Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 3 July 18:
[Note: Here is an overview of 2 Chronicles — https://youtu.be/HR7xaHv3Ias ]
1. 2 Chronicles 1:1 – “Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” Solomon was great because the LORD was with Him.
2. 2 Chronicles 1:9 – “O Lord God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth.” God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. (See Gen 12:2, 13:16)
3. 2 Chronicles 1:11, 12 — “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.” God does not want your motivation to be power and prestige but rather the ability to serve others. God rewards selfless service.
4. Proverbs 3:1 — “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.” Set your heart to obey God’s word.
5. Proverbs 3:3 — “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”
– With love goes faithfulness – they are inextricably linked, inseparable, measured from the heart but revealed in action. To the church in Rome Paul wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (Romans 1:8). People all over the world were talking about the church in Rome because the love of Christ had dramatically changed their behavior. To the Colossians, Paul wrote, “We always thank God… since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints….” (1 Colossians 1:3, 4) Paul had heard of the Colossians faith which was evident by their love and faithfulness. The Gospel of Grace was bearing fruit in their lives, and the word had gotten out. So, Paul encouraged them to continue in their faithfulness, to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Faithfulness reveals maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28) Is your fidelity to God being talked about in your community?
6. Proverbs 3:5 — “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Don’t partially trust God or partially obey Him because His word seems to contradict your own understanding or “common sense.” Trust God and His word because God is God, and you cannot possibly understand what He has ordained in His omniscient perfection. In no way does your understanding of reality alter reality. The truth is the truth whether you understanding it or not. Jesus is the Truth. Trust Him, obey Him, and seek to know Him more and more each day.
7. Proverbs 3:11, 12 – “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” God will discipline you because He loves you. Accept God’s discipline with a teachable, humble, thankful spirit.
8. Proverbs 3:25 – “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes….” Faith means you won’t be afraid of the unknown. Faith trusts God in all circumstances.
9. Proverbs 3:27 – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Giving is an act of faith; fear prevents giving. Give when you can, and trust that God will take care of you.
10. Proverbs 3:34 — “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” God treats you the way you treat others.
11. Philippians 3:5, 6 – “…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Human qualifications do no impress God. You can be blameless in the eyes of the Law and at odds with God.
12. Philippians 3:7-10 — “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:7-10)
– Religious efforts or personal accomplishments cannot compare with truly knowing Jesus. To know Christ, you must personally walk with Him day by day in obedience to His word. Join Him in His business of selfless love for others and experience His fellowship. There is great fellowship in suffering too. The Marines have a saying – “Adversity unites.” And veterans have a unique bond with those who fought together with them. In life, aren’t you closest with those who you have struggled with? In his tribulations, Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Do you know that God uses your hardships to draw you closer to Him?
– There is really only two religions in the world, that which depends on faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that which depends on some sort of human effort or worth for salvation. I have heard people describe these two religions as the “do” religion and the “done” religion with the first religion attempting to discover what we must do to get to Heaven and the second relying on what Christ has done that whoever believes in his name would not perish but rather have everlasting life. Paul called those who depend on human effort, accomplishments, and self-righteousness (even if they call themselves Christians) as “dogs” and “evildoers.” To “worship by the Spirit of God” is to put absolutely “no confidence in the flesh,” no hope in our own abilities to obtain righteousness through our efforts. Paul points out that, in human standards, he had every right to brag of his good deeds; however, his (our) very best deeds are nothing but filthy rags before The Holy God. Of ourselves, we have no merit or righteousness (being right with God). Our only hope is to “be found in him” (Jesus). Through faith, we are covered over with the righteousness of Christ. When the Father sees true Christians from the Judgment Seat, he sees us clothed with the righteousness of His Son, this covering provided as a gift of grace and love, a gift that is absolutely impossible to earn. Paul reminds us that Christ has made us His own and encourages us to live out that truth with all of our being – “Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Don’t “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ,” driven by earthly passions, self-centeredness, and self-righteousness; rather remember that “our citizenship is in heaven [through birth in Christ], and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Reflect upon the good things you have done in your life. Why did you do them? Did you do them to be a “good” person, to feel good about yourself, to earn respect from others, to make the world a better place, to avoid guilt; or did you do them to “know Christ,” to united with him, to become “like Him” because of your admiration for Him? When Paul was still Saul, a very committed religious man, he did all the “right things” for the wrong reasons which brought him no closer to God than any other sinner and which did nothing to secure his salvation. When Paul, formerly known as Saul, had his eyes open by Christ (both figuratively and literally) he understood that his human “goodness,” his attempts to be personally righteousness, were totally unacceptable by God, no matter how proud he had felt or how much praise he had received from others. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Only the True Righteousness of Christ can cover over our sins and save us. When we do the “right things” for the wrong reasons, when we obey the law in pursuit of prideful righteousness, we are actually breaking the law by disobeying the Great Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Even unbelievers can do seemingly good things, but God judges the heart. Our focus is not on the law for the sake of obtaining merited righteousness, our focus is on Jesus Christ, knowing him and becoming one with Him in genuine love. We are walking in a love relationship that is growing every day, and that love is reflected outwardly in all that we do and say. When we walk in love, there is no need for laws to constrain us. We do what we ought because our Greatest Love, Christ, desires it.
— John 17:3 — This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
— 1 John 4:7, 8 — Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
— John 14:15, 21 — If you love me, you will keep my commandments…. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
— 1 John 2:3-6 — And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
— 1 John 5:2-5 — By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
13. Philippians 3:13-16 — “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.” Everyday, you will fail the standard of God’s holiness, purity, and righteousness, but sanctification is a life-long process that will not be completed this side of Paradise. Learn from your mistakes and move on, endeavoring with all your might to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Pursue holiness and perfection, and don’t accept your imperfections as “just being human.” Acknowledge your sins, ask for God’s forgiveness, fully receive God’s forgiveness, learn from your mistakes, and don’t look back. Yesterday is over, make today a ministry masterpiece. Grow closer to Jesus one day at a time. Press forward towards greater unity with Jesus.
14. Philippians 3:17 — “Keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Surround yourself with people who will encourage you in your pursuit of holiness, people in the you can respect because of their love and faithfulness.
15. Philippians 3:20 — “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Your allegiance is to God before country or any other loyalty. Are you a faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God? Are you ready to serve your kingdom as a good soldier and to recite your oath – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
16. “Rejoice in the Lord! It is a safeguard for you. Know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Press on [toward perfection] to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [you]. Forget what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [you] heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
– We all have to make a choice concerning who we will live for, ourselves or God. Will our god be our earthly desires or the Lord? Will our minds be set on earthly things or will we seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness? From today’s readings, Solomon was given great wisdom from God; however, what did he do with that wisdom given by God? “Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue —the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans. What was the command God had given to kings?
— “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. (Deut 17:16-20)
– In his own great wisdom, Solomon forgot God’s Law and directly disobeyed the King’s commands from His Word. He set his mind on earthly things and built a might kingdom for himself instead of the LORD. This would cost him and his people greatly — “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 July 17: Make your top priority today and every day truly knowing God, personally, experientially. Don’t settle for knowing about Him. Seek a closer, real relationship with Him with all of your heart. Jesus said if you seek Him will all of your heart, you will find Him. Relationship with Jesus starts with being born again and then denying self continually, taking up your cross, and following Him. You grow in relationship with Him as you obey Him more and more. (Philippians 3)