Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 15 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 1:1-16 — The Amalekite’s story differed than the account given in 1 Samuel. The Amalekite was merely an opportunist. He was driven by greed. Unfortunately for him, he misjudged David’s motives and intent by projecting his own selfish motives upon David.
2. 2 Samuel 1:17-27 — David did not rejoice but rather lamented over the death of his adversary.
3. 2 Samuel 2:1 — “After this David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘To which shall I go up?’ And he said, ‘To Hebron.’” David didn’t just do what seemed right to him; he waited for the Lords specific guidance and direction. When David waits on the Lord’s direction, he does well; when he trusts in his own understanding, he does poorly.
4. 2 Samuel 2:8 — “But Abner the son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul and brought him over to Mahanaim.” Ish-bosheth took matters into his own hands and only caused divisions. His plan was contrary to God’s and ultimately futile.
5. 2 Samuel 2:8, 9 — When God calls you to a task, He does not necessarily remove all the obstacles or opposition.
6. 2 Samuel 2:20-27 — Meaningless quarrels can quickly get out of hand and cause irreversible pain, suffering, and enmity.
7. 2 Samuel 2:22 — “Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” Pride and anger cause dangerous divisions between people who know each other very well, and they work against God’s mission of reconciliation. If only Abner and Asahel had been obedient to God’s command of forgiveness and reconciliation, healing and peace would have spread to many.
8. 2 Samuel 2:26 — “Then Abner called to Joab, ‘Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?’” Abner wanted peace.
9. Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A mark of wisdom is tact.
10. Proverbs 15:8 — “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” God looks at the heart or motive behind the action. God is not impressed with empty or self-centered ceremony.
11. Proverbs 15:8-12, 25, 26, 33 — “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die. Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man! A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise…. The Lord tears down the house of the proud…. The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord…. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence…. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” We cannot live in willful disobedience and expect God to honor our prayers and bless our lives. Rather, we can expect his harsh discipline. God despises even the thoughts of those who continue in unrepentant sin and act as if God doesn’t really care. That person has made himself an enemy before God. God offers forgiveness and instruction; “whoever ignores instruction despises himself;” yet the proud will still blame God when consequences catch up to them. The trend in the church today is that “love” and “grace” are used as free passes for sin. However, what does the New Testament say?
– 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 — For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
– Hebrews 10:29 — How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
– 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
12. Proverbs 15:15, 16 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” Loving relationships with God and others is true life success.
13. Proverbs 15:33 – “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” The greatest leadership attributes are fear of the Lord, humility, love, and faithfulness.
14. 1 Corinthians 9:12 — “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” Paul did not demand his rights before others because he didn’t want anything to detract from his preaching of the Gospel of Christ. He preferred to suffer maltreatment from others than to risk any conflict standing in the way of his message. Paul points out that self-control in our relationships and encounters with others takes great self-discipline, empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:25). Sometimes everything within us wants to “put people in their place,” or “give them what for,” but if we do, they may not hear another word we say. Are you willing to quietly and patiently suffer maltreatment from others, responding only with love and the Gospel message that you may glorify God? “Pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).” 1 Corinthians 9:13 — “Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” We are called to surrender our rights for sake of the Gospel.
15. 1 Corinthians 9:16 — “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Do you say this? Woe to Christians who do not preach the gospel.
16. 1 Corinthians 9:18 — “What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” Preach the Gospel without regard for any reward or credit. Remove self from the conversation. Take yourself out of the picture. It has nothing to do with you, only Jesus. Don’t make a name for yourself through the Gospel. Just Jesus.
17. 1 Corinthians 9:24 — “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Keep your eyes fixed on the prize of Jesus. Running is hard; it takes every bit of your effort, Sometimes you feel like you can’t go any further, but you must keep pressing forward with all your might. You must run your best race, not getting distracted by the other runners, no comparison. When you are winning the race, you are often running alone. Don’t be surprised if there are not many people who are willing or able to run with you. Find a running partner who can push you to new levels.
18. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 — “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things…. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Self-control and discipline are key attributes of a disciple. It takes incredible self-control not to respond to abuse from others. Again, don’t stand up for yourself. Read Galatians 6:1-3. Deny self; take up your personal cross of abuse, and follow the lead of Jesus through personal adversity as you love sinners unconditionally.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 May: Show shocking love by not defending yourself against maltreatment and by responding to evil with good. Do this as an act of worship and as a testimony to others for the Gospel. Think nothing of yourself, but preach the Gospel. Have the strength, courage, and faith to trust God to restore what is denied you by others. Don’t let an issue of maltreatment stand in the way or be a distraction from the Gospel. Remember, when you defend yourself, you make yourself and the issue the center of attention rather than Jesus. Deny yourself and take up your cross in that situation, and bear the burden of the offense against you as a gift to God and as an act of fellowship with Jesus who suffered and died on the Cross for you (1 Corinthians 9:15-27).