Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 13 Feb 18:
1. Exodus 37:1-9 — The Ark was the throne of footstool of God, located in the Most Holy Place, behind the veil, accessible only by the high priest, and then only once a year (on the Day of Atonement). Approaching the ark required the blood of atonement. The ark contained the Law, demonstrating God’s Justice; it would eventually contain Aaron’s rod, representing God’s transfer of authority to His priests, His power provided to His priests, and His role as shepherd of His people; and it would eventually contain a jar of manna, demonstrating His miraculous provision for His people. Covering the Law and other articles was a lid called the mercy seat (see also Ex. 25:17–22). God knew that Israel would break His law but that He would be merciful and cover their law-breaking to guard those who truly loved Him from His wrath. Ultimately, this was achieved through the death of a substitute and the sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat itself (Lev. 16). Dr. John MacArthur aptly comments that “blood from the sacrifices stood between God and the broken law of God.” “The blood and the mercy seat would foreshadow the final cleansing that would be achieved through the shed blood of Christ (Heb. 10:1–18). Because of this blood we can now meet with the Lord in worship just as the high priest used to meet with God before the ark of the covenant (review Ex. 25:22). Therefore, when we come into the Lord’s presence, we must strive to do so with reverence and awe, for in worship we are entering the great King’s heavenly throne room.” (Ligonier)
2. Exodus38:24-29 – “All the gold that was used for the work… was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels…. The silver… was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels…. everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men…. The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels.” God’s ways are to account for every resource and every person. Does your church account for every person and every dollar?
3. Proverbs 13:2 – God’s people are designed in the physical form to translate the spiritual into the physical world. One of the first places spiritual realities become physical or are “created” physically is with words. First, ideas are spoken and then resonate in the physical world. God first created by speaking. Similarly, our words have an effect on the world. Our words will either produce good fruit or bad, and Jesus said that we will be held accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths. Today, take a close account of all the words you speak and what impact they have on your attitude and on others. What are your words creating? Are they uplifting, constructive, positive, and reconciling, or are they negative and counterproductive? Also, count your “I” and “Me” personal pronouns, checking for self-centeredness, self-edification, self-promotion, and self-righteousness.
4. Proverbs 13:10 – “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.” Another way to interpret this verse is, “Pride only breeds quarrels.” At the root of pride is comparison, comparing ourselves to other in an egotistical manner. It is very hard for some people to accept that others might know more than they in a particular area. It takes humility to admit weakness before others. How many truly humble people do you find quarrelling?
5. Proverbs 13:11 – “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” It takes great, consistent, daily discipline to make money grow little by little which is why most don’t get rich, and many of those who do quickly lose their wealth.
6. Proverbs 13:13-15 — “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.” I like the way the NIV says the last verse above: “The way of the unfaithful is hard.” Sin, all sin, is terrible and produces destructive consequences, ultimately death, in the physical and spiritual realms. Sin is counter to God (anti-Christ) and, of course, God takes sin very seriously. God has given us His word that we may live life to its fullest and grow in love. However, our sinful choices cause such pain and destruction. Sin makes us all victims and victimizers; there is no such thing as victimless sin; even sinful thoughts ultimately produce a harvest of pain. The sin offerings described in Leviticus 1 brutally displayed the destructiveness of sin. When the sinner offered the “male without defect” the sinner placed his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and the sinner slaughtered the perfect, innocent animal. The blood was then sprinkled against the alter on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The sin offering was intended to be a dramatic object lesson (using a physical object to teach deep truths). The sinner was given a very clear picture of the penalty for all sin, but the sinner was also given a prophetic picture of the atonement that would ultimately be provided through the Great “Male Without Defect,” Jesus Christ. True repentance and saving faith in Jesus should simultaneously bring us great joy and peace but also great hatred for the sin that caused our Lord to suffer and that causes so much pain to others. It is impossible to love God without hating sin, and to make light of sin is to make light of the penalty that was paid for your sin (see Hebrews below). It is impossible to truly love others while remaining light hearted toward sin. One cannot help but wonder if there is such a thing as a “carnal Christian.”
– Hebrews 10:26-31 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
7. Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” How many Christians today are planning for the prosperity of their children’s children?
