DBRP- WEEK 2, Day 2, Tuesday, 9 Jan 2018
Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 9 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 17:1 — “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” God’s standard for His people has not changed. God’s expectation for His chosen people is clear and consistent throughout the whole Bible: “Walk before me, and be blameless…. Keep the way of the Lord.” Previously in Matthew we heard Jesus say, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Today, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven…. depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21, 23) Though we are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8, 9), we are expected to obey in response to grace. The Great Commission says, “Go therefore and make disciples [not merely ‘believers’ like the demons described in James] of all nations…. teaching them to observe [obey] all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Or as James says, “faith without deeds is useless (James 2:20).” Genuine faith inevitably produces a changed life from a changed heart. We are saved not by our works but by faith; but genuine faith works. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)!” Jesus said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8).” The “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22, 23).” The Bible is clear that, of our own merit, no one is righteous (Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:10), rather we are made righteous through Christ (II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4). However, in our state of grace, we are compelled to “seek righteousness”. (Zephaniah 2:3; Matthew 6:33) With all our might and with all our heart, we “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11).” The genuinely saved person will change for the better (2 Corinthians 5:17). That person is saved “for good works” (Ephesians 2:10), and there is no way (s)he can fail to bring forth at least some of the fruit that characterizes the redeemed (Matthew 7:17). His desires are transformed; (s)he begins to hate sin and love righteousness. He will not be sinless, but the pattern of his life will be decreasing sin and increasing righteousness. Disciples are disciplined and produce the last-mentioned fruit of the Spirit – self-control.
2. Genesis 18:1-2 – “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.” This is another Old Testament Theophany – Jesus appearing with two angels.
3. Genesis 18:19 — “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord.” Obedience is to be taught to the next generation. Even those without children are commanded to “make disciples”, to train up others to follow Jesus. You are not merely called to be a good student; you are called to be an instructor.
4. Genesis 18:22-32 – God’s people have a genuine heart for sinners and seek to intervene for them.
5. Proverbs 9:4-6 — “’Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.’” The invitation is out there for anyone willing to repent and to humble themselves before the Lord.
6. Proverbs 9:7-8 – “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” Jesus told His disciples to invest their time and energy on those who would accept their message and to ‘shake the dust off their feet and walk away’ from those who were clearly not willing to listen — “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” (Matthew 10:14) We are called to proclaim the Gospel to all but most importantly to make disciples of those who would follow Jesus. Pay close attention to Jesus’ Great Commission to us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:19, 20) Again, God did not call us to just make believers, He called us, you and I, to make disciples, teaching them “to obey all”, to be priests on this earth. (1 Peter 2:5-9) That means the you must first be a good example of a priest, knowing how to rightly divine and to teach God’s word, and you must lead others in walking in the word. It is much, much more than simply sitting in church and in small group Bible studies, it is hitting the streets with fellow believers as the Spirit leads, like Jesus did with His twelve. It means getting dirty and stepping out in faith into the unknown. It means learning how to discern who is already being convicted by the Holy Spirit and then ministering to them. Are you ready to accept the Great Commission? Do you have mentees who are equally committed to following Jesus? As you lead others, remember to lead them as a mere follower of Jesus – it is always about Jesus and not about you. Never, ever point to yourself, always to Jesus.
7. Proverbs 9:7-9 – One of the big differences between a fool and a wise person is the ability to receive instruction and correction from others.
8. Proverbs 9:10 – “The knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” We are only as wise and spiritual as how well we know Jesus. Jesus explains this in John 17. It is not moralism that saves us. It is Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just want us to live ‘good’ lives and do works of charity so that life might be more comfortable on earth for the lost. Jesus wants us to know Him and lead others to knowing Him.
9. Proverbs 9:12 – “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” The choice is ours. Will we obey God’s word in total, or will we get wrapped up in the worries of the world? Some “scoff” in obvious ways by denying Jesus, but others “scoff” in less obvious ways by ignoring God’s Great Commandment and Great Commission, the call to live solely as an ambassador for Jesus. Even the demons believe and Jesus, and many church goers scoff – the lukewarm who have lost their light and saltiness.
10. Proverbs 9:15-16 – “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way.” Folly’s message competes with Wisdom’s (Jesus’) message, inviting all to live for self-interest and pleasure. In the competition of ideas, you are called to proclaim Jesus, not moralism or a message the merely promises better living on earth.
