Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 27 June 18:
1. 1 Chronicles 17:2 – “And Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.’” We must be careful not to confuse our thoughts with God’s thoughts. Just because we think it makes sense doesn’t mean it is what God wants.
2. 1 Chronicles 17:9-14 — God takes the initiative to show you the work He wants you to do for Him.
3. 1 Chronicles 17:1-3 — “Now when David lived in his house, David said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Behold, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you.’ But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan….” Don’t presume to speak for God when God hasn’t really spoken. Don’t get ahead of God on decisions. Again, just because it seems good to you doesn’t mean it is what God wants.
4. 1 Chronicles 18:14 – “So David reigned over all Israel, and he administered justice and equity to all his people.” God wants justice to rule the world order. God is Justice. We are the Ambassadors for Christ on Earth. We are the priests of the earth. We are called to be the predominant influence on Earth in the Name of Jesus that justice, mercy, and grace would increase.
5. Proverbs 27:1 — “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Make the most of today, and don’t put off till tomorrow what God has called you to do right now. Delayed obedience is disobedience. We cannot do anything about yesterday, and tomorrow is no guarantee. Today is what we can influence. So much of life is being faithful to God one day at a time, making the most of every opportunity, and it’s all about relationships. Make today a ministry masterpiece!
6. Proverbs 27:2 – “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Stop talking about yourself.
7. Proverbs 27:4 – “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” Jealousy is more powerful than even anger. Jealousy drove the religious leaders of the New Testament to seek the execution of Jesus. Watch out for jealousy.
8. Proverbs 27:5, 6 – “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Telling someone only what they want to hear and/or not telling them what they need to hear is unloving and something only an enemy would do.
9. Proverbs 27:8 – “Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” A chick that strays from the nest is helpless and likely to die. One who commits adultery has rendered themselves completely vulnerable to destruction.
10. Proverbs 27:9 – “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” Friends journey through life together in pursuit of a greater loving relationship with God. A true friend earnestly desires to tell you how you can improve your walk with God. A true friend is also eager to listen to godly advice and recommendations. A loving relationship can handle constructive critique without letting pride get in the way. Good relationships require humility and trust from both parties.
11. Proverbs 27:10 – “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” God expects fellow Christians to unite together in Christ as family and to strengthen and support one another as family.
12. Proverbs 27:11 — “Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me.” Children bring either bring good credit or bad credit upon the family name. What do people think about your Father in Heaven when you say you are a Christian and they see how you act?
13. Proverbs 27:14 – “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning….” Ministry must take into account the specific needs and attitudes of the person receiving it. You cannot approach different people the same way, and you cannot approach people the same way under different circumstances. Approaching someone with an impersonal, cookie-cutter approach is only perceived as phony and condescending.
14. Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Again, your friends should be making you a better Christian and vice versa. Friendships are based upon a mutually supportive effort to know Jesus more and more and to make Him known more and more, not a mutually supportive pursuit of simple ‘happiness’ as the world suggests. Most athletes don’t enjoy the pain that comes from pushing the limits of their current physical capacities, but they celebrate the victories that come from the painful effort. Most athletes perform better when they have a good partner – iron sharpens iron. Who is sharpening you day by day? We all need two our three very close Christian friends who will challenge us in Christ.
15. Proverbs 27:18 – “Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored.” If we allow our leaders to fail, we will only suffer for it.
16. Proverbs 27:19 – “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” We use mirrors to judge our outward condition and appearance. We use humble, prayerful, Bible-based introspection and self-awareness, empowered by the Holy Spirit to judge our inner condition, our hearts. How important is it for us to learn how to be truly self-aware, receptive to the counsel of the Holy Spirit? Reputation is what others say about you. Character is what God says about you.
17. Proverbs 27:21 — “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” Your faith is tested in both good times and bad times. How you respond to both reveals in whom you have placed your trust, in God or in yourself.
18. Proverbs 27:23-27 — “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds,for riches do not last forever….” God commands us to prepare for “a rainy day” because one thing is certain: it is going to rain one day, and everyone, even Christians will get wet.
