Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 7 August 18:
1. Job 3:11 — “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” Job was in such great sorrow, he wished he had never been born, but he was not suicidal – he still had faith and hope in God.
2. Job 3:20 — “Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul.” Job, like so many others, could not understand why God let people be born into suffering. From his perspective, it didn’t make sense. Again, from an earthly, man-centered perspective, life makes no sense.
3. Job 4:4, 5 – “Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.” Job’s friend criticized him for not being strong in suffering after Job had helped so many others. In fact, when you are strong, you should help strengthen others, and when you are weak, you need support from others, not mere criticism. God will sometimes make you weak to both humble you and to give others an opportunity to love. When others offer to help, let them. When others don’t help you in your need, just turn more completely to Jesus. Avoid being resentful of others. Job was in great pain and questioned God, but never doubted God or showed contempt for God.
4. Job 4:7 –“Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” Job’s friend assumed Job was suffering because of his sin. Again, the ‘friend’s’ comfort of Job turned to criticism.
5. Job 4:17 – “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” Eliphaz trembled in fear and dread at the recognition that all men are guilty before God. All men fall short of the glory of God, and the penalty for our sin is eternal death. But in His perfect love, mercy, and grace God sent His son to pay the penalty for our sin — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” That eternal life began the moment you were saved, and you are surrounded by God’s love in all circumstances:
– Luke 12:6-7 — Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
– Luke 12:22-32 — And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
– Job 13:15 — Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
– Psalm 37:5 — Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
6. Proverbs 7:1 — “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you.” As we walk thorough a life that, like Job discovered, is impossible to fully understand in what God has not revealed, we must remain faithful to what He has revealed plainly. We must do what He has told us in His Word. We must walk in the word, guided by the Holy Spirit, one day at a time.
7. Luke 12:1-3 – “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” The word “hypocrite” literally means “actor.” The Pharisees acted more righteous than they really were. Hidden sins will always grow and transform your life, and they aren’t really hidden anyway because God sees them all. It is important that we don’t “act” good outwardly while harboring sinful thoughts inwardly. We must confess the truth of our hearts. Jesus, once again, warned His followers not to act godly but rather to be godly from the heart.
8. Luke 12:4-7 — Don’t worry about what others think about you, only what God thinks about you.
9. Luke 12:13-15 — “’Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” Most of what we worry about and fight about has nothing to do with what God wants us to be thinking about. God doesn’t want us building our personal kingdoms on earth, He wants us seeking the Kingdom of God. His goal for our lives is to be transformed into the image of His Son Jesus, having the character of Christ. He can take care of the resources you need. Often, people ask God to help them with matters that have nothing to do with His will, to take their side in meaningless struggles. God is not our servant, we are His.
10. Luke 12:18-21 – “I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
– This rich fool was following the typical retirement plan most people, middle-class and up, are following today: save up so you can retire at a reasonable age, enjoy life, and depend on no one. The fool’s plan was condemned by God. Today’s readings further reveal the difference between how God thinks and how we think – “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.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) But what does God say? “’Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20. 21) What is Jesus’ retirement advice:
– “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:22-34)
– Have we replaced fidelity to God for the American dream?
11. Luke 12:32, 33 — “Fear not…. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.”
– Why do Christians act like Jesus meant this figuratively? This chapter reveals how serious He was.
– Fear prevents you from being generous and giving your possessions to others. It takes faith to please God.
– Jesus explains that we are to make the most of today and live with a sense of immediacy: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes…. Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions…. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating…. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:37-48) God gives us resources, talents, and opportunities to serve Him, not ourselves. The Bible says that we are to work to take care of ourselves and others, but it doesn’t say exactly how much we should save up for contingency (except for the 10% that goes to the church storehouse), but it has much to say about radical giving. For example, just a couple of days ago we read, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you. (Proverbs 3:27, 28) This verse also describes God’s intent for us to live interdependently rather than independently. However, much of our financial planning is based on independence, which robs us all of corporate power. Specifically, the Bible says that the church has a responsibility to take care of the elderly, widows, orphans, and the needy. Also, the Bible says we are to support those who dedicate themselves faithfully to full-time church work. When the church is unfaithful in these responsibilities, people are denied God’s common grace, a lack of trust and unity grows in the church, workers go un-resourced and struggle needlessly, and full-time church workers are tempted to act like the neglected Levite in Judges who sold his ministry to Micah in order to make a living. Independent living breeds selfishness, sin, and weakness.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
– After Jesus gave the parable of the rich fool, he then told his disciples not to be like the pagans who focus their thoughts and efforts on taking care of their basic needs and comforts – where to live, what to wear, what to eat/drink, etc. Rather, he told them to have faith that God would provide for them and to seek His Kingdom, to focus all of their thoughts and energies on the Kingdom. He told them that their hearts would either be focused on God’s Kingdom or the world. Jesus said this another way in Matthew, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24)
– Jesus told his disciples not to worry about tomorrow but rather to do good to those in need today. Rather than storing up in barns, Jesus told his disciples to sell what they already had in order to take care of the poor. Did he really mean it? I think he did. Isn’t that crazy? In man’s economy, it is; but in God’s economy, it isn’t. Consider how we use our resources today. Most Americans are overweight. We have an abundance of everything and yet are in debt. Yet, so many in my community are in need. Is it time for radical obedience?
12. Luke 12:35 — “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning….” Jesus expected us to act as if He were returning at any minute. How should Jesus’ call for readiness change how we handle our possessions and how we treat others?
13. Luke 12:47-48 – “And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Those who know God’s word and don’t obey it are held more accountable than those who do not know God’s word.
14. Luke 12:51 — “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Another statement of Jesus’ rarely quoted.
15. Luke 12:51 – “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Nothing divides a room more than the name Jesus. You will either choose Him as your Lord and Savior and follow Him or you won’t.
16. Luke 12:56 — “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” How do you interpret current times? Is the Holy Spirit revealing to you through God’s word what cannot be understood through human observation? People who merely act religious really have no spiritual power and do not know what God is really doing or saying. Don’t be fooled by the self-centered Bible reciter.
17. Luke 12:58 – “…settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.” Get right with God now.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Aug 18: Have the faith and fearlessness to give radically today. (Luke 12:32, 33) When you give, have the courage to proclaim the Name of Jesus. (Luke 12:51) As an act of worship and as a good steward, dedicate to God your T.O.T.A.L. L.I.F.E. – time, opportunities, talents, assets, leisure, labor, influence, finances, and expertise.