Monday, January 11, 2021

January 11 - Genesis 8/Matthew 7

 Key verse: Genesis 8:22

Big idea: In the beginning, God promised to sustain the world.

"It happens like clockwork" is an interesting expression. It implies pieces that interlock and interact reliably, over and over again. One second per second, one minute per minute, and one hour per hour. But a clock is only as good as its materials. If iron suddenly became as soft as a marshmallow or if gravity blinked off and on, even the finest clock would be worthless. The most consistent things in life depend on the consistency of God's sustaining work in creation. After the flood, God promised that He would never again wipe out the normal order by water again. He made a commitment to sustain our world. 

His faithfulness in things like seasons and the laws of nature tells us something about the character of God. If he has kept His covenant with the electrons and protons, surely He will keep His covenant with David (Jeremiah 33:23-26). If He keeps the covenant He made with David, how much more the covenant He sealed with the blood of His Son? His sustaining work shows us that He is a God who keeps His promises. 

Yet, God has also promised that there will be an end to His sustaining. Although some might think that the consistency of life proves that Jesus is not coming to radically change it, the truth is the opposite (2 Peter 3:4). The God who has been faithful to maintain the Earth will be faithful to keep His promise to come again and make a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells. 

Discussion idea: What is a promise worth to you? Does it depend on the one who makes it? What are God's promises worth?

Prayer focus: Thank God for His faithfulness to His Word. Find some specific kept promises to praise Him for.

Key verse: Matthew 7:24 

Big Idea: When we submit to Jesus the King, we build our lives on the solid rock.

When I was a teenager, I worked at a local horse ranch. I made a little money, but mostly I was paid in the lease of a beautiful Paint Horse. One evening, I was unloading bales of hay from the back of a pickup truck in the rain. I braced my foot on the toolbox and pushed when I learned that my foot was not as secure as I thought it was. Loose, wet hay on metal made a slick surface, and my Ariat boot went straight through the rear windshield. I think it cost my dad more to replace that window than I ever made working there. Hopefully, you have never had that exact experience, but you have probably tried to push something while standing in the mud. The more you struggle, the deeper you sink, and no amount of slipping and sliding will get you anywhere. You need a firm footing.  

In the final chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us about the hypocritical life. Jesus begins with a vivid word picture about trying to remove a speck from your brother’s eye with a log sticking out of your own. He goes on to describe wolves wearing sheepskin and the insanity of expecting a thornbush to grow grapes. Superficial change may fool some people for a while, but no amount of work will ever deceive the Lord on the Day of Judgment. 

He concludes the Sermon with a story about two houses. If we genuinely answer Christ’s call, we are like a wise man who dug deep and built his house on solid rock, unshaken by any storm. But if we do not, our life is a house built by a fool, which for all of its crown molding and fresh paint is founded on mud and is sure to collapse catastrophically. Jesus is not impressed by the behavior of a hypocrite with a rotten heart. He calls us to choose the narrow way of faith and transformation from within. Trying to do good deeds without a relationship with Jesus is like trying to push a hay bale out of a truck with insecure footing: a mess and a failure. It is like grapes falling into a thornbush, destined to rot without ever affecting the roots of the plant. But if our life is founded on a broken heart submitted to Him by faith, we will stand.

Discussion Idea: When we look at another person’s life, we cannot see the foundation. Could a person have a deep, solid foundation, but appear like a shack to others? How should that affect the way we evaluate other people’s lives?

Prayer Focus: The reality of our heart will inevitably be exposed eventually. Ask God to help you have the humility to recognize it and the wisdom to repair it with His strength. 

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