Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 27 Apr 18:
1. Judges 21:4-12 — The people went through the proper religious rituals but still pursued their own solution to the problem that they had originally caused by doing things their own way.
2. Judges 21:17-24 — Israel failed to reach its goals with one immoral act; so they tried another.
3. Judges 21:19 – During a time dedicated to the worship of God, Israel executed an immoral, ungodly plan in order to achieve the worthy purpose of restoring a tribe – a good thing done a bad way. God expects His people to do the right things for the right reasons in the right way at the right time. The ends do not justify the means.
4. Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Make today count.
5. Proverbs 27:5, 6 — It is unloving not to rebuke someone who needs it.
6. Proverbs 27:7, 8 — “One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” A person starving for love is more susceptible to sin.
7. Proverbs 27:18 — “Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored.” If you can protect him from his mistakes, you will only benefit from it.
8. Romans 13:1, 2 — God demands that you obey human authorities and says that disobeying human authorities is the equivalent of disobeying Him.
9. Romans 13:1 — “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” How should a Christian prepare for the next election cycle? “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our national problems are spiritual problems. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the other issues become non-issues (Romans 13:14). The only hope for the nation is collective repentance among God’s people and revival.
10. Romans 13:3-5 — “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval…. But if you do wrong, be afraid…. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” While the topic of the above verses is respecting governing authorities, how much more does it apply to respecting the authority of God in our own lives? How much better would life be if we would simply obey all of God’s commands? How much easier and more joyful would life be if we had a heart that truly wanted to obey God’s commands? And if Christians made economic decisions based upon God’s commands, entertained themselves in ways that honored God, and chose politicians who truly honored God, how would that change the political and socioeconomic landscape? God’s commands are a product of His perfect love and are intended to give us fullness of life, that our joy might be complete. God’s commands are not hard to understand but difficult to follow when our hearts are selfish and unloving. “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct (Romans 13:3).” Stated in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” When we are living in love, we are obedient; there is no need to fear. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them (John 14:21).” John adds to Jesus’ words in 1 John 5:3 — “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” When we truly love God, it isn’t burdensome to obey His commands because we genuinely desire to do it, and it is our focus. Obedience is love that produces peace, not fear. Romans 13:5 — “One must be in subjection…. also for the sake of conscience.” 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” We cannot adequately love God or others without a clear conscience. Guilt, particularly hidden guilt, puts up walls and separation between relationships. It generates feelings of vulnerability and defensiveness. It creates fear and doubt. It is an unpaid debt that hangs over us. The debt must be settled, either paid or forgiven. God offers forgiveness, as should we. Let no debt remain but the debt of love.
11. Romans 13:5 — “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” God cares about our obedience, but even more about the motives behind our obedience. In immaturity, we might obey God out of motives of fear, guilt, self-interest or even pride – much the same motives as a small child obeys a parent. As we grow in maturity, obedience comes more and more from a genuine, heartfelt desire to please, honor and love God – similar to the motives that cause young adults to still obey their parents, not “because of possible punishment,” but from a heart of love and respect.” The highest quality of character and maturity is selflessness; small children are naturally selfish, and even their obedience is self-centered – “What’s in it for me?” If you are motivated to obedience based on the potential for rewards or punishments, you are in one sense not much different than a small child or even an animal who responds to “stick and carrot” discipline. However, the children of the God of Love should be inspired by love to do what is right and true. It is the Spirit that overpowers the natural (flesh). Paul encourages us, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Romans 13:14).”
12. Romans 13:7 — “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” God expects you to gladly pay taxes and to respect governing authorities.
13. Romans 13:8 — “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Settle your debts immediately.
14. Romans 13:9, 10 — In today’s readings, Paul naturally transitions his conversation from obeying authorities to love, saying, “any… commandment [is] summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” James said it this way: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right (James 2:8).” If we are disobedient or if we struggle to be obedient, it is a heart issue; it is a love issue.
15. Romans 13:14 — “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” God wants you to live like Jesus and to stop trying to be something you’re not. You are not an independent agent in life. The world will tell you, “Be yourself.” The Bible says, “Be Jesus,” the embodiment of his Spirit and character. Your life is over. You are now living His life on earth.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 April: Settle your debts today. If you owe someone $1.25, pay them back today. If you owe someone a letter, send it today. If you promised to lend something to someone or give them something, do it today. If you are behind on a deadline, finish it today. If you owe someone an apology, wait no longer. (Romans 13:8)