YEAR 2, WEEK 2, Day 3, Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 11 January 2023:

2 Chronicles 9:1-4 – …There was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could not explain to her….

Solomon had everything, and seemed to know everything, but this was not enough in his life to give him peace and security. Character is not riches, fame, reputation, or even knowledge. Character is based upon what is truly in your heart, your relationship with God. God gave Solomon wisdom and riches, but Solomon had to choose to put God first in his life.

2 Chronicles 9:8 — Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness.

God establishes earthly kings for His purposes. Godly kings execute justice and righteousness due to their relationship with God who is justice and righteousness. God often blesses nations with godly kings and curses nations with ungodly kings. The fate of elections is in God’s hands, and God will give to a nation according to His blessings and disciplines. The hope for America is repentance and revival.

2 Chronicles 9 — People often think that with more resources, opportunities, or intelligence, their life would be better. However, Solomon had everything, nothing was spared him by God, and he would end up destroying the kingdom and ending his life in regret. The secret to life is nothing but relationship with God.

Matthew 8:4 — And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

Likely, Jesus was not trying to hide His glory from the world but rather was first revealing Himself to the religious leaders that they might lead others by example in repentance. When leaders fail, God raises up new, faithful leaders.

Matthew 8:6 — Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.

The Centurion put his reputation on the line to approach Jesus because of his compassion for his servant.

Matthew 8:10 — Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

True followers of Jesus trust Him at His word and act upon His word with complete confidence.

Matthew 8:11, 12 – I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Many who think they are going to heaven aren’t.

Matthew 8:13 — And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

As physical beings, we have a tendency to view God from a physical perspective, limiting in our minds how we think God might work in a situation based upon what we have seen and understand. Here we see that Jesus did not have to go to the servant to heal the servant, though that was what most would have expected. The power of the Holy Spirit is not limited by time and space.

Matthew 8:20 – And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus exemplified personal sacrifice and commitment and expected His disciples to follow His example.

Matthew 8:21 – Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

“Often our struggle as Christians is not in deciding whether we should obey Christ but in obeying immediately. We may acknowledge our need to follow Christ and commit ourselves to do what He has told us. Yet when God reveals His will to us, that is the time to obey! God’s revelation of His will is His invitation to respond immediately.

Some would-be disciples pledged their willingness to follow Jesus, but they told Him they were not ready yet. In Jesus’ day, a Jewish man was expected to care for his elderly parents until they died. One man wanted to wait until his father died before going with Jesus. This would be an honorable delay. The man had to choose between this important responsibility and heeding a call from the Lord. Yet God knew this man, and He knew the man’s father. God would have taken care of the man’s father, if he only would have followed Jesus. This was an opportunity to walk with the Son of God, yet the concerns of this life were competing for priority with obedience to God.

Timing our obedience is crucial. Invitations from God come with a limited opportunity to respond. Some opportunities to serve Him, if not accepted immediately, will be lost. Occasions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone, it may be critical that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing opportunities to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God, the time to respond is now.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

Matthew 8:22 — And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Following Jesus requires wholehearted, total commitment. You cannot go with Him while staying where you are. You also cannot ask Him to wait for you until you are ready to join Him on the journey. Nor can you take a path halfway between where you are going and where He is going and still be with Him. You just need to walk with Jesus right now, leaving behind all self-interest in pursuit of His will.

Matthew 8:25 — “And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”

Our thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and our ways are not God’s ways — they are completely different. We cannot understand our lives or what we should do from our own understanding which is based upon our limited awareness and perspective. What we see and what we feel is not the total reality and is often a distorted interpretation of reality. While the disciples thought they were going to die, Jesus was sleeping calmly because Jesus had quintessential (beyond the five quintessential (quint meaning five) senses) awareness or supernatural (beyond natural abilities) awareness through the Holy Spirit. To understand anything, you must be guided by the Holy Spirit, not relying on your own understanding.

Matthew 8:26 – And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

Crisis reveals what you really believe about Jesus and in what you place your faith. Doubt is your signal that you don’t know God as well as you should.

“’Why do you doubt?’ It is by faith that God’s mighty power is released into the life of a Christian (Heb. 11:33-35). The fact that you have doubts indicates that you do not know God as you should. If your prayer life is infiltrated with doubts, you have denied yourself the greatest, single avenue of power that God has made available to you. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). God never comforts you in your doubt. Jesus consistently rebuked those who would not believe Him. He had revealed enough of Himself for His disciples to have believed Him in their time of need.

God wants to build your understanding of Him until your faith is sufficient to trust and obey Him in each situation (Mark 9:23-25). The moment you turn to Him with a genuine commitment to rid yourself of doubt, God will match your doubt with a revelation of Himself that can convince you of His faithfulness. When Thomas doubted, Jesus revealed Himself to him in such a way that every doubt vanished (John 20:27). You can only resolve your lack of faith in God’s presence. He must reveal Himself in such a way that any doubt you might have is removed. Jesus did this with His disciples. He involved them in a consistent, growing relationship with Himself. Jesus took them through teaching, to small miracles, to large miracles, and to the resurrection. Jesus knew that the redemption of the world rested on His disciples’ believing Him. What does God want to do in the lives of those around you that waits upon your trust in Him and the removal of your doubts?” (Henry T. Blackaby)

Matthew 8:28 — And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes.

Jesus led His disciples to the land of the pagans who worshipped Baal and valued swine, unclean to Jews. Immediately they met two demon-possessed men coming out of tombs (imagine that in your mind) confirming in the minds of the disciples they had no business being there. However, Jesus intended to spread the Gospel to these Hellenistic people. Jesus performed a miracle but the response from the crowd was not positive — “they begged him to leave their region.” Once again, this undoubtedly convinced the disciples that this journey was a wasted effort, time squandered on ungodly people who would never accept Jesus. Jesus did not try to convince the crowds but rather he will focus His attention on the one under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We will soon read of the powerful impact this one trip had on the entire region. This is also another good example of how we are called to engage or sinful culture without partnering with that sinful culture. Jesus in no way compromised His fidelity, His integrity, or His holiness while He travelled the country of the Gadarenes. He did not try to validate their culture or show ‘respect’ for their false religion. He did not change along the way, but He transformed others.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 January 2023: Today, don’t just do something. Wait for the Holy Spirits guidance and act upon it. Don’t just follow your routine or plan. Ask God what He wants you to do, and quietly wait for a response. If He convicts you to call someone, call them. If you convicts you to go somewhere, then go. Keep your eyes open for where the Holy Spirit is working in someone’s life, and join Him there. Be an ambassador for Jesus to the person the Holy Spirit is already working on. Don’t waste your time trying to build something where the Holy Spirit is not building. You will find at first it is very difficult to follow the Holy Spirit and wait upon the Lord for direction. We are a very busy people who often measure the day’s success on what we got done. The problem with that is we might get all the wrong things done, being so busy we missed what God would have had us do. God is already working His plan around you — join Him in what He is already doing rather than asking Him to join you on what you want to do or on what you think He should do. (Matthew 8:28)

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