Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 16 July 18:
1. 2 Chronicles 27:2 – “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord according to all that his father Uzziah had done, except he did not enter the temple of the Lord. But the people still followed corrupt practices.” Success involves having an influence over those around us for God’s glory, not just living a private faith without impact.
2. 2 Chronicles 27:6 — “So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” Is your life ordered around Jesus? Have you built your house on the firm foundation, the solid rock of Jesus? Is Jesus the Cornerstone of your life? Jotham stuck out among the list of kings because he chose to order his life before the Lord his God. Will you be remembered that way?
3. 2 Chronicles 28:2 — “…but he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel.” Following anyone other than Jesus will lead you to sin and destruction. You cannot walk with the ungodly and walk with Jesus at the same time; they are going in opposite directions. The world, which is in rebellion to God, pursues substitutes for god while your aim in life is Jesus Himself. Conversely, you should be growing closer each day to those who are seeking greater unity with Jesus, like ships headed to the same destination.
4. 2 Chronicles 28:9-11 — “But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, ‘Behold, because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven…. Have you not sins of your own against the Lord your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your relatives whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.’” God’s people have always been called to serve as the conscience of government and to convict others of sin, call people to repentance, and warn of God’s looming judgment of sin.
5. 2 Chronicles 28:20 – “So Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him.” Turning to the world for strength rather than God will only hurt you, not help you.
6. 2 Chronicles 28:22-25 — When you do not repent, you seek deeper into sin.
7. 2 Chronicles 28:23 — “For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me.’ But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.” What seems to work for the world will not work for us. We operate within the spiritual realm with spiritual goals and objectives.
8. Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, the Lord weighs the spirit.” What matters is not what you think about yourself but what God thinks of you.
9. Proverbs 16:6 – “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” Sacrificial deeds done with the wrong motives don’t mean anything or fix anything. Love and faithfulness is what matters. Sacrifices don’t make up for disobedience or a lack of genuine love. God doesn’t want your sacrifices, He wants your love and faithfulness.
10. Proverbs 16:8 – “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” The righteous may be poor, and the unrighteous may be rich on earth, but riches are not the same as reward. All that people think money can offer them — security, joy, peace, validation, etc. — are really in the hands of God and come through relationship with Jesus Christ. When you have Jesus, nothing else really matters all that much. When you don’t have Jesus, all the wealth in the world can’t fill the void in your life.
11. Proverbs 16:20 – “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Read, study, and meditate upon God’s word; then, trust and obey, day-by-day.
12. Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Take it to the bank: man’s way is the wrong way. If you are following anything or anybody other than Jesus Christ and His commandments, you are heading the wrong direction. God says, “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.” (Isa 55:8, 9) God commands you, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Solomon, the wisest king that ever lived, couldn’t get it right. What makes anyone else think they can apart from the lead of Jesus. Follow Jesus and only Jesus. Jesus didn’t say, “I will show you the way;” He said, “I am The Way.” His way is one of obedience. Jesus obeyed every word of the Father. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. You have been provided with God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. You have been given all authority by Jesus to be His Ambassador on this earth. What more do you need? Stop chasing the world’s sinful fantasies.
13. Proverbs 16:32 – “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” A person with self-control is a powerful person. If you cannot control your temper, you cannot control anything else for very long. You are unfit for God’s work and need to pray that God will grant you the last fruit of the Spirit – self-control (see Gal 5).
14. Proverbs 16:33 – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Nothing is left to chance.
15.1 Thessalonians 4:1 — “…you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” God expects you to strive more and more to walk with Jesus. Sanctification is a life-long process.
16. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 — “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
– Sanctification is God’s will for your life. What does God want you to do with your life? Become closer and more like Jesus every day, more holy. God has called you to purity and holiness – strive daily for it. Holiness requires self-control. Self-control is key to sanctification, and sexual sin is not only a sign of a lack of self-control and sanctification, it defies the Great Commandment of loving God and others. It is absolutely unthinkable that a Christian would engage in any form of sexual immorality considering that the Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and sexual immorality would be an utter desecration of God’s temple, the abomination of desolation! “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)
17. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 — “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
– God has called you to holiness instead of impurity. In urging us to “live in order to please God” and to “do this more and more,” Paul reminds us that the Bible’s instructions are given to us “by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” We are called by God to live “holy” lives, and we have been empowered by God through the Holy Spirit to live holy lives. When we sin, we cannot use the old excuse, “The Devil made me do it.” God has given us the power to obey, but we choose not to when, even for a brief moment, something has become more important to us than God. Paul wants us to face the fact that when we sin, we are deliberately denying the Lordship of God and His authority over our lives! He also warns that God will hold us accountable (1 Thessalonians 4:6), though we remain in His love and grace. Furthermore, Paul points out that sin and disobedience have nothing to do with love, and it is impossible to grow in love without growing in holiness and obedience. Sin is not only and offense to God, it also always hurts others (1 Thessalonians 4:6). Sin hurts, destroys, kills. True love absolutely requires obedience to the God who is Love, and our ability to love others is dependent on our love for God.
18. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 — “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another…. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
– God wants you to strive to grow in love daily, and to live and inoffensive and unencumbered life, not being dependent upon the sinful world which would influence you to compromise your purity and holiness. God calls us to live quiet lives, working hard to be self-sufficient and to love others. Often people will ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?” However, their focus is usually on profession, and they are usually really asking, “How can I be successful in life (by the world’s standards)?” However, Thessalonians’ answer to the question focuses on character rather than competence – “live a holy life.” Thessalonians seems to minimize “professional” success (though we are called to be excellent in all things) – “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands.” Who you are matters far more than what you do. Find something to do, and do it to the glory of God, not to your own glory. “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 7:29; 12:13, 14).”
19. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 — “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” God does not want you to get wrapped up in the worries of the world or to grieve about things like the world does. Be at peace in the hope which has been given you through the promise of Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 July 18: Today, pursue sanctification as your life goal. Walk today side-by-side with Jesus, seeking to know Him more fully, seeking to grow closer to Him through every experience. Don’t just do good, know Him more and more. Don’t follow anyone else, only Him. Partner with those who have the same goal for life as you — to know Jesus more and more. (See today’s readings)