Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 6 September 18:
[Note: Provided is a link to a video summary of Isaiah 1-39: https://youtu.be/d0A6Uchb1F8]
1. Isaiah 1:3 – “The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” It is far better to be dumb and obedient than smart and disobedient.
2. Isaiah 1:13, 16 — “Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me…. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil.” Obedience and worship go hand-in-hand because love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand. Don’t bring your gifts to God from a position of disobedience, and don’t think that your charitable acts and kind words to others make up for refusal to obey God in other areas. Deal with your disobedience first.
– “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5) Love comes from 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscience, and 3) a sincere faith.
– “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
– “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
3. Isaiah 1:24 — “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.” Sinners make themselves enemies of God. Don’t behave in ways that place you at odds with the Father. He loves His children, but cannot stand idle while His Sovereignty is challenged (even for a minute) and the family name is disparaged.
4. Isaiah 2:6, 7 — “They strike hands with the children of foreigners. Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.” Prosperity in no way means security. Security is in the hands of the LORD.
5. Isaiah 2:10 — “Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty.” We are not “saved” from merely the negative consequences of sin on earth. We are saved from the wrath of Almighty God. The most terrible thing about sin is NOT the earthly consequences we face but rather the fact that we have offended and defamed the Sovereign, Holy God. The Bible uses repetition to add emphasis to a word, much like we use and exclamation point. For example, when Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say….” throughout the Book of John, He is placing great emphasis on these truth statements – really pay attention. There are only two words in the New Testament repeated three times for highest emphasis: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” (Revelation 8:13) God’s holiness is not something to be taken lightly.
6. Proverbs 6:6-8 – “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” Self-control, discipline, and diligence bring great personal power.
7. Proverbs 6:12-19 – “A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Mouth, eye, feet, fingers, and heart — do yours bring glory to God and always promote love, or do they bring destruction?
8. Proverbs 6:20-24 – “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.” Parents are to teach their children how to protect their hearts through obedience to God’s word.
9. 2 Timothy 4:2 — “Reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience.” In a large part, Christians have lost the essential skill of rebuking with patience and gentleness. Some think we shouldn’t be rebuking at all. If you truly love others, you must be willing to tell them the truth. If you are truly loving, you will tell the truth in a loving way. Be careful not to tell the truth merely to get what you want or to defend your own position – this is ultimately selfish and unloving. If you can’t speak truth unselfishly, hoping merely for the best for the other party, it is usually best to just keep your mouth shut and pray for them. Ambassadors never represent themselves.
10. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 — “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Modern church teachings are accommodating passions rather than challenging them. Churches today are growing both is size and in disobedience. The waters of God’s word are being muddied and replaced with filthy cisterns created by men. Remain in God’s word and compare what you are reading with what you are seeing in the church. The truth is self-evident. Those who continue to stand for the truth will suffer but must continue to testify to the truth.
– Proverbs 25:26 — Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
– Ezekiel 34:18 — Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?
– Ezekiel 34:19 — And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
– Jeremiah 2:13 — For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
11. 2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” From Henry T. Blackaby — There is much satisfaction in finishing something you have begun! The success of a race is determined not only by how well you begin but also by how well you end. Many athletes can begin a race impressively, but if they stumble or are injured or lack the stamina to finish, their good start is useless. Paul rejoiced that he had not only begun the race but he had also finished it. His prize was a robust faith in God and a life filled with God’s powerful presence. The Christian life is not easy. Some mistakenly assume that once they become children of God, their struggles are over. Many Christians begin their walk with Christ enthusiastically, but as the pressures mount, they lose heart and abandon their pilgrimage. Paul described His Christian life as a battle. There were times when he struggled, and only through perseverance could he continue. It may surprise us to know that the great apostle had to struggle at times to be faithful to God. Paul faced persecution, misunderstanding, betrayal, and death threats. His Christian life was anything but easy, yet he persevered. Your faith in God is not proven by beginning the race but by enduring to the finish. Publicly announcing your commitment to Christ in your church does not compare with a lifetime of devotion to His cause. Use Paul as your model. Live your life in such a way that you can one day conclude, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 Sep 18: Keep it simple today: Read God’s word in prayer, obey God’s word, and love others by sharing God’s word. Do not seek to defend yourself (thereby drawing attention to yourself rather than Jesus) but rather seek to draw others closer to Jesus.