Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 18 January 2022:
Genesis 16:1-4 – “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.”
Rather than patiently trusting on God’s word and waiting on God’s perfect timing, Sarai and Abram took matters into their own hands and followed a very common worldly practice to accomplish their goals. Abram’s failure to wait on the Lord gave birth (literally and figuratively) to great global conflict which endures to this day between Islam and other people groups (Genesis 16, 17, 22). As we continue to read through the Bible this year, pay attention to how many times a failure to trust in the Lord and wait upon His timing caused people great, needless pain and suffering.
Obedience to God requires a willingness to wait on God rather than getting desired results the wrong way. Often, popular opinion or ‘common sense’ stands in direct contrast to God’s commands and often seems to produce practical, quick results. However, God will not bless disobedience, and there are always negative, destructive consequences for disobedience which far outweigh the apparent benefits of disobedience, some consequences which may affect generations. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
In times of trouble or uncertainty, sometimes it is hard to wait on the Lord, but just like being lost in the woods, when you don’t know where you are going, traveling aimlessly faster just makes the problem worse. In life, the world will tell you, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” The assumption is your fate is in your control, and your inactivity is indecisiveness and weakness. God often says, ‘Be still! Wait for my lead.’ Waiting is decisive, a choice that often takes a great deal of faith. Waiting is often obedience to God’s command to not be anxious – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Passions, presumption and fear often incite us to take the lead from God, to be led by the flesh rather than the Spirit, and to make poor, sinful decisions. King Saul’s failure to wait upon the Lord cost him the kingdom and led to his demise. (1 Samuel 13) When in your life do you wish you had waited upon the Lord? Are you willing to wait upon the Lord now?
When you don’t know what God wants you to do next, be faithful to the word God has already given you, remain obedient in the moment, and pray. Trust Him.
What about when you have been patiently praying for clear direction from God on a matter, you haven’t heard clearly from God, and you must decide right now? If you absolutely must decide, ensure your decision is consistent with God’s word, remain in prayer, seek the counsel of other faithful Christians, and trust Him with what you don’t know and understand. God will honor your intent and obedient effort, and if later you wish you had made a different decision, you will recognize, wherever that decision took you, God has been with you along the way and has used the experience in some way to draw you closer to Him.
Waiting is active! It is actively seeking the Lord and His guidance and remaining obedient even when obedience seems unprofitable. Undoubtably, if you wait with your eyes and heart open, God will keep you plenty busy and fruitful as you make the most of the opportunities around you for His glory. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34)
While we wait with patience, endurance, and perseverance upon Christ’s return, wait with a sense of urgency to share the Gospel with as many as you possibly can.
– Genesis 8:10, 12 — He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark…. Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.
– Genesis 49:18 — I wait for your salvation, O Lord.
– Numbers 9:8 — And Moses said to them, “Wait, that I may hear what the Lord will command concerning you.
– Psalm 25:3 — Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
– Psalm 25:5 — Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
– Psalm 25:21 — May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
– Psalm 27:14 — Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
– Psalm 31:24 — Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
– Psalm 33:20 — Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
– Psalm 37:7 — Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
– Psalm 37:9 — For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
– Psalm 37:34 — Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
– Psalm 38:15 — But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
– Psalm 39:7 — And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
– Psalm 40:1 — To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
– Psalm 62:1 — To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
– Psalm 62:5 — For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
– Psalm 106:13 — But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.
– Proverbs 8:34 — Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
– Proverbs 20:22 — Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
– Isaiah 8:17 — I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.
– Isaiah 25:9 — It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
– Isaiah 26:8 — In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.
– Isaiah 30:18 — Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
– Isaiah 33:2 — O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
– Isaiah 40:31 — but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 42:4 — He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.
– Isaiah 49:23 — Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.
– Isaiah 51:5 — My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.
– Isaiah 64:4 — From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
– Lamentations 3:26 — It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
– Micah 7:7 — But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
– Habakkuk 2:3 — For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
– Luke 12:36 — and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.
– Acts 1:4 — And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
– Romans 8:25 — But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
– 1 Corinthians 1:7 — so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
– Hebrews 6:15 — And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
– Jude 1:21 — keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
– Psalm 37:7 — Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
– Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Matthew 12:46-50 – “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”
This statement from Jesus is a bit shocking. But no more shocking than some of His other similar statements regarding family –
– Matthew 10:37 – “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
– Matthew 8:21, 22 — Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
– Mark 10:29-30 — Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Is Jesus showing disdain for His own family or family in general? Is he being uncaring or unloving? How could Jesus say such things?
First, Jesus is not communicating a lack of love for His own family. Throughout His life, Jesus honored His family, and on the cross, one of Jesus’ dying concerns was for the care of His mother – “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27)
Neither is Jesus de-valuing the importance of family in general. The Book of Mark records that Jesus sharply rebuked the Pharisees for violating the Fifth Commandment – “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13) And Jesus inspired the writings of the New Testament authors who made very clear the importance of honoring family —
– Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
– 1 Timothy 1:8 — But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Jesus is not downplaying the importance of family and our responsibilities to family but rather is highlighting the greater significance of our spiritual family as brothers and sisters in Christ. Throughout this chapter (Matthew 12) and before, Jesus had been attacked by the Jewish religious leaders who trusted in their blood lineage and adherence to the Law for their righteousness and salvation. And when these proud Jewish religious leaders conspired against Him, Jesus reminded them of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him – “I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles…. and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:18-21) Jesus is making a vital point that God’s family is a spiritual family rather than a blood family, and that righteousness and salvation is not transferred from person to person or earned through merit or works but come only through faith in Jesus Christ. To be born into God’s family, a person must be born again, born from above, or born of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ — “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
When we were saved through Christ and born again, we were born into a spiritual family and become heirs to His Kingdom:
– John 1:12 — But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
– Galatians 3:29 — And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
– 1 John 3:1 — See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
– Romans 8:29 — For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
– Acts 17:29 — Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
– Ephesians 1:5 — He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
– Galatians 4:5 — to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
– 1 John 3:2 — Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
– Hebrews 2:11 — For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
– Romans 8:15-17 — For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
So how close are you to your spiritual family (your brothers and sisters in Christ)? Do you honor your spiritual family? Do you pray for your spiritual family? Do you prioritize time with your spiritual family? Do you take care of your spiritual family, and do they take care of you? What do your relationships with members of your church (your God-given spiritual family) reveal about your relationship with God?
– 1 John 4:7-12 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
– John 17:20-23 — I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Finally, how much you truly love your blood family is mostly revealed by your concern about whether or not they are part of your eternal spiritual family. If your family members have not accepted Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior and have not entered into eternal life, what else matters for them of higher import? Who in your own family, which was placed in your life by God, needs to hear the Good News from you or needs to be further discipled by you?
– 1 Timothy 5:8 — But if anyone does not provide for his relatives [including spiritual provision], and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 18 Jan 22: Today, wait upon the Lord, seeking His guidance in decisions and remaining faithful to His word in all that you do. However, wait actively! Make the most of the opportunities God places in front of you today, and see where God takes you in your fidelity towards His plan rather than your plan. Share the Gospel with your family by birth, and pray that God will give you closer relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Prioritize your whole family today.