Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 20 January 2022:
Genesis 18:1-2 – “And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him.”
This is another Old Testament Theophany – Jesus appearing with two angels.
Genesis 18:19 — “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord.”
Obedience is to be taught to the next generation. Even those without children are commanded to “make disciples,” to train up others to follow Jesus. You are not merely called to be a good student; you are called to be an instructor.
Genesis 18:22-32 – God’s people have always had a genuine heart for sinners and seek to intervene for them. This is the first time in Scripture that someone initiated a conversation with God as opposed to God taking the initiative. Abraham interceded to God for the people of Sodom, not just Lot. In doing so, Abraham appealed to God’s character of righteousness rather than His mercy — “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25) Of course, Abraham’s false assumption was that any righteous people could be found in Sodom — “None is righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) Only Lot was counted by God as “righteous,” (by faith, not by deeds), and by God’s grace, he was saved along with his degenerate daughters. (2 Peter 2:7, 8) Lot wasn’t enough to save Sodom from destruction — “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (Genesis 18:32) However, it would appear that a godly minority could delay judgment by promoting godliness, something worth considering in our time. As salt and light we preserve by exposing darkness and revealing truth. How are we influencing our culture as we intercede on behalf of the nations?
Here is a short video overview of Matthew 14-28: https://youtu.be/GGCF3OPWN14
Matthew 14:16 — But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
“Jesus asked His disciples to do something that clearly was impossible. There were five thousand men, along with their families, and they were famished. There were only five loaves of bread and two small fish—obviously not enough to feed a multitude. The cost of food for even a portion of the crowd would have far exceeded the disciples’ small budget. It may have seemed absurd to the disciples that Jesus should ask them to distribute the paltry amount of food to the massive crowd. Yet that is exactly what Jesus asked them to do. Because Jesus had given the command, the disciples obeyed and witnessed an incredible miracle. Christ will lead you into many situations that will seem impossible, but don’t try to avoid them. Stay in the middle of them, for that is where you will experience God. The key difference between what appears to be impossible to us and what is actually possible is a word from our Master! Faith accepts His divine command and steps out in a direction that only God can complete. If you attempt only things that you know are possible with the visible resources you possess, those around you will not see God at work. You be the one who receives the credit for a job well done, but God have no part in it. Take inventory of your life and the decisions you are presently facing. Have you received a word from the Master that awaits your next step of faith? If you proceed with what He has told you, no matter how incredible it might seem, you will experience the joy of seeing your Lord perform a miracle, and so will those around you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Matthew 14:28-31 – “And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
We should all be able to relate to Peter’s faith and lack thereof, but don’t miss Jesus’ response to Peter. Peter starts off strong by boldly proclaiming if it is the Lord’s will, God will give him the power to accomplish something impossible for Peter to do by his own strength and abilities. Faith is not just trusting in what we can do, faith is trusting God in what we can’t do. God will regularly call us out to do what is impossible for us alone because He is not trying to show the world our talents, skills, and abilities but rather He intends to show the world Himself through His power and abilities clearly revealed in our lives. It is foolish for us to attempt to do the impossible when God never told us to do it, but it is to God’s glory to step boldly into the impossible when He does call us out.
Peter was doing great until He began to focus on the apparent danger around him rather than Jesus. When He took His eyes off Jesus, He started to sink. When we take our eyes off Jesus we will sink too.
But Peter knew what to do when He started to lose faith, He cried out to Jesus. Is that what you do? Note that Jesus did not let Peter sink. Jesus immediately reached out His hand, took hold of Peter, kept Peter afloat, and guided Peter to the boat. After that rescue, do you think Peter trusted Jesus more or less? I believe Peter left this experience with a deeper appreciation of Jesus’ power, love, and protectiveness.
Jesus says to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” This was not a negative rebuke; this was positive coaching, as if to say, ‘You almost did it Peter…. Keep working on your faith in me.’ Jesus understood that, like us, Peter was not perfected in faith and had much growing to do. He was working with Peter much like a loving father teaching his child how to ride a bike – “Trust me, look straight ahead, and pedal; I’ve got you. When you fall, and you will fall, dust yourself off, get up, and try again. I won’t let you get too hurt.”
The thing about Peter is he was willing to get out of the boat in the first place. No one else was. And notice that Peter didn’t spend too much time thinking about it, weighing the pros/cons, doing the math, etc. Had he not gotten out of the boat, he wouldn’t have had this amazing experience with Jesus at all, the great success, the failure, and the miraculous rescue. Peter’s life was forever changed as was His relationship with Jesus; the others merely watched in wonder. What about you? Are you willing to get out of the boat? Or, are you satisfied with watching God do amazing things in the lives of others or merely hearing amazing testimonies from others who were willing to succeed and fail forward with Jesus?
Finally, we must not lose sight that this was not Peter’s biggest faith rollercoaster. Before long, we will see Peter boldly wield a sword while severely outnumbered in order to fight for Jesus (though Jesus never asked him to), and then turn around and deny Jesus three times before a small group, just as Jesus said he would. Did Jesus abandon Peter or give up on Peter at the point of Peter’s biggest faith failure? Absolutely not! Even before Peter’s big faith failure, Jesus said to him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Knowing Peter would fail (temporarily not permanently), Jesus expected Peter to learn from his mistakes (not wallow in them) and then use his experience to strengthen his brothers who would also fail at times. After Peter denied Jesus and returned to fishing (apparently giving up on his calling), Jesus came to him, called him out, and lovingly guided him to new, incredible heights of faith, using him mightily to spread the Gospel and glorify God (see John 21). Similarly, God knows you will fail too, and He reminds you, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) God wants you to grow through your failures (fail forward), strengthen those around you who are also falling down like toddlers learning to walk in faith, and share your faith boldly (not perfectly) with people who need to know Jesus. God is using your failures to help you become more like Jesus every day, which is His purpose for you – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.” (Romans 8:28-29)
Again, are you willing to get out of the boat? Do you have the faith to do what God tells you to do even though you know it is impossible for you to do in your abilities? Will you trust Jesus through the storms of life? What will you do when you fail (and you will) in your faith? Will you cry out to Jesus and trust Him to lovingly guide you through your failure?
- 2 Corinthians 1:5 — For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 20 Jan 22: Pray that God will increase the boldness of your faith, and trust God with your failures of faith. Get out of the boat, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus through the storms and cry out to Him whenever you feel like you are starting to sink – He will grab hold of you and guide you through the experience; and then, what a testimony you will have!