11. Matthew 7:1, 2 — “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Perhaps no Bible verses have been more misapplied than these. Many blatant unrepentant sinners have quoted these verses in response to calls for repentance. Many Christians have used these verses to justify their failure to “speak the truth in love” to those who needed to be confronted in their sin. These verses are not telling us to remain silent before sin or to make light of sin. If they were, they would be countering countless other clear verses in the Bible. If Jesus were telling His disciples not to challenge the sinner, John the Baptist would have lost his head for all the wrong reasons, and Jesus Himself would have been out of line while driving out the money changers in the Temple and calling the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs”. Instead, Jesus is telling us here not to play the role of the “judge” [the righteous administer of justice who is God] rather than the juror [merely a peer who is judging whether an action is right or wrong]. We are not called to condemn others from a self-righteous position, viewing ourselves as more righteous than the other; we are called to humbly speak the truth to others in love, not hoping for their punishment, but hoping for their reconciliation with God. We must be motivated by love, and our goal must always be the sinner’s best interest. When we see the sin in others, we must seek to help them out of sin while recognizing our own unworthiness before the Lord, never trying to compare ourselves to them [only God sees the whole picture]. And before we engage the sinner, we must search our own hearts for any selfish motive — are we concerned for them only, or are we offended and hoping to justify ourselves or seek ‘justice’ for ourselves? We are merely poor beggars helping others find bread. Only God knows the hearts and minds of others, we cannot. We can only observe outward behavior and compare it to God’s commands, all the while remembering our need for accountability from others too. Also, we cannot place another person in the proper context of God’s total perspective. If we lived the life of the other person, we might have done worse than they them. The less talented person is quick to accuse the more talented one of being egotistical. The person who grew up on a stable home with good parents is quick to condemn the person from a broken home of being undisciplined. The rich person is quick to withhold charity to the poor person, arguing that they will just squander to gift. God does not call us to judge the person but rather to judge the actions with a heart for reconciliation, always pointing to Jesus. And, here is where continual forgiveness comes in to play. God does not want us to ever give up on the sinner. If he or she is still trapped in sin, our job is not done. God placed you in that relationship for a reason — His reason — reconciliation. This is tough work, but you have been given the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to do that work for His glory. Quit on that sinner when you want God to quit on you — you know you are going to sin again against God today and every day. You need continual grace and they do too.
12. Matthew 7:7-11 – If you desire a relationship with Jesus Christ and to know His will, He will reveal Himself to you and show you His will for you.
13. Matthew 7:12-14 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The ‘Golden Rule’ is ‘Golden’ because it is both valuable and very rarely found among people. Few are willing to enter the narrow gate. Few are willing to truly follow Jesus and obey this command. Are you? If not, consider Matthew 7:21 very carefully.
14. Matthew 7:15-19 — “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Don’t listen to teachers who don’t walk as Jesus walked. Bible knowledge is not the same as wisdom which is revealed in holiness and love. A true teacher will not boast in themselves for their knowledge but will walk humbly and point solely to Christ.
15. Matthew 7:22-23 – “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” You can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons and receive no credit from God.
16. Matthew 7:24 — “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Once again, hearing Jesus is not sufficient. You must obey His commands. The greatest command is unconditional love and forgiveness. It is a far greater sin to know God’s word and choose to disobey it than to not know it at all. Don’t take God’s word lightly – what God says He means. To obey God, you must love Him enough to deny self, take up your cross in messy relationships, and follow Jesus as He seeks the lost, the wounded, the suffering, and those struggling with sin.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 Jan 18: Today, pray that God will help you interact with offensive people as His ambassador rather than as your own defender. Pray that He will help you see them as He sees them, that your wholehearted goal for that unloving person will be that they draw closer to Jesus. Take yourself out of the equation — it is not about you. You are on mission for Jesus in that relationship. Pray for the strength to endure whatever persecution you will encounter as you continue to minister to the needs of that person, whether it be a person you know very well and deal with regularly or that person who just cut you off on the highway or took your parking spot. And in that moment, continually search your heart, remembering that your first reaction, what you do without thinking, is the best indicator of what is really in your heart. As C.S. Lewis said, the rats in the seller are only visible for a brief moment when you turn on the lights. They are then hidden but still there. Look for the ‘rats’ in your heart and deal with them. (Matthew 7)