Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 24 January 2022:
Genesis 22:1, 2 – After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Our difficulty is not usually that we don’t know God’s will. Our discomfort comes from the fact that we do know His will, but we do not want to do it! When God first spoke to Abraham, His commands were straightforward. “Go to a land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). Then God led Abraham through a number of tests over the years. Abraham learned patience as he waited on God’s promise of a son, which took twenty-five years to be fulfilled. Abraham learned to trust God through battles with kings and through the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The pinnacle of Abraham’s walk of faith was when God asked him to sacrifice the one thing that meant more to him than anything else. Abraham’s previous obedience indicated that he would have quickly and decisively sacrificed anything else God asked of him, but was he prepared for this? God did not ask Abraham to make such a significant sacrifice at the beginning of their relationship. This came more than thirty years after Abraham began walking with God. As the Father progressively reveals His ways to you in your Christian pilgrimage, you, like Abraham, will develop a deeper level of trust in Him. When you first became a Christian, your Master’s instructions were probably fundamental, such as being baptized or changing your lifestyle. But as you learn to trust Him more deeply, He will develop your character to match bigger tests, and with the greater test will come a greater love for God and knowledge of His ways. Are you ready for God’s next revelation? (Henry T. Blackaby)
Genesis 22:8 — Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb.” This is a foreshadowing of Jesus — “…and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36) Notice that Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice as Jesus carried His cross.
- Isaiah 53:7 — He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
- 1 Peter 1:19 — But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
- Revelation 5 — Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Genesis 22:14 — “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
The “land of Moriah” is also where Jesus was crucified.
Matthew 16:9 – “Do you not yet perceive?”
As discussed yesterday, it is all about perception – spiritual perception or understanding. First Jesus points out that the Pharisees and the Sadducees can’t perceive the reality of the Christ right before their eyes. (Matthew 16:1-4) Then, Jesus questions His disciples about their limited perception of Him – “Do you not yet perceive?” Then, Jesus gets to the point — “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers correctly — “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Next, Jesus presents a critical truth, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17) Flesh and blood cannot discern spiritual truth – it must be given by God:
- John 3:3 — Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- John 6:44, 65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
- James 1:5 — If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
- 1 Corinthians 2:14 — The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
- John 16:13 — When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
- Psalm 119:66 — Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
The Father draws us to the Son (John 6:44, 65), and through salvation in Christ, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit and then have spiritual perception and discernment. And when we see Jesus truly as the Christ (sight we are given), we see the Truth, and it changes our perception of everything else; we can then judge all things rightly – “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)
However, we can still quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, get out of step with the Spirit, and even outrage the Spirit if we choose to be guided by the flesh rather than the Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Galatians 5:25; Hebrews 10:29)
Immediately after Jesus commended Peter for seeing Him rightly through the gifting of the Father, Jesus gives Peter a harsh rebuke — “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” After his revelation from the Father through the Spirit, Peter went right back to judging things from his human, self-centered perspective rather than from God’s truth, rather maintaining spiritual discernment. God’s plan for Jesus, the Cross, simply wasn’t the plan Peter had envisioned for Jesus or for himself from his human understanding. What Peter needed was right perception, spiritual discernment. When we allow ‘common sense,’ self-centered intellect, and worldly wisdom get in the way of the Spirit, it is “a hindrance” to our mission as Christ’s ambassadors. If we aren’t careful, we can even be tempted to co-opt Jesus for our personal agendas – “Lord, please bless me in the things I want to do,” rather than, “Lord, let your will be done.” How is your perception?
After Jesus harshly rebukes Peter, he taught, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25) It is “self” or the “flesh” (our self-centered perspective and desires) which gets in the way of our spiritual discernment. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) However, we all struggle with a part of us which wants to go our own way, determine our own truth, and live our own lives. Ultimately, we want Jesus to follow us, to simply be there when we need Him. This struggle with self is a daily battle (see Luke 9:23) and is the greatest war we all fight, though our victory is ultimately assured in Christ. Each day, we will come to several decision-points, which become crossroads for us, a choice about which path we will take, our own path or the path of Jesus — will we gratify our own desires (comfort-based decisions) or seek the Lord’s will (Christ-based decisions)? When we come to these crossroads multiple times a day, we must take the ‘Cross Road’ – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Concerning spiritual discernment and this daily battle against self, Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Watchfulness and prayerfulness are essential to our spiritual discernment and our war against the flesh. Watch – pour into God’s word, and from the plumbline of God’s truth, examine yourself, the true motives behind your behavior and the fruit of your behavior (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Pray – pray that God will give you strength to resist temptation and will help you to keep your eyes affixed on Jesus, that you would seek His will earnestly and be increasingly conformed to His character. Pray that He will give you the discernment which can only come from Him – “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Perhaps your first cross roads decision today was whether or not you would begin your day in earnest prayer to seek His face and guidance or instead jump into all of the activities you had planned. Put on the whole armor of God BEFORE you go into today’s battle, not in the middle or after the fight —
- Ephesians 6: 11-18 — Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….
- 1 Corinthians 2:16 — For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
- Philippians 4:7 — And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 24 Jan 22: Pray that God will give you right perception in your circumstances and in your encounters with others, so you can respond and influence from a pure heart and the mind of Christ.