Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 18 Feb 18:
1. Leviticus 6:2 — “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor….” Sins against our neighbors are in fact breaches of faith against the Lord.
2. Leviticus 6:2-6 — “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor…. He must make restitution in full… to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering… to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering.” We have forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, but we maintain a responsibility to make full restitution to those we have offended, even if they are not aware that we have deceived them in some way. This is hard, and Christians often neglect this responsibility, thereby living a lie. Moses relayed to the people that they had to both make restitution and provide a guilt offering to the Lord. Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift (Matt 5:23).” I am reminded of the Prophet Samuel’s farewell speech (1 Sam 12:1-4) when he says, “Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.” Today is a good day to “strive…” to clear your conscience “before God and man (Acts 24:15-17).” Let no debt remain but the debt of love (Romans 13:8).
3. Leviticus 7:11-21 — “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord….” God has always been delighted to receive special offerings from those whose hearts have been set apart to serve Him (Deut. 10:12–22). When worshipers under the old covenant wanted to present a special offering before the Lord, above and beyond what the Law required (Lev. 1–2; 4), a peace offering was brought to the sanctuary out of the overflow of the worshiper’s heart. Freewill offerings were given in response to God’s unexpected or unsought generosity. The peace offering was the only sacrifice worshipers could eat. Being at peace with God is a special occasion indeed and worthy of celebration with a great feast. For poor Israelites, this may have been the only time they ever ate meat. Moreover, strict cleanliness laws had to be followed regarding the eating of the sacrifice (vv. 19–21). Though at peace with the worshiper, our Creator remained holy and could still not tolerate any impurity in His presence.
4. Proverbs 18:1 — “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Individualism is often a sign of selfishness. There is no such thing as a faithful Christian loner. Our mission is all about relationships. Christians are people persons.
5. Proverbs 18:2 — “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Consider this verse in context with Proverbs 11:30 – “…whoever captures souls is wise.” Fools are driven, blinded, and deafened by pride. Wise people are humble, driven by love, and on a mission of reconciliation, reconciling others to God. Fools seek to win arguments. The wise seek to win souls. The wise listener doesn’t just listen to understand another person’s argument but rather listens to understand the other person, for what is in that person’s heart. Don’t let an issue become a distraction from Jesus. Don’t just win the debate, draw the listener closer to Jesus. Be wise, not a fool.
6. Proverbs 18:9 – “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” How many haven’t suffered because somebody didn’t do their job well? God expects his people to seek perfection in all that they do. We spend so much time, energy, and effort trying to fix what someone broke due to pure negligence, complacency, or laziness. Small, seemingly insignificant, decisions to cut corners or disregard fundamentals have a huge ripple effect that affects many and can become catastrophic. Truth be told, too much of your time is wasted also fixing what you broke because of your bad habits. For example, perhaps you don’t put something away where it goes, then later you spend hours looking for it — hours I could have used doing something productive, hours I will never get back. When we are not disciplined and diligent in our habits and practices, we pay a huge opportunity cost and destroy our productivity; this is a sin that I must work on daily. God is very interested in our attention to detail in all that we do. Our professionalism ultimately glorifies Him.
7. Psalm 20 is a worship service before battle. God’s people at times have to fight for what is right.
8. Psalm 20:1 – “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” The day of trouble is inevitable, when your best abilities and the best abilities of others is not enough, when the illusion of control is stripped away, and our dependency upon God becomes indisputable. Hence the old military adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”
9. Psalm 20:5; Psalm 21:1, 13 — Faith in God in time of crisis leads to joy in god in victory.
10. Psalm 20:6; Psalm 21:1, 13 — God answers your prayers.
11. Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” No earthly power can make up for infidelity to God. In what do you place your trust?
12. Psalm 21:1 – “O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices, and in your salvation how greatly he exults!” When you truly know that God is in complete control, loves you perfectly, protects you with all of His power, and only allows what is best for you to happen, you have much about to rejoice and won’t have trouble exulting Jesus.
13. Psalm 21:2 – “You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” When your heart’s desire is Jesus, and when your requests are for God’s will to be done, God will always answer your prayers with, “Yes,” and give you your heart’s desire.
14. Psalm 21:7 – “For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.” Love enables the king to trust God, but love also enables the king to remain faithful, steadfast and immovable, to God’s commands when it is difficult to do so – “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10)
15. Psalm 21:11 – God foils enemy plans.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 Feb: Today, seek to be relationship focused rather than task focused. Rather than just getting stuff done, build and strengthen your relationships in the process, loving those around you more and more. Put people before projects. Remember, our life mission of love and reconciliation is all about relationships, not busywork. Don’t let the worries of the world hinder your relationships. (Proverbs 18:1)