Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 11 July 18:
1. 2 Chronicles 17:3 — “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel.” Jehoshaphat did not compromise like everyone else did. Therefore, God honored Him. The Israelites worshiped God, but not wholeheartedly. Many in churches today try to serve God and also substitutes for God. Will you be like Jehoshaphat?
2. 2 Chronicles 17:6 — “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” It takes courage to follow the ways of God, mostly moral courage to stand out against popular opinion and social morality.
3. 2 Chronicles 17:7, 9 — “In the third year of his reign he sent his officials, Ben-hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nathaniel, and Micaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah…. And they taught in Judah, having the Book of the Law of the Lord with them. They went about through all the cities of Judah and taught among the people.” Jehoshaphat had a plan to make disciples of all the people. Jehoshaphat’s national security strategy was to ensure the entire nation was educated in the Book of the Law.
4. 2 Chronicles 17:10 – “And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.” Because of Jehoshaphat’s faithfulness, God made his enemies live at peace with them.
5. 2 Chronicles 17:11 — “Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents.” The Bible says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.“ Jehoshaphat trust God at His word, and God proved Himself faithful.
6. 2 Chronicles 18:1 — “Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor, and he made a marriage alliance with Ahab.” Jehoshaphat makes a big mistake: The Bible says that His people are not to be unequally yoked and partner with the world. Jehoshaphat gets himself entangled in ungodly affairs for sake of friendship. You cannot befriend the ungodly and remain faithful to God.
7. 2 Chronicles 18:5 — “The king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, ‘Shall we go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?’ And they said, ‘Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king.’” The church has always been tempted to compromise God’s word to please government. Here all but one prophet had become false prophets. Where do you stand when the majority of God’s people agree with sinful policy?
8. 2 Chronicles 18:6 — But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” Ahab surrounded himself with religious leaders who said what he wanted to hear. All agreed and claimed to speak on behalf of God. Perhaps the most unattended church in your community is really the most successful in the eyes of God.
9. 2 Chronicles 18:13 — “But Micaiah said, ‘As the Lord lives, what my God says, that I will speak.’” Micaiah was hated and ostracized because he refused to speak anything but the word of God. Are you a Micaiah? Are you willing to boldly proclaim what no one, including other church goers, want to hear?
10. 2 Chronicles 18:26 — “Thus says the king, ‘Put this fellow in prison and feed him with meager rations of bread and water until I return in peace.’”
– God did not keep Micaiah from prison but did vindicate him in the end.
– Your measure of success is not how people respond to your message but rather how faithful you are as Christ’s Ambassador.
11. 2 Chronicles 18:29 – “And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.’ And the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.” Man can do nothing to thwart God’s plan.
12. 2 Chronicles 18:33 — “But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.” God’s activity seems random to those who do not have Holy Spirit vision. Nothing is random with God. God uses all circumstances to accomplish His will.
13. Proverbs 11:1 – “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” We don’t take dishonesty as seriously as God does. “Abomination” is a very strong word.
14. Proverbs 11:2 – “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” It takes humility to turn to God. Many people are stuck in pride though.
15. Proverbs 11:4 – “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” Riches won’t help you stand before God. Compare Proverbs 11:4 with Matthew 16:26 — “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
16. Proverbs 11:9 – “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.” Advice from the ungodly will only destroy you. Seek the counsel of someone close to Jesus. (see also vs. 11 and 14)
17. Proverbs 11:16 – “A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches.” Wealth is empty without respect.
18. Proverbs 11:20 – “Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight.” Behavior reflects the heart.
19. Proverbs 11:24-26 – “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.” Again, you can expect God to treat you how you treat others. (see also v. 31)
20. Proverbs 11:28 – “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.” Riches are not security. Fidelity to God is.
21. 1 Thessalonians 1: 4-7 — “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…. you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
– John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul both began their preaching with the following word: “Repent.” (see. Matthew 3:12; Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38; Acts 26:20). They all also spoke of the need to “perform deeds [or “bear fruit”] in keeping with repentance.” Of course, this message was not received by the “scoffers.” Proverbs talk about these scoffers, warning us not to “correct” or “reprove” a scoffer but rather to save our reproof for wise people (scoffers are not wise) who will accept it. So, what does it mean to be a scoffer? This is not a word we use much today. Other Bible versions use the words “scorner” or “mocker.” We know from other passages that scoffers “delight in their scoffing” and are compared to fools who “hate knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:22) A scoffer won’t listen to a rebuke, and “seeks wisdom in vain,” and refuses to “go to the wise.” (Proverbs 13:1, Proverbs 14:6; Proverbs
15:12) The Bible says that the scoffer is the root cause of “strife… quarrelling… and abuse,” and they have the power to “set a city aflame.” (Proverbs 22:10; Proverbs 29:8) “’Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride,” a person motivated by “their own ungodly passions.” (Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:18) “The scoffer is an abomination to mankind…. Condemnation is ready for scoffers.” (Proverbs 24:9; Proverbs 19:29) So, the Bible warns us about preaching to scoffers, but how do you know if you are dealing with a scoffer? Paul reminds us today that it is God who convicts a person’s heart, not us. If God is working on someone’s heart, they will respond to the Gospel with humility, and repentance. If God has not “chosen” them, they will not respond and will take great offense to those words “repent,” “confess,” and especially “Jesus Christ.” Interestingly, Paul, though very religious, was a leader among the scoffers.” He not only took offense to the Gospel, he persecuted the scoffers with great enthusiasm. It wasn’t until Jesus “chose” him that everything changed and that he listened to God’s people – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” (John 15:16) I do not understand how this works, but I can relate with it from my own salvation experience. However, I don’t think we can perfectly discern who God is working on, so I actually think the Bible is warning us that we just need to be as discerning as possible and to be prepared to take a beating for sake of the Gospel of Jesus. At one point, Jesus tells the disciples that, “if anyone will not receive you our listen to your words, shake of the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town” (Matthew 10:14) However, we are also told to proclaim the Gospel to the “the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) The Bible is full of martyrs (persecuted witnesses), and I believe that God does use people like Stephen to convict the hearts of people like Saul (Paul). Sometimes we will preach “in season,” and sometimes “out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) I think we should seek to be led by the Holy Spirit in this, trusting not on our own understanding, and focusing our very limited time on where we believe the Father is already working — “My Father is working until now, and I am working…. Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:17-21)
22. 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “…because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” A person cannot receive God’s word without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
23. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 — “You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” Those who have truly received God’s word will joyfully work to exemplify the character of Christ in their actions.
24. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 — “Your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” Actions speak louder than words. We are called to verbally proclaim Jesus to everyone, but our behavior will validate our words and reveal the truth of the power of Jesus in the lives of sinners. Your faith will be evident to others by the way you live. Ralph Waldo Emerson – “What you do, Speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.”
25. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 – “…and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Wrath is coming. This is a critical part of our message.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 July 18: Today, consider what people voluntarily say about you and how they describe you. Have you developed a reputation within your community of being like Jesus? Resolve today to imitate Christ more and more, glorifying Him through not just your words but also your deeds. Proclaim Christ whenever you have the opportunity, but let your behavior speak about you. (1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8)