19. Ephesians 5:1-2 — “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
– Wow! Even if you can’t find the time to read all the Bible readings today, take the time to read Ephesians 5 and meditate deeply upon it. Powerful! I believe that one of the major purposes of the Christian life is to tangibly reveal the truths of God to others. We are a manifestation of the Truth. How complacently we live our lives! What is the expectation? Imitate God, and walk in love and total selflessness to the point of death. Our faith must not be just “empty words” but a life of integrity before the Lord, Coram Deo, revealed to those around us. We must have nothing to do with any form of immorality. We are to “walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),” always striving to understand more and more “what is pleasing to the Lord.” To the Christian who continues to walk with the world, the Bible commands: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Repent right now as the Holy Spirit convicts, and don’t waist another second of your life in compromise (there is no such thing as a small compromise) – “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Surrender to God not to earn your way into Heaven or to get something from God, but simply out of reverence, love and gratitude to Him – “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And how do we show submission to God? We submit ourselves to others (Ephesians 5:21). Where do you start? You start with your closest relationships, particularly the challenging ones – “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…. do good to those who hate you…. lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil…. Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ…. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord…. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” To walk in love like Jesus is to give yourself up for others. We are called to act like God by loving others unconditionally.
– Living the life of love: Christians like to talk a lot about love (rightfully so), but they don’t like to talk much about obedience. However the two go together: Deut 11:1, Deut 11:13, Jos 22:5, Neh 1:5, Psa 85:10, Psa 119: 88, 167; Pro 3:3, Hos 4:1, Dan 9:4; John 14-24, John 15: 10; Gal 5:22, 1 Pet 1:22, 1 John 2:5, 1 John 5:3. Sometimes we equate love to acceptance of sin, but today’s readings make it clear that “children of the light… have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” As Ephesians 4:15 instructed us yesterday, “Instead, [speak] the truth in love, [so that] we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Proverbs says it this way: Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wound from a friend can be trusted…. Iron sharpens iron.” Today, Paul is being very specific about how Christians should live: “Be imitators of God (of who?)” as “God’s holy people” without even a hint of impurity. Don’t have a faith of mere “empty words.” Live carefully, wisely, prudently, productively, soberly, thankfully, purely, and joyfully. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Submit to one another, not just for their sake, but out of reverence for Christ. This standard of living is something to strive for, without pride, fear, frustration, or comparison:
— “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:12-21)
20. Ephesians 5:3-8 — “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them.” Perhaps no temporal sin is more condemned in the Bible than sexual sin, which is pure selfishness and strikes at the foundation the most important ordained institution on earth – the family. There is nothing funny about sexual sin, nothing at all. There is no excuse for sexual sin. It is to be abhorred. Do not partner with the sexually immoral. This message is clear throughout the Bible but less and less popular today.
21. Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Some joking is out of place for believers.
22. Ephesians 5:10 – “…and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” You can and are supposed to know what pleases God from your personal study and your receptivity to the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” much like a football coach says, try to catch the ball. It is within your capability, but it takes practice. At first, you will drop the ball more than you catch it, but with practice, you will improve. Without practice, without a willingness to keep trying persistently, you will never get better.
23. Ephesians 5:11, 12 — “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” God calls us to expose sin, much like John the Baptist did when he condemned Herod’s adultery (subsequently being executed). To be silent before sin is to condone it and to be culpable. What are you saying about fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, etc?
24. Ephesians 5:25 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….” Husbands must surrender their lives for their spouses.
25. Ephesians 5:32 — “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Marriage is designed to be a visible representation to the world of Christ’s love for His church. If you are married, your marriage is your primary testimony to the world.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 June: Today, endeavor to “sacrifice” yourself to others and to give yourself up for others as Christ gave Himself up for you. Take up your cross when persecuted by others, with grace, mercy, and love. Forgive the sinners who “know not what they do.” Return evil with kindness. While sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, humbly expose sin (in love), preach repentance, and proclaim the Gospel. (Ephesians 5)