Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 21 August 18:
1. Job 31:1 — “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” You must decide and a to avoid temptation and sin. For example, reject TV shows and social media sites that glamorize or make light of what God abhors. If you allow yourself to be entertained by evil, you will have a hard time ever taking sin seriously enough again.
2. Job 31:4-40 – “Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?” Job understood, in order to call Himself a follower of God, he had to actually follow God in obedience. Many call themselves Christians but don’t obey Jesus and grow as a disciple, a true follower of Jesus. Job sought with all of his heart and effort to walk with God on earth, and he viewed how he treated others as the evidence of his love for God. No doubt, something will keep you busy today. You will do what everyone else is doing, what you want to do, or what God wants you to do. The world will say, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” Perhaps God is saying, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” Prayerfully wait for God’s lead. Keep your eyes open to see where He is at work around you and be apart of His business. This was Jesus’s approach — “So Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working…. Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise’…. ‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me’…. So Jesus said to them, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me’…. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.’” (John 5:19, 30; 8:28; 12:49) How do you know where God is at work and how you should invest your time, energy, and effort? Daily study of God’s word will help you filter what matters from what doesn’t matter; what is profitable for the Kingdom from what is unprofitable; what is right to do from what is wrong to do; and what is God’s priority versus everyone else’s priorities. The Holy Spirit will convict you from God’s word at the moment; be faithful with the moment. There is just enough time today to do exactly what God wants you to do. There is not enough time today to do what everyone else wants you to do.
3. Job 31:7-10 — “…If my heart has been enticed toward a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door, then let my wife grind for another….” Job expected God to treat him the way he treated others – “For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38) We see this pattern in God’s response to people throughout the Bible. For example, Pharaoh commanded the midwives to kill the Israelite baby boys, and God responded with a similar plague. There are only two recorded stoning incidents recorded in the New Testament, the stoning of Stephen and the stoning of Paul who incited the stoning of Stephen. There are many, many other examples.
4. Job 31:16-34 — “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail….” Again, Job gives us a model for how we should live our lives.
5. Job 31:29, 30 — “If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him (I have not let my mouth sin by asking for his life with a curse)….” God has always expected His people to love their enemies.
6. Job 31:32 – “…the sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler….” God expects your door to be open to traveling strangers.
7. Job 32:2, 3 — “So these three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu… became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He was also angry with the three friends, because they had found no way to refute Job, and yet had condemned him.” The fourth guy: I have always been fascinated with Elihu, a character easily missed in a casual reading of Job, but a critical character in the story. Elihu isn’t introduced to the reader until this point in the story; thus far, the exchange has been between Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. For days, Elihu has been on the sidelines listening to Job’s friends condemn Job while Job continues to justify himself. Now, he can remain in silence no longer and is compelled to speak from his understanding which he has obtained not through experience of age but from the “breath of the Almighty.” The Book of Job says that God was angry with Job’s three friends because they had not “spoken what was right.” However, the Lord didn’t get angry with Elihu, and it would appear that Elihu’s words convicted Job and set the stage for the Lord’s response to Job “out of the storm.” What is different about Elihu’s response that separates him from the other three friends? Read on and see if you can understand the difference.
8. Job 32:4 – “Now Elihu had waited to speak….” Elihu is an interesting character – he was the youngest to speak and the last to speak, which is a sign of wisdom. His words to Job are very similar to what God will finally say to Job to settle the issue. Elihu respectfully encouraged Job to stop defending his own righteousness but rather to focus on God’s righteousness. He encouraged Job to trust God’s fidelity in circumstances that seemed unfair.
9. Job 32:8 – “But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” The knowledge of God cannot be obtained through human intellect but must come from the enlightenment of the spirit by the Spirit.
10. Job 32:13 – “Beware lest you say, ‘We have found wisdom; God may vanquish him, not a man.'” Hiding behind theology, Job’s three friends acted as if they understood what God was doing when they didn’t. They assumed that since Job was suffering greatly, he must have sinned greatly. They spoke on behalf of God wrongly. Elihu reminds them that God is Job’s judge, not them.
11. Job 32:21, 22 – “I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away.” We are called to speak the truth, not what people want to hear, what will make them feel good, or what we think they need to hear. Also, we should not judge the merit of another person’s words based upon their position or their intellect but rather against the standard of God’s word.
12. Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” God is in control of world leaders.
13. Proverbs 21:7 – “The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just.” It’s not that we don’t know what we are supposed to do; we just refuse to do it.
14. Proverbs 21:13 – “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” God will treat you the way you treat others.
15. Proverbs 21:17 – “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” Many people are pleasure seekers rather than Christ seekers.
