Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 15 July 18:
1. 2 Chronicles 25:2 — “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.” Obedience that doesn’t come from a whole heart is disobedience. The First Commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before me,” and The Greatest Commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Apparent obedience that is not really inspired by genuine reverence and love for the Almighty is artificial and short-lived. This is why Jesus said things like, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28) In this example, hidden lust reveals a heart that doesn’t revere and love God enough to care about what He cares about, to desire what He desires. That is were sin starts, in the heart. Jesus was tempted in the desert, externally by Satan, not internally from His heart – He remained without sin. External temptations don’t cause us to sin; our hearts cause us to sin. “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:11)
2. 2 Chronicles 25:7, 8 — “But a man of God came to him and said, ‘O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.’” Once again, the Bible warns about partnering with ungodly people and putting your trust in worldly powers rather than in God. Amaziah had already hired the Israelites but then listened to God’s word and sent them home, losing his investment but ultimately winning the battle. However, the Israelite warriors plundered Judah’s cities on the way home, killing thousands. Amaziah and his people still suffered consequences for not obeying God in the first place. Working with the ungodly doesn’t ‘work’ for God. What consequences do God’s people face today in compromise with the world? It is tempting to partner with unbelievers rather than relying on God. It takes courage to resist pressures to compromise holiness and join with the world; it takes faith to rely on God.
3. 2 Chronicles 25:14-16 — A true prophet is compelled to speak the truth against sin, regardless the audience and regardless the consequences.
4. 2 Chronicles 25:15 — “Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet.” God sends His messengers to warn sinners to repent. We are Christ’s Ambassadors, proclaiming to others, whether they want to hear it or not, His message of repentance and forgiveness.
5. 2 Chronicles 25:16 — “But as he was speaking, the king said to him, ‘Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?’ So, the prophet stopped, but said, ‘I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.’” Those who follow sin unrepentantly will often respond violently to God’s word.
6. 2 Chronicles 25:16 — “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” One of the most repeated themes throughout the Bible is that pride comes before the fall. Uzziah was blessed by God but soon began to take credit for God’s work, trust in his own power, and pursue his own desires rather than God’s will. So many others in the Bible did something along these lines with devastating consequences. Be very careful that you don’t grow prideful in your successes. Give all glory and credit to God. Never lift yourself up before others.
7. 2 Chronicles 26:5 — “He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.” Uzziah followed wise godly counsel and was blessed. Do you have wise Christian counsellors in your life who lead you in pursuit of God’s will?
8. 2 Chronicles 26:16 – “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.” Success can be dangerous.
9. 2 Chronicles 26:18 – “…and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.’” It is not the position of government to control worship.
10. Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Why stir up anger?
11. Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Nothing escapes God’s attention, and He is in complete control. He will not be mocked.
12. Proverbs 15:8 – “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” We cannot expect to live in disobedience and have God give us what we want. God does not spoil His children. His greatest gift to you is Himself, and desires, first and foremost for nothing, including your sin, to stand as a barrier in your relationship with Him. He has already given you His Holy Spirit and complete access, but in sin, you can quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, and get out of step with the Spirit. He will deal with your walk before your wants.
13. Proverbs 15:10 – “There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.” How is this verse revealed in what you have been reading in Chronicles? How have you seen this revealed in life?
14. Proverbs 15:11 – “Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!” People judge what you do, but God sees deep within you to judge why you do it – He knows the truth of your motives and heart. Many people do ‘good’ deeds for the wrong reasons: fear, pride, greed, duty (legalism), rather than love. God desires gifts offered in love. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the true motives behind your actions and purify your love. Jesus said, the first step to following Him is to “deny yourself.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remove self from the equation – the hardest step.
15. Proverbs 15:15-17 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Motivated by anything other than love for God and others, you can build for yourself a kingdom on earth, but it would be full of trouble and affliction, and it will be burned up in judgment. The Bible says that God’s gifts have no trouble added to them – “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
16. Proverbs 15:16 – “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” Trust God to provide you with everything you need if you remain in obedience to Him. Whatever you gain in disobedience is only a curse.
17. Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.” An attitude of laziness sees everything as a pain and accomplishes very little. An attitude if diligence is very freeing and sees much progress in life.
18. Proverbs 15:26 – “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.” Words are only pure when they come from a truly gracious heart. God knows the heart, and the kindest words are an abomination (a very strong word) to Him when they come from the wrong heart. You can say all the right things and be completely wrong. Again, God knows your thoughts. Thoughts that prioritize something as higher or more important than God are idolatry and an abomination.
19. Proverbs 15:28, 29 – “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” The quality of our relationships with both God and man is determined by the condition of our hearts. Check your heart.
20. Proverbs 15:29 – “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.” Acceptable prayers are God-centered rather than self-centered.
21. Proverbs 15:31-33 – “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Again, you must approach God’s word humbly and accept its correction in your life, every day.
22. Psalm 81: 9, 10 — “There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. I am the Lord your God.” The modern Christian risks breezing by verses such as this one too quickly: “I’m a Christian; of course I don’t worship other gods.” However, the danger of idolatry is just as alive and well today for the Christian it was for the Jew in ancient Israel, only we have made idolatry more subtle and sophisticated. Our greatest idol is ourselves. Whenever we presume to place ourselves, our desires, our goals, our passions, our “needs” ahead of God’s will and commands, we introduce the “strangest god” of all into the equation, ourselves. We are a far worse idol than a carved image or any other created form – the inanimate object or god of imagination has a big thing over us: it has never sinned against God! Uzzah died when he dared to touch the ark of the covenant in order to keep the holy ark from falling on the ground, presuming that his hand was cleaner than the dirt. How easy it is for us to forget from where we came. How easy it is for us to let pride rob God of His due glory, honor and praise and for us to lose sight of the wonderfulness of the grace He has poured out upon us through His One and Only Son Jesus Christ – “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (if you travel east on a globe, you never get to west). (Psalm 103:12) Even when we think about God, we tend to consider Him from our own perspective – “How does God relate to me?”. The fullness of joy is the removal of “me” so that there is only Him – “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
– Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
– 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
– Galatians 5:24 — And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
– Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
23. Psalm 81:11-16 — “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Compare these verses to Romans 1. A person doesn’t realize what they have been “given over” in their disobedience. It is a terrible thing to be turned over by God. Trust and obey! Surrender totally to Jesus, and walk with Him, not the world. Look to God to supply your every need, not idols. Proclaim His praises to everyone!
24. Psalm 80:19 – “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” Turn to the Lord for restoration every day.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 July 18: “Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.” (Psalm 81:1, 2) This Sunday, ‘go to church’ all day long (and from this day forward), wherever you are and through whatever you are doing. Proclaim Jesus to everyone everywhere.