdom comes only from God, but we must make the choice to receive it. This is not small choice – it is life defining. You will either choose to trust God implicitly or will choose to trust your own understanding. If you want God’s wisdom, you must sit at His feet in Bible study and prayer and listen. You must then get up and walk with Him, following His every step rather than expecting God to follow you. Set your heart to following God – this is the first step.
7. Proverbs 4:14 – “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.” With the choice to follow God comes the decision to follow no one else. Who are the wicked? Those who are not following in the footsteps of Jesus, those who lift themselves up as the leader. If they are not continually pointing to Jesus, and if they are using themselves as the example, let them go their own way. Jesus is not a help-mate – He is the Leader. Be a respecter of no man and a disciple of Jesus.
8. Proverbs 4:18 – “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” No Christian follows Jesus perfectly or is perfected in love, but if they are seeking Him with all their hearts, they are getting closer to Him every day and are growing in love every day. Day by day, their light becomes brighter.
9. Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Above all else, guard your heart. All of life’s issues start with the heart. Fortunately, the Bible doesn’t just tell you to protect your heart, it tells you how to protect your heart. Read the rest of Proverbs to understand some of the actions required to protect your heart. (Proverbs 4:24-27)
10. Matthew 4:1 — “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” The Spirit led Jesus into temptation. What do you make of that? The Christian life is led by the Spirit rather than just human reasoning and understanding. The Spirit will lead in ways that don’t seem to make sense to us and that may be very uncomfortable, even scary. It takes faith to trust the invisible Eternal over the visible, tangible, temporal.
11. Matthew 4:3 — Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, yet He never sinned (Heb. 4:15). Jesus began His public ministry with His baptism. As John the Baptist raised Him from the water, Jesus heard His Father’s affirmation, “Well done!” Immediately afterward, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the wilderness. There, Satan met Him and presented three temptations. First, Satan enticed Jesus to use His divine power to transform stones into bread. It seemed like a logical thing to do. Jesus was hungry, but He had a much greater need to follow His Father’s leading. The Father had led Him to fast; Satan sought to persuade Him to eat. Next, Satan tried to convince Jesus to use Satan’s means to accomplish the Father’s ends. “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” (Matt. 4:6). Jesus understood that this would be presumption, not faith. It would be attempting God’s work in the world’s way. The world looks for spectacular displays; God uses a holy life. The final temptation Satan proposed for Jesus to worship Satan (Matt. 4:8-9). In return, Satan offered to give Him worldly success without suffering the cross. Jesus knew that only God was to be worshiped and to do this would not bring instant success, as Satan promised, but seemingly devastating failure, pain and suffering. As you seek to follow God, temptations will inevitably come. Sometimes they will come to you immediately after a spiritual victory. Jesus relied on God’s Word to see Him through the temptations that could have destroyed Him and thwarted God’s plan. He has modeled the way for you to meet every temptation. (Henry T. Blackaby)
12. Matthew 4:3-11 – Satan tempted Jesus by perverting God’s word. However, Jesus knew God’s word well enough, within its proper context, to refute Satan’s man-centered false teaching.
13. Matthew 4:4 — “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” To a Christian, God’s word is more essential to life than food. God’s word is our daily nourishment that enters inside of us and builds up or souls. We are what we eat. In an age where obesity is at epidemic proportions, Christians would do well to prefer God’s word over bread. Here is a good habit: don’t eat until you have done your daily Bible study and prayer.
14. Matthew 4:7 — “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” The Christian understands that God is God and we are merely humble servants, created by Him for His glory. We are here to serve Him, not vice versa. God has nothing to prove to us and certainly owes us nothing. Proper fear of the Lord does not presume anything. We receive both good and bad circumstances with thanksgiving to God that we may glorify Him as He as sought fit for us. We also don’t decide God’s plan or how we will serve Him. It’s God’s plan, and He must assign the tasks.
15. Matthew 4:10 — “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Christians serve God and God alone, period. Our measure of success is how well we are serving, honoring, loving, and glorifying God. Most acts of service involve serving others, but not just serving others, serving others in the NAME OF CHRIST, not in our name or the name of any other institution made by men. When we serve and give, we DO NOT represent ourselves in any way.
16. Matthew 4:11 — “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” The Christian is ministered to by angels.
17. Matthew 4:19 — And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” From our readings today, we can learn much about the life of a true disciple: The Christian objective is people, not riches, not fame, not comfort, not happiness, not programs, just people. We serve as instruments of God to advance the Kingdom one heart at a time. Jesus focused most of his time, energy, and effort on just twelve people (prioritizing three). He had no riches, started no organizations, wrote no books, built no monuments, and though he spoke to thousands, never tried to lead massive movements. He fulfilled God’s will, one day at a time, with what God place in front of him.
18. Matthew 4:20 — “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” God’s plan takes you off of your plan and requires personal risk. The committed, usable Christian responds to God’s call immediately, no hesitation. This takes significant faith because God will take you away from your plans and your self-reliant security. It will require a choice between the world’s version of success and God’s version of success. God’s version is not appealing to the world and will receive little if any honor from the world.
19. Matthew 4:23 — “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Again, the Christian life involves healing, teaching, and proclaiming the Gospel. Ministry is NEVER separated from the message. It isn’t just about ‘good deeds’ it is about the Great Commission. After we have ‘denied self’, we ‘take up the cross’, which involves accepting our identity as an Ambassador for Christ, and then we follow Christ.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 Jan 18: Endeavor to serve others as a representative of Jesus rather than just another nice person. Connect the Savior to your service. Make sure everyone understands that it is not you who works but Jesus who is working through you. When you impact the lives of others, leave them thinking about Jesus, not about you. (Matt 4)