Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 18 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 7:3-5 — “And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’ But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, ‘Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in?’’” Nathan originally gave counsel to David based on what seemed right to him without actually asking God. However, God’s thoughts and ways are as far from our thoughts and ways as the heavens are from the earth. Our first response, based upon our own understanding, is often wrong. We need to be VERY careful to understand the difference between new revelation (extra-biblical revelation), Biblical revelation, human reasoning, intuition, and emotional (irrational) decision-making. By his own calculus, the prophet Nathan inappropriately advised David – “the Lord is with you.” God corrected him, and Nathan had to return to David with a different word. In fact, the Lord was not supportive of David’s intent to build the House of God. Though a genuine prophet, Nathan was speaking from his human perspective and reason. That’s ok as long as it is understood for what it is and not misrepresented as a word from God. Nathan knew that, in fact, God was generally “with” David, and Nathan was perhaps giving David general advice in lieu of specific direction from God. After all, Nathan did not say, “The Lord says….” However, Nathan’s first counsel, on no small matter, was presumptuous. Many today are far too careless speaking on behalf of God – “God told me….” or “God has revealed to me…,” when in fact they are speaking from their human perspective (hopefully at least informed by the Bible, prayer, and Christian counsel). Many self-proclaimed prophets and teachers announce new revelation from God that later proves to be false. This is why the Bible says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) How do you test the spirits? For one, follow the example of the Bereans who judged the merit of prophecy and teaching from the word of God – “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) God will not tell someone to do something that is contrary to God’s word. Second, consider the source by looking at the fruit of the life of the prophet or teacher. Those in the Bible who were appointed as apostles, prophets, and teachers were not self-appointed but rather appointed by God; were known for their holiness, humility, and love, and usually paid a heavy, heavy price for their position. Not a hint of pride should be found in them. Nathan was a true prophet; but not everything he said was prophetic. When God speaks; there is no doubt that it is God; God’s words will be very clear, and ALWAYS true. Most importantly, God’s revelation will never contradict His written revelation of the Bible.
– Jeremiah 27:15 — I have not sent them, declares the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name.
– Lamentations 2:14 — Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.
– Ezekiel 13:9 — My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions.
– Matthew 24:11 — And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
2. 2 Samuel 7:7 – “…did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel.., saying, Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” David intended to do for God what God never desired from him. We can easily get wrapped up in activities, projects, or programs with good but misguided intentions. This is one of the reasons people are so harried and often burned out. “If only I had more time….” God has given you just enough time in the day to peacefully do what He intends for you to do, but no more. What are we doing that was never intended?
3. 2 Samuel 7:27-29 — God’s promise of mercy and grace gives us courage to approach God in prayer and to count on His blessings forever.
4. Proverbs 18:1 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Isolation is a form of self-centeredness. Our command to love demands a life of relationships. The evidence of how much we love God is primarily revealed in how much we love people. A Christian loner is an oxymoron.
5. Proverbs 18:2, 13 — Wise people seek to truly understand another person’s point of view rather than just seeking to defend their own position.
6. Proverbs 18:6, 7 – “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” A foolish mouth only gets you in trouble. Always consider your words very carefully. Why walk into a fight. Even still, how could you since you have been given by God the ministry of reconciliation and have been appointed by Him as His Ambassador? Consistently remind yourself, with each new encounter, that you have been crucified and no longer live, that you don’t represent yourself but rather Jesus, that as a follower of Jesus, you must deny self and take up your cross. Your goal for all conversations is that Christ be revealed and that the other party might be drawn, in some way, closer to Him.
7. Proverbs 18:9 — “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Everyone suffers when people don’t do their jobs well. Make no mistake, negligence is a sin. Before God gave Adam a helpmate, He gave Adam a job. Before sin, work was worship; it was productive and fruitful. After sin, work became burdensome, secular. God calls us to return to worshipful work that glorifies Him. Work is an act of love, providing the best, our best, to others. Be excellent in all you do, and in all you do, do it for His glory.
8. Proverbs 18:13 — “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Fools interrupt others while they are talking. If, while talking to someone, you find yourself calculating your next response while they are still talking, rather than listening fully and empathetically, you are also being foolish.
9. 1 Corinthians 12:3 – “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” The truth of God can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit, human intellect cannot discern it.
10. 1 Corinthians 12:7 — “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” Spiritual gifts are for the benefit of others, not for personal glory or gain. It is never about you.
11. 1 Corinthians 12:12 – “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” Our spirituality is intended by God to be communal, never intended to be administered independently from the body of believers.
12. 1 Corinthians 12:12 — Body parts strewn about is just horrific gore. So is a divided, disconnected or unfeeling church. If a part of the body is injured and the rest of the body doesn’t react, that is a very sick body.
13. 1 Corinthians 12:18 — “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” God puts every person in a church for a specific purpose. Yes, even the ‘unmentionables,’ those annoying people who, in profane terms, might be called private parts of the body – “He’s a real ….” In fact, Paul says those people are essential to the body’s health and must be covered over in love, just as we do with the private parts of our human body. A church body can’t really learn to love without them. Remember, part of what makes Christian love different that worldly love is that we love those who are hard to love, even enemies.
14. 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 — God establishes unity in diversity. God created the universe — a unity of diversity, many different things coming together in unity of purpose. People attend a university, providing many diverse, disparate classes in an organized curriculum for a complete, well-rounded education. The word universe combines two words – unity and diversity. People today like to talk about diversity in order to promote individualism (albeit a collective call to individualism); calls for greater diversity are often divisive. God calls for unity of diversity – university, or e pluribus unum – of many, one. When others proclaim diversity, you proclaim university. Read John 17 to see Jesus’ prayer for us. Jesus’ prayer for us was unity, but not unity around a political party, a nationalistic spirit, a social stratification, or any other concept, rather unity in Him.
15. 1 Corinthians 12:22-25 — “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” As stated above, in popular culture, people who are hard to get along with are often profanely called names related to body parts which remain covered in modesty. God says these people are indispensable to your church and should be treated with special care. God uses these people to teach you how to love people who are hard to love. God calls you to bring out the best in them, to help them draw closer to Jesus. If you separate yourself from them, you will not mature as you should. Watch and see how your church treats these people. Help others understand the essential role these people play and the challenge to love them unconditionally.
16. 1 Corinthians 12:23-26 — The body depends on the “unpresentable parts” to be healthy and to function as a body. A body that cannot feel the pain of all of its members is very seriously diseased.
17. 1 Corinthians 12:26 — “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” A body that cannot feel the pain of its members has got a serious, life-threatening disease. If a church doesn’t feel the pain of its members, that church is terminal.
18. 1 Corinthians 12:28 – “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” Administration is a spiritual gift, akin to working miracles. Miracle workers often receive honor from people, receiving their reward on earth; administrators often go unrecognized by people, receiving their reward in heaven.
19. Standby for the “Way of Love,” presented by Paul tomorrow….
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 May: Today, endeavor to speak only the words God would have you speak. Do not give advice unless it is prayerfully considered and perfectly aligned with God’s written word. Endeavor to speak only timely, uplifting words that promote peace, life, unity, and knowledge. (2 Samuel 7:3-5)