Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 2 May 18:
1. 1 Samuel 5:3 — “Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.” Could the Philistines actually believe that Dagon falling down was coincidental? Unbelievers are blind to the spiritual realities occurring around them.
2. 1 Samuel 5:7 — “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” The Philistines were suffering greatly because of the presence of the Ark of God. What was their solution? Separate themselves from the Ark so that they could be restored to their gods and their lives apart from The God. The Philistines saw the power of God and “believed in” God but did not have a heart for God to “believe” Him and to worship Him as God. The Philistines preferred to remove the presence of God rather than conform to it. Many people ask for more evidence from God, but evidence won’t solve a heart problem. In the New Testament, the Jews demanded of Jesus a sign that they might have proof that He was in fact the Son of God, but Jesus new their hearts and said that only a wicked and perverse generation demands a sign. It wasn’t due to a lack of evidence that they refused to believe in him, it was due to a lack of desire.
3. 1 Samuel 6;9 — “If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.” The Philistines knew that God controlled nature and would more powerfully influence the milk cows than their natural desire to be with their calves. The cows would obey God over instinct. Only man rebels against the Creator; only man requires salvation. The power of God in a person’s life overpowers all other desires.
4. Proverbs 2:9, 10 — “Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart.” How do you gain wisdom, and how do you understand the purpose of your life and your direction in life? Proverbs says, “if” you receive God’s word and truly “treasure up” His commandments within you, truly inclining your heart to understand them; “if” you cry out to God Himself from your heart to understand them, “then” you will “understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” It won’t be a set of rules or a doctrine that you find, it will be a relationship with God Himself. The word of God will point you to the Word of God, Jesus Christ. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) The Holy Spirit will speak personally to you through Scripture to reveal the truth of God that cannot be understood solely through human reasoning or intellect. But it is critical to our understanding and to our relationship with God that we “walk in integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7) Jesus said it like this: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) You can’t get to know someone simply by reading about them. To know God you must walk with God, live life with God. You cannot just step out each day on your own course, living your own life, accomplishing your personal goals, living the best life you know how; you must wait on God, let Him show you where He is going, and then follow. (Psalm 52:9) It is important to remember that the Bible is not a holy self-help book, a super-powered book on ethics or a guide to living a “successful life.” The Bible is a guide to a relationship with Jesus. If your goal in Bible study is to merely receive blessings from God, you are missing the mark. The goal is to know Jesus personally, to experience Him day-by-day. How will you experience God today?
5. Romans 16:3-16 — These verses are often overlooked, but they reveal how important relationships were to Paul. Paul’s heart was for his brothers and sisters in Christ. How many people in your church do you consider to be the closest, most trusted people in your life?
6. Romans 16:17 — “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles.” Paul considered decisive people to be a threat to the church and to the mission of reconciliation.
7. Romans 16:18 — “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.” Divisive people are self-serving, self-absorbed, selfish, and ungodly, though they often vocalize Christian intent in their self-righteousness.
8. Romans 16:19 — “For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Are you known by everyone for your obedience to the Lord? Are you wise to what is good and innocent to what is evil? What a great way to live life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 May: Today, make a list of your closest Christian friendships, and take definitive steps to cultivate those relationships. Invest in your family members and in your church relationships to build up your Christian family. Romans 12:10 – “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Proverbs 27:10, Romans 16:3-16)