Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 30 June 18:
1. 1 Chronicles 23:3 — “And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening.” God expects His people to worship every day, day and night.
2. 1 Chronicles 23:26 — “And so the Levites no longer need to carry the tabernacle or any of the things for its service.” A changing situation doesn’t change God’s commands and standards but may require a change to how we fulfill those requirements and standards. In Chronicles, David reorganized, retrained, and reequipped the Levites based on their shift in responsibilities from tabernacle to temple service. He also changed the age requirements for service. Perhaps there were some who resisted this change because, “That’s not how we have always done it.” There is a difference between deviating from techniques, procedures, and traditions, and deviating from doctrine, principles, and truth. We must never deviate from what God commands, but we will have to change the methods we use to fulfill His commands based on changing circumstances and environments. For example, long ago we illuminated churches with candles, now we light churches with electric lights. Many churches that once played acoustic instruments now play electric instruments. The shift to electronically supported worship is not a sin. However, if technology or modern methods become a distraction, one could drift into sin. Times and technologies change; God’s word doesn’t.
3. 1 Chronicles 23:30 — “And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening.” Worship is a daily endeavor.
4. 1 Chronicles 24:5 — “They divided them by lot, all alike, for there were sacred officers and officers of God among both the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Ithamar.” Casting lots removed human bias and any perceptions of favoritism when deciding between parties with conflicting interests. In the case of these verses, some positions were likely considered more important, valuable or prestigious than others, so lots were cast to avoid perceptions of partiality. In pride, people tend to vie for important positions, and people tend to work harder when the spotlight is on them than when they are behind the scenes. Jesus called these people hypocrites which is the Greek word for stage actor. How you perform when no one is watching is who you really are. Throughout the Bible, we see God mightily using those who no one else seems to notice. Jesus himself lived most of his life in the shadow of mighty Herod, unnoticed by most. Of Him Isaiah said, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) Jesus told us, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:9-12) Pursue the Person of Jesus, not a position. Be faithful with whatever God gives you to do, for His glory, not yours. If your task is the clean the toilet, make that toilet fitting for The KING, and rejoice in such an opportunity.
5. Proverbs 30:1-3 — “The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” In John 17, Jesus said that life was knowing Him. Life for those who don’t know Jesus is wearisome.
6. Proverbs 30:5, 6 — “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words.” The Bible says that it is impossible for any human to fully understand our Creator; to fully understand the will, ways, and works of God; to know the mind of God; or to know what ought to be done day-by-day. So, God has given us His word and the counsel of the Holy Spirit to guide us through life on this earth. Nothing can be added to God’s word, and those without the Holy Spirit cannot understand how to rightly apply God’s word. It takes faith to trust God’s word when you don’t understand it. It takes faith to please God.
– Isaiah 55:8, 9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
– Proverbs 3:5-8 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
– 1 Corinthians 13:12 — For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
– John 3:3-13 — Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…. Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”
– Mathew 22;29 — But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.
7. Proverbs 30:8-9 — “Feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Both good and bad circumstances can tempt us to sin. Good times can make us complacent and prideful; bad times can make us desperate, disgruntled, and disobedient.
8. Proverbs 30:12 — “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.” Most people have a higher opinion of themselves than they ought.
9. Proverbs 30:20 – “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” Sinners have an incredible way of justifying and making light of their sin. Many sin and act as if it never happened, and some hearts have grown so calloused they cannot no longer recognize sin as sin.
10. Psalm 74:1 — “O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?”
– It can often feel like God has forgotten you or abandoned you — He hasn’t. Wait on the Lord. He knows exactly what is happening to you, is in complete control of your situation, and can only respond to you in perfect love and faithfulness. You cannot possibly understand the good He has in store for you as He takes you through trials and tribulations. What seems bad to us, God is bringing together for good. (Romans 8:28) Be still and know that God is God.
– Psalm 74 is identified as “A Maskil of Asaph” or song of Asaph. Who was Asaph, and to what event does this Psalm refer? When was “everything in the sanctuary” destroyed by “enemies”? Asaph was David’s music director and is believed to have written twelve Psalms which collectively make up a larger portion of the entire Bible than several other books in the Bible. Asaph lived from David’s reign, through Solomon’s to Rehoboam’s. So, he offers a VERY unique and important perspective, having basically witnessed the nation of Israel rise to its “Golden Age” under David and then fall to destruction after Solomon turned to idolatry. Asaph watched as the kingdom was torn in two, and he witnessed the Egyptians invade Jerusalem and strip the Temple. Though Asaph appears to have remained faithful in his service to God, he nonetheless personally suffered greatly due to the sins of the leaders and the sins of the nation. No doubt, many of Asaph’s family and friends were killed in the foreign invasions about which he writes. Psalm 74 likely reflects Asaph’s distress at the invasion of Shishak the king of Egypt. What can we learn today from Asaph’s Psalm? First, Asaph clearly recognizes that Israel’s national problems are in fact due to God’s anger in response to the nation’s sins. It wasn’t simply because Egypt had grown strong or because Israel’s leaders had not been competent enough – it was because Israel had turned from God, the true source of their strength. How will God judge the sins of our nation? Second, Asaph, though faithful to God, also suffers the consequences of the nation’s sins. When a nation turns from God, everyone suffers the consequences. It is important for Christians understand that reality as they prepare for the future. Finally, Asaph, though undoubtedly disillusioned by his government, never lost his faith in God or his perspective that “God [is] King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.” (Psalm 74:12) In a time of national despair, Asaph understood that a stronger military, a better economy, or more capable elected officials would not save the nation, only the power of God. On what does the future of America depend?
11. Psalm 74:2 – “Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!” God’s congregation is those whose sin debt He has paid through the blood of Jesus Christ and who know follow Him as His disciple.
12. Psalm 74:7 – “They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
bringing it down to the ground.” God’s enemies will profane His name and seek to destroy the work of His people on earth.
13. Psalm 74:8 – “They said to themselves, ‘We will utterly subdue them;’ they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.” God’s enemies will not be satisfied while there are still those who worship God.
14. Psalm 74:9, 12 – “We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long…. Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.” A lack of prophecy is evidence of a weak, dying church. Despite the weak and dying churches, God will still work His plan for salvation across the earth for those He intends to save.
15. Psalm 74:16 – “Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.” God is still in control.
16. Psalm 74:22 – “Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!” Just like sick people vomit, the fools will scoff. Remain true to the LORD in the midst of an epidemic of sin.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 June: Evaluate your self-control today. Test yourself by intentionally resisting that one particular temptation that you struggle with. In your temptation, pray and meditate upon why it is so difficult for you to resist. What does it reveal about your heart and your walk with the Spirit? Get to the root of the temptation. Rather than seeking greater willpower, seek the supernatural power of the Spirit in your life to build your self-control. Seek greater unity with the Spirit.