Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 12 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 23:2 — God’s ways do not protect His people from normal griefs and losses in life.
2. Genesis 23:6 — “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us.” Abraham had established a reputation among unbelievers as God’s faithful leader, and though they did not share his faith, he had earned their great respect. Are you recognized in your community as faithful child of God, an ambassador for Jesus?
3. Genesis 23:16 — “Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.” Abraham was very careful to leave no doubt that all of his business dealings were more than fair. He likely paid more than “blue book” for this land.
4. Genesis 24:2-6 – The servant’s past obedience gained him great responsibility.
5. Genesis 24:3, 4 – “… you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell….” Most important to Abraham was that his son marry within the people of God; this was non-negotiable as it must be today. See Deuteronomy 7:3, and 2 Chronicles 6:14-15.
6. Genesis 24:12 – “Please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.” The faithful and obedient servant wanted blessing for his master. Note also that the servant realized that success could only come from God. As faithful servants, our goal should only be what God wants, and we should recognize that only He can accomplish that goal through us; we cannot do it ourselves. God-sized goals always require God-sized power. God is always asking you to do what is impossible for you so that His power and glory may be revealed rather than yours.
7. Genesis 24:12-14 – The servant had a test of character for Isaac’s future wife, not a test of personality, beauty, or family connections.
8. Genesis 24:15, 16 – God arranged circumstances and put everything in place to ensure that Rebekah met Isaac.
9. Genesis 24:16 – Rebekah had saved herself for marriage.
10. Genesis 24:19, 20 — “When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, ‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.’ So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels.” Watering camels was a huge task, but Rebekah offered to do it for a complete stranger without being asked. Note also that she did it quickly, with great zeal, not begrudgingly. What does this say about her character? Who do you know who lives this way?
11. Genesis 24:50, 51 – No man can thwart the plans of God. God blesses those who abide by His plans.
12. Genesis 24:52-54 – The servant paid the bride price. You too were bought at a price which you will soon learn all about in your daily Bible readings.
13. Genesis 24:55-58 – It is easy to say you will follow God (vs 50, 51), but delay indicates doubt, self-centeredness, and disobedience. Willing obedience is always instant obedience.
14. Proverbs 12 – This chapter compares the attributes of the righteous person with the attributes of the foolish person. Read this chapter and see which ones apply to you. Do you love discipline (v1)? Do you see God’s favor in your life (v2)? Are you firmly grounded and strong (v3)? Are you in iron-sharpens-iron, honorable relationships (v4)? Are your thoughts pure, holy, and wise; and do you give sound counsel (v5)? Do your words rescue and heal people rather than destroy them and hurt them (vs6, 18)? Are you commended for your good sense (v8)? Do you live well within your means, without concern about impressing others (v9)? Are equally kind to the lowliest people (v 10)? Are you hard working (vs11, 24, 27)? Do you focus on doing the best you can rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing and rather than becoming envious or jealous (vs12, 14)? Are you always truthful, even in the smallest ways (vs13, 17, 18, 22)? Do you humbly listen to the advice of others? (v15)? Do you hold your emotions and ignore insults (v16)? Do you plan to make peace with all others rather than adding friction (v20)? Do you speak the truth only when it is helpful and brings peace and reconciliation (v 23)? Do you always comfort others in distress (v25)? Do your words and guidance always lead people to a better place and closer to Jesus (vs26, 28)
15. Proverbs 12:1 – “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” God disciplines you to teach you. Don’t despise His discipline – learn from it.
16. Proverbs 12:9 – “Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.” Don’t seek honor; seek to be honorable.
17. Proverbs 12:11 — “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” God is Author of both the natural laws and the ethical laws. One theme that is constantly repeated in the Bible is “You reap what you sow.” God’s natural and ethical laws are simple and produce obvious results. We complicate things when we attempt to work around God’s laws and do pointless things. Don’t waste your time, energy, and efforts by doing things God never intended.
18. Proverbs 12:16 — “The prudent ignores an insult.” Did you get that? Ignore insults and be prudent.
19. Proverbs 12:18 — “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Are all of your words healing?
20. Proverbs 12:20 — “Those who plan peace have joy.” You have to have a plan for peace.
21. Proverbs 12:25 — “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” You can help take a load off of others by giving them a good word to ease their anxiety.
22. Proverbs 12:26 – “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Let God’s good word take away your stress.
23. Proverbs 12:26-28 — “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray…. In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” A good leader guides people to where they need to go. They know the way and show the way. The Bible says that Jesus IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Good leaders lead people to Jesus. Leading people anywhere else is to lead them astray, wickedness. So, all those secular gurus out there are, in fact, wicked.
24. Matthew 10:1 – Jesus empowered His disciples, but because of their lack of faith, they did not always use the power they actually had.
25. Matthew 10:6 – The church’s top priority is to properly disciple believers that they may then properly go and make more disciples. Today’s body includes many lost sheep that need to experience repentance and revival.
26. Matthew 10:11-15 – Some are ready to receive God’s word; others are not. We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit. We must provide the message and be ready for those who are willing to receive it.
27. Matthew 10:16-20 – God is intentionally sending you into situations where you will be persecuted. It goes with your task. Don’t be surprised, and don’t worry about it – trust God.
28. Matthew 10:24, 25, 38, 39 — “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master…. Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” A big theme in today’s readings is discipleship and followership. Saving faith is not just a believing faith, it is a following faith. It is not just believing in God, it is believing God, trusting Him at His word, and obeying Him. In our OT readings, we learn some things about followership and obedience: God’s path will not take us ‘out of the world’ or shield us from all of the problems or sorrows of the world. (Genesis 23:2; see also John 17:15) Obedience will make us ready for greater responsibility and usability by God. (Genesis 24:2-6) God leads us to where He is already at work preparing the way for His purposes. (Genesis 24:27, 48) When we follow God’s lead, we will see His miraculous provision in ways we could not have imagined, and this will drive us to greater worship and a closer relationship to Him. (Genesis 24:25-27, 48) When we follow God, it is His power that brings us success, not our power. (Genesis 24:40) A key to followership is focus and perseverance. When you know God has led you, you need to keep following despite temptations to get sidetracked. (Genesis 24:56) Following God means that we have to wait on Him and trust His provision, even in apparent delay. (Genesis 24:63) In the NT, Jesus further expands on the traits of a disciple, concluding that it demands a level of love and loyalty that far exceeds what we display in our most intimate human relationships. We must deny self, take up the cross, and follow Jesus; otherwise, Jesus says, we are not worthy of him. (Matthew 10:38) Of course we know that we are not, of ourselves, worthy of Him, but we should strive to become ‘perfected in love’. We are not worthy, but God is more than worth of our complete surrender. Interestingly, the word ‘worship’ essentially means, ‘worthy-ship’ or worthy of complete praise and honor. Related to our theme today, The Bible says, “By the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) Let us worship not only in spirit but also in truth.
29. Matthew 10:34 – Jesus did NOT come to bring peace to the earth, rather spiritual peace for those who “know” Him.
30. Matthew 10:37-38 – Notice the degree of love Jesus expects from His followers.
31. Matthew 10:40 — You are Christ’s Ambassador.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 Jan 18: Trust God in obedience today, and watch Him work in your life in ways you would have never imagined. (See today’s readings)