Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 14 Feb 18:
1. Exodus 39 repeatedly points out that the work was done precisely the way God had shown Moses. Those who seek the Lord must approach Him with obedience, honoring His Sovereignty and holiness. Disobedience is universal treason. A follower of Jesus must also strive to know the Bible through and through. You should be an expert on God’s word, not only in knowledge but also in application which is wisdom (knowledge rightly applied).
2. Exodus 39:43 — “And Moses say all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.” The theme that jumps out to me from our readings today is ‘accountability’ – being answerable to God with the burden of responsibility for your actions. Eleven times in Exodus it is repeated that the people completed all the work, with excruciating attention to detail, “as the LORD had commanded Moses.” And all of the resources used in the building of the Tabernacle and in the crafting of the instruments for worship were carefully accounted for. (Exodus 28:21-39) God’s commands to Moses, the overseers, and the craftsmen were very detailed and specific, to the point where many readers of the Old Testament have a hard time getting through these chapters. Far more detail is recounted of the construction of the place of worship than was recounted of the building of the ark, which literally kept mankind afloat on earth. Certainly we can appreciate how important it was for Noah to diligently follow the directions provided to him by God, but we see that God’s expectations for how His people approached Him for worship were even more demanding, detailed and specific. More important than life is the honor of God’s Holiness. When the work was done, Moses carefully inspected, holding everyone accountable to the commands of God. Obedience was not taken lightly at all but was expected. Perhaps Moses was the first to coin that old Marine Corps adage: “Expect neglect in what you don’t inspect.” God expected obedience and Moses, as a leader, inspected for obedience. Related to accountability, our readings from Proverbs speak of the “The fruit of the righteous,” God’s expectation of righteousness from His people. The word righteous is used 13 times in Proverbs 11 alone, and each time it is connected with the consequences of righteousness – reward, life, deliverance, good, flourishing, repayment, etc. The message is that our gracious God, who is quick to forgive, still holds us accountable for our behavior and rewards or disciplines accordingly. Finally, in Acts we read the shocking story of Ananias and Sapphira. Note to self: don’t lie to the Holy Spirit! The Bible says that each of us will give an account of ourselves before God, and on the Day of Judgment, we will give an account for “every careless word” we speak. (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12:36) On the Day of Judgment we will all fall short of God’s perfectly Holy standard and will rely solely on salvation through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We will be saved by Grace and not by our works. Nevertheless, all of Creation remains subject to both God’s natural laws and spiritual laws, and “the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.” (Isaiah 5:16) Though we rely on Grace, God’s demand for love requires obedience, and to obedience (in His love) He holds us accountable and rewards and disciplines accordingly – “he rewards those who seek him…. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 3:19) Though imperfect, we must strive for perfection, and that is what God expects – “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12) Again, we are only perfected in Christ, but our act of worship on earth is to follow God’s perfect law which begins and ends with love. As we read about how carefully and diligently the craftsmen built the Tabernacle, perhaps we should consider how diligently we honor God in obedience to His word and in love:
– 1 John 2:4-6 — “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
– 1 John 4:12-21 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
3. Exodus 40:15-33 – God sets apart ministers He calls for His service. God expects ministers to do what His word has told them to do.
4. Exodus 40:35 – When God’s glory is present, humans cannot enter and look upon it. We have lost appreciation of the glory of God’s presence.
5. Exodus 40:36 – We must follow God’s lead in life.
6. Proverbs 14:1-4 – Your relationship with God determines if you will help or harm yourself.
7. Proverbs 14:5-7 – God knows people will reveal their character through their words. We were created, in part, to transfer spiritual truth into the physical world, to impact the world to God’s glory, to “subdue” the earth by living out God’s will and reconciling the world to Him. Our thoughts are within ourselves, but the first place we impact the world is in our words and deeds. Our words are powerful and create change (remember God created by speaking). Our words are often more powerful than our actions. They will either glorify God or dishonor Him; they will promote life or death, construction or destruction, peace or strife, love or hate. Our words will either lift up or tear down. They will promote unity or disunity. Every word matters, not only what you say, but how you say it. Your words reveal who you are really serving and how much you really love. Jesus said that we will be held accountable for “every careless word” we speak. (Matthew 12:26) What impact will you have on this world with your words? How will those around you think and feel after you speak?
