Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 2 January 21:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Genesis 11-50 — https://youtu.be/VpbWbyx1008
Note: Here is a short video overview of Psalms — https://youtu.be/j9phNEaPrv8
- Genesis 11:4-6 — Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower… and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth….” And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
- Genesis 12:8 — And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.
- Psalm 1:1, 2 — Blessed is the man who[se]… delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Ever since Adam and Eve chose to serve self over God, mankind has not only suffered the consequences of sin but has also suffered with the tendency to sin, to likewise choose self over God, to usurp His authority in our lives, to prefer self over Him, to trust self over Him, and to glorify self over Him. Ultimately, everyone chooses whether their god is God or an idol (an artificial, powerless god, usually self). What a person truly believes about God defines every other decision they make and determines how they will treat other people.
One thing is certain, we make terrible gods – when we seek to lord over our own lives, and naturally, as self-proclaimed gods, seek to lord over the lives of others, we inevitably create needless pain, suffering, misery, destruction, and death.
We all make a choice who we will serve, and that choice will determine the outcome of our lives on earth and lives eternal. We will either seek the Kingdom of God and inherit it or attempt to build our own kingdoms on earth which will only perish.
- Joshua 24:15 — And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Today’s readings reveal that people will either attempt to build great towers to themselves or humble alters to the Lord with their lives. Some unashamedly live life for self, but Christians should examine themselves to ensure they have not expected God to help them build their own kingdoms on earth. Even Christians can be tempted to build towers to themselves rather than alters to the Lord, convincing themselves it is all for God.
“And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6) Many have questioned, “If God is good, how could He allow so much evil in the world?” Instead, we should be grateful that, in His love, mercy, and grace, God has constrained evil as much as He has and has delayed His final judgment so that the Gospel may spread and so people have the opportunity to repent and receive Jesus – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:9, 10) Today we see how God mercifully thwarts the plans of sinners and prevents them from doing all “that they purpose.” Aren’t you glad God hasn’t given you all that you have desired?
- 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.
In His love, mercy, and grace, God will often thwart our construction of self-centered towers and will destroy our idols, though we might not see His disruptions and demolitions as acts of love. God would have nothing get in the way of your unity with Him. What are you building and why?
- Psalm 127:1 — Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
- Luke 6:47-49 — Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.
A good question to ask yourself regularly is “Why am I doing what I am doing?” Is what you are doing God-centered or self-centered? Remember, even religious activities or deeds of service can become self-centered when we seek (usually subtly or unconsciously) to glorify self rather than God or to achieve righteousness rather than humbly receiving righteousness through Christ alone and proclaiming the grace of God before others. Also remember that even though you may have committed to build an alter to the Lord rather than a tower to self, you build one stone at a time, and the temptation always remains to turn the alter into a tower. Fidelity is sustained one decision at a time. “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) Never forget: it’s not about you. God blesses us so we can glorify Him and be a blessing to others.
- John 14:13 — Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If your self-examination is honest, you will likely recognize that your motives are mixed – you are motived in part to serve God and in part to serve self. Why? Because you are not yet perfected in love but rather are still growing into Christ-like character. Repent where needed, abide in God’s love and grace, and pray that God will continue to grow you in Christ-centeredness.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 January 21: Today, build an alter to the Lord by glorifying Him, serving Him and enjoying Him one decision at a time. Occasionally, check yourself to ensure you are still building an alter and haven’t transitioned to building a tower dedicated to self.