Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 28 March 2022:
Exodus 35:1-3 – Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.”
In the last nine chapters, the requirement to honor the Sabbath has been repeated at least 14 times.
Exodus 35:5 – “Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution.”
God is always looking for generous hearts to serve Him. Generosity is a demonstration of genuine faith. It takes faith to give abundantly, trusting in God’s provision.
Exodus 35:10 — “Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded.”
God wants people of all talents and skills to put their abilities towards His work rather than just using their God-given talents for themselves.
Exodus 35:10, 21, 22, 29 — “Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded…. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart…. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.”
God’s commands are obeyed only by willing hearts. What we choose to do reflects what we truly feel about God. God’s commands are not difficult to understand or difficult to follow; the struggle is with the heart. As the old pastor says, “The heart of man’s problem is the problem with man’s heart.
Exodus 35:30-35 — “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel… and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he Has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.”
God calls His servants, assigns them, inspires them, empowers them, and equips them with all that is required to fulfill the mission which is given by Him. God also calls His servants to teach others. Bezalel and Oholiab were Old Testament disciple-makers who not only used their talents, first and foremost to serve God, they also ensured that the work of the temple would expand beyond themselves through others in the congregation. There are levels of leadership we should all aspire to achieve:
1) Lead Self – this is actually learning more and more to be led by the Spirit, obtaining the last mentioned “fruit of the Spirit” which is self-control (or self-discipline); this is growing in unity with Jesus and following Jesus more and more in loving obedience; this is the foundation of all the other levels of leadership and is something that remains a life-long endeavor. Leadership is taking people where they need to go. True leadership points exclusively to Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The person who has learned to “lead self” is the true “walking dead,” having been crucified with Christ and no longer living, being controlled by the love of Christ. The moral authority to lead is found only in the authority of Jesus. We are only as much of a leader as we are a follower of Jesus. Confidence, personality, talent, skills, and abilities are no substitutes for faith, hope, love, and obedience to Jesus. 2) Prepare to Lead Others – This is developing the skills required of a disciple-maker; it is learning how to not only share your faith but also how to teach others how to walk in faith, to obey all that Jesus has commanded. 3) Leading Others – This is disciple-making; it is far more than just teaching: it is coaching and mentoring; walking with the person and practicing discipleship, evangelism, ministry, worship, and fellowship together. How much time did Jesus spend in the classroom with His disciples? How much time do football coaches spend reading books about football with their players? You don't really understand something until you live it. Leading others involves “getting dirty” together and sharing experiences together. Like a good Marine squad leader, the disciple-maker is on the front-lines with his team employing the steps of instruction: “Educate, demonstrate, replicate, evaluate, remediate,” – “Here is why and how…. Now, watch me…. Now you try…. Let’s examine what went well and what could have been better…. Let’s try again, and again….” As Jethro taught Moses, as Jesus modelled, and as the military has practiced for thousands of years, a disciple-maker must focus their energies on no more than three to twelve people to be effective (usually focusing on one, then three, then 10-12). 4) Leading Subordinate Leaders – this is developing disciples into disciple-makers, taking them beyond merely leading self to preparing to lead others, leading others, and onward. This creates a powerful pyramid structure of leadership that employs the principle of multiplication. 5) Develop a Leadership Climate and Culture – this is about creating an iron-sharpens-iron environment among large groups of mutually supportive, interdependent disciple-makers. It is about influencing a shared expectation of growth and helping to facilitate that growth. 6) Leading Communal Change – this is about creating, equipping, supporting, and sustaining unity of effort and unity of action among many to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, to lead a growing movement of reconciliation with Jesus. Change implies a degree of permanence. We say that a person has changed when they are consistently different over time. Likewise, a community has changed when the difference is defining. Leading communal change is generational.
Mark 5:17-18 – “And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.”
Ultimately, people will seek either to draw closer to Jesus or further away. Those, like the man in today’s story, who have received God’s grace and healing in a life-changing way naturally desire only to remain in Jesus’ presence, enjoying fellowship with Him. How about you? Do you beg to be with your Savior, ever closer to Him with each day? Is that your heart’s desire?
- Psalm 84:10 — For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
- Psalm 63:1-4 — O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
- Psalm 105:4 — Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
- Genesis 4:16 — Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
The formerly demon possessed man begged to stay with Jesus, but Jesus said, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Matthew 5:19) So, the man “went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (Matthew 5:20) Later, as a result of the man’s testimony, large crowds from the Decapolis would seek Jesus when He returned to the region (Mark 7:31-36 and Matt. 15:30). God doesn’t want us to simply enjoy fellowship with Him, He wants us to share Him with others, which requires getting out of our comfort zones. For the formerly demon possessed man, a new life didn’t mean moving away to a new place and starting over. He was charged with going back into his community and displaying a new life and sharing a new message with those who had already known him for a long time. Sharing Christ with people you know is often more uncomfortable than sharing Christ with people you really don’t know. However, the reality of the new you will be more apparent to those who knew the old you than to those who didn’t. Many of your old friends, perhaps even some family, won’t accept the new you, but others will be blessed by your ministry and message of reconciliation. At the heart of a new life in Christ is a heart desperate to share with others Jesus Christ, the greatest gift of love anyone could offer another.
- Philippians 1:21-26 — For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
- 2 Kings 7:9 — Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 Mar 22: Get out of your comfort zone and share Jesus with someone today.