Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 30 July 18:
1. Nehemiah 9:1-5 — God’s word inspired repentance which inspired God’s people to separate from the world’s influence and to praise God publicly and collectively. Confession and repentance leads God’s people to adjust their lives to remove sin and to truly worship.
2. Nehemiah 9:6-8 — “You are the Lord, you alone…. You are the Lord, the God….” True repentance causes you to acknowledge the holiness, righteousness and sovereignty of God. Repentance enables you to see life’s events in the right context and changes your understanding of everything.
3. Nehemiah 9:6-35 — God has revealed His character in very real ways throughout history; He has always remained faithful and remains faithful today.
4. Nehemiah 9:38 — “Because of all this we make a firm covenant in writing; on the sealed document are the names of our princes, our Levites, and our priests.” Revival requires a definitive commitment to follow and obey God and to pursue an ever-increasing love relationship with Him.
5. Nehemiah 9 – God is always faithful though His people are not. God does not leave for forsake His people, though they leave and forsake Him.
6. Nehemiah 10:28, 29 – “The rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants, and all who have separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, their daughters, all who have knowledge and understanding, join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes.” A renewed love relationship with God always includes life change and separation from old sinful ways. Repentance includes a promise to remain holy. There is a recommitment to obey God’s word, without excuses and without omitting parts of God’s word. True love is revealed in obedience, not empty ritual.
7. Nehemiah 10:31-36 — Commitment to God changes a person’s outlook on financial management to one based on stewardship to God in pursuit of His desires, purpose, and instructions. Commitment to God includes a financial commitment.
8. Nehemiah 10:36 – “…also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks….” Commitment to God includes committing children to God.
9. Nehemiah 10:39 – “For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.” Committed Christians take their responsibility to church very seriously.
10. Proverbs 30:1-3 – “I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” Walking on your own path rather than with Jesus only wears you out.
11. Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” Jesus is the Name of the Son – He ascended to Heaven, He has gathered the wind, wrapped the waters, and established the ends of the earth. Follow Him.
12. Proverbs 30:5, 6 – It is foolish, prideful and fatal to think you can add to God’s word. “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Most cults add to God’s word.
13. Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
– The bookends of sin are fear and pride.
– Contentment is critical for a Christian. Paul learned to be content in any situation, and we need to do the same. Be satisfied with what God has given you, and trust Him enough to give to others in need.
14. Proverbs 30:19 – “…the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.” People who are driven by their passions or emotions are unpredictable.
15. Proverbs 30:20 – “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” The world takes sexual sin very lightly, but God takes it very seriously.
16. Proverbs 30:24-28 – Successful people learn to find opportunity in any environment or circumstance while unsuccessful people only see obstacles and barriers. Don’t focus on what you don’t have or can’t do. Focus on what you do have and can do.
17. Proverbs 30:24-38 — Wisdom is more powerful than strength.
18. Luke 6:1 — “On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads grain, rubbing them in their hands.”
– Take some time this morning to meditate upon Luke 5 and 6. In Luke 5, we see Jesus working very hard, travelling, calling His disciples, ministering to the needs of many, and healing in miraculous ways. Chapter 5 ends with the Pharisees challenging Jesus for ministering to “sinners” while failing to fast like they did. Then, we turn to chapter 6 where Jesus and the disciples, having fully invested themselves in ministering to the needs of others are so hungry that they are plucking grain in the fields just to get something at all to eat. You are pretty hungry when you are rubbing grain together in your hands to eat kernels. Yet the Pharisees, in their comfortable, prideful self-righteousness, challenge Jesus and the disciples for not obeying the law — “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” Jesus described his actions by comparing them to David’s actions when David was starving. Consider the difference between religion and true religion, between self-righteousness and love, between legalism and grace, between pride and humility, between belief and discipleship. Consider the life Jesus modelled for the church, a life that truly gave all in faith and love. Jesus didn’t have a mega-church. Notice also how Jesus responded to arrogant critics while famished – unemotionally with the word of God. How do you act when you are really uncomfortable and treated unfairly?
– Side note: Jesus had neither a weight problem nor debt. Obeying God wholeheartedly is a great way to avoid gluttony and materialism.
19. Luke 6:1-11 — The Law can only be understood within the context of God’s will, revealed through the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit and genuine relationship with God, the “experts” of the Law saw Jesus’ actions as sin.
20. Luke 6:6-11 — Jesus’ obedient, Spirit-filled ministry caused church leaders to hate Him.
21. Luke 6:12 – “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” Jesus modeled prayer for us. When was the last time you prayed all night?
22. Luke 6:16 – “…and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” Judas was originally hand-picked by Jesus, chosen by God. Yet, he became a traitor.
23. Luke 6:20-23 – “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
– Jesus’ approach to conquering the world is to change hearts, turning them to true love for God and others.
– Jesus is described in this chapter as poor, hungry (remember the grain?), hated, insulted, and rejected. It appears that He intended for His words on radical giving and total sacrifice to be taken literally, yet the modern church wants to make this metaphorical or philosophical.
