Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 17 August 18:
1. Job 23:12 — “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Job hungered for God’s word more than food, understanding that God’s word was more important to his life. Remember how we were first introduced to Job in chapter 1: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…. Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him.’” Job stood out as a man among men before God because he prioritized God’s word in his life and obeyed it. Do you treasure God’s word more than your food, and do live by His every word? Notice in Luke 20 today how Jesus responds to every attack attack against Him by others with God’s word (like he did against Satan’s temptations in the desert) and how he knew God’s word by heart in perfect detail. Jesus knew from memory God’s word so well that he even defeated the arguments of the ‘teachers of the Law’ by point out the tense of a verb – God “is” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (as opposed to “was” the God of Abraham….). What did Jesus say about God’s word? “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’” Today in America, most people are physically overweight but malnourished in God’s word. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease, over 70% of Americans are overweight, and of them, 38% are obese. Meanwhile, 11% of Americans report having read the whole Bible – one can only speculate on the honesty behind the individual claims. Of course, reading and studying are two different things; studying God’s word and studying under the teaching of the Holy Spirit is quite another; and obeying God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit is yet another. Are you having trouble finding time to prayerfully study God’s word each day? Here is an idea guaranteed to help: pledge not to eat until you have completed your prayer and Bible study. Another suggestion is avoid reading books about the Bible rather than the Bible itself. A trend in the church today is that Christians are preferring secondary sources rather than the Source. Don’t muddy the waters.
2. Job 23:27 — “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes —I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” What an amazing verse from one of the oldest books in the Bible! Most people would guess this verse came from the New Testament. In his condition, how did Job have such great faith in and passion for his Redeemer who he did not know by name? Why after the Revelation of Jesus do so many have such little passion for and faith in the Savior?
– John 20:28, 29: Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
3. Job 24 – From our human perspective, we cannot understand what God is doing, and His actions may even seem unfair or uncaring at times. How often do small children say to their parents, “That’s not fair!” when the children don’t understand why their parents have denied them what they want for reasons the children can’t understand? The difference of understanding between God and people is far, far greater than the difference between a parent and a child. Are you prepared to trust and obey God when it seems to make no sense at all, when life is at stake?
4. Job 24:1-4 – “Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?” Sometimes it is hard to understand why God delays in punishing evil people.
5. Job 24:5-12 – “…the poor… without clothing… the fatherless child… wicked men…. [the hungry and the thirsty] ….” Sometimes it is hard to understand why God allows so much suffering.
6. Job 24:13-17 – “…the murder… the adulterer… [the thief] ….” Sometimes it is hard to understand why God allows so much injustice.
7. Proverbs 17:1 – “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” Don’t complicate life with needless strife. Life is already hard enough. Have an attitude of gratitude.
8. Proverbs 17:3 – “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” God uses trials to test your heart. How differently do you act when times get tough? Why does God test the heart? He already knows what is in your heart, but He wants you to see it.
9. Proverbs 17:4 – “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.” You are becoming more of what you are every day in part because what you feed grows. Your heart inclines your ear, and in turn, your ear affects your heart – it is either a vicious cycle or a virtuous one. Endeavor to incline both your heart and your ear towards the Lord.
10. Proverbs 17:6 – “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” God brings unity to family.
11. Proverbs 17:9 — “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Great verse! 1 Peter 4:8 says this: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
12. Proverbs 17:10 – “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Wise people value rebukes.
13. Proverbs 17:15 – “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” God is a God of justice.
14. Proverbs 17:27, 28 – “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Christians are to be quiet and even-tempered.
15. Luke 20:1, 2 — “One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, ‘Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.’”
– The chief priests and scribes ask an important question: Who gave Jesus the jurisdiction, power or right to take control, to give orders, to make binding decisions, and to enforce obedience? And by what power did Jesus heal? The answer to the question of who gave Jesus authority defines the scope of Jesus’ power – who and what is subject to it. In Luke 20, Jesus does not come right out and answer the question. However, later Jesus proclaims that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Jesus explains that his total authority comes from the Father, “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27, 7:17, 10:18, 12:49) Jesus explains that the Father has “given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:2) This authority has been given to no one but Jesus. The purpose of the miracles was to prove Jesus’s total authority – “’But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the man who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’” (Luke 5:24) It is by virtue of his total dominion and power that Jesus proclaimed that all should fear Him – “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5)
– What is particularly amazing is that just as the Father transferred power and authority to the Son, Jesus also transferred power and authority to his disciples – “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 10:1) To his disciples Jesus said, “Behold, I have given you authority over all demons…. [and] over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19) Wow! Followers of Christ have been given authority and power because they “have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:10) Because of the Holy Spirit the dwells within us, Jesus says, “when (not if) they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say.” (Luke 12:11) The Bible says that, though we live in power, under the authority and dominion of Christ, the evil powers and those who have rejected God’s authority continue to wrestle hopelessly against God (2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:6-8) — “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) We are reminded to boldly “Declare [truth]; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15), remembering that “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians 2:15) Do you live boldly as Christ’s Ambassador, armed with the power of the Holy Spirit that is within you, with authority given you by God Himself? Are you faithful to the charge you have been given? Jesus gave us (and modelled) some specific rules for how we should handle our powerful authority and responsibility — 1: Don’t abuse it or misuse it out of selfishness. (Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42)) 2: Exercise your authority faithfully even over the smallest matters. (Luke 19:17) 3: Never attempt to speak under your own authority or act under your own authority. Do and say ONLY what God instructs. (John 7:17; John 8:28; John 12:49; John 14:10; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 9:8) 4: Never misrepresent God’s authority, act falsely, or seek your own glory. (John 7:18) 5: Never forget that your authority comes with great responsibility, a charge received by God. (John 10:18) 6: Remain subject to governing authorities which have also been empowered by God. (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1) 7: Use your authority for building up, not tearing down. (2 Corinthians 13:10) Live today faithfully and mightily. The Holy Spirit is within you.
– Revelation 20:4 — Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
16. Luke 20:1-8 – There is no sense arguing with cynics about the authority of Jesus. Seek those who have a heart to hear the Gospel. Reason with the reasonable.
17. Luke 20:14 – “But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’” Materialism, pride, and envy led religious leaders to kill God’s Son.
18. Luke 20:20 – “So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.” As happened with Jesus, people, even religious leaders, will seek to entrap Christians to falsely accuse them before the government. Many will appear sincere. Christians must be careful but still bold.
19. Luke 20:25 — “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Caesar had the authority to coin money and to demand taxes, but God has authority over all, including governments. Jesus obeyed Caesar but God first.
20. Luke 20:41-44 – Jesus was an expert on God’s word, without aid of electronic devices, commentaries, or other study aids. God expects His Ambassadors to be experts too. How are you doing?
21. Luke 20:46-47 – “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.’” The teachers of the law pursued their religion selfishly. Christians who follow Christ are, by definition, selfless. Beware of anyone who seeks personal glory, honor, or attention. True followers of Jesus seek to glorify Him alone. Pride is not a fruit of the Spirit, but rather a fruit of the flesh. Those who like to use the “vertical pronoun” of “I” usually have a pride problem.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 Aug 18: Today, resolve to become a true Biblical scholar, but even better a Biblical follower, motivated with a true love for Jesus. (Luke 20:41-44)