Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 12 July 18:
1. 2 Chronicles 19:2 — “But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord.’” God will hold His people accountable if they partner with the ungodly. We are not to become entangled in the world’s affairs or partner with unbelievers, even under the justification of building relationships of influence. Some mistakenly believe that refusing to partner with the world is the same as isolating oneself from the world. You can have relationship and can influence without syncretism.
2. 2 Corinthians 19:6 – “…and said to the judges, ‘Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord. He is with you in giving judgment.’” As Ambassadors for Christ and as priests, we can no longer represent anyone else’s interest other than Jesus Christ’s, and His position on a matter will almost always differ from world opinion.
3. 2 Chronicles 19:7 — “Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes.” You are God’s representatives on earth, and He holds you to a very high standard in all that you do. He will not tolerate Christians misrepresenting Him. Yes, he responds to us in grace, but He, nonetheless, expects you to honor Him with your words and deeds before the world.
4. 2 Cor 19:10 — “…then you shall warn them, that they may not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath may not come upon you and your brothers. Thus you shall do, and you will not incur guilt.” We are guilty if we don’t warn the sinner.
5. 2 Chronicles 20:9 — “If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.” When crisis comes, God expects His people to turn to Him and to trust in Him.
6. 2 Chroniclesicles 20:12 — “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” No one knows what to do without God’s guidance. We are totally dependent on God for direction, understanding, and wisdom. Human wisdom is an illusion.
7. 2 Chroniclesicles 20:14 — “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel.” The Spirit enables us to know God’s word and will. No one can understand without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
8. 2 Chroniclesicles 20:17 — “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” If you are walking with the Lord, you will not need to worry about defending yourself. Hold to the truth, and watch God work.
9. 2 Chronicles 20:21 — “… he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.’” Faith causes you to give thanks in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
10. 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 — “Jehoshaphat king of Judah joined with Ahaziah king of Israel, who acted wickedly. He joined him in building ships to go to Tarshish, and they built the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavahu of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘Because you have joined with Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy what you have made.’ And the ships were wrecked and were not able to go to Tarshish.” Again, God does not want His people to partner with the world and will hold His people accountable if they do.
11. Proverbs 12 – This chapter compares the attributes of the righteous person with the attributes of the foolish person. Read this chapter and see which attributes apply to you. Do you love discipline (v1)? Do you see God’s favor in your life (v2)? Are you firmly grounded and strong (v3)? Are you in iron-sharpens-iron, honorable relationships (v4)? Are your thoughts pure, holy, and wise; and do you give sound counsel (v5)? Do your words rescue and heal people rather than destroy them and hurt them (vs6, 18)? Are you commended for your good sense (v8)? Do you live well within your means, without concern about impressing others (v9)? Are equally kind to the lowliest people (v 10)? Are you hard working (vs11, 24, 27)? Do you focus on doing the best you can rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing and rather than becoming envious or jealous (vs12, 14)? Are you always truthful, even in the smallest ways (vs13, 17, 18, 22)? Do you humbly listen to the advice of others? (v15)? Do you hold your emotions and ignore insults (v16)? Do you plan to make peace with all others rather than adding friction (v20)? Do you speak the truth only when it is helpful and brings peace and reconciliation (v 23)? Do you always comfort others in distress (v25)? Do your words and guidance always lead people to a better place and closer to Jesus (vs26, 28)
12. Proverbs 12:1 — How you respond to discipline is critical.
13. Proverbs 12:18, 25 — “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing…. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
– You may have heard someone described as “a people person.” However, much like a Marine has to be fighter, Christians have to be people persons – it is who we are, part of our identity. God has given us our mission, and it is a people mission – “this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) Our primary weapons system in our spiritual battle is God’s word which is the sword of truth (God’s word; God Sword; GODSWORD) (Ephesians 6:17) However, God’s word cuts to heal, to bring peace, hope, joy, and love. We testify to the truth in all situations, because only the truth brings reconciliation. As today’s Proverbs say, “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble. Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” (Proverbs 12:17-22) Christians cannot tolerate lies and flattery which promotes continued deceit and pain. However, administer truth with gracefulness, gentleness, patience, kindness, mercy, politeness, hopefulness, peacefulness, compassion, and love, always with the motive to bring others closer to God, not farther away. Our “weapon” of God’s word is not used against people but rather against spiritual forces. In the Marine Corps, there is no such thing as an “accidental discharge” of a weapon, only a “negligent discharge,” because as professionals, we understand that there is no excuse for carelessness with our weapons. Likewise, there is no excuse for a Christian to have a “negligent discharge” of the mouth. As Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36) Likely, these are hard words for all of us, but we must listen carefully to our Master. Paul charged Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Do you administer the truth (and only the truth) in such a way that brings healing and gladness?
