Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 28 June 18:
1. 1 Chronicles 19:3 — “’Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?’ So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away….” We can misinterpret others’ motives and actions when we view them from a position of fear, doubt, and our own sinful motives, and this may cause us to act sinfully towards them – needless quarrels start that can be very destructive. Love calls us to give others the benefit of the doubt when acts of kindness are offered. Remember, only God truly knows the heart of another person. Be careful not to assume the worse of others.
– Previous notes (19 May 18) on this story as told in 2 Samuel 10 — David sends a delegation to king Hanun to console him concerning the recent death of his father. Hanun, the young, inexperienced, poorly advised king of the Ammonites misinterprets David’s gesture of kindness, believing it to be a trick, and responds by publicly humiliating and dishonoring David’s envoys. The result is a pointless war between the Israelites, Ammonites and Syrians where over 40,000 people needlessly die. It is not at all hard to understand why Hanun acted the way he did: sending spies as envoys is a common tactic, and David’s modus operandus included this sort of deception. Remember in 1 Samuel 27, king Achish trusted David while David was secretly massacring villages within his land, leaving “neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath.” (1 Samuel 27:11) During the death of a king and the subsequent transition to new leadership, a kingdom is very vulnerable, and Hanun surely felt insecure and defensive. A wiser David would have recognized the sensitivity of the situation and would have dealt with Hanun more carefully; but David, rather than considering Hanun’s perspective, assumed that Hanun would see things from his perspective, a big mistake we often make in our relationships. Hanun on the other hand reacted to David’s poorly timed gesture rashly, likely due to his insecurity as a new king. Insecurity makes people defensive and often causes them to assume the worst in others. Insecurity can destroy relationships. Hanun did one of the worse things someone can do in a relationship, he belittled, embarrassed, humiliated and dishonored David and his men. He robbed them of their dignity. In this case, neither party had the maturity, self-confidence, or moral courage to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. It continued to escalate into great destruction. The first rule in relationships is to seek first to understand rather than be understood. We must be sensitive to the vulnerabilities and insecurities of others. If we have offended someone, we must quickly seek forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, even if the other party is not wholly innocent. If we have been offended, we must quickly forgive and seek reconciliation. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18) “ Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11) Finally, we must NEVER dishonor or humiliate another person, but rather treat all people with dignity and respect.
2. 1 Chronicles 19:6 – “When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah, and from Zobah.” It is far easier to admit you are wrong and apologize than to try to defend your defenseless position. Demonstrate humility and settle matters quickly before they escalate out of control. “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14)
3. 1 Chronicles 19:13 — “Be strong, and let us use our strength for our people and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” Great strength is found in the spirit of a person fighting for God and family. Victory is always in the hands of the LORD. Who would want to fight against Him? If what you are fighting for is not from God, you are fighting in vain.
4. 1 Chronicles 19:15 – “And when the Ammonites saw that the Syrians fled, they likewise fled before Abishai, Joab’s brother, and entered the city. Then Joab came to Jerusalem.” Fear can be very contagious, even among God’s people.
5. Proverbs 28:1 — “The righteous are bold as a lion.” Faith in your position as Christ’s Ambassador makes you naturally bold. A lack of boldness is an indicator of a lack of faith. God wants you to be bold.
6. Proverbs 28:5 — “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.” God is the source of justice. Those who do not know God cannot administer justice. Secular leaders will lead unjustly. Justice is only administered by those who fear the LORD.
7. Proverbs 28:7 — “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” Gluttony is shameful. Lawlessness and gluttony both reveal a lack of self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5), not the product of intellect or human will.
8. Proverbs 28:8 – “Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.” God does not want His people to get wealthy from charging interest. God wants his people to gain wealth through industriousness, adding value, not by redistributing wealth from the weak to the strong.
9. Proverbs 28:9 — “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Sin hinders prayer. God does not honor the prayers of those who reject His law.