8. Acts 4:2 – Talking about Jesus has annoyed people for thousands of years.
9. Acts 4:4 – “But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Many will hate you because you talk about Jesus, but many will believe. Our job is not to do the work of the Holy Spirit; our job is simply to preach the Gospel to all, regardless of what they say they believe.
10. Acts 4:8-10 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.” The Holy Spirit convicts you to talk about Jesus rather than just saying “God”, which can mean all things to all people. God wants you to connect your good deeds to Jesus Christ. Good deeds open the door for the Gospel to be preached. Ambassadors for Christ take no credit for themselves and draw no attention to themselves. They always point to Jesus.
11. Acts 4:12 – “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” It’s Jesus people need, not ‘goodness’ or worldly versions of ‘godliness’. As an Ambassador for Jesus, you must proclaim His name. We are not ambassadors for moralism, common sense, or bright ideas. We are not commissioned to make people just feel better. We are called to reconcile others to Jesus Christ. If all you have done is make people feel more comfortable in their current condition or promote discord among the lost, you have fallen short of the Great Commission. Eternal life is knowing Jesus and unity with Jesus. The Bible is not a self-help book; rather, it is intended to guide us closer to Jesus.
12. Acts 4:13 – “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” There is no mistaking a life transformed by God! The disciples had been vain and fearful when Jesus enlisted them. James and John sought to outmaneuver their fellow disciples in order to gain the places of greatest honor next to Jesus (Mark 10:37). Over and over the disciples’ actions showed that they did not truly understand who Jesus was (John 6:7-9; Mark 6:49). Even after three years with Jesus, Peter was afraid to confess Christ before a young servant girl (Matt. 26:69-75). Anyone who knew these men would realize they were not the kind of people on which you build a worldwide kingdom. Yet something happened to them as they were with Jesus. The Holy Spirit transformed them, giving them new boldness and wisdom. Now they could perform miracles and preach fearlessly and persuasively to multitudes. Even their enemies noticed in their changed lives the same power they had witnessed in Jesus. Sometimes we desperately want others to believe that we have changed, that we are more godly, more devoted, more Spirit-controlled. It is not necessary, however, for those who have been truly transformed by Christ to convince others of the difference; the change will be obvious. Don’t become too introspective, always focusing on yourself and the small changes you see happening over time. As you walk with Jesus daily, let the witness of the changes taking place in you come from others and not from you. If you have to prove to someone that God has really changed you, He has not. Those around you will surely notice when your life has been transformed by your relationship with Jesus. (Henry T. Blackaby)
13. Acts 4:13 — “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Is the evidence that you are with Jesus astonishing to those who know you? Is your Christian life characterized by boldness which comes from your faith in and love for your Sovereign LORD? If your witness isn’t bold and astonishing, pray the prayer of the apostles: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them…. grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” As with the original disciples, when God fills you with boldness and “great power”, He will also fill you with “great grace” towards others. (Acts 4:33) Above all else, you will be known for your powerful love which brings comfort and healing into the lives of others. Your love is your witness, the evidence of God to others. (1 John 3:10) Your love will be shocking, truly ‘out of this world’, a love that clearly could only come from God. (John 17:16) As a reflection of the love you received, the love you give to others will be very valuable because it is an undeserved gift that cost you everything. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
14. Acts 4:18-20 – “So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” What will you do when your government, place of employment, club, or social group tells you to not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus? Will you tell yourself you are still obeying Jesus in your silence?
15. Acts 4:29 – “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” Are you praying to God to protect you in your boldness? Keep proclaiming Jesus, and trust God to protect you as He desires.
16. Acts 4:31 – “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Prayer preceded the work of the Holy Spirit which empowered to disciples to proclaim the Gospel boldly. How is prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit empowering you?
17. Acts 4:32 – “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” True love for Jesus inspires unity, not disunity, selflessness, not selfishness, generosity, not materialism, and radical giving rather than hoarding. Until you have genuine faith hope and love; until you trust God with today and with the future, you will not be willing to give freely.
18. Acts 4:34 – “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.” God has provided all the resources everyone needs. Human fear and greed causes need and poverty. Only Jesus can overcome greed.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 Feb: Tell three people about Jesus Christ today, and explain that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Pray to God for the boldness you lack and the protection only He can provide. (Acts 4:29)