Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 23 August 18:
1. Job 35:3 – “What advantage have I? How am I better off than if I had sinned?” Love does not serve God for profit. Jesus made it clear – “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10) God does not owe us special treatment for obeying Him as we were created to do, nor should we seek special reward. Obedience should be motivated only by love, not by a sense of duty or a hope for reward.
2. Job 35:7 – “If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand?” Again, If we served God perfectly, we would only be doing our duty, nothing more than that. However, we too often expect great praise and special treatment for our partial obedience (which is ultimately disobedience).
3. Job 35:12 – “There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men.” Many people cry out to God from a position of arrogance, and God does not respond to the arrogant heart but rather the truly humble one.
4. Job 35:16 – “Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge.” We should all do a lot less talking and a lot more listening in both our relationship with God and our relationships with others.
5. Job 35 — We think too much of ourselves and too little of God to the point where we actually start to think that God owes us something. In our arrogance, we think we can talk to God about “fairness” as if we have some sort of rights before the Perfect One who created us for His purposes.
6. Job 36:5 — “Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding.” We should stand in awe, wonder, and amazement that God even tolerates sinful man and furthermore would pour His love upon us.
7. Job 36:10 – “He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.” God commands the wicked to repent.
8. Job 36:11 – “If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.” Being in fellowship with God, under any circumstances, is contentment. A lack of contentment is a heart problem, not a resource problem.
9. Job 36:14 – “They die in youth, and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.” Job lived in a very wicked time, yet he remained holy, set apart for God. Are you pure and holy in these wicked days?
10. Job 36:15 – “He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.” Affliction is often used by God to humble us, teach us, and draw us closer to Him.
11. Job 36:18-23 – “Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing, and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside. Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress, or all the force of your strength?… Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction. Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?” Affliction draws some people closer to God and others farther away. In affliction, many question God, become angry with God, blame God, and even deny God. Elihu warned Job not lose perspective in his pain of God’s sovereign righteousness. If you are not currently going through affliction, you will. How will it affect your relationship with God?
12. Job 36:26 – “Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” How arrogant is it for man to believe he can decide for himself who God is and who God isn’t?
13. Proverbs 23:1-3 – “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” The Bible warns that politicians will make many promises and offer many gifts in order to stay in power – this is a deception. Have you ever seen a poor politician?
14. Proverbs 23:6, 7 – “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” Many people will fake generosity in order to get something in return, and many relationships depend on reciprocity. Love is a gift, requiring and expecting nothing in return. Only relationships grounded in love are reliable under all circumstances.
15. Proverbs 23:9 – “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.” Fools aren’t really listening to what you have to say. With many, you are wasting your time trying to speak truth to them. Sometimes it is best to save your energy for those who are being moved by the Spirit to hear.
16. Proverbs 23:10 – “Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.” God is the Redeemer who holds everyone accountable for all of their words and deeds.
17. Proverbs 23:17 – “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” What is the most powerful influence in your life, God or others, popular opinion or the word of God? Your actions will reveal who you are really following.
13. Luke 24:1 – “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.” As described in Proverbs 31, the godly women were up early in the morning making the most of the day. They started their day honoring Jesus.
14. Luke 24:6, 7 – “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” The Holy Spirit will remind you of the word of God for the situation at hand if you are listening to the Spirit.
15. Luke 24:11 – “…but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” Witnesses testify to what they have personally seen God do, not what they heard about from someone else. Tell people what God has done in your life. (Luke 24:9) Not everyone will believe you, but some will.
16. Luke 24:28-31 — “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” Cleopas and the other disciple who walked with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus came to a cross roads, though unrecognized to them – a decision point that seemed minor but in actuality was quite significant. As the stranger walking with them (Jesus) prepared to journey onward into the evening, they had to choose whether to be obedient to God’s word or not: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:34) The Bible demands special hospitality to sojourners and travelling strangers, and hospitality dictates that God’s people open their homes to them as Job proudly proclaimed to be his standard practice – “the sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler.” (Job 31:32) Remember at the city gate of Sodom, Lot insistently opened his home to two strangers who in actuality were angels, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Genesis 19; Hebrews 13:2) Jesus used hospitality as a test when he sent out his disciples to evangelize – “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you… shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’” (Mark 6:8-11) So, Cleopas and his friend had a decision to make, invite the stranger to their home or let him go on his way. It was a small, quickly made decision. If they had said nothing, Jesus would have walked on, and that would have been the end of the story. No one would have called them out for their lack of hospitality as the decision would have gone unnoticed. Cleopas and his buddy would have gone on with their lives unaware of the opportunity they had missed due to their insensitivity to the will and activity of God. However, the Bible says that they “urged him strongly.” Because of their obedience in this small matter of hospitality, “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” They were faithful with a little thing and were given much, much more – their lives would never be the same again; they were first-hand witnesses to the risen Christ. I believe God works much the same way in our lives. Every day we come to countless small decision points or cross roads, places where we must choose obedience or self-centeredness. It’s in the everyday, small decisions that our character is formed, where our spiritual eyes are opened (or closed), where we prove our readiness for greater things. We often ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?” But the answer is to walk in faithful obedience, one day at a time, making the most of every opportunity that God places before us, particularly during those seemingly insignificant moments. If we are faithful in the little decisions, God will reveal His bigger plan for us. If we are unfaithful in the little things, we will likely walk on contently, unaware of the great opportunities we missed. I believe God is at work continually all around us, but we remain insensitive to his activity because we are distracted with the worries of the world and our own plans. We are very busy at work hoping that God will bless what we are doing, rather than seeking to become a part of what God is already doing in accordance with His plan. In our self-induced hurriedness, we walk right by countless “sojourners” without even noticing them, unaware of the great opportunities we missed. Jesus walked differently, always noticing and engaging that person in the crowd that everyone else was ignoring. Jesus saw what others couldn’t see because He was in tune with the Father, doing only what he saw is Father doing. What will God show you today if you walk in obedience to Him with your eyes open for His activity?
17. Luke 24:32 — “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” As you walk with Jesus, how is the Holy Spirit opening the Scriptures to you, and what has been the impact to your life? Is your heart burning today? From Henry T. Blackaby — Jesus joins those who are earnestly seeking Him. Two men walked along the road to Emmaus discussing the confusing events that had just occurred in Jerusalem. They thought they had understood the happenings of their day, but the death of Jesus had left them disoriented to God and His activity in their world. They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah, but His death had left them perplexed and discouraged. They needed answers. God reads the heart and knows the honest pursuit of His will by His children. Jesus drew near to these men, walked with them, and opened their minds to what the Scriptures said about Him and about the events of their day. As Jesus was speaking, their hearts burned within them! As they listened to Jesus relate the Scriptures to what they were experiencing, they knew in their hearts that they were hearing God’s truth. Their doubts vanished, excitement overcame them, and they raced back to share the truth with their friends! If you become bewildered by circumstances in your life, Jesus can reorient you to Himself through the Scriptures just as He did for these two men. From your human perspective, the situation may be confusing and discouraging. It takes the presence of Christ to open your eyes to the truth of the Scriptures. Have your circumstances confused you? You need Jesus to give you His perspective. Once you’ve heard from Him, you’ll be like these two men, excited to join God in what He is doing around you and eager to include others in the experience.
18. Luke 24:36 – “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you!’” Jesus first word is “Peace.”
19. Luke 24:45 – “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures….” God must open your mind to understand the Scriptures.
20. Luke 24:52, 53 – “And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” A genuine encounter with God inspires continuous praise and worship.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Aug 18: Approach every relationship, particularly the hard ones, with an invitation for peace. Be on the mission of reconciliation today, bringing others peace that can only come from Jesus. (Luke 24:36)