24. Luke 6:24-26 – “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
– The Pharisees who criticized Jesus’ disciples for plucking and eating grain in the grain fields were rich, full, and did not have the heart to give as Jesus commanded or to follow Jesus in faith and love. However, they viewed themselves as more religious and righteous than anyone else.
– Jesus says that true Christianity is uncomfortable, painful, and humiliating, not because of your foolishness, but rather because of your loving sacrifice to God and to others around you.
25. Luke 6:27-35 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
– Everyone loves someone but what separates true Christians is their love for their enemies and those who are truly hard to love. Only a godly love truly loves the victimizer.
– Everyone lends when they think they will be repaid or get something out of the deal. Christians lend freely expecting nothing in return. This doesn’t make any sense in the world’s economy.
26. Luke 6:35, 36 – “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Jesus demands radical, totally selfless love from those who would follow Him; He expects you to treat others the way He has treated you. This is true worship.
27. Luke 6:36 – “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” What motivates us to mercy is the example of God’s mercy bestowed upon us. Our gratitude and true faith is revealed in our mercy, particularly when mercy is personally costly and risky. What is truly costly is truly valuable, a gift worth giving.
28. Luke 6:37-38 — “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
– Perhaps the most misrepresented verse in the Bible – “Judge not….” The popular use of Jesus’ words is to suggest that Christians have no business telling others what is right or wrong. The other popular interpretation is that you can only point out another person’s sins when you are perfect, and since you are not, keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately, most Christians spend little time in the Bible; so, when they are confronted with this inappropriate interpretation of Jesus’ words, they accept it. However, God calls his people to “judge” throughout the Bible and, at times, to rebuke and to correct others. Didn’t John the Baptist lose his head for calling out Herod’s adultery? Have we forgotten Both John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ “Brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” comments or Jesus whipping the moneychangers out of the temple? In Luke, following the topic verse for these comments, Jesus goes on to talk about judging others’ character by the fruit of their lives. 1 Corinthians 6 is all about “judging”. However, there is a right and wrong way to reveal the truth of sin to others. First, it must be with the right motives – coming from a heart of genuine love for the sinner with a desire to help and not to hurt. As the pastors says, if your words generate more heat than light, remain silent. Second, it must come from God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit – we do not judge from our opinion. Third, it must come from a position of humility rather than self-righteousness – we are but starving beggars telling other beggars where to find bread. Fourth, it must be done graciously, compassionately, and gently. Don’t be a jerk for Jesus. As Jesus points out today, we are never to “condemn” in our judgment. We are not the Judge who delivers the sentence, we are but jurors, peer sinners who merely point out what God’s word says. Our judgment should be in accordance with James 3:17 — “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” We must warn people of sin but in love, with compassion, mercy, and gentleness, and graciousness. “Silence is consent.” To remain silent before sin, to ignore it, or condone it is truly unloving, cowardly, and negligent in our mission as Ambassador to Christ who begins His message with the word. “Repent.”
29. Luke 6:38 – “…give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” How does God measure His blessings to you according to Jesus?
30. Luke 6:40 – “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Everyone has a teacher, whether they admit it or not. Who is your teacher, really? Is it a pastor, a celebrity, a family member, or a philosopher? You will always be limited by the limits of your teachers. Make your teacher and guide the Holy Spirit as you follow Jesus.
31. Luke 6:41-42 – “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” The Fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5 is all about what is in our heart and character. Only from a position character can we teach others about character. Making disciples (the Great Commission) involves first being a faithful follower of Christ. To be a leader, you have to be going the right way so others can follow. In today’s readings, Jesus modeled the radical selfless sacrifice to which He calls us.
32. Luke 6:43-46 — “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” How do your actions reveal what is really in your heart?
33. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” You cannot call Jesus, LORD unless you really believe His and treat Him as LORD by following Him. What you really believe to be true, what you really honor, and what you really love will be revealed by your actions.
34. Luke 6:46 — “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Do not claim to be a Christian and call Jesus “Lord” if you don’t seek to obey Him as the KING of Kings. If you take the sin God abhors lightly, you need to check your heart and the truth of your faith.
35. Luke 6:47-49 – “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” What you truly value most and place at the center of your life will determine everything else you do. If Jesus isn’t at the center of your life and the foundation of your life, your life is meaningless and destined for destruction.
36. Luke 6:48 – “And when a flood arose….” Everyone goes through the floods or storms of life, but those whose life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ will not be shaken while those whose foundations are something else will be destroyed. Lay your foundation on the Rock before the storm hits.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 July 18: Make your Savior your LORD too by obeying Jesus in every way. His greatest commandment was love. Love Him by loving others unconditionally. Take up your cross by forgiving and giving to those who don’t deserve it from you at all. Make it your challenge today to respond to every negative action by others with positivity, grace, and mercy. Share in the suffering of Jesus by accepting the hurt that hurting people do in order to reveal to them the type of love you have received from Jesus. Make this a part of your life testimony. Of course, as Jesus said, to be able to do this, you my “Deny self” and be willing to follow Him to that “cross.” In that, you will truly fellowship with Jesus, truly worship Him, and truly honor Him. (Luke 6:40-48)