Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 25 June 18:
1. 1 Chronicles 13:1, 2 — “David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, ‘If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God….'”
– David focused his time on his leaders, counting on them to transmit his message, to execute his intent, and to give him feedback and counsel from their perspectives. Only a very few interacted with David daily. David had to not only develop leaders he could trust, but he had to develop leaders who knew how to develop trustworthy subordinate leaders. David needed disciple-making leaders who would develop godly disciple-making leaders. A person has limited capacity to truly disciple others, which takes daily effort to teach, coach and mentor in a way that develops godly character. A person can only truly disciple a limited number. Who are you discipling daily?
– Trust is the fabric of any organization. David’s trust throughout his ranks of leaders rested on their fidelity to God above all else and their receptivity to God’s leading. David relied on the confidence that his leaders, in the absence of specific and direct orders, would hear and obey God. Note what David said to the assembly – “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God….” David was counting on leaders who would not simply rely on their own judgment but who would prayerfully seek guidance from God and be guided by the leading of the Holy Spirit. David didn’t just say, “if it seems good and also lawful;” he said if it is “from” the LORD. Critical to good leadership is being lead by the Holy Spirit, above our incredibly limited, easily deceived human perception and intellect. The Holy Spirit is not limited, but we can quench, grieve, and get out of step with the Spirit through our own infidelity and disobedience. If we don’t experience clear guidance and intent from the Spirit daily as Jesus did, the issue is with our own lack of receptivity based upon the condition of our hearts. A good decision is not just based upon what we think; it must be “from the LORD.”
2. 1 Chronicles 13:3 — “Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” David knew that the kingdom’s future depended on revelation from God and the power of God. So, does your future. Saul did not seek God’s counsel as he should have, and it cost him everything and also caused the needless suffering of countless others. Learn from the lessons of the Old Testament which are provided for you by God.
3. 1 Chronicles 13:10-12 – “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah…. And David was afraid of God that day….” What does it take for a person to stop fighting God’s will, to stop blaming God for the consequence of sin, and to start revering God and obeying him? The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s holiness and sat in the Most Holy Place. After the death of Aaron’s two sons when they approached the Lord inappropriately, God gave Moses these instructions: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, for God has proclaimed ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” God had given very specific instructions as to how the ark was to be handled: It was to be carried only by the Levites on foot using long poles that ran through rings on the sides – there were never to be removed. The people were to be shielded from the ark by the “atonement cover” made of pure gold and a curtain. The ark had been forgotten during the reign of Saul, and the people had lost perspective on the holiness of God. As the ark is carelessly moved in an unauthorized fashion, Uzzah dares to touch this holy object and dies – he had subconsciously presumed that his sinful hands were somehow cleaner that the ground where the ark would have fallen. It is interesting to me how David’s response begins with anger and then turns to fear. The clearer our perspective of God, the greater we appreciate his holiness in contrast to our sinfulness, the more grateful we become for the grace bestowed upon us. Think of Peter’s response to Jesus when he first understood who Jesus was: “he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” Today’s readings in Ephesians point out that “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” However, this statement does not suggest that we should approach God without reverence. Note the next verse: “For this reason I kneel before the Father….” Today, worship has become very casual. Perhaps we have a problem with our perspective of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and the grace which we have received. How differently would we approach our God and live our lives with a clearer perspective.
4. 1 Chronicles 14:10-12 – “And David inquired of God, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Go up, and I will give them into your hand.’ And he went up to Baal-perazim, and David struck them down there. And David said, ‘God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like a bursting flood.’ Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And they left their gods there, and David gave command, and they were burned.” David inquired of God, knew without question God’s reply, was quick to see God’s hand in the outcomes, and publicly gave God all the credit while recommitting to obedience. Is that how you function?
5. Proverbs 25:2 – “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” What motivates your quest for knowledge will largely determine what you discover. Many get the right answers to all the wrong questions. Many seek increased knowledge to validate their own assumptions, turning a blind eye to greater truths. What might we have discovered in science and technology has we not raised up our children within an education system that excludes God from the equation? So much knowledge is a misguided, prideful pursuit among people seeking to free themselves of God’s truth. “’Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
6. Proverbs 25:4 – “Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.” Are you diligently seeking to remove the dross of sin from your life that you would be a worthy vessel for the Holy Spirit?
7. Proverbs 25:5 – “Take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.” Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
8. Proverbs 25:6, 7 – “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” Too many people seek ministry and positions of church leadership for which God has not anointed them. Too many leaders fail miserably because they are seeking to do what God never intended for them. If you are truly obedient to the responsibilities and opportunities God has placed in front of you, increased responsibility will naturally happen, and you will be truly ready for it.
9. Proverbs 25:15, 16 – “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone. If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Patience and self-control is key to positive relationships and to success in general.
10. Proverbs 25:19 – “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.” The wrong people in your life can make things bad that should be good.
11. Proverbs 25:28 – “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Those who lack self-control are perpetual victims. Most people in America will die from diseases associated with smoking, a poor diet, a lack of exercise, and too much stress. However, they will really die from a lack of self-control. Self-control comes from the Holy Spirit, not from a better education or positive thinking.
12. Ephesians 3:1 — “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles….” There is no greater job than to be a prisoner for Jesus. Are you a prisoner for Christ on behalf of those god has placed in your life for His purposes?
13. Ephesians 3:2, 3 — “You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation.” The grace that we have received is not primarily for us but rather has been given to us to for others. God revealed to us the Gospel, and we are called to be good stewards of the revelation that has been given to us. Your goal in life is to spread the good news to as many people as possible.
14. Ephesians 3:7 – “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.” Only God can empower a disciple or minister. You were chosen and did not commission yourself.
15. Ephesians 3:8 — “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” God chooses His servants not because of their righteousness but because of His grace.
16. Ephesians 3:12, 13 – “…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” Faith in Christ gives us boldness before man and special access to God which empowers us and gives us supernatural understanding. Faith enables us to see that all of our circumstances are for God’s glory.
17. Ephesians 3:16 – “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being….” True power comes from the Spirit of God within a true, yielded believer.
18. Ephesians 3:16-19 — “…according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” The Spirit gives you the power to grow in faith and love and to know Christ more and more, being filled fuller each day with Christ. You cannot grow in Christ without the power of the Spirit.
19. Ephesians 3:17 – “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love….” Real love only comes through a Christ-filled heart.
20. Ephesians 3:19 – “…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Godliness is not achieved through knowledge and intellect but rather through Spirit-enabled love that is impossible to understand. The fullness of God comes through love.
21. Ephesians 3:20, 21 — “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” God is doing things in you and for you that you cannot possibly understand. God will do far more than you can possibly imagine, far beyond your prayers, and not through your power but through His power working through you. Could you imagine a parent limiting his actions directed toward a three-year-old to only what the child asked for or to only what that child could imagine? Of course, a three-year-old cannot possibly comprehend what he really needs in life or how much the parent is ready do for his benefit. Far more so, it is impossible for us to comprehend the love and power of the Father directed towards us. My kids have to trust me when they don’t understand my actions towards them, and even more so, we have to trust in God and walk in faith. God is at work within you. Rejoice and walk boldly day by day. Trust in Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 June 18: Pray for spiritual strength and to be filled more fully with the love and knowledge of Jesus. (Ephesians 3:16-20)