Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 23 July 18:
1. Ezra 5:2 – “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God that is in Jerusalem, and the prophets of God were with them, supporting them.” Zerubbabel defied the king’s edict to renew work on the temple.
2. Ezra 5:2 — Prophets work too.
3. Ezra 5:8 – “Be it known to the king that we went to the province of Judah, to the house of the great God. It is being built with huge stones, and timber is laid in the walls. This work goes on diligently and prospers in their hands.” God’s people worked with great diligence in order to make rapid progress. How hard are you working to advance the Kingdom?
4. Ezra 5:11 – “And this was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.” God’s people used challenges against them as opportunities to witness, and they did not back down. Their justification and defense always started with the authority of God over man.
5. Ezra 6:8 – “Moreover, I make a decree regarding what you shall do for these elders of the Jews for the rebuilding of this house of God. The cost is to be paid to these men in full and without delay from the royal revenue, the tribute of the province from Beyond the River.” God worked through ungodly people to resource the building of His temple, using governmental, secular treasuries; furthermore, God worked through the ungodly government to force His enemies to support the project directly, much to their dismay. What can God do to counter your enemies if you commit to His purposes?
6. Ezra 6:9 – “And whatever is needed—bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them day by day without fail….” Not only did the Governor’s plot against God’s people fail, he ended up having to personally support God’s work with significant resources. Who saw something like that coming?
7. Ezra 6:22 – “The Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” God turns hearts.
8. Proverbs 23:1-3 – “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” Rulers make many promises, but there is usually a catch, a hidden agenda, a power play. Politicians get elected on promises. Be warry of deceptive food.
9. Proverbs 23:13, 14 – “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Parents who don’t discipline their children create adults with deep character issues. “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
10. Proverbs 23:17-18 – “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Many Christians compromise their fidelity to God because they want what the world seems to have, and they often realize far too late the price of compromise.
11. Proverbs 23:22-25 – “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old…. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” The most important institution in the Bible is the family. The foundation of society is the family. The family is the school house for character development. The most important leadership position is parent. The measure of the leader is the character of his/her children. Children need the leadership of both a godly man and a godly woman, working together to develop the whole person developing in the child. When a society loses respect for God’s plan for the family, the society is doomed.
Note: Here is a video overview of The Book of Luke, chapters 1-9: https://youtu.be/XIb_dCIxzr0
12. Luke 1:2 – “…those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses….” The Gospel rests on eyewitness accounts and is historically true.
13. Luke 1:3-4 – “…it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke wrote to a Gentile who needed historical assurance.
14. Luke 1:5 – “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” Bible events are related to political and historical events.
15. Luke 1:5-10 — Men chose Zechariah by lot, but God had already chosen Zechariah because of his faithfulness to God.
16. Luke 1:6, 7 – “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” Righteousness is revealed in obedience that is not motivated by personal reward but rather by love. Though obedient, Elizabeth was not blessed with a child, but she was obedient nonetheless.
17. Luke 1:11 – “And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.” God meets us in prayer.
18. Luke 1:12 – “And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.” Our first response to holiness is overwhelming reverence. When was the last time you felt that?
19. Luke 1:15 – “…for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” God’s servants are empowered by the Holy Spirit for the work they have been given.
20. Luke 1:16, 17 – “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” The Spirit of God reconciles people to Himself and people to each other in the love of Christ. The Spirit promotes unity. Disunity is a mark of separation from God. Some seek unity around something other than Christ — a cause, an organization, a set of values, etc. However, this is in defiance of God’s first and greatest commandment and is doomed to fail. John was on a mission of reconciliation like we are now. How are you doing? Who have you brought back to God?
21. Luke 1:17 – “…and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” GOD HEALS FAMILIES!
22. Luke 1:18-20 – “And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.’” What does it take for you to believe God and obey Him? Some ask for a sign, but evidence is not the problem; our hearts are the problem.
23. Luke 1:20 – “And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” God doesn’t want you proclaiming what you don’t really believe.
24. Luke 1:23 – “And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.” Though stricken with muteness by God and in the midst of a life-changing event, Zechariah finished his duty.
25. Luke 1:25 — “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Elizabeth patiently and faithfully waited on the Lord and was rewarded beyond everyone’s expectations.
26. Luke 1:28 – “And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ God chooses people.” Angels and prophets only deliver the message.
27. Luke 1:32-33 – “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” God gave Jesus the Kingdom.
28. Luke 1:34-37 — God does the impossible to bring glory to Himself and not to us.
29. Luke 1:38 – “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’” Mary was usable by God because her life was wholly surrendered to God.
30. Luke 1:45 – “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Blessings come when we trust God, regardless of circumstances, to fulfill His word. Blessings come from believing not in what we want but rather what God has said. It isn’t “Name it and claim it.” Joy comes from unity to God as we become one with Him and what He is doing for His glory. There is no room for self here.
31. Luke 1:46-47 – “And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.’”
– The activity of God in our lives drives us to uncontrollable praise. Praise is the spontaneous response of a grateful child of God in His presence. The person who knows God and experiences Him intimately sings to the Lord with deepest praise! Mary was overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness to her. In response she sang one of the most beautiful and profound songs of praise found in Scripture. Trying to stop the praise of a thankful heart would be like trying to arrest the flow of a mighty waterfall! God created us to praise Him; praise will be our activity when we are gathered around His throne in heaven.
– You should never have difficulty thinking of reasons why God deserves your praise. You should enjoy the times you have to praise your Lord, both privately and publicly in worship. If your life is not filled with praise, it may be that you have lost your appreciation for God’s merciful activity in your life. Never forget what God has saved you from. Never take for granted what it means to have the assurance of eternity with God. Do not disregard the spiritual kinship you enjoy with other believers. Take time often to recount the blessings He has poured out upon you and your family. As you contemplate the boundless love and mercy God has shown you, you will want to sing His praises as Mary did. Spontaneous praise is authentic praise. It does not have to be manipulated or orchestrated. It is a real and personal expression of a grateful heart and wonder-filled life that has encountered holy God! (Blackaby)
32. Luke 1:48 – “…for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed….” God uses people society ignores.
33. Luke 1:50 – “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” Not everyone receives God’s mercy, only those who fear Him.
34. Luke 1:51-55 — God reverses human fortunes.
35. Luke 1:60-61 — God’s ways often go against human customs.
36. Luke 1:69-73 — Salvation has always been God’s plan.
37. Luke 1:74-75 – “…that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Salvation always leads to service.
38. Luke 1:77 – “…to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins….” People need to know that forgiveness and salvation are needed and available.
39. Luke 1:79 – “…to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” As Ambassadors for Christ, we are called guide others to the way of peace, to Jesus.
40. Luke 1:80 – “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” God measures maturity in spiritual strength. Some grow physically but remain spiritual infants.
41. Luke 1:80 – “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” Jesus spent much time in isolation preparing for God’s work.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 July 18: Simplify your life and maximize your joy and peace by obeying God completely and by trusting Him with your current situation and your future. Focus not on yourself but rather on guiding others to the peace of Jesus.