14. Proverbs 12:24, 27 — The Bible continuously repeats God’s expectation for us to work hard and avoid laziness.
15. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 — “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” We will be held accountable for how faithfully delivered the message, not for how it was received. Communicate to please God, not men.
16. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 — “We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” Preach the Gospel in love and obedience to God; don’t worry so much about how people respond. The Holy Spirit will use the word of God to convict hearts, not your clever packaging of God’s word. You will never be able to convince or please those who are not convicted by the Holy Spirit to respond. Success for you is faithfulness to God, not how others respond to God – that is between them and God.
17. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 — “So we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
– Paul repeats a theme we have been reading all year: What matters more than words or deeds is the heart or motivation behind those words or deeds. People can even preach Jesus for the wrong reasons which usually results in preaching in the wrong way too. Concerning those false prophets, Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) Today, Paul describes the attributes of Christ-centered preaching: The Gospel is presented boldly, without flattery, not to please men or the crowd but rather to please God; it will cause conflict and result in suffering for the proclaimer. (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4) There are no hidden agendas, no personal interests, no desires for personal gain, no uncontrolled emotions, no personal opinions, no crafty arguments, no clever attention getters, no fog machines or light shows, no careless Scriptural interpretation, just the Gospel in its pure form. (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6) The Gospel message is not sugar-coated (hence the conflict and suffering), it starts with the word “repent,” calls sin, sin, and ends with only one way for salvation: Jesus Christ. However, painful truth is not delivered callously or caustically but rather with love, compassion, gentleness, and affection as a loving mother would display to her infant. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8) Rebukes and corrections are always seasoned with encouragement, support, and modelled example. (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12) The person who proclaims Jesus from a genuine heart is ready to work day and night for the sake of the Kingdom, seeking nothing in return, and will display impeccable character and conduct. (1 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) When a truly godly person presents the word of God, it is evident that what is being heard is not “the word of men” but actually “the word of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) Nevertheless, the holy person will not be accepted by all. The faithful Christian is ready to be driven out and even killed that the lost might be saved. (1 Thessalonians 2:15) Even the faithful Christian can get caught up in human emotions and passions and can find themselves proclaiming Truth for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way. We must, above all else, guard our hearts and constantly examine our motives. One way to do that is to compare our emotions, words, and deeds to the attributes of love and to the fruits of the spirit (provided below; good memory verses). If we find ourselves drifting away from love and the Spirit in defense of the Gospel, we have identified a heart issue and are being deceived by the Evil One.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
– Galatians 5:22, 23 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
18. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 — “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves.” To share the Gospel, you must be ready to humbly serve those who treat you sinfully. You take up your cross when others mistreat you because of your testimony. When you behave badly and in return are treated badly, there is no reward in that.
19. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 — “We worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” Work diligently to be a burden to no one so that nothing would distract from the message of Jesus.
20. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 — “We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” Proclaiming the truth includes both exhortation and encouragement, challenging people in a positive way to turn to God.
21. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 — “…when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” The word of God is powerfully at work in you – does that excite you?
22. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 — “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.” We don’t proclaim man-made philosophies, good advice, self-help strategies, or current morality; we proclaim Jesus. Our words are not our own. Speak only God’s word into every situation.
23. 1 Thessalonians 2:14 — “For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews.” If you are faithful to God’s word, don’t be surprised if you are persecuted by other ‘Christians’ who have established a comfortable compromise with the world. Your words will threaten their comfortable, compromised position.
24. 1 Thessalonians 2:20 — “For you are our glory and joy.” Your success in life is measured by the disciples you make. This is the Great Commission Jesus gave you. No other measures of success matter.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 July 18: Recommit your life to the sole mission of fulfilling the Great Commission – “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (1 Thessalonians 2)