Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 30 January 2018:
1. Exodus 9:16 – “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” Our purpose is to bring glory to God on earth. God can use a person in positive ways or negative ways to reveal Himself. Pharaoh challenged God, and Egypt learned through Pharaoh’s rebellion that God is God. Moses obeyed God, and the Israelites learned in miraculous ways that God is God.
2. Exodus 9:20, 21 – “Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.” It is your choice whether or not you obey God’s word or not, but you will reap the consequences either way.
3. Exodus 9:22 – “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Man’s rebellion against God affects “man and beast and every plant of the field”.
4. Exodus 9:26 – “Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.” God’s miraculous blessings bestowed upon His people serves as testimony to His Sovereignty.
5. Exodus 9:27, 28; 10:16 — “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the Lord….” Being sorry is not the same as being repentant. Pharaoh was ‘sorry’ he was being punished, but his heart had only grown harder over time. The mark of genuine repentance is a changed heart that responds with humility, surrender, fidelity, obedience, love.
6. Exodus 9:30; 10:1 – “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” Pharaoh surrounded himself with likeminded people – they were all equally and fatally wrong. No doubt, Pharaoh’s servants encouraged Pharaoh in his rebellion, telling him what he wanted to hear. Christians should surround themselves with other committed Christians who will tell each other the truth according to God’s word.
7. Exodus 10:2 – “…you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.” God wants us to tell others what we have personally witnessed God do in our lives. He especially wants to ensure that parents tell their children and their children’s children.
8. Exodus 10:3 — “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.’” God demands humility and submission from all as the Sovereign Lord. He is patient, but not patient forever. All sin (all sin) is rebellion against God that comes from a shocking pride that prioritized the desires of the individual over the commands of the Almighty. God cannot and will not tolerate sin.
9. Exodus 10:7 — “Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” In his stubbornness and refusal to obey God, Pharaoh ruined Egypt. The consequences of sin not only affect the sinner but also those around the sinner. Sin’s collateral damage is always much greater than anyone understands at the time the sin is committed. One of the reasons God hates sin is because it is the antithesis of love and hurts the innocent.
10. Exodus 10:11 – “No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” God does not negotiate or compromise with people. Partial obedience is disobedience.
11. Exodus 10:17 – “Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.” Many pray to God for relief from the wrong heart, desiring only God’s mercy rather than God Himself. God knows the heart and can see through the self-centered, unrepentant prayer.
12. Exodus 10:28 – “Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’” Ignoring the truth doesn’t change the truth.
13. Proverbs 30:1-3 – “I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely, I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” Going your own way apart from Jesus will wear you out.
14. Proverbs 30:2, 3 – “Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” The more you know, the more you know what you don’t know. Socrates said, “’The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Proverbs says, the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, understanding our total reliance on Him.
15. Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” Why would you trust your own judgment or the judgment of other mortals over that of Jesus, the God-man?
16. Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God proves true.” God does not call us to trust in blind faith but rather faith in a revealed God. The Bible says that God is revealed in your conscience, in nature, in the miracles of God, and in God’s word. When you obey God’s word in the faith you have, it will be proven true, and your faith will grow.
17. Proverbs 30:6 – “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” People add to God’s word to water it down, to make it more “reasonable,” to conform it to what they prefer. People also attempt to add to God’s word to make it more “sophisticated” or “relevant” to the times. Also, many cults and false leaders add to God’s word. The simplicity of God’s word is perfectly unchanging. You don’t need more word or a better word, you just need a heart that will obey God’s simple word.
18. Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Agur struggled with untruthfulness and infidelity under certain circumstances. So, he prayed to God for strength of integrity. What sins are struggling with? Are these issues at the center of your prayer life? The things that hinder your relationship with God (sin) should be your greatest prayer concern.
19. Proverbs 30:10 – “Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.” You are not in a position to condemn (judge) others. Your perspective is always biased and very limited. Also, you cannot perceive what God is doing in the heart of another person. Be very careful what you think and say about others.
20. Proverbs 30:20 – “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” In sin, a heart grows harder and harder and more and more desensitized to sin to the point where sin is no longer acknowledged. The extreme is the sociopath who can commit an atrocity with absolutely no sign of remorse, some of whom can completely erase the deed from their mind and convince themselves that they never did it at all. Some can even pass a lie detector test in their complete self-deception. Most of time, such psychological disorder can be traced back to patterns of decision over time.
21. Proverbs 30:32 – “If you have been foolish, exalting yourself… your hand on your mouth.” Ironically, self-exaltation is usually a product of deep-rooted insecurity. To stop always talking about yourself, seeking credit, or seeking the approval of others, you might have to get to the root of your insecurities – why you feel you need it. You might also need to remind yourself of your purpose in life – to glorify God alone. Self-exaltation draws attention away from Jesus, a mission failure on your part and a terrible sin.
22. Matthew 22:1-9 – The servants (Christians) are called to invite people to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, all are invited. However, many will not only ignore God’s messengers (Christians) but will even persecute them.
23. Matthew 22:11-14 — “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment…. ‘cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Unless you are “clothed” in Jesus Christ, you are not worthy to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. “ See Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27;
24. Matthew 22:16 — “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” True teaching is the unadulterated word of God, no person should add to it or take away from it. It doesn’t matter what people think about God’s word, only what God’s word says.
25. Matthew 22:21 — “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Hoping to trap Jesus, the Pharisees ask him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus asks for the coin used to pay the tax, which for pious Jews should be a special copper coin minted with Rome’s approval, not the silver denarius, which is seen as idolatrous because it depicts the Caesar’s image and his title divus et pontifex maximus, Latin for “divine and high priest.” Jesus’ enemies are revealed as hypocrites when they produce the denarius (22:18–21). Those who hate idolatrous coinage are carrying unclean money themselves. Jesus turns them away with the following: “Jesus said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” Most commentaries on this interaction will take from it the point that Christians should respect and obey governmental authority, which is true. However, the more powerful point Jesus is making is the second half of his statement, “[give] to God the things that are God’s.” What things are Gods? EVERYTHING! What Caesar demands is nothing compared to what God demands. What power would worldly governments have over a people fully surrendered to God? What value is Caesar’s money if God’s people put no value in it? Caesar’s claim on taxes was such a meaningless thing compared to what God was demanding from the people – their lives, wholehearted devotion, unconditional love. And what power do worldly governments have over God’s people anyway? None but what God gives them. Why fear men rather than fear God? If God’s people would but follow God, evil political powers would be powerless.
26. Matthew 22:29 — “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Followers of Christ must know both God’s word and God Himself. Many unbelieving Bible scholars lack any true understanding, and many believers hinder their relationship to God due to a lack of understanding of God’s word.
27. Matthew 22:32 – Without study aids, Jesus knew God’s word so well that He won an unanticipated argument by pointing out the tense of a verb from an Old Testament verse.
28. Matthew 22:34-40 – Jesus summarized the Old Testament in two sentences that pointed to affections rather than regulations. Obedience that is motivated by fear, pride, or even duty (anything other than love) is ultimately disobedience because the first command is love. If you don’t start there, you are already wrong.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 Jan 18: Examine your love: Set a timer today, and every hour stop and review your attitudes and actions for that hour ask yourself, “Why did I do what I did? What was my motivation?” Were you motived by fear, pride, duty, a sense of obligation, or were you motivated by genuine, selfless love? Was Jesus Christ your focus or something else? Briefly journal your answers. Pray that God will reveal to you where you are lacking in love. (Matthew 22:32-40)