8. Proverbs 14:8-15 – God does not want you to let outward appearances deceive you.
9. Proverbs 14:13 – Outward appearances and momentary emotions do not tell the whole story.
10. Proverbs 14:16-17 – No matter what happens, God wants you to stop and think before you act so you will act wisely.
11. Proverbs 14:31 – How you treat the poor reveals your relationship with God.
12. Proverbs 14:1-4 – Your relationship with God determines if you will help or harm yourself.
13. Acts 5:1-11 – It is not uncommon for people to make public oaths before God and then break them. To lie to God is a terrible thing, and the Bible warns repeatedly not to makes oaths before God that you are not willing to keep. Jesus warned also not to make some words promises and other words questionable. All you commit to is a promise before God. (Eccl 5:4-6; Deut 23:21-23; Numbers 30:1-16)
14. Acts 5:29 — “We must obey God rather than men.” The Bible calls us to obey authority, but no one can command you to disobey God or to cease in your God-given mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all.
15. Acts 5:32 – ‘And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” The obedient received the Holy Spirit. Though the Spirit is within all believers, the Bible says that you can “quench” the Spirit or get out of “step” with the Spirit in sin. Sin limits the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Don’t convince yourself that you are close to God while you are toying with sin.
– Again, today’s readings have much to say about the requirement for obedience, discipline, and surrender in a Christian’s life as well as about the tendency for us to slip into disobedience and about our need to guard against disobedience through the accountability of others. In the two chapters from Exodus today, the Bible repeats eleven times that that people obeyed “as the Lord had commanded Moses.” However, it also points out that Moses assigned Levites (working in groups) to account for every shekel and for every man-hour used for the construction of the tabernacle. Also, it says that Moses personally inspected all of the work before he blessed the people (Exodus 39:43). Christians understand the expectation for obedience and discipline but also understand the need for accountability. Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” While we should have internal discipline or self-discipline, sometimes we require external discipline or the reproof of others. Anyone who walks humbly appreciates accountability. If only Sapphira had held her husband Ananias accountable to honest disclosure of his property value. Notice that they were both held accountable by Peter. Yesterday we read that we are to “pursue righteousness,” and this involves growing in obedience and self-discipline. However, we are also called to have partners in accountability and to be honest about our own limitations. If you are attempting to walk alone, you are in big trouble. Have you ever cheated on a diet? Case in point.
– Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
16. Acts 5:39 – “…but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” To oppose God’s servant is to oppose God Himself. Jesus has transferred His authority and power to His disciples, He has given them the “keys to the Kingdom”. Jesus did not appear powerful to most though He is the Son of God. Disciples may also appear weak to mortals, but they have power beyond imagination while the Spirit works through them for God’s purposes.
17. Acts 5:40-42 – “When they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Proclaim Jesus unceasingly and rejoice if you are counted worthy to suffer for your evangelistic efforts.
– The Apostles had been called, above all else, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world, as have we. In this endeavor, they quickly found themselves at odds with the local governing officials (and church leaders) who considered their message to be a threat. The Apostles were commanded by God via an angelic messenger to “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life (Acts 5:20).” However, the high priest had given the Apostles strict orders “not to teach in this name (Acts 5:28).” The Apostles were placed in a dilemma where they had to choose between obedience to local authorities or obedience to Him. For the Apostles the decision was simple — “We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29)!” As a result of their civil disobedience and obedience to God, the Apostles were flogged, but they rejoiced knowing that God had considered them worthy enough to be entrusted with the challenge of persecution for the Truth. God commands Christians to respect and obey authority of human institutions which are in fact empowered by God (Romans 13), but not at the cost of their integrity as Christ’s Ambassadors. Christians are never given the license to sin, nor are they permitted to abandon the dictates of God in order to obey the orders of other human beings. As our Nation creates more and more laws that directly defy the Laws of God, more and more Christians will be placed in a corner where, despite having bent over backwards to be good citizens, they will have to choose between loyalty to government and loyalty to God. The more Christians fail to faithfully steward their legal, God-given influence over government through participation in the political process and through public discourse, the more inevitable persecution. Some will be counted as worthy to receive persecution, but we will all have to ask how much of that persecution can be attributed to our unwillingness to confront culture before the foundations of society were destroyed (Psalm 11:3).
– Matthew 5:10-12 — Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
– 1 Peter 3:13-17 — Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
– 1 Peter 4:12-19 — Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 Feb: Challenge yourself to proclaim Jesus boldly today. Share Jesus with a complete stranger today. The Apostles went house to house. No doubt they were rejected by many. Are you willing to face rejection in hopes that someone might believe and be saved? (Acts 5:40-42)