Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 16 August 18:
1. Job 21:2, 3 — “Keep listening to my words, and let this be your comfort. Bear with me, and I will speak,
and after I have spoken, mock on.” A person in pain sometimes just wants someone to listen to them.
2. Job 21:14-21 – “They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’ Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand? The counsel of the wicked is far from me.” The truth is that the wicked may appear to succeed on earth but will receive punishment in the afterlife, though this truth isn’t always satisfying the persecuted on earth.
3. Job 22:7-9 – “You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. The man with power possessed the land, and the favored man lived in it. You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless were crushed.” Not helping the needy is sin.
4. Job 22:22-30 — “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” Eliphaz preached powerful words, but you can preach a fine sermon to the wrong audience and waste your time and theirs. Though misapplied to Job’s situation, Eliphaz offers some powerful doctrinal truth that is valuable advice in general. As Eliphaz did, these verses are worth your effort to memorize. Is the Almighty your gold and your precious silver? Have you dug deep for Him?
5. Job 22 — Job’s problem was not that God could not see or did not know what was happening to Job. Job’s challenge was that God did not intend to respond to him because Job was being tested. “During the exam, the teacher is silent.” We will all be tested. How well we do will depend on how prepared we are for the test. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)
6. Proverbs 16:1 – “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” God’s plan for your life trumps your plan for your life. God’s plan is to draw you closer to Jesus and to use you to draw others closer to Jesus. If what you are doing isn’t for that purpose, it is not only pointless, it is in direct opposition to God’s will. He will not bless it.
7. Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” Many people tell themselves they are serving God when they really aren’t. God knows the difference. Do you? Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to you the truth of your motives.
8. Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” You were made to serve God, not to serve yourself. Serve God and be blessed beyond your expectations.
9. Proverbs 16:4 – “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” The meaning of your life is about what God wants, not what you want.
10. Proverbs 16:13 – “Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.” Wise people know the value of surrounding themselves with people who will tell the truth.
11. Proverbs 16:17 – “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.” The upright move as quickly as they can away from evil.
12. Proverbs 16:20 – “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” The purpose of this Bible study is to live out this proverb.
13. Proverbs 16:23 – “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.” Your heart guides your mouth.
14. 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.”
– It is far better to avoid a conflict than to win a conflict.
– The greatest battle anyone faces in life is the battle against self or the battle against the “flesh.” Jesus’ parable of the sower and Ephesians 2:1-3 (provided below) describes the three “enemies of the soul”: the world, the flesh, and the devil. At the Council of Trent, Thomas Aquinas warned, “Nevertheless, let those who think themselves to stand, take heed lest they fall, and, with fear and trembling work out their salvation, in labors, in watchings, in alms-deeds, in prayers and oblations, in fastings and chastity: for, knowing that they are born again unto a hope of glory, but not as yet unto glory, they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious, unless they be with God’s grace, obedient to the Apostle, who says; We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.” Of the three (the world, the flesh, the devil), the flesh remains the most dangerous because this is the enemy “inside the wire.” Satan tempted Jesus in the desert with worldly riches and glory, but Jesus was not tempted within; unlike Adam and Eve who chose to entertain in their minds and hearts the ideas of the devil and then act upon them. Jesus was “tempted” be he didn’t “feel tempted.” We must take measures to protect ourselves against as many external temptations as possible from the world and the devil, and the Bible is full of instruction on how to do that (see Proverbs 4 for many). However, we must be even more diligent to battle the insider threat, the enemy or temptation within ourselves. As Proverbs warns, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) One of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls,” and Peter points out that knowledge (including Bible knowledge) is of no value without self-control. (2 Peter 1:6) The battle is within; it is daily; and it will never end. However, we don’t fight the battle alone our unarmed. The Holy Spirit is also within us as our internal security, far more powerful than the flesh.
– Ephesians 2:1-3 — And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
– 1 Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
15. Proverbs 16:33 – “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” God leaves nothing to chance.
16. Luke 19:7 — “And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’” The account of Zacchaeus (along with other accounts such as the one about woman accused of rape and those of the tax collectors described in Matthew and Mark) is often wrongly applied by those who would partner with the world, suggesting that Jesus didn’t make a big deal out of sin and holiness and that those who do are “judgmental.” What they fail to notice in this story is that Zacchaeus is not just a sinner, he is a repentant sinner seeking Jesus, a sinner who desiring reconciliation and seeking to make restitution – “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.’” (Luke 19:8, 9) Jesus isn’t just partying with sinners. Jesus is engaging Zacchaeus who is “seeking to see who Jesus [is].” (Luke 19:3) Concerning the tax collectors described in Matthew and Mark, the Bible says that they weren’t just Jesus’ sinful drinking buddies, they were followers of Jesus – “And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” (Mark 2:15) Perhaps these were the same tax collectors described in Luke 3:12 – “Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’” In fact Matthew was a tax collector who had relationship with Jesus because he responded to Jesus’ call to “follow me.” The relationship they had with Jesus was one of repentance and reconciliation which never involved Jesus compromising His holiness or His message. What was Jesus’ message to the woman accused of rape? “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) Concerning the unrepentant tax collectors, Jesus continued to speak negatively of them and didn’t make light of their sin or hang out with them. (Matthew 5:46, Matthew 18:17) Zacchaeus is repentant, unlike the self-righteous who criticizes Zacchaeus for being a “sinner.” To the self-righteous, Jesus warns, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew 21:31) Jesus is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners,” repentant ones. (Luke 7:34) These are they who Jesus describes in Luke 18 – “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!’” In our associations with the world, as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission, we must be careful not to partner with or conform to the world. We mustn’t water down the Good News message that calls sin, sin; describes the need for salvation from the wrath of God (not just from the consequences of sin); proclaims God’s grace and free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone; and proclaims the new life in Christ. If we make light of sin, we are dishonoring (even mocking) the LORD, deemphasizing the need for salvation, and cheapening God’s grace through the blood of Jesus. If we make light of sin, we are being very unloving.
17. Luke 19:8 — “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” Zacchaeus demonstrated repentance by offering restitution to those he had sinned against, and this was very costly to him. God expects us to make restitution and to seek reconciliation whenever possible. Restitution repays more than was taken.
18. Luke 19:11-27 – “…‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief’…. He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant!’” God does not appreciate you hoarding salvation to yourself but expects you to invest it in brining others to salvation as an instrument of the Holy Spirit.
19. Luke 19:28-38 — “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus has shown He is already King.
20. Luke 19:40 – “He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.’” Followers of Jesus cannot help but proclaim Him and cannot be prevented from doing so. In the Books of Acts (chapter 4), when Peter and John boldly proclaimed Christ to the rulers, elders, and scribes, Peter and John were warned not to speak to anyone else about Jesus. They replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Later (Acts 5), the Apostles were imprisoned and beaten for talking about Jesus (nearly executed) and eventually released. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” (Acts 5:41) Are you one of those people who simply won’t shut up about Jesus?
21. Luke 19:42 – “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Peace can only come through Jesus. Those who seek peace in some other way miss Jesus all together.
22. Luke 19:46 – “My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Many practice the religion called Christianity to promote their own prosperity and self-interest. Christianity should not be a pursuit of God’s blessings on earth but rather a pursuit of an ever-increasing closeness with and love for Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Aug 18: Today, don’t just seek goodness and blessings from God but rather seek Jesus Himself.