Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 31 May 2022:
Numbers 32:13 – “And the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.”
God’s people could not go the next level until they were purified of unfaithful people. Special assignments require special people. God is Holy; His ambassadors must in turn be holy. The Israelites spent 400 years learning to be slaves to the ungodly and needed 40 years to learn to be free in God’s power, to trust in Him and to serve Him wholeheartedly. How long will it take you to put away the ways of the world and trust and obey the Lord wholeheartedly?
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- Romans 6:4 — We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
- Ephesians — To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- 1 Peter 1:3 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- Galatians 2:20 — 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.
- Colossians 3:10 — And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
- Hebrews 12:1-2 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
2 Corinthians 3:3 – “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Our transformed hearts and the love that overflows from us bears witness to the power of the Spirit within our lives. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). 1 John 4 expands upon the fruit of love: “Love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
2 Corinthians 3:12 – “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”
True faith and hope make you bold.
2 Corinthians 3:14-17 – “But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
You cannot understand God’s word or will unless you are empowered by the Holy Spirit upon salvation through Jesus Christ and surrender to His leading day by day. Anyone can study the Bible; however only those empowered by the Holy Spirit can truly understand it. The Holy Spirit dwells in true disciples of Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:18 — And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
“Discouragement in the Christian life comes easily when expectations are not realized. Some days we read the Scriptures and sense Christ’s stirring—our soul awakens from its doldrums, our mind engages, our heart inflames, and our affections kindle. We find encouragement or challenge in something we read, and our prayers flow with ease.
But then there are other days, days we don’t see the effect we would hope for. Our devotions aren’t quite so stirring. Our Bible reading feels more like a burden than a means of grace. Listlessness and formality mark our prayers. We begin to wonder if the time spent is worth the effort. We examine our Christian life and wonder why we haven’t progressed further.
At best, that line of thinking and feeling is silly, and at worst, it is dangerous. The Christian life is not lived in a moment, and it seldom progresses by major triumphs. Rather, most often, in Christ, we grow by degrees. Like the kindergartner who shows up for the first day of class and decries his classmates’ inability to answer calculus questions, so the Christian who despairs of seeing little progress in the moment proves rash. Few moments rise to the monumental. Rather, our growth in Christ happens by degrees and small alterations. This should encourage the Christian to read his Bible and pray daily, walk humbly, and keep persevering, even when it feels as though little occurs.
When snow falls, it falls in very small flakes. As those small flakes hit the ground, little appears to happen. Yet, a few hours pass and white covers the ground. An entire landscape changes, but only by small additions.
Most lasting change in Christ takes place by degrees, small additions, as we read and apply His Word. John Newton compared it to a house under construction. The beginnings of the construction appear insignificant. One passes by the home project for days and little progress is evident. The concrete slab is laid and supplies litter the yard. A few nails lie here and a few boards lie there. It doesn’t look like much. In fact, it looks like a mess. Yet, the architect and the builder know exactly what they are doing, and they accomplish it by degrees. The Lord is at work in you, dear Christian. The Master Architect and Great Builder has a plan. He knows what He is doing, but you can’t always see evidence of it today.
Keep attending to the means of grace—read your Bible, partake of the sacraments, and pray. Never give it up, not for a day, and surely not for a week. God is at work. Persevere in pursuing Christ. He is conforming you more and more to His image. You are not what you desire to be, but Christ is at work. We all “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Walk humbly, read the Word, pray, and keep your head up—looking to Christ who is at work in you and upon you. Make no mistake, you are being changed—it is simply by degrees.” (Ligonier Ministries)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 31 May 22: Today, pursue Christlikeness with all your ability from the inside out, with your heart for Christ shaping your thoughts and attitudes which in turn shape your outward countenance, words, and actions. Press in to Christlikeness but also persevere as you are transformed degree by degree, all the while resting on God’s grace along the way. Don’t quit or step back when you fail. Repent, thank God, and press on!