Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 22 January 2022:
Genesis 20:9-11 — Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?” Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
Today’s readings in Genesis 20 should serve as both a warning to us on the negative impact of our infidelity and servants of God and as a comforting reminder of God’s grace and His total fidelity despite our infidelity. This a real low point in Abraham’s walk with the Lord which demonstrates a serious character flaw in Abraham, a character flaw which was similarly exposed previously in Genesis 12 — “So Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?'” (Genesis 12:18) God had promised Abraham that he would have an heir through Sarai and said he would be a blessing to many nations, but, in fear rather than faith, choosing self over the Sovereign, Abraham stopped asking ‘What is right?’ and began asking ‘What is safe?’ He worked against God’s promise and plan, jeopardized the future legacy he had hoped for, sold out his wife to save his own skin, threatened the future of Abimelech and the people of Gerar, and dishonored God’s holy name before the gentiles. In his inconsistent faith, Abraham repeated the same sin again and again. Yet, in His mercy, grace, love, and total faithfulness, God continually intervened in Abraham’s life. In this case, “God came to [unbelieving] Abimelech,” who proved to have more integrity than the chosen “prophet” Abraham. So, God was revealed and glorified, not because of Abraham but despite Abraham. God called Abraham to so much more! If only Abraham had trusted God and His promises and fulfilled his true calling as a prophet and blesser of many! But Abraham is a reminder to us that God chose us before we chose Him, not because of our righteousness (which is often worse than an unbeliever) but because of His grace. However God calls His people, who were made in His image to reflect and reveal His character to others in order to glorify Him and draw people to Him. Instead of assuming the worse in Abimelech, prejudging him, and leading him into unintentional sin, Abraham should have led him to the Lord. How has your lack of faith (fear and pride) caused you to repeatedly sin, work against God’s plan for your life, hurt others, misrepresent the character of God, and hold you back from the love, joy, and peace God wants for you? How has God revealed His grace to you despite your infidelity. Today is the day to recommit to living the life God has called you to live in Christ.
Psalm 7:9 – “Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous—you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!”
God tests your mind and heart for your benefit, not His. God knows your mind and heart, and He uses circumstances to reveal your mind and heart to you. He knows your heart and knows you don’t. You can’t fix what you can’t see or what you are not willing to be honest about. Your spontaneous fit of anger is God’s revelation to you that your heart is not right. So, what are you going to do about it?
Psalm 7:12 – “If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow.”
The first word of Jesus’ message when He began His public ministry was “Repent.” The message hasn’t changed, though fewer and fewer churches are proclaiming it. Repentance is a genuine change of heart, a commitment to live by faith in God rather than fear, and a commitment, or recommitment, to live wholeheartedly for the Sovereign Savior rather than self. There is an initial repentance which comes with salvation and rebirth in Christ, but there is also continual, daily repentance as we continue to grow in Christ, failing again and again along the way but less and less – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
When someone mentions your name, what comes to mind for others? Remember, as a Christian, you bear the name of Christ. What do people think about Jesus when they think about His impact on your life?
Proverbs 22:3 — “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
We have all heard the adage, “You’d have to be blind not to see what is going on.” Well, that is right. Society is blind to the reality of the inevitable consequences of their sin. Why? Because society chooses to be blind, preferring darkness over light. Proverbs 21 says, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” (Proverbs 21:4) The prideful direct their attention to (or shine their light on) sin, ignoring the will of God, regardless of God’s warnings to them (wisdom cries out in the streets). “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)
The Bible gives stern warnings concerning things like abortion, sexual sin, and mysticism which today are celebrated; the consequences of this abandonment of God’s will are more than evident, yet society largely ignores them. The danger for the church is that we become influenced society rather than an influence. We must not lose our humility, holiness, purity, and fear of the LORD. Warriors know that a defense that is not offensive in nature is doomed. We cannot just circle the wagons. We must boldly and confidently speak truth and resist evil. We must remind the earthly powers that “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1) We must command the powers that would resist God, “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!” (Psalm 24:7-10) “Fret not yourself because of evildoers.” (Psalm 37:1; Proverbs 24:19) “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8) Stop worrying so much about the obvious evil we see around us and the earthly powers that work against us. They are nothing at all compared to the power of our God. Allow God’s will to be done in your life and spread that to others, advancing the Kingdom one heart at a time. The Bible says that we have been given “power” by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49) The Greek word for power is dunamis (doo’-nam-is), from which we get the word “dynamite.” It means mighty, forceful, destructive, power that is obviously miraculous. Destructive? Yes! “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) If the strongholds remain, it is only because we have not applied dynamite. Don’t focus on what the world is doing, focus on what God is doing. Be holy, pure, obedient, confident, love, bold, and powerful.
Proverbs 22:11 — He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
Proverbs 22:29 — Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.
There are two vital and inseparable qualities of a leader – character and competence. The question people who rely on you will ask about you is: “Are you a good person, and are you good at what you do?” From character and competence come trust and confidence. Of King David, the Bible says, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them (Psalm 78:72)” – character and competence. Today’s Proverbs tell us that with character and competence, we will serve before kings. Why does this matter? Because position is influence, and influence can be used for God’s glory. Look at the Bible characters that God placed in important positions in order to influence for His glory – Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, Esther, etc. Of course the same principles of character and competence apply to the most important task of parenting. Notice that when the Bible introduces a new character, it almost always points out who the parents of that person were. I find the greatest examples of leadership among parents who sacrifice all for their children out of love without seeking personal benefit. We should pursue not only a pure heart but also elite competence in all that we do, not for our own glory, but for God’s glory and as an act of worship to Him.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor…. He who…whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” When we think of giving, we usually think about sharing tangible resources, but graciousness and forgiveness are also forms of giving. When we give grace and forgiveness we surrender our rights to another. Grace and forgiveness is a gift that costs us something we consider to be valuable, given to someone else free of charge, with no strings attached, given joyfully. With both our resources and our emotions, the Bible tells us to give bountifully, with an abundance mentality. You have heard some people say, “Give until it hurts.” However, the Bible says that if we have a “good” heart, we will give bountifully and it won’t hurt because we see no limit to God’s riches which He freely bestows upon us. Giving tangibly and emotionally have much in common: both require faith, hope, and love. Both require an understanding that what we are giving isn’t really ours in the first place. We are merely stewards of resources, and we surrendered our claims to rights when we accepted grace from God. The Bible says that God loves a joyful giver. If giving hurts, it is an issue with the heart. Pray that God will give you an abundance mentality, faith in His limitless provision.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 22 Jan 22: Seek to glorify the Lord before others today through your obedience to him and your graciousness, generosity, forgiveness, and skillfulness before others, proclaiming the Gospel in word and in deed.