Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 10 September 18:
1. Isaiah 10:5 – “Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!” The Sovereign God uses wicked nations, bad leaders, and devastating circumstances to discipline and judge His disobedient people, desiring them to repent and return to Him, while glorifying His holy Name.
2. Isaiah 10:5-11 – “I send him…. But he does not so… think.” God often uses people to accomplish His purposes without them realizing it.
3. Isaiah 10:5 — “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.” Accomplishments don’t always equate to approval. God allowed Assyria to fulfill their wicked intent and to succeed over His people for a time, but His intent was to hold them accountable as is His intent with all the wicked. When the wicked seem to prevail, draw closer to the Lord and wait upon Him. God is good and works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
4. Isaiah 10:6-11 – “…but it is in his heart to destroy….” Human pride leads to arrogant disregard for human life and for God. Do you see the effects of human pride around you today?
5. Isaiah 10:13 — For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.” The prideful and arrogant tell themselves that they have accomplished something from their own strength, wisdom, talent, and personal power. Even Christians are susceptible to prideful thinking, attempting to build their own thrones and idols while telling themselves God is with them in their prideful activities. Be very careful not to become self-serving and not to pursue your own kingdom on earth. God will bring down the throne you sit on or the idols you prioritize in your life over Him.
– Psalm 171, 2 — Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
– Psalm 60:11 — Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
– Psalm 20:6-7 — Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
– 1 Corinthians 15:58 — Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
– 1 Peter 1:17 — 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….
– Psalm 37:25 — I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.
– Isaiah 1:13 — Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
– Psalm 33:12-22 — Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. …
6. Isaiah 10:15 – “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” How foolish is it for a person to think that they are in control? The Sovereign God is in complete control while the wicked continue to boast. In completely blind arrogance, the ungodly have no perception of God’s sovereignty and holiness. In unabashed conceit, many today have decided that God is not part of the equation for life. Some of the world’s most acclaimed leaders sit at the height of foolishness in their secular humanism. Do not be deceived by their counsel.
7. Isaiah 10:16 – “Therefore the Lord God of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.” God humbles proud nations and proud people. Watch and see.
8. Isaiah 10:20 – “In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.” In sinful times, we must put our trust in God rather than in the sinful institutions around us. Our allegiance and loyalty must remain in God no matter how powerful the sinful might appear. We must not compromise with the ungodly because we think we depend upon them.
9. Isaiah 10:21, 22 – “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return.” Few remain faithful when society turns from God. Will you be counted among the remnant of faithful?
10. Isaiah 10:23 – “For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.” God will keep His promises and will save His remnant. Do you trust God in His promise enough to walk in faith today? Faith is believing God today; hope is trusting God with the future; and love is the product of faith and hope.
11. Isaiah 10:24-34 — God’s sovereignty means that even in the most difficult times, we should only fear Him.
12. Isaiah 11:1-3 – “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” This is a prophesy of Jesus.
13. Isaiah 11:3, 4 — “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” It is impossible to make good decisions solely from human perceptions and intellect which are too limited to see and understand the whole picture. Decisions based upon the very best of our mental, emotional, and physical capacities are inevitably flawed in some way. Our physical urges seek instant gratification without regard for long-term consequences, our emotions are self-centered, and our minds can process what little information we can perceive which is often misinterpreted. However, the Holy Spirit is unlimited and holds all truth. It is only our connection with the Holy Spirit which gives us any real power. No spiritual power is generated or created by us, only received by God. We must be guided by the Holy Spirit through obedience to God’s word, which is often beyond our understanding. Only through the Spirit can a person judge the reality of any situation. Spiritual discernment comes from relationship with Jesus which grows in our obedience to Jesus and quality time with Jesus, walking with Him in spirit and in truth day-by-day. We must humbly seek the mind of Christ in every decision. All decisions must be prayerful ones, seeking to understand through spiritual discernment what is impossible to understand through human intellect. If you think you have it figured out on your own, check yourself, and prayer for greater humility.
14. Isaiah 11:12 – “He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Without the leading of the Shepherd, God’s sheep scatter. Obedient surrender keeps you close to Him and, by definition, close to other disciples. Disunity is a sign of scattering. The Shepherd leads all the sheep in the same direction, with a sense of collective purpose. The good sheep dogs in the world (church leaders) only drive the sheep closer to the Shepherd. Do you have a sense that your church is closely following Jesus together, growing ever closer along the way? And do the problems people face only drive you and others closer to the Shepherd and to each other?
15. Proverbs 10:3 – “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.” Sinners are working against God, and He will deal with them.
16. Proverbs 10:5 – “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” Make the most of the opportunities God has given you while they still exist. Opportunities are fleeting. Don’t hesitate to do what you know you should do.
17. Proverbs 10:8 – “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” Stop talking and start obeying.
18. Proverbs 10:12 – “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Love covers over wrongs because it is willing to be mistreated without demanding justice. Love responds with mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
19. Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Be wise and be quiet.
20. Proverbs 10:20 – “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth.” A person’s heart determines their worth and the value of their words.
21. Proverbs 10:21 – “The lips of the righteous feed many….” Do your words nourish others?
22. Proverbs 10:23 – “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” Fools joke about sin. Question your heart if the TV shows you enjoy watching make light of sin or even joke about it. God forbid that we would be entertained by what God abhors.
23. Titus 2:1-11 – “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Teachers must not only be experts in Biblical doctrine, but they must also be models of self-control (evidence of the Spirit). This means that they are not controlled by emotions, cravings, or passions. They have a proven ability to control their tempers, their egos (no boasting “I did this [or that]”), their appetites (not gluttons or in debt), and their passions (they keep relationships peaceful, pure, and holy). Bible knowledge alone does not make a teacher. Teachers must embody the teachings. In pride, many without any real credibility seek to teach from their puffed-up knowledge. Even the ungodly will eventually see through a hypocrite (actor). A teacher must not only know the doctrine but show the doctrine. Jesus stood out from the Pharisees in part because He genuinely walked the talk, sacrificing all to do it. The price of leadership is sacrifice. There is no worldly profit in leadership though many seek to make it a living.
24. Titus 2:2-6 – “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” With spiritual growth comes ever-increasing humility and self-control. Galatians 5:22, 23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Laws, rules and moral codes cannot give you these qualities, they come from the Spirit; as you grow closer and closer to Jesus, these qualities will naturally grow in your life. You cannot use willpower to get them, they flow from Jesus to you. If you lack things like gentleness and self-control, you don’t have a willpower problem, you have a relationship problem — Jesus is not ‘big’ enough in your life because you are too distant from Him. When Jesus talked about removing the plank in your eye before trying to take the splinter out of someone else’s eye, He was speaking about proximity. Hold a splinter close to your eye, and it appears to be a plank, blinding you from everything else. What is very close to you determines how you see everything else in relative perspective. Ensure that Jesus is so close to your eye that you cannot see around Him but must see everything through Him. Do you have trouble controlling your emotions (self-control)? Then, something has gotten between you and Jesus. