DBRP- WEEK 1, Day 5, Friday, 5 Jan 2018
Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 5 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 9:1 — “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Again, God commands His people to grow and take control for His glory.
2. Genesis 9:3 — “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” Notice that before the flood, God gave people “every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.” (Gen 1:29) Notice that after the flood, God gave people animals to eat too. And, you will see that, in Genesis 7:2, God told Noah to take “seven pairs of all clean animals…. and seven pairs of birds” in order to provide both food and sacrifices to the Lord. Things changed after the flood, and much theory surrounds these changes, but what is clear is that God expects people to eat meat in a balanced way and has made provision for people to eat meat.
3. Genesis 9:6 — “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Many use verses such as this to argue against the death penalty without mentioning that the Biblical punishment for murder is public execution. Also, contrary to modern popular opinion, this verse again drives home the point that people are not just higher forms of animals — they are created by God with spiritual potential that animals cannot possess. Organizations that prioritize animals over people are unbiblical.
4. Genesis 9:13 — “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” What does the rainbow really symbolize?
5. Proverbs 5:3-6 – “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.” Sin is selfishly choosing pleasure and self-gratification over love, faithfulness, and obedience, with no consideration of the consequences or the inevitable destruction to follow. The sinful are blind to the reality of sin because their eyes are not on God, and they aren’t viewing things from God’s perspective.
6. Proverbs 5:7, 8 – “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” Laws and social moral codes cannot keep you from sin, only faith can. Faith gives more value to the unseen than the seen. Faith is more motivated by God’s word, which cannot be seen or handled, than the appealing physical things right in front of us. Do you believe God and His Majesty is more real and more wonderful than the ‘shiny apples’ at your fingertips?
7. Proverbs 5:12 – “…How I hated discipline….” You will choose between two pains in life: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.
8. Proverbs 5:22 — “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.” Do not be trapped by sin.
9. Matthew 5:2 — “And he opened his mouth and taught them.” Proverbs describes two roads we can take in life, the path of the righteous, and the path of the wicked. (Proverbs 2:20-22) At the crossroads of these two paths is the word “if” — “if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you… if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding… if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2:1-10) What we do with God’s word, and how we respond to God’s word, His teachings, and His commandments is crucial. In our readings today, Jesus delivers His first recorded teaching to the ‘crowds’ and to His disciples which I believe it would have been shocking to everyone in the audience. How we respond to
His teaching today is crucial. First, He describes the heart of a true disciple: humble, mournful, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure, reconciliatory, and resolute. (Matthew 5:2-11) Then He describes the fruit of the heart of the true disciple, “good works” that can only point to God and that glorify God before men, standing out as a beacon before men, radically different than the artificial, self-righteous good works of the world. He describes a hyper obedience that is concerned by every “iota” and “dot”, an obedience that does not take a ‘relaxed’ approach to God’s commandments nor teaches others to do so. (Matthew 5:17-19) However, the obedience Jesus describes is to far exceed the ‘righteousness’ of the Pharisees because of the ‘beatitude’ heart behind the obedience. Jesus then makes His point with the commandments against murder, adultery, divorce, deceitfulness, and vengeance, pointing to the sinful heart that has already disobeyed the First Commandment (Thou shalt have no other gods before me.) and the Great Commandment (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself). All other commandments rest on the First and the Greatest. Long before anyone has broken the others, they have already broken these. So, Jesus drives the point home further by talking about loving our enemies. By this point, everyone with an ounce of humility in the crowd would have felt very uncomfortable and hopefully repentant. Many in the modern ‘grace’ movement would suggest that Jesus’ ‘impossible’ standard points not only to our absolute dependence on Grace (which is true) but also to a more ‘relaxed’ approach to God’s Commandments (which is exactly opposite of what Jesus is teaching). Jesus further exemplifies his teaching on wholehearted obedience in a latter discussion with the Pharisees — “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23) Note, that Jesus is NOT nullifying the details of the law for sake of the “weightier matters” but is rather saying that God demands both. Grace is not an excuse for complacency, and Jesus concludes his sermon with these words: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” For the disciple, this is an all-in, wholehearted, dauntless pursuit of righteousness with the goal being unity with the Father and the Son as Jesus describes in his prayer in John 17. In our righteousness (achieved through Christ and Christ alone), we pursue righteousness that we may ‘abide’ in Him and glorify Him. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15, 16)
10. Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Our goal must be to have our words and deeds give glory to God, not to ourselves. Too many Christians hope to share glory with God (Moses’ big mistake). It isn’t about you; it’s about God. If people are singing your praises at the end of the day, you have received your reward on earth rather than Heaven. If they are praising God at the end of the day, your reward is awaiting you in Heaven.
11. Matthew 5:19, 20 – “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” God’s Law is a product of God’s righteousness, justice, grace, love, and will. A Christian, like Jesus, seeks to fulfill God’s Law, not relax on them in the name of “grace.” A Christian’s righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, not because we fulfill God’s Law out of fear, pride, or duty, but rather out of LOVE. If we tell people that they can relax on God’s commands, we may still be going to Heaven, but we will be the least in the Kingdom.
12. Matthew 5:22 – “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” The murderer and the un-righteously angry have this in common: they have both violated the 1st Commandment and the Great Commandment which is also deserving of death.
13. Matthew 5:23, 24 – “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” We cannot leave conflict unresolved as Christians. Before any other gift to Him, God wants us to honor Him with unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation. Just as God took the initiative with us, we must be the leaders in forgiveness, regardless of how we have been offended. With no delay, forgive.
14. Matthew 5:24 – “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This is how Jesus feels about divorce, and this is His command concerning divorce. It seems pretty clear, regardless of the fact that most denominations have “relaxed” on this command, perhaps because so many Christians have divorced. We have all sinned in many ways, but our response should be to repent, accept forgiveness, pursue future righteousness, and speak out against sin, even those we have committed. When we speak out against sins we have committed, many will consider that to be hypocritical, but the word hypocrite means, “actor,” pretending to be something we are not. We are forgiven sinners who seek God’s will in all of our future actions. We don’t stand against sin in a judgmental way, from some misguided perception of superiority, we warn others out of love and speak the truth in love.
15. Matthew 5:37 – “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” If you don’t do what you say you are going to do (“I promise” is not required), you are lying and are being led by evil rather than following Jesus.
16. Matthew 5:38-42 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” God expects us to do what is unreasonable in all relationships, even if we are clearly being taken advantage of by others. So, do you give to the beggar who you suspect will use your gift inappropriately? Do you lend to the one who doesn’t deserve it or can’t really be trusted?
17. Matthew 5:44 – “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” One of the true tests of your spiritual maturity is how you treat your enemies and those who wrongfully hurt you. Christian love truly loves enemies and seeks their reconciliation with God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 5 Jan 18: Begin the New Year by personally forgiving everyone who has wronged you and by seeking forgiveness from those you have wronged, whether they know you have wronged them or not (no secret sins). Seek reconciliation in every relationship. Be the leader, and take the initiative, but don’t do it in your name or through your power. Do it in the name of JESUS CHRIST and through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 5:23, 24)