Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 20 August 18:
1. Job 29:2-4 — “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me….” Job longed for the days when he walked confidently in his child-like (not childish) faith. Was there a time in your life when you worried less than you do now? Children often have more faith than adults. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Do you put all hope and trust in your ‘Abba’ (Daddy), and do you walk confidently in His love and protection?
2. Job 29:4, 5 – “…when the friendship of God was upon my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me….” Job wrongly assumed his hard times meant God was no longer his friend, and Job erroneously equated God’s blessings with God’s presence. Do you ever judge God’s love for you based upon what you are going through? Do you misinterpret hard times as God abandoning you? Don’t all good parents allow their children to face challenges in order to develop them because they love them?
3. Job 29:11-17, 21-25 — “When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him. The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth…. Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they had no confidence, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose their way and sat as chief, and I lived like a king among his troops, like one who comforts mourners.
– It is instructive to consider the quality and content of Job’s righteous life before he was incapacitated by Satan’s attacks. Job was admired and respected by all and was a successful, powerful, and influential man because he was a man of true wisdom who walked in integrity and genuine compassion. Job was obedient to God, spoke the truth, took care of people, and fought for what was right. Job had a genuine heart for others, and it showed in all he did and said. What seems to have been most noteworthy in the eyes of God was the countless early morning hours Job spent praying for his loved ones, a sacrifice for others done in secret. (Job 1:5) One can contrast Job’s life with that of his “friends,” those “worthless physicians” and “miserable comforters” who had the word of truth but lacked requisite compassion and humility; therefore, they lacked wisdom. As Paul said, “’all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:7) Job’s friends said all of the right things and were engaged in acts of ministry (as witnessed in their presence with Job), but their true hearts eventually revealed themselves. Job characterizes them with the same word that Jesus used to characterize the Pharisees – “whitewash.” (Job 13:4; Matthew 23:27) They looked good on the outside but were bad on the inside. As is described in Proverbs 16:2, Job’s friends had likely convinced themselves that they were in fact righteous, but God knows the heart. How does God see your heart? How would the Bible describe the quality and content of your life? Pray for Godly wisdom that starts with the fear of the Lord and applies knowledge from a heart of love.
– Job showed his love for God and honored God by taking care of the needy and defending the weak – he had a reputation in the community for being that sort of person. His credibility came from how he treated people. Do you have a reputation in your community for taking care of the needy and defending the weak? When you are strong, do you prioritize taking care of those around you who are weak and needy? Unfortunately, when Job was weak, the strong around him did not take care of him in return. Who takes care of you when you are weak? God expects Christians to take care of each other. Christian ministry should start in the family.
4. Job 29:21-24 — “Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel. After I spoke they did not speak again, and my word dropped upon them. They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they had no confidence.” Are you a source of godly wisdom to those around you? Do people come to you to hear God’s truth?
5. Job 29 — Job’s self-description is not much different than God’s description of him in the first three chapters. His life is a good example for us to emulate.
6. Job 30:10 — “They abhor me; they keep aloof from me; they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.” Christians should anticipate that others will not treat them fairly. Keep perspective: God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). All love comes from God (1 John 4:7). The closer you are to Jesus and the more you know Him, abide in Him, and obey Him, the more you can love others as His love overflows from you to others. (Read John 15 to understanding abiding in Him) So, leading others closer to Jesus implies that you are closer to Him than they are, which by definition means you can love them more than they can love you – the exchange of love will be uneven, ‘unfair.’ Some don’t know Jesus at all — “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Those who God has called you to reach can’t love you back, which is why Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16).” Jesus calls us to love the unloving, to take up the cross in our relationships and share in His suffering as an act of worship and fellowship with Him. Our love for others, particularly for the unloving, is how we love Jesus — “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him…. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:10-12, 16, 19-21) Being a leader in love is never a “fair trade,” it is a gift, a crucifixion of self. Christians don’t love others for personal gain but rather as an act of worship to God who is love. Don’t expect equal love back from those to whom you give it. Love to glorify God, not to get a return on investment, and don’t be surprised or resentful when those less loving than you fail to return the favor. Grace is a gift. You will always be frustrated, disappointed, and bitter if your acts of kindness were self-centered.
7. Job 30 — Job hadn’t changed, but everyone’s attitude towards him did when he himself became needy. People tend to avoid and even ostracize the poor, suffering, sick, and needy, displaying the condition of their hearts. How we treat those who can do nothing for us and who are hard to be around reveals our character.
8. Job 30 — Job simply wanted people to treat him the way he treated others; however, as stated above, reciprocation for kindness is rare. The likelihood of reciprocation should never influence how we treat others, and we must not allow ourselves to become bitter when our kindness is not repaid.
9. Proverbs 20:2 – “The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.” If you become an enemy of the state, it will most likely not work out well for you at all. The Bible warns us to be very careful to submit to ruling authorities whenever possible. When it is not possible, either leave or expect great persecution.
10. Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” If you find yourself in a quarrel, whether you started it or not, you are being foolish. It takes two to tango.” Never wrestle with a pig in the mud because you both get dirty, and the pig likes it.” If you chase to the poisonous snake that bit you, the poison only goes more quickly to your heart. In a game of chicken between two drivers, the one with the nicest car loses. Any more analogies required?
11. Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” What you do today determines your future; you won’t get today back, and you can’t make up for what you failed to do in the past. Make the most of today.
12. Proverbs 20:5 – “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Only God knows the truth of another man’s heart, but with wisdom, we can have a better understanding of the motives behind another man’s actions.
13. Proverbs 20:6 – “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” Love and faithfulness are your most precious and valuable qualities. Guard them well. Faithfulness is the proof of love. Jesus said that those who really love Him would be known by their obedience and by how they love those who don’t love them back.
14. Proverbs 20:7 – “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” The best thing a parent can do for their children is obey God and display for them the unmerited, sacrificial, unconditional love of Christ.
15. Proverbs 20:9 – “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” Stay humble, and be patient with others. You have problems with sin too. If you are closer to Jesus than they are (and you don’t really know), then your job is to show them how to get closer to Him, not to push them further away by your words and behavior.
16. Proverbs 20:10 – “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.” Don’t cheat people in your business dealings, but more importantly, don’t short change people in your evangelism. Don’t value one person more than another when both souls are equally valuable to God, and don’t consider yourself worthy of grace and others deserving of justice when you rely on grace just as much as they do.
17. Proverbs 20:11 – “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” What you do proves your true character and reveals what you truly believe and value.
18. Proverbs 20:12 – “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” Wisdom is submitting yourself to your Creator to do what He actually created you to do. You can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, but at best, it would be only mildly entertaining for a moment and ultimately pointless. Many live their lives like a circus act, accomplishing pointless feats. Learn to see things from God’s perspective and to walk in daily obedience.
19. Proverbs 20:15 – “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” Everyone is talking, but few have anything of value to say.
20. Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” Don’t waste your time seeking justice for yourself; pursue grace and reconciliation.
21. Proverbs 20:28 – “Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.” Leadership is all about relationships, having a right relationship with Jesus and then influencing others to seek Jesus more and more. Leaders know the way and show the way. Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Show people Jesus.
22. Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” Strength fades away, but character endures.
23. Luke 21:1-4 – “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
– It takes both love and great faith to give abundantly, giving because you really have a heart for others while trusting God to provide for your needs in the future. Hoarding is motivated by selfishness and fear, not trusting God with your future provision. According to Psychology Today, “For decades, surveys have shown that upper-income Americans … are particularly undistinguished as givers when compared with the poor…. lower-income Americans give proportionally more of their incomes to charity than do upper-income Americans…. ‘Empathy and compassion appeared to be the key ingredients’ in the generosity of the poor.” God’s people should have an abundance mentality and give generously whether they are rich or poor. True faith holds nothing back and trusts God completely to provide for the future. Tithing is an act of faith, a practice of faith, and a primer for greater giving. If you tithe, God will reveal to you clearly that you cannot outmatch his generosity. If you won’t tithe $10, you won’t tithe $10,000.
24. Luke 21:8 – [And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.”] Many are deceived by false Christianity.
25. Luke 21:12, 13 – “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” Both, churches and governments will persecute true followers of Christ. God allows Christians to suffer so they can witness to their persecutors. Most of the time Christians aren’t called to face great tribunals for their faith but rather they are called to face local accusers in daily encounters.
26. Luke 21:13. 14 – “This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer.” Our nation is turning away from God, and judgments will come. This is your opportunity to witness. Be like the poor widow and give your all to Jesus during these times. Don’t overthink it, just proclaim Jesus to the best of your ability without holding back, and trust God with the outcomes.
27. Luke 21:16 – “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.” Godlessness divides families. How much does your faith depend on the approval of others, particularly those very close to you? Remember this was one of Job’s tests – “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’” (Job 2:9) What did Jesus say? “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) Jesus was not suggesting we shouldn’t love our families; He was pointing out that we cannot truly love our families without loving Him first and foremost – all love flows from Christ. Our calling is to draw our friends and family closer to Christ, understanding that in their distance, they cannot and will not love as they ought and will persecute us. We mustn’t be surprised by this and must love them all the more – “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…. do good to those who hate you…. 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.” (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35-36)
28. Luke 21:17 – “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” Are you willing to be hated by all for Jesus?
29. Like 21:29-36 — We must be careful not to get caught up in the worries of the world and miss God’s activity all around us. We must have the eyes to see the signs of the times and what God is doing.
30. Luke 21:34 — “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” Some Christians try to ignore the growing ungodliness around them while others fall into deep despair and defeatism, neither group having much of an impact on the culture. Don’t conform to sin or feel defeated by sin, but stand boldly and joyfully in the face of sin without compromising your holiness or your message. Now is your time to witness!
31. Luke 21:36 – “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” God does not intend to take His people out of these hard times but rather intends to give them the strength to endure through them. Don’t worry today but pray that you will have the strength to face the challenges ahead without compromising your holiness or your message.
— John 17:11, 14, 15, 21, 23 — I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one…. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world…. that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 Aug 18: Today, recognize that you were born into these days for a purpose; today is your day to witness. Resolve that today and every day you will make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Jesus to as many people as you can. Don’t be concerned with how well your message is received. Leave that to the Holy Spirit. Just proclaim Jesus. How many people will hear about Jesus from you today?