Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 30 Apr 18:
1. 1 Samuel 1:14 — “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” Eli made judgements based upon outward appearances. Generally, Eli will prove to be a poor judge of character.
2. 1 Samuel 2:7 — “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.” Every person’s faith is in God’s hands. In your lowest state, God has greatness in store for you.
3. 1 Samuel 2:12 — “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD.” A person’s character is defined by their relationship with God.
4. 1 Sam 2:20 — “Those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” God does not honor those who dishonor Him. The New Testament confirms this:
– Revelation 2:5 — Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
– Revelation 2:16 — Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
– Revelation 2:22 — Behold, I will throw…those who commit adultery…into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.
– Revelation 3:1-3 — I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
– Revelation 3:15-19 — I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
5. 1 Samuel 2:22, 23 — “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things?'” Though Eli’s sons were sinning in unimaginable ways, Eli only scolded them without holding them accountable. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” Eli’s failure to discipline his sons led to their deaths.
6. 1 Samuel 2:26 — “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.” Compare this verse with Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” God’s people have strong vertical and horizontal relationships, having been given the mission of reconciliation. Your relationships with others is a reflection of your relationship with God.
7. 1 Samuel 2:29 — “Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me.” When Eli chose not to hold his son’s accountable, he chose his sons over God. When you overlook sin in order to maintain relationships, you dishonor God.
8. Proverbs 30:1-3 – “The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” Life outside of a genuine relationship with God and a life lived outside of His guidance will wear you out. Like so many before and after him, Agur discovers this late in his days. Now he is starting to gain wisdom. The more you know, the more you know what you don’t know. Socrates said, “’The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Proverbs says, the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, understanding our total reliance on Him.
9. Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” Too many people reject the word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, preferring instead to seek wisdom from their own understanding, rejecting the guidance of the One who created all things and who is the actual source of all wisdom – how incredibly foolish! Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, follow His leadership as Lord, and He will make your paths straight.
10. Proverbs 30:6 – “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Many cults and false leaders add to God’s word.
11. Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Agur understood the limits of his own integrity and character. So, he prayed to God for strength of integrity. Wisely, Agur understood that the most important thing in life was the quality of his character before the Lord. Reputation is what others say about you, but character is what God knows to be true about you. What sins are struggling with? Are these issues at the center of your prayer life? The things that hinder your relationship with God (sin) should be your greatest prayer concern. Remember, self-control, the power to do what you ought, is a fruit of the Spirit, not of the intellect. For the most part, people know what they should do; they just fail to do it because the sinful desires within them (the flesh) has not been surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Pray for God to reveal the truth of you and to strengthen your faith, hope, and love that you would be “one” with God in thought, word, and deed. This was Jesus’ prayer for you before His crucifixion. (see John 17)
12. Proverbs 30:10 – “Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.” Be very careful what you think and say about a fellow Christian. You don’t know what God is doing with them and within them. We are quick to see the faults of others, but we cannot know from where they have come and to where they are going. In God’s economy, He may view them as more worthy to be praised than you. For example, the one who grew up in a good environment might act better than the one who grew up in a bad environment, but the latter might still have a more receptive heart for the Lord than the former.
13. Proverbs 30:11-14 – “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind.” Once again, the Bible reminds us that character is formed in the home. The way people treat their parents is how they will treat others. The respect they have for their parents reflects the respect they have for God. If parents allow their children to speak disrespectfully to them, they will grow to be disrespectful, unloving people. The power of the Holy Spirit can heal old wounds and change old habits that were forged during childhood, but it will also take much effort on the part of the person who learned the bad habits.
14. Romans 14:1 — “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions…. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” How incredible would it be if Christians and their respective churches put Romans 14 into practice. The body of Christ suffers from tremendous disunity and consequential disempowerment because of irreconcilable quarrels over how to worship God – “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.” Divisions between denominations and even churches within denominations can become quite worldly and hostile, destroying the witness of those involved. Some church denominations even forbid certain Christians from participating in communion, not because those Christians aren’t committed believers in Christ, but because they aren’t members of that particular denomination; this is contrary to the teachings of the Bible – “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Romans 14:13).” Scriptural interpretations also divide denominations. But why can’t we disagree without being disagreeable? Why can’t we disagree about some of the more complex theological issues while remaining united in the love of Christ? Can’t we trust God to reveal truth to His faithful servants? “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).” In Corinth, Paul encouraged knowledgeable Christians to show gentleness and understanding to new believers who, get this, still did not understand that there is only one God – “not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled (1 Corinthians 8:7).” Rather than ridiculing these new believers for their tremendous lack of understanding, Paul encouraged the enlightened Christians not to eat meat sacrificed to idols in order to remove that stumbling block from the spiritual development of those baby Christians. Be gracious to those who are misguided in their faith but love God. One of the best methods of restoring unity within the Body is by getting Christians back into the word of God. I am very thankful for the Defenders Group with representation across the denominations, studying God’s word together with a heart for the Lord and for each other.
15. Romans 14:12 — “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” God is Judge, not man. Everyone will give account of their actions before The Lord.
16. Romans 14:13 — “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Everything we say and do to others should be intended to bring people closer to Jesus and to each other.
17. Romans 14:15 — “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.” If others are offended by what you say or do, change your ways if possible within the bounds of godliness to accommodate them, even if your actions aren’t ungodly. Don’t let an issue distract others from Jesus. If you choose your rights over love, your actions are ungodly. Seek reconciliation first.
18. Romans 14:18, 19 — “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Compare this verse with 1 Samuel 2:26 and Luke 2:52. If you are serving Christ and showing grace to others, you will receive favor from others who need to be loved.
19. Romans 14:21 — “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Good things become bad if they cause issues or problems for others.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 April: Put other people’s feelings ahead of your rights. If something you justifiably do bothers someone else, don’t do it so that peace might remain. (Romans 14)