Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 20 Mar 18:
1. Deuteronomy 3:18, 19 – “All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you….” God’s plan did not use women and children for battle. Not only were they more vulnerable, they were the source of future generations.
2. Deuteronomy 3:21, 22 – “Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.” How can you have fear if God Almighty is with you, doing the fighting for you? It takes faith to believe in what we cannot see and completely understand. We do not have ‘blind faith.’ Our trust and hope is based upon what God has already done and continues to do. He has always proven Himself faithful.
3. Deuteronomy 3:24 – “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.” Do you have this sort of excited expectation of what God is going to do next in your life?
4. Deuteronomy 3:28 – “But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.” God called Moses to prepare his replacement. Are you preparing the next generation to fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission in the next generation?
5. Deuteronomy 4:5 – “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” Moses only taught what God had commanded him, nothing more and nothing less. He taught the people to obey. Jesus has given us the Great Commission – “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Obedience has always been central to God’s plan for His people. Is that what you are teaching others?
6. Deuteronomy 4:9 – “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” Fidelity not only requires great personal diligence but also a commitment to teach the next generation.
7. Deuteronomy 4:15 — “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire.” Living spiritually is not ‘natural’, it is ‘supernatural’, it is beyond the natural and beyond our six senses. We are called to be led by the Spirit, not our own understanding. However, we have a tendency to hang onto the natural, physical world and our own knowledge. We have a tendency to define God in a way that makes sense to us rather than conforming our senses to the ultimate reality of Him. We must be very careful not to plot our own course while telling ourselves that course is where God is leading us. We must be careful not to find an idol (a substitute for God) that seems to meet our temporal needs.
8. Deuteronomy 4:19 – “And beware lest you…. be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” Your idols will control you. Following idols makes you unspiritual, just like all the unbelievers.
9. Deuteronomy 4:30 – “When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.” God’s plan involves allowing you to learn from your own mistakes. You have to learn to choose Him and to be faithful to Him, casting out all substitutes.
10. Deuteronomy 4:35 – “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you.” God gave you His commands, knows you will disobey them, and will discipline you that you will grow in Christ-like character. Do not despise the Lord’s discipline.
11. Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” You only dishonor God and yourself (His ambassador) when you fight with others. A Christian should never quarrel. If you fight with others, you are seeing your own selfishness and self-centeredness being revealed. It is hard to defend yourself when you are dead, dead to self, crucified with Christ. Don’t convince yourself that you are only expressing “righteous anger,” unless you get absolutely nothing out of winning, and only Jesus is glorified.
12. Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” Everything that matters in life is subject to the Principle of the Farm—you reap what you sow. You don’t get stronger, wiser, richer, more skilled, and more Christ-like unless you are willing to work hard every day for a future harvest. People always overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime. Spend every day working your personal life farm in order of priority. If you aren’t first investing in Bible study and prayer, your priorities are out of order, and you will not end with the harvest you desired. There are no shortcuts on a farm.
13. Proverbs 20:11 — “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Eventually, your actions will reveal what you really believe about God and how much you really love Him.
14. Proverbs 20:16 — “Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.” God wants us to protect others from themselves when we can.
15. Mark 1:8 – “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” God’s people are those who have the Holy Spirit.
16. Mark 1:12 – “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” The Spirit knows you will be tested, but the Spirit does not leave you alone in temptation.
17. Mark 1:17, 18 — “’Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” We all have a choice to make: will we surrender our careers and lives to follow Him, or will we continue to seek what to pagans pursue hoping that God will bless us while we subordinate His Kingdom agenda for the American dream? In Acts 28, we read that Paul worked in order support the spreading of the Gospel, sacrificing all in the process. We cannot serve both God and self. It’s time to leave the nets and follow. Surrendering your careers and live to the Lord does not mean to stop working and living. After all, God gave Adam a job before God gave him a helpmate; and then they worked together. There wasn’t a problem until Adam and Eve started working and living for self rather than for God. You were created to work for and glorify God in partnership with others, to love God in love relationship with others. In most cases throughout the Bible, when God called people to work for Him, to join Him in what He was doing, those people had to stop doing what they were doing in order to join Him and serve Him. Are you willing to go where God leads?
18. Mark 1:18 – “And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Obedience is instantaneous. Jesus will call you out of your comfort zone, away from the plan you had for your life. You must be ready to “go” immediately, no looking back. The word immediately is used nine times in Mark 1.
19. Mark 1:23, 24 – “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?’” Sometimes the demons are more responsive to Jesus that we are. James says that the demons believe in Jesus and “shudder”, do you?
20. Mark 1:31 – “…she began to serve them.” A genuine encounter with God leads to service.
21. Mark 1:35 – “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” For a while it became very popular for people to wear bracelets, shirts, and other clothing items with the acronym, “WWJD,” which stood for, “What would Jesus do?” The general idea was this message would be a visible reminder to help people stop and think at a point of decision, helping them choose to act more like Jesus rather than the way they normally would. The intent was good, but unfortunately, the visible reminder cannot make up for what should have been done before the point of decision. What would Jesus do? He would consistently, throughout his whole life, rise up early in the morning, while it is still dark, to pray. Is that what you habitually do? Do you want to experience Christian power without Christian disciplines? Let Jesus counsel you. Remember the Principle of the Farm mentioned above. What you do at the moment will be the product of what you did consistently before the moment. As Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” You will not trust the Jesus you don’t know that well. You will not obey the Jesus you don’t really trust. Dedicate the “first fruits” of your day to growing in your love and trust in Jesus so that you will be ready to obey when the time comes, and it is coming – today.
22. Mark 1:38 — “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Jesus did not lead small group in a comfortable living room with snacks and comfortable conversation about biblical ideas. He led them into the streets, one day at a time, and showed them how to spread the word. What do you do in your small group? How many people has your group ministered to, led to Christ, disciple?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 March: Don’t hesitate to preach the Gospel to others while you minister to their needs. Tell people about Jesus today. (Mark 1)