– “The late Norman Vincent Peale tells about a time when, as a young boy, he was intrigued by smoking. One day he found a cigar so he went to an alley behind his house and lit it up. He says the cigar did not taste very good, but it made him feel grown-up. That is, until he saw his father enter the alley. Quickly Norman Vincent Peale put the cigar behind his back and tried to act casual. Desperately trying to divert his father’s attention he pointed to a billboard at the corner advertising the circus coming to town. ‘Can we please go the circus when it comes to town?’ he asked. Norman Vincent Peale says his father taught him a lesson he never forgot, ‘Son,’ his father answered quietly but firmly, ‘never make a petition while you’re trying to hide the smoldering evidence of disobedience.’ How can we expect God to answer prayers when we are living in disobedience and unconfessed sin.”
10. Proverbs 28:13 — “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Open confession is required for repentance and reconciliation. Genuine confession and repentance are critical to your relationship with God. You cannot and will not fix what you aren’t willing to be honest about, honest first with yourself and then with others. Hiding transgressions from others is an act of fear, pride, and self-centeredness. When you are honest about your sinfulness, you are then in a position to proclaim the grace of Jesus. You will stop lifting yourself up before others and will start lifting up Jesus instead.
11. Proverbs 28:20 – “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Success in life is the product of fidelity to God, not the result of hard work to pursue or own goals and objectives.
12. Proverbs 28:21 — “To show partiality is not good, but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.” Everyone must be held accountable, but we must consider the circumstances that led someone to sin. Circumstances don’t excuse sin but may contribute to it. Justice is giving people what they deserve. Mercy is not giving people what they deserve, and grace is giving people what they don’t deserve. God balances perfectly justice, mercy, and grace. We must seek from God the wisdom to do the same.
13. Proverbs 28:25, 26 – “A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” You will either trust in the LORD or in yourself. What you decide will determine the outcome of your life. Fools always think they have it all figured out, or can figure it out, and don’t need God.
14. Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Parents are also required to treat their children with dignity, patience, gentleness, and grace. Parents cannot abuse their authority.
15. Ephesians 6:5-9 – “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”
– Yes, we are to treat our bosses like we would treat Jesus, and we must do it with sincerity. Do you sincerely treat your employer like you would Jesus?
– We are called to serve both God and man, not in order to get credit but out of sincere love and to bring glory to God.
– “…knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord.” God will treat you the way you treat others.
– Who receives our service should not affect how we serve; how they respond to our service should not affect how we serve. If our service is not appreciated from people it matters little because we are serving the LORD, and He will treat us in the same way we treat others. He is gracious to the gracious, generous to the generous, forgiving to the forgiving, etc. God is in control of all things, not people.
16. Ephesians 6:10, 11 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” The devil will scheme against you, and you will not be prepared for his attacks against you without the strength that comes from God.
17. Ephesians 6:12 — “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The sinner is not your real enemy, evil spiritual forces are the enemy. The sinner is your objective.
18. Ephesians 6:14-18 — Truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, the confidence and freedom in salvation from God, the word of God, and prayer protect us day by day. How well equipped are you?
19. Ephesians 6:17 — “Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Train with the sword every day so you are ready for the fight when it comes. No one gets really skilled at anything with daily commitment over time. “Forty years ago, in a paper in American Scientist, Herbert Simon and William Chase drew one of the most famous conclusions in the study of expertise: ‘There are no instant experts in chess—certainly no instant masters or grandmasters. There appears not to be on record any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade’s intense preoccupation with the game. We would estimate, very roughly, that a master has spent perhaps 10,000 to 50,000 hours staring at chess positions…’” How many hours have you spent studying God’s word?
20. Ephesians 6:18 – “…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….” Effective prayer requires perseverance in prayer.
21. Ephesians 6:20 – “…for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” You can serve God powerfully in any position or condition.
22. Ephesians 6:22 — “I have sent him to you for this very purpose…. that he may encourage your hearts.” Everyone can use an encouraging word; are you there to provide it to them?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 June: Only speak encouraging words today. (Ephesians 6:22)