Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 14 May 18:
1. 1 Samuel 29:9 — “And Achish answered David and said, ‘I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God’.” In his deceitfulness, David misrepresented God before an unbeliever. Tragic.
2. 1 Samuel 30:3 — “And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.” God showed mercy on David who had been pillaging Amalekite villages.
3. 1 Samuel 30:8 — “David inquired of the Lord.” Only in a completely helpless situation did David again inquire of the LORD. God intends for us to always live by Revelation which guides us beyond our human knowledge to reveal God’s will. It is impossible for us the determine the will of God strictly from our own intellect.
4. 1 Samuel 30:23 — “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us.” Those who have received grace from God must, in turn, bestow grace upon others.
5. 1 Samuel 31:11-13 — There remains a valiant few who will not do what the ungodly desire.
6. Proverbs 14:2 – “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” How we live our lives reveals what we really think about God.
7. Proverbs 14:4 – “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” If you are going to get anything done, you are going to have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
8. Proverbs 14:5 – “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.” Liars lie as easily as breathing. Like the old saying goes, “I know he is lying because his lips are moving.” You cannot trust a deceiver.
9. Proverbs 14:9 – “Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.” Wise people seek to make restitution when they have offended others.
10. Proverbs 14:10 — “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” Everyone around you is going through challenges you know nothing about. Show them grace.
11. Proverbs 14:12 — “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” If we rely on our own understanding rather than Divine revelation, we will surely fail. You must rely on the wisdom of God.
12. Proverbs 14:16 – “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” Christians are cautious, not reckless or careless, in their thoughts, words, and actions.
13. Proverbs 14:16, 17 — “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” The world is wicked and full of deception. Many teachers proclaim godless lies, leading many astray. You need godly discernment grounded in Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Compare every philosophy, theory, policy, or opinion you hear today with the standard of God’s word. Judge customs and traditions from the standard of God’s word. Obey God’s word over popular opinion.
14. Proverbs 14:17 — “A man of quick temper acts foolishly.” If you get emotional during a disagreement or when offended, keep your mouth shut, and walk away so that you don’t say or do a regrettable thing.
15. Proverbs 14:21 – “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” Whenever we fail to love or care for others, even our enemies, we are sinning.
16. Proverbs 14:23 – “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Afghans have a saying, “Talk doesn’t make flowers grow.” There is no substitute for hard work.
17. Proverbs 14:27 – “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” Stay under the spout where the blessings are coming out.
18. Proverbs 14:28 – “In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined.” Life is about relationships. Leadership is all about influencing others.
19. Proverbs 14:31 – “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” The way we treat people who can do nothing for us reveals the quality and content of our love.
20. Proverbs 14:34 — “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” God judges nations that condone sin.
21. 1 Corinthians 8:2, 3 – “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” We cannot even comprehend how much we don’t understand and how completely dependent we are on the love of God.
22. 1 Corinthians 8:2, 3 — “This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” We have a tendency to be prideful in our “knowledge,” considering ourselves better than others. However, in love we lift up others ahead of ourselves. The more we grow in love, the closer we get to God and the deeper our true knowledge and understanding. Paul said he desired to know nothing but Christ, and he desired to proclaim nothing but Christ. Is there any knowledge more important than the knowledge of Christ? How are you investing in your learning? How are you sharing the knowledge you have of Him?
23. 1 Corinthians 8:13 — “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” The entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 8 deals with how our actions affect others, particularly weaker Christians. Two points jump out at me from this chapter. First, within the church in Corinth, there were apparently some who still believed that there really were other gods – “Yet for us there is one God…. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” Though believing that there is no other god but God is an essential truth, Paul urges the church to go out of their way to be considerate of others’ weakness and lack of true understanding — “’knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.’” How many churches have you seen divide over far lesser issues than that? Second, Paul encourages the church not to eat meat that had been previously sacrificed to idols (likely very good meat) for the sake of those who still had a weakness with idols. I have heard these verses used most in discussions concerning alcohol – “Should Christians in America drink alcohol knowing that we have such a problem with alcohol in our nation?” It is clear from the Bible that drinking alcohol is not, in isolation, a sin; only drinking in excess is a sin. However, 1 Corinthians 8 puts a greater burden on the decision to drink or not to drink – When you exercise your freedom to drink, does it influence others who cannot handle the freedom to drink to be tempted into sin? Should we condone alcohol use in a society that has such a problem with alcohol? This is a highly debated topic within the church. From our readings today, I would say that if you have any doubt about the impact of your potential decision to drink, don’t drink. What does it cost you? Just a little pleasure. This is a small price to pay for your weaker brother or sister. Conversely, should we be overly critical of the Christian who does drink? I think today’s verses would also tell us, “No.” I have seen Christians ostracize other Christians who drank socially (not in excess). This is not how the Bible teaches us to handle disputable matters — “’knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.’” With disputable matters, we should approach others “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2, 3).” With non-disputable matters, such as blasphemous teachings or unrepentant sexual sin, the church must hold firm.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 May: Be patient with those who are less spiritually mature than you, and seek to lead them (through example and through gentle counsel) to greater love, closer to Jesus. Be a leader in love who embodies fear of the Lord, humility, love, and faithfulness. When offended, take up your cross and fellowship with Jesus in that moment. Return nothing but good for evil. Speak the truth, but speak the truth in love, without defending yourself in any way. (1 Corinthians 8:13)