Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 2 Apr 18:
1. Deuteronomy 29:25 – “Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers…” God will reveal Himself to the world through your life either in a positive way as you obey Him or in a negative way as you disobey Him. God saves through grace, not because of our deeds; however, God holds us accountable to obedience on earth and will not be mocked. We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ on earth and demonstrate His will and authority to others. He will not tolerate someone misrepresenting Him before the world.
2. Deuteronomy 29:29 — “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Many people spend much time, energy, and effort worrying about what God’s word doesn’t explicitly tell us rather than focusing on merely obeying God’s unambiguous commands. Much worry over mysteries is often an excuse for failing to simply submit. As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the alter we lay; for the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey.” Have you ever prayed to God to tell you what to do in a particular situation only to hear no clear response? Have you ever asked God to reveal to you what He was doing in your life only to get no clear response? Have you ever asked, “God, what do you want me to do?” What do you do when He doesn’t provide a specific answer? When you are unsure of what specifically God wants you to do, continue in what God has clearly told you to do through His written word; remain in God’s word and in prayer; seek godly counsel from respected Christians, and make the best decision you can. Perhaps the big decision your struggling over doesn’t really matter so much – God will take you where you need to go in either direction. There is much God doesn’t intend to reveal to us for His purposes, but there is so much, much more that He has already revealed in the Bible by which He intends for us to live. When we are faithful with the little things, He will give us more. Most of the real issues of life aren’t about whether you took job A or job B but rather how faithful you were to God wherever you ended up. Often our quest for answers is the product of a desire to live by sight and not by faith. We want God to tell us exactly what He is doing because, really, we don’t trust Him. We like to be in control, and we don’t like the uncertainty that comes with not really believing God is in complete control. Faith, Hope, and Love — Faith is believing, trusting, and obeying God now; and hope is trusting God in the Future. Faith and Hope are the product and proof of love. Will you remain faithfully obedient and joyful during God’s silence? Isn’t it true that during exams the teacher remains silent? Can you walk one day at a time responding faithfully to whatever God places in front of you? When there are no apparent answers, will you hold fast to Him? Finally, it is not where God is taking you that matters most, it is the journey along the way. God’s purpose for you is not some big accomplishment in the future, it is oneness with Him right now. If your only goal and pursuit is to be one with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are accomplishing your life purpose.
-Ecclesiastes 12:13 — The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
3. Deuteronomy 30:2 – “Return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.” God’s call is not just for individuals but for families. God wants to restore families and to bring them back together. God does not desire families to be scattered. Family is the building block of society and the primary schoolhouse for discipleship. Today’s society makes it hard for families to stay united, but God has a heart for family, and His plan has always been generational. “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)
4. Deuteronomy 30:5 – “And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.” God’s plan is that parents leave inheritance to godly children who build upon it for generations.
5. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 — “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Again, you do not need to search for answers to great mysteries, and you don’t need the confirmation of miraculous signs. Simply obey God’s word, and great truths will be revealed to you more and more each day. God has given you the power of the Holy Spirit and His word. He is with you. You need nothing else. Simply obey.
6. Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.” Comments from Henry T. Blackaby — The Christian life is not difficult. The same Christ who lived a perfect, obedient, and sinless life stands prepared to live it again through you (Gal. 2:20). God’s will is not hard to discern. He has given us the Scriptures, which reveal His will, and He has placed His Holy Spirit within us to guide us to His perfect will in every situation (John 16:13). Our greatest challenge will be to wholly commit our lives to follow God’s will obediently as He reveals it. Moses gathered the Israelites around Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim before they were to enter the Promised Land. There, God described what they had to do in order to obey Him. God gave detailed instructions so there was no mistaking what was expected of them. Then God asked them to make a choice. If they chose to disobey His commands, they would face His wrath. If they chose to obey, they would receive His blessing. God’s Word comes to you in the same way. It is not too complex to understand. You don’t have to struggle to discern God’s will about adultery or forgiveness or honesty. God’s word is perfectly clear. The question is, how will you respond? Nowhere in Scripture did God excuse disobedience because His instructions were too vague or complex. Condemnation came because they knew exactly what God wanted them to do, yet they chose not to do it! God, through His Holy Spirit, will always give you sufficient revelation and strength to take the next step with Him. If you are uncertain about what God is asking of you, make sure that you are obeying all that you do know, and through your obedience, God’s next instruction will become clear. (Henry T. Blackaby)
7. Proverbs 2 — “If you accept my words…. Then you will understand…. (Proverbs 2:1, 9).” In Proverbs 2, God establishes the conditions under which we can grow in our fear of the Lord, knowledge of God and true wisdom (Proverbs 2:5, 6) – this is a good chapter upon which to spend time meditating:
– First, Proverbs 2 says we must “accept” God’s words and commands; many have a hard time with this because God’s word says what we don’t want to hear (though in our hearts we know it is true), and we don’t want to be commanded to let go of sins which are so pleasurable at the moment. (Hebrews 11:25) Often, we go through all sorts of mental gymnastics and justification matrices in an attempt to make God’s word fit our behavior (“Did God really say…?”). Psalm 119:160 reminds us: “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.”
