Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 13 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 25:1, 5, 6 – “Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah…. Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.” Abraham caused immeasurable strife in the world by having multiple wives, concubines, and children outside of his monogamous marriage. Note that Abraham did not treat his children equally.
2. Genesis 25:16 – “These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes.” It is very interesting that there were 12 tribes of Israel and also twelve tribes of Ishmael.
3. Genesis 25:28 – “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Favoritism tears families apart. Favoritism also causes parents to overlook the character problems developing in the favored child.
4. Genesis 25:29-34 – Esau had no self-control, sacrificing his future for instant gratification, a bowl of stew. Today, many people sacrifice their futures for a ‘pot of stew’ – they sacrifice their health for bad vices, their financial future for temporary luxuries, etc. The pot of stew is equates to lacking the personal self-discipline or self-control to deny self in the short term for the sake of long-term reward. Do you have a ‘pot of stew’ in your life? If so, learn from this story.
5. Genesis 26:6-10 – Isaac learned how to lie from his dad Abraham. (see Gen 20, 21)
6. Genesis 26:14 – Your blessings will make others jealous.
7. Genesis 26:34, 35 – “When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” Esau was motivated by his passions rather than a heart of obedience. The same character he displayed when he sold his birthright was reflected in his relationships.
8. Proverbs 13:3 — Rash words can ruin you.
9. Proverb 13:5 — The righteous will desire obedience.
10. Proverbs 13:8 — It can be freeing to have nothing left to lose.
11. Proverbs 13:13 – “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.” God’s word is not hard to understand. What a person does with God’s word determines consequences.
12. Proverbs 13:16 – Always decide rationally rather than emotionally.
13. Proverbs 13:20 – Choose your friends carefully. Wisdom is a journey. Walk with the wise and become wise.
14. Proverbs 13:25 — The wise know how to be content in any situation. The wicked are never satisfied.
15. Psalm 4:4 – “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” There is a right way to handle anger, and it involves silence, meditation, prayer, and worship.
16. Psalm 4:4 — “Ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.” The Christian life is to be lived “on purpose”, intentionally striving to accomplish God’s purpose for our lives, in accordance with His intent. While the Bible has much to say about the importance of planning in life, Jesus explains that successful execution of the ‘plan’ is accomplished one day at a time, making the most of every opportunity that is placed in front of us:
– “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)
– “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.’” (John 4:13, 14)
– “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” (Proverbs 27:1)
– “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time [every opportunity], because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16)
While we can and should plan, one of our major challenges is that we don’t know the details of the plan, only the ultimate end state. It’s God’s plan, not ours, and our thoughts could not be farther than His thoughts; also, we can see in the Bible that God always takes His servants off of their intended course to accomplish His plan in His ways.
– “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
– “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24)
God’s command to Abram was “Go… to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) So, when you don’t know where you are going, the key is to stay close to the leader. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) When we drift from God’s intended trajectory for our lives, this is called “sin”, a word taken from marksmanship which means, “to miss the mark”. Expert marksman know a counter-intuitive secret to shooting that makes them far superior to the rest: the expert marksman does not focus his eye on the target but rather on his front sight – the sight (the thing closest to him) is very clear (the more clear the better the shot), but the target is very blurry. The marksman need only be concerned that the very clear sight has a very blurry target behind it. Then he applies the other fundamentals of properly releasing the round as not to move the sights from their intended location. This rather uncomfortable approach to shooting always produces amazing results. It is no accident that the Bible uses “sin” to describe what causes us to “miss the mark”. We make the amateur mistake of trying to see the target clearly while allowing our sights to get blurry – a guaranteed miss. As Christians, what we must see VERY clearly is Jesus Christ in our lives, revealed through our lives TODAY. Our eyes must be fixed upon Jesus as we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in all that we think, say, and do today, walking as Jesus would walk, making his appeal to the world for him through the power of the Holy Spirit and under his authority. To that end, the disciple has some very basic daily habits or fundamentals of good ‘marksmanship’ such as Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. However, another very important, often overlooked, daily habit of discipleship is humble, Spirit-led assessment. At the end of the day, we must receive our debrief from the Holy Spirit on how well we lived the day to God’s glory. How well did we deny self, take up our cross (proclaim Christ in word and deed), and follow Jesus? How well did we produce the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Did we succeed at making ourselves slaves to Christ and servants to all others? Did we consider everyone else’s needs above our own? Did we directly communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ (rather than just hinting at it) to all those around us? Did we forgive and seek forgiveness while on our mission of reconciliation? Note from our verse today that as we consider our day’s activities and decisions, the Holy Spirit will convict us about the condition of our hearts that produced those actions. It is always a heart problem and a love problem. Even our outwardly good deeds may be burst into flames by the conviction of the Holy Spirit which reveals the selfish motivations behind them. Honest daily assessment with repentance and confidence in Grace will bring us a brighter day tomorrow, one day at a time – “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18) The assessment process IS NOT a time to wallow in guilt, get frustrated, or quit striving. One of the key attributes of discipleship is persevering, working through mistakes and challenges. Countless people have taken piano lessons, but very few people are concert pianists. Why? Because most get frustrated at their constant mistakes and quit practicing, happy to tinker around on occasion, perhaps at parties – no perseverance required. Let’s make beautiful music unto the Lord through daily, persistent habits of discipleship which include ending each day quietly in our beds pondering our hearts.
17. Psalm 4:6 – “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” All goodness comes from the Lord. People will always let you down, but God never will.
18. Psalm 4:8 – “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” You will only find peace in Jesus. Peace on Earth only becomes a reality when Jesus is present. When you trust in Jesus with all your heart, you will have peace in any situation. You will be able to rest peacefully in the back of the boat while it is being tossed about by the storms and while everyone else says, “We perish”.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 Jan 18: Consider your “bowls of soup”, those places in life where you lack adequate self-control. Remember that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, not merely will power; pray for greater self-control; and instead of focusing on the soup, focus on Jesus. (Gen 25:29-34)