Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 26 Jan 18:
1. Exodus 1:5 – What can God do with 70 people?
2. Exodus 1:8 – The Bible reminds us that power on earth is brief. The Bible also reminds us that we must carefully consider how the impact of our decisions will affect generations to follow.
3. Exodus 1:11 — “Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens.” Satan would also like to keep you controlled by keeping you heavily burdened. For example, if he can burden you with materialism, consumer debt, and needless activities, he will.
4. Exodus 1:12 – “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.” God’s people obeyed God’s first command to mankind to be fruitful and multiply. In obedience, oppression only made God’s people stronger.
5. Exodus 1:12 – “And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.” Distrust in relationships often leads to sinful behavior.
6. Exodus 1:17 – The midwives feared God over government and disobeyed government when government told them to dishonor God.
7. Exodus 2:1 — “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.” Would you continue to have children in such terrible circumstances?
8. Exodus 2:1 – Moses had priestly credentials.
9. Exodus 2:4, 7-9 – God uses children in His work.
10. Exodus 2:9-10: No one could possibly understand that God’s plan was to ensure that Moses would get the best of Hebrew and Egyptian upbringing with special access to both communities for a great future mission.
11. Exodus 2:12 – You cannot fight for justice unjustly. Doing the wrong things in the wrong way for the right reasons is still wrong.
12. Exodus 2:13, 14 – People observe your behavior more than you think they do. If you have lost your credibility due to your actions, you have lost your influence for Christ. Moses murdered and then tried to “preach” to others against unjust violence. When Christians don’t do what they say, they dishonor God and discredit the Gospel before men. Christians who don’t walk the talk are viewed as judgmental by others.
13. Exodus 2:12-15 – God’s plan included using a wanted criminal, a murderer, for His purposes.
14. Exodus 2:19 – God gave Moses a heart for justice and the heart of a deliverer, but He needed to learn humility, and He needed to know God. God IS justice. Justice comes from God and cannot be understood apart from God.
15. Proverbs 26 – Today’s proverbs warn us against fools, sluggards, liars, and gossips. The warning is not only to protect us from others but also to protect us from ourselves. Christians must guard themselves against such behavior.
16. Proverbs 26:1 — “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.” Ultimately, the fool trusts in the attributes of man, while the wise person trusts in God. When seeking a leader in anything, seek a person that is following Jesus. Anyone else, despite how talented, confident, motivated, and convincing they are, are leading people astray, down a path of eventual destruction.
17. Proverbs 26:4, 5 — “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” You have an obligation to hold others accountable for their sin, but don’t stoop down to their level when rebuking them. Listen empathetically, don’t get emotional, and don’t seek self-justification. In love, speak the truth from God’s word, and don’t lose sight of the goal of reconciliation, bringing them closer to Jesus in some way. When you let self get in the way of your rebuke, you lose your moral authority and have become a ‘judge’ rather than a juror. Don’t judge the person or seek to be the punisher — judge the action and seek to free the person trapped in sin.
18. Proverbs 26:7 – “Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. Many have knowledge but don’t know how to apply it because their hearts are not right. Many use the Bible in a self-serving manner rather than a God-centered way.
19. Proverbs 26:9 — People often use God’s word inappropriately to justify their foolish thinking, decisions, and behavior. People also tend to use God’s word for self-justification in arguments with others. When rebuking others with God’s word, be careful to check your motives — are you really representing Jesus or just seeking to defend your own self-interests.
20. Proverbs 26:11 — “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Repeating the sin you have been forgiven for through the blood of Jesus is just disgusting. Do you see it that way?
21. Proverbs 26:14 — A lazy and undisciplined person’s actions are very predictable.
22. Matthew 20:1-15 – “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” God is always just. We all deserve justice from God, but He gives mercy and grace. Justice is getting what we deserve; mercy is not giving us what we deserve, and grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. In justice, we all deserve eternal damnation for the countless sins we have committed against God, and we deserve it immediately. His mercy gives all the opportunity to receive His gift of grace, salvation through Jesus Christ — the offered gift must be taken for it to be possessed. God does not have to give mercy or grace to be just. If God offered salvation to no one, He would still be just. It is God’s right and prerogative to give mercy and grace as He desires. Mercy is non-justice (not administering the full measure of justice), but it is not injustice. Likewise with grace. Often when God gives others enormous portions of mercy and grace, we compare and tend to think that somehow God has been unfair, as if any portion of mercy or grace from God is obligated of Him — as if God were somehow being unjust or unfair. We start seeing God’s amazing gift of grace as a wage, something He owes us, and when we compare, we presumptuously start questioning the value of that gift. In our hearts, we might be tempted to say, “That’s not fair!” We forget that if God wanted to give us only “fairness”, we would receive His total wrath. Jesus warns us in Luke 17 that we are all unworthy servants who deserve nothing and who should be grateful what the incredible blessings God has given us — “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (v 10)
23. Matthew 20:20-28 – Parents want the very best for their children, but a parent’s ambition for their children can get them in trouble.
24. Matthew 20:22 — “Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’” Jesus knew the answer to the question He asked. He knew His disciples far better than they knew themselves. Full of self-confidence (at least at that moment), they had a much higher opinion of themselves than they should have. They wanted more than they could handle. Jesus will eventually use His disciples in a mighty way, but they still have much growing to do, and the Father will accomplish His will on His timing. You might be asking God for many things you are not ready to receive or that you should not receive. God knows your condition and situation and has a great plan for you. Trust Him and be grateful that He gives you what is best for you and not simply what you are asking for. As you grow in Christ, more and more of what you are asking for is what God desires for you. The small child might be frustrated with eggs for breakfast rather than candy, but the adolescent child desires and appreciates the eggs mom makes.
25. Matthew 20:23 – The Bible points out how two entities, equal in worthiness and value may not be equal in responsibility and authority. The Father and Jesus are equally God and are “One”, but Jesus submitted to the Father’s authority. This is a good model for marriage and family.
26. Matthew 20:24 — Jealousy hurts relationships.
27. Matthew 20:26-28 – There is a lot of talk these days about servant leadership, but Jesus’ definition of servant leadership is radical, being a slave (v27) to others and surrendering all of your personal interests (giving up your life) to others, literally not just figuratively. What rights, honors, respect, privileges, titles, etc do you think you deserve as a leader? What respect does a slave receive? Funny, but most of the people reading books on “servant leadership” are hoping to develop the traits needed to be more respected, to get promoted, and to get paid more. The true servant leader may not be recognized by anyone, quietly serving and influencing without praise, honor, or fanfare.
28. Matthew 20:32-33 – God knows what you want, but He expects you to ask.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 Jan 18: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound….” Are you still amazed by grace? Today, be truly amazed by the grace that you have received, and be truly grateful for your many blessings without comparing your blessings with those apparently received by others. Rather than comparing gifts, celebrate the gifts given by God to others — “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15). Grateful for what you have received, rejoicing with others, serve God wholeheartedly and follow Jesus, with no expectation other than being with Jesus. Pray for a heart that is more than satisfied by just being in the presence of God. (Matt 20:1-15)