Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 23 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 17:14 — “And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “’he counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom.” God arranges circumstances and changes hearts to fulfill His will. How important is it for us to live aligned to God’s will?
2. 2 Samuel 17:17 – “A female servant was to go and tell them….” God will use seemingly insignificant people whose actions seem insignificant to accomplish great, even historic works. God may use people you hardly notice (or never notice) to have a tremendous impact on your life. Also, the small, unrecognized roles you play may not be small at all in God’s economy.
3. 2 Samuel 17:23 – “When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.” Ahithophel lost all hope when his counsel was ignored. On what do you base your hope? “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)
4. 2 Samuel 18:33 — “And as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” The consequences of sin are devastating! To make light of sin is the worst kind of denial. The Bible describes those who do not consider the consequences of sin as “so nearsighted that [they are] blind.” (2 Peter 1:9) Even more important than the practical consequences of sin is the fact that our sin is a direct affront to the KING, a direct challenge to, and rebellion against, His Lordship, an offense beyond measure. (Psalm 51:4) In our readings today, David, now facing the terrible consequences of his sin, wishes that he could exchange his life for Absalom’s, but he can’t – Absalom is gone. If only David had “died of self” when God had first called him out and empowered him. David’s choices to place his own desires over God’s perfect will led to the death and victimization of many; it tore a nation apart. David’s murderous adultery was a crime deserving of death; one cannot help but wonder how things would have been different if David had publicly confessed his sin and faced his own consequences. One of primary responsibilities of any leader is to take responsibility and to hold themselves fully accountable for their actions – David did not do that at the expense of his family and the nation. Conversely, we see in our NT readings today that Paul takes a different approach. He very publicly admits his sin and in so doing proclaims the grace that he has received through Jesus Christ. Confession destroys false pride and also gives us freedom in our honesty. In grace, Paul has truly surrendered his life to the Lord and has chosen to work more diligently than anyone for the spreading of the Gospel. It was Paul’s understanding of God’s grace that gave him such passion to preach what was to him truly “Good News.” The more we understand the magnitude of the mercy, grace, and love that we have received from our Father, the more we are inspired to conform to His will and to preach the Gospel to others. The greater we understand the implications of living outside of God’s grace, the greater our urgency to proclaim the truth to a lost world.
5. 2 Samuel 18 — David continually failed to hold himself and others accountable. He didn’t hold Joab accountable, and he didn’t hold his children accountable. Joab defied the king’s orders and killed Absalom just as Joab had defied the king’s intent in killing Abner. Joab did what he thought was right or expedient, regardless of what the king desired. David always knew about Joab’s defiance but did not keep Joab in check; now it cost David his son. This was all a part of God’s punishment of David for his own pride, compromise, adultery and murder. Though David was forgiven by God, David’s sins cost him dearly for a lifetime.
6. Proverbs 23:1-3 – “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you…. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” Gifts from the government always have strings attached.
7. Proverbs 23:4 – “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.” Do not think that your security comes from wealth and so neglect your relationship with God in order to pursue riches. If you cannot find time to study the Bible, pray, fellowship with your church, raise your family as disciples, minister to the needs of others, etc, you are likely doing something wrong. People work too hard when they do not trust God for their future provisions or when they are not satisfied with what God has provided. Their insecurities and appetites cause them to toil to the point where they lose their peace and joy. They cannot even enjoy what they have.
8. Proverbs 23:15 — All that godly parents want from their children is that they too live godly lives, surrendered wholeheartedly to Jesus.
9. Proverbs 23:17 – “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.” Obey and follow God; don’t just do what is popular.
10. Proverbs 23:20, 21 — Bad company corrupts good morals.
11. Proverbs 23:26 — “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Your heart guides what you choose to focus on, but what you choose to focus on also affects the condition of your heart. We must do as Job did and make a covenant not to gaze upon what we shouldn’t in order to guard the heart. (Job 31:1) This is a premeditated decision.
12. 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10, 33, 34, 58 — “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me…. Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame…. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Paul speaks to what should be our response to God’s grace. Paul, having previously persecuted Christians, was very aware of just how unworthy he was of the incredible gift of grace he had received through Jesus. With that perspective, he worked harder than all the others, not to re-earn what he had freely received but rather to glorify God out of love for Him and to “know” God more fully (as opposed to the continued sinner who has “no knowledge of God” to their shame) and to make him known. Certainly Paul was “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Today people might call him fanatical, judgmental, ignorant, and close minded. You are what you are because of your relationship with Christ. You are saved by grace, and grace should drive you to loving, impassioned obedience. Grace doesn’t make sin less of a concern to us; grace makes sin unthinkable to us. When it comes to your faith in Jesus Christ, would you be described by these words – “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”?
– Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
– Proverbs 15:9 — The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.
– Proverbs 21:21 — Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.
– Isaiah 51:1 — Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.
– 1 Timothy 6:11 — But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
– 2 Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
13. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 — Christ’s resurrection is the foundation for Christian faith, preaching, and hope.
14. 1 Corinthians 15:14 — “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Proclaim the Resurrection. Our hope is in the Resurrection.
15. 1 Corinthians 15:22 — Every person will experience resurrection but not everyone will experience salvation.
16. 1 Corinthians 15:26 — Christ will destroy death.
17. 1 Corinthians 15:14, 20, 22-24 — Love motivates all God’s work. Do you have a love relationship with Him? Does this shine through in your relationships with others?
18. 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 — “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” Avoid complacent Christians who use “grace” as a reason to make light of sin.
19. 1 Corinthians 15:55 – “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” Comments from Henry T. Blackaby: “Over the centuries, death has been our relentless and unyielding enemy. No one, regardless of worldly rank, strength, or wealth has been able to escape death. As soon as we are born, death becomes our destiny. Many have tried, but no one has developed an antidote for death. The reality of the resurrection is that death has been defeated! It is no longer the impregnable enemy, for Christ marched through the gates of Hades and claimed decisive victory over death. He conquered death completely; now He assures His followers that we, too, will share in His victory. Christians need not fear death. Christ has gone before us and will take us to join Him in heaven. Death frees us to experience the glorious, heavenly presence of God. No illness can defeat us. No disaster can rob us of eternal life. Death can temporarily remove us from those we love, but it transfers us into the presence of the One who loves us most. God’s glory is His presence. Death, our greatest enemy, is nothing more than the vehicle that enables believers to experience God’s glory! Do not allow a fear of death to prevent you from experiencing a full and abundant life. Death cannot rob you of the eternal life that is your inheritance as a child of God. Jesus has prepared a place for you in heaven that surpasses your imagination (John 14:1-4). Death will one day be the door by which you gain access to all that is yours in heaven.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 May 16: Believing in the Christ is not the same as following Christ. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Christ. Our call is discipleship, sanctification, growing in obedience and in unity with Jesus. Today, seek the company of fully committed disciples of Christ. Choose close friends who will encourage you and walk with you in the footsteps of Christ.