16. Proverbs 21:25, 26 – “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.” Laziness is selfishness. Christians work hard and give freely out of selfless love for God and others.
17. Proverbs 21:27 – “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.” The religion of the selfish is unacceptable to God. How much of teaching today is based on what God will do for you rather than our call to glorify Him? How often do Pastors and teachers seek to enthuse congregations about the blessings of God rather than God Himself? The more we consider the Holiness of God, the more we understand that life is not about us, it’s about Him.
18. Proverbs 21:28 – “A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure.” Above all else, don’t misrepresent the LORD.
19. Proverbs 21:30, 31 – “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” God is in complete control. God is sovereign. How important is it for you to surrender to God’s authority and leading?
20. Luke 22:2 – “And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.” During the time of the Passover, the religious leaders were seeking to murder to Son of God in order to maintain their status and security on earth. Today, many churches are willing to sacrifice Jesus for sake of the American Dream.
21. Luke 22:19 — “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic reminder that Jesus died for us, and is now in us. Just as we are what we eat physically, Jesus within us is who we are spiritually – our spirit is made from the Spirit of God.
22. Luke 22:26 – “…the leader as one who serves.” The greatest leader is the humblest and the one who serves others most. This is the exact opposite of what the world expects of leaders.
23. Luke 22:27 – “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” From Henry T. Blackaby — The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God. When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1-15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served. The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.
24. Luke 22:29 – “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom….” You, right now, are part of the Kingdom of God.
25. Luke 22:34 – “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.’” God knows your limitations better than you do and will use your failures to reveal to you the truth of your character.
26. Luke 22:35 – “And he said to them, ‘When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘Nothing.’” God will place you in challenging conditions to build your faith.
27. Luke 22:36 – “…let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Jesus expected his disciples to be equipped and ready to defend themselves. God’s people have always been ready to defend themselves.
28. Luke 22:42 — “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” God expects you to pray for what you want with a heart that accepts His perfect will regardless the difficultly of His answer.
29. Luke 22:43 – “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” When you take the hard road for Jesus, you don’t walk alone.
30. Luke 22:44 – “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” From Henry T. Blackaby — Prayer is not difficult to understand. It is difficult to do. When was the last time your heart so grieved for those you were interceding for that your entire body agonized along with your mind and heart? (Heb. 5:7). We are a generation that avoids pain at all costs. This is why there are so few intercessors. Most Christians operate on the shallowest levels of prayer, but God wants to take us into the deep levels of intercessory prayer that only a few ever experience. Deep, prolonged intercession is painful. It involves staying before God when everyone else has gone away or sleeps (Luke 22:45). It involves experiencing brokenness with the Father over those who continually rebel against Him. How many of us will experience this kind of fervent intercession? We long for Pentecost in our lives and in our churches, but there is no Pentecost without Gethsemane and a cross. How do we become mature in our prayer life? By praying. When we do not feel like praying is precisely the time we ought to pray. There are no shortcuts to prayer. There are no books to read, seminars to attend, or inspirational mottoes to memorize that will transform us into intercessors. This comes only by committing ourselves to pray and then doing so. Why not accept God’s invitation to become an intercessor? Don’t allow yourself to become satisfied with shallow, self-centered praying. Stay with God in prayer until He leads you to pray at the level He wants.
31. Luke 22:46 — “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Prayer is your best defense against temptation, but prayer takes diligent effort.
32. Luke 22:48 — “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Many proclaim love for Jesus outwardly while they are betraying Him inwardly.
33. Luke 22:49 – “And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” If you are asking God for an answer, be sure to wait for the answer.
34. Luke 22:51 – “But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him.” Jesus cared for others even though they led Him to die.
35. Luke 22:61, 62 – “And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” God will have to expose your false pride before you will be ready to serve Him humbly. Pride always stands in the way of your life mission. Seek to remove all pride from your life.
36. Luke 22:67, 68 — “‘If you are the Christ, tell us.'” But he said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.'” Only God knows who will believe and who will not believe – you don’t. Proclaim Jesus, and leave it to the Holy Spirit to do the convincing. Remember, the knowledge of God comes from spiritual enlightenment, not intellectualism.
37. Luke 22:67-71 — Witness is useless to those who have already chosen not to believe.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 Aug 18: Look for evidence of pride and self-righteousness in your life today. Pray that God will bring you to true humility that you may serve Him with all of your heart. Remember, you were created to be an Ambassador for Christ, not an ambassador for yourself, for any institution, for moralism, or for intellectualism. Do not be ashamed of the ‘foolishness’ of salvation through Jesus alone. (see 1 Cor 1 and Luke 22:61-68)