Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 15 August 18:
1. Job 19:2 — “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?” Your words can really hurt people.
2. Job 19:4, 5 – “And even if it be true that I have erred, my error remains with myself. If indeed you magnify yourselves against me and make my disgrace an argument against me….” Often people criticize others just to feel better about themselves and to lift themselves up. Criticism of others is usually a sign of insecurity and a guilty conscience.
3. Job 19:7-20 – God will allow you to go through hard times. In any situation, God intends to do several things at once: reveal Himself to you in a greater way; reveal the truth of you to you in a greater way; tear down the idols in your life that have caused to prioritize or trust in something other than Him; draw you closer to Him and grow you in Christ-like character; reveal Himself to others through your situation in a greater way; and use you as His instrument of grace in the lives of others. Hard times often create a crisis of belief, challenging whether or not you really believe what you say you believe. God knows the truth concerning the limits of your faith, but often He needs to reveal those limits to you.
4. Job 19:13-19 — “He has put my brothers far from me, and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me. My relatives have failed me, my close friends have forgotten me. The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger; I have become a foreigner in their eyes. I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy. My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother. Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me. All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.” People tend to avoid the needy and the suffering. When people are suffering, they expose the truth of life most people hope to deny, and they have little to give back to others in relationship. Relationships that are based on self-centered motives will not be dependable. How you treat others when they are in need and suffering, when they have nothing to offer you, when the relationship is costly, reveals the level of your love for them and for God. When people are in need, show them the love of God and free grace. When you are in need, and people don’t treat you as they should, exposing the limits of their love, show them God’s love and free grace.
5. Job 19:25-27 – “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Job had hope in salvation and resurrection through Jesus Christ which he did not completely understand. He knew that Jesus would eventually return to reign on earth but didn’t know Him as Jesus.
– Matthew 13:17 — For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
– 1 Peter 1:10-12 — Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
6. Job 20 – The wicked perceive salvation in earthly prosperity and riches, but that lasts only until God brings judgment on the wicked and their sins. From our limited human perspective, God’s perfect justice may seem unjust while sinners seem to prevail and the godly seem to suffer. However, God will make all things right in ways we cannot possibly imagine. Trust in Him and obey Him regardless the near-term cost to you.
5. Proverbs 15:1, 18 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…. A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” God wants you to deal with difficult people in a way that turns away wrath and quiets contention. Is that what you do?
6. Proverbs 15:1-4 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:1,2 and 4 speak about the power, potentially positive or negative, of our words. Verse 3 interjects to remind us of the holy, omnipresent, omniscience of God, perhaps to remind us of what Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
7. Proverbs 15:6 — “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.” Compare Proverbs 15:6 with Proverbs 10:22 and 15:16 – “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it…. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” You may accomplish your goals, but if they are not from the LORD, they will only add sorrow to your life.
8. Proverbs 15:8 – “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” The wicked may also be very religious, and there are churches full of people who don’t recognize that God counts them among the wicked.
9. Proverbs 15:12, 31, 32 – “A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise…. 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.” Reproof is a critical part of character development.
10. Proverbs 15:15 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” An attitude of affliction makes every day miserable, but and abundance mentality and cheerfulness brings out the best of life.
11. Proverbs 15:24 – “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.” Everyone is on a path that is either going upward or downward.
12. Proverbs 15:25 – “The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries.” God protects the weak.
13. Luke 18:1 – “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Prayer should be our substitute for fear and hopelessness.
14. Luke 18:1-8 – “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart….” Prayer is not a one-shot affair.
15. Luke 18:10-14 – “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Prayers must be humble to be acceptable.
16. Luke 18:14 – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” People judge outward appearances, but God judges the heart. God knows who is truly repentant and who isn’t. God knows who is truly seeking Him and who isn’t.
17. Luke 18:17 – “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” God wants you to have a child-like faith, not a childish faith. Child-like faith trusts Dad to provide every need and rests securely in Dad’s protection.
18. Luke 18:18-30 — “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” People are motivated at the lowest levels by fear, pride, and greed. People are motivated at a higher level by duty, but the only motivation truly worthy before God is the motivation of love. If you love something more than Jesus, you will not follow Jesus far because your idols will draw you from Him. God’s first command to you is to love Him unconditionally. He can see the truth of your motivations that are behind your religious activity and good deeds. Dutiful action is not the same as loving action and will not last in the fire. None of us are perfected in love, and often we find ourselves obeying out of the lesser motivation of duty, but with a reliance on God’s grace, and in honest humility, God will use our dutiful efforts to grow us in love. Just don’t allow your duty to become prideful. One of the first signs of pride is comparing yourself to others. Re-read the story of Mary and Martha while they ate with Jesus or the story of the Prodigal Son for examples of prideful comparison.
19. Luke 18:22 — “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” The first step – deny self:
– Matthew 16:24 — Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
– Mark 8:34 — And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
– Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
– Matthew 10:39 — Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
– Matthew 16:25 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
– Mark 8:35 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
– Luke 9:24 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
– Luke 17:33 — Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– John 12:25 — Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
20. Luke 18:27 – “But he said, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’” God can do the impossible of transforming the human heart. We cannot fix our hearts or anyone else’s — only God can.
21. Luke 18:41, 42 — “’What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’” God knows what you want but still wants you to ask in faith.
22. Luke 18:43 – “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God.” When you truly experience the power of God in your life and truly appreciate it, you will follow Jesus and glorify Him unashamedly. If you have trouble proclaiming Jesus to others, perhaps you don’t know Him and appreciate Him as well as you should.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 Aug 18: Once again, consider your motivation for why you do what you do. Where are you still motivated by fear, pride, and duty rather than true, unconditional love? “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24) How are you doing on step one?