– Next we must “store up” God’s commands within us (Proverbs 2:1). We must read God’s word, diligently study God’s word, and commit to memory God’s commands. I am humbled when I consider the countless hours I have spent studying the teachings of men as compared with how much time I have spent studying the Bible. Never before has the Bible been so accessible to us. Study and research materials that were once only available to scholars are now at your fingertips. As Christ’s Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and as royal priests (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6), we have an obligation to be well versed in the Bible so that we can “correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15),” and so that we will be prepared “to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have (1 Peter 3:15).”
– Next we must “[apply] our heart to understanding… call out for insight… cry aloud for understanding.” Study the word of God humbly from your heart and pray that the Holy Spirit will further reveal truth to you (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Study and prayer are inseparable – “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”
– Proverbs goes on to say that, after studying God’s word and applying God’s word to our hearts, we must then apply God’s word to our lives – we must put God’s word into action when we step out into the world. We must “walk with God (Genesis 5:22, 6:9; Micah 6:8)” in the word which is a “lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105).” Not only does obedience to God’s word keep us “under the spout where God’s blessings are pouring out,” as described in verses 2:7, 8, but it is the practice of God’s word that brings true knowledge, understanding, and wisdom (Proverbs 2:9, 10). To use a simple sports analogy, you can read all you want about football, you can watch a million games and memorize a million statistics; but until you have played the game, until you have received your share of scrapes and bruises, victories and defeats, you don’t really understand football, and you don’t really appreciate football. Proverbs points out that when you put God’s word to practice, “wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul (Proverbs 2:10).” When we walk with God, we grow closer to Him, and we learn to love Him more and more.
– When we walk in God’s ways, we develop discretion or sagacity (Proverbs 2:11) – the ability to accurately predict consequences without having to experience them. An old adage says, “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” Well, God’s word can give you good judgment that prevents bad experiences. To reiterate, “Godly wisdom is understanding what you haven’t experienced.” Regardless, when we genuinely, humbly and introspectively seek to obey God’s word, we learn from our successes and from our failures as the practical realities of truth are revealed to us. Wisdom and discretion, developed along our walk with God, will guard us against unneeded pain and suffering – that’s a good thing (Proverbs 2:11).
– Finally, Proverbs 2:20-22 tells us that if we walk in the light of God’s word, we will be walking in good company. God’s word becomes a natural filter to relationships. Not many will be interested in the narrow path, but those that are will encourage and strengthen one another along the way.
— Matthew 7:14 — But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
— 1 Corinthians 15:33 — Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
— Proverbs 27:17 — As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
8. Mark 10:2 — “What did Moses command you?” Jesus starts His teaching with God’s commands.
9. Mark 10:6-9 – “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Jesus reconfirms the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. God defines marriage, not the government or popular opinion.
10. Mark 10:11, 12 – “And he said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” If we are ever going to see real revival in the church, we are going to have to have corporate repentance over the church’s rejection of God’s commands concerning sex outside of marriage and divorce.
11. Mark 10:15 – “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Children accept their total dependence on their parents and don’t doubt the provision from their parents.
12. Mark 10:21, 22 – “’You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Following Jesus requires total commitment and total dependence. Possessions will never provide the joy and security found in Jesus. We were made for God. Without God, life is pointless.
13. Mark 10:26, 27 — “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Deuteronomy 29:19 — “When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, ‘I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.’ This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” It is impossible for man to earn salvation through obedience to the law. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and the faith we do have also comes from God, not from ourselves. However, God calls us to obedience as an act of love and worship; to glorify God before a watching world, and so that our joy in the Lord might be complete. Disobedience does not threaten our salvation but does have destructive consequences. It hurts us and others, hinders our fellowship with the Lord, and robs us of our joy and peace.
14. Mark 10:43-45 – “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Do you really believe this? Surrendering all to Jesus, total commitment to Jesus means surrendering all to those around you, becoming a slave before people, rejecting all claims to position and rights. Are you willing to truly live this way in the name of Jesus? Are you willing to empty yourself?
15. Mark 10:51 – “And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” Jesus knows what you need and want but expects you to ask in faith.
16. Mark 10:52 – “And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” Genuine faith leads to both healing and following. Jesus gave the man the option to go where he wanted, and the man chose to follow Jesus. Though you are saved by grace, you still have to make a choice about how you will respond to your salvation. Will you go your own way or follow Jesus on “the” way?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 April: Today, resolve not to worry about the past or the future. Love, trust, and obey God today, and trust God with the future. Live today wholeheartedly for the Lord. Walk in unity with Jesus today, and seek to draw others closer to Him. If you have truly committed all that you think, say, and do to the Lord, you have nothing to worry about; even your mistakes will be used by God for your good (Romans 8:28). Your purpose in life is to be one with God and to help others be one with God too. Accomplish your life purpose today with excitement and joy.
Extra credit: Practice being a true servant or slave to everyone around you today. Put everyone else ahead of yourself today. Do not claim the benefits of title or position; do not seek your own recognition and accept no praise for yourself. Consider none of your possessions your own. Do not seek to defend your “rightness” before others, do not seek to defend yourself or your honor. See what happens. (Mark 10:43-45)