Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 September 18:
1. Song of Songs 3:5 — “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” God intends for men and women to wait in abstinence and chastity for their future marriage partner, and throughout the Song of Songs you will hear Beloved warn the “Daughters of Jerusalem” not give their wedding crown to another before marriage. Today, our sex obsessed culture has characterized abstinence and chastity as unnatural, unrealistic, abnormal, and impossible. Some would even suggest that teaching abstinence and chastity is downright irresponsible. As a result, most miss the full blessings God intended for the marital union and enter their marriage with psychological, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical “baggage” that God never intended. There is no such thing as “safe sex” outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.
2. Solomon 3, 4 — God created us to be physically attracted to the opposite sex, and He gave us very specific rules for relationships to keep us from the destructive sin of lust. What God created is good. Sin takes God’s good creation and perverts it with selfishness.
3. Proverbs 3:9, 10 – “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Serve God faithfully, and don’t worry about your life’s provisions – He will give you all and more than you need without your worry.
4. Proverbs 3:7 — “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” R. C. Sproul wisely said, ““The Word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart; but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind…. I cannot read God’s mind, however I can read God’s Word…. We need to be very careful to go to the pages of the Scripture to learn about God’s will and the leading of the Spirit, and not simply to listen to the popular teachings of the Christian subculture in which we live…. To be a Christian is to be a theologian — a student of God and his will. The church is where believers should be nurtured in the practice of correct theology. The contemporary disdain for theological content and emphasis on self-image and emotions were not shared by the apostolic church…. The issue for Christians is not whether we are going to be theologians but whether we are going to be good theologians or bad ones…. [However] We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work.” We must study God’s word in order to be ready to obey God’s word. However, many use Bible ‘study’ as a form of procrastination – reading more rather than doing more. This is akin to the person who is constantly looking for a better workout or diet but never exercising or controlling their food intake. Our problems are not usually caused by a lack of knowledge; they are usually caused by disobedience and infidelity to God. Even Christians who rarely open their Bible’s understand enough about God’s demands for forgiveness, honesty, generosity, etc, to defy them. God’s commands are not hard to understand, but they require a heart that truly desires to obey them, a commitment to discipline and self-control that is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Pleasing God requires humility, a proper fear of the Lord and then consistently choosing to “turn away from evil,” and to turn closer to God. What will you choose today?
– Isaiah 45:22 — Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.
– 1 Thessalonians 1:9 — For they… report… how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.
5. Proverbs 3:28 — “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.” See a need; meet the need. Don’t worry, it’s all God’s stuff anyway, so you’re not losing anything.
6. 2 Timothy 1:3 – “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.” Do you thankfully serve God each day with a clear conscience?
7. 2 Timothy 1:6, 7 – “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The spiritual gift of faith God has already given you must be fanned into flame. You must choose to walk in power and self-control.
8. 2 Timothy 1:7 – “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” From Henry T. Blackaby — The only fear that God encourages in a Christian’s life is the fear of God (2 Cor. 5:10-11; Heb. 10:31). Fear of people does not come from God. The problem is that many Christians fear people more than they fear God. Their fear hinders them from pleasing God because they waste their efforts appeasing other people. Timothy was a young man, timid by nature, and probably not strong physically (1 Tim. 5:23). He knew of Paul’s frequent trials and persecutions. He knew that he, too, might suffer those same persecutions. Paul reminded his young colleague that fear of others does not come from God. Fear causes us to stop and question what God has clearly told us to do. Perhaps we were confident in our obedience until persecution came; now we doubt whether we heard God correctly. Most fear is fear of the unknown. We do not know what lies ahead of us, so we become apprehensive. Our imaginations can magnify problems until they seem insurmountable. We need a sound mind to see things in proper perspective. That is why God gave us His Holy Spirit, to enable us to see things as God sees them. Fear is no excuse to disobey God. There is no reason to live in fear when you have the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit within you. Fear will enslave you, but Christ has come to set you free. Ask God to free you from any fear you are experiencing and to open your eyes. As He reveals the reality of your situation, He will enable you to continue in obedience.
9. 2 Timothy 1:14 — “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, but we must employ the power within us by choice. 1 Peter says, “To those who are…. in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ…, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” Through the power of the Holy Spirit, in awe and gratitude for the grace you have received through the blood of Jesus, compelled by love, pursue holiness in your life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 Sep 18: Motivated by love, pursue purity, holiness, and obedience today, and from this day forward, don’t act as if the grace you have received through the blood of Jesus is a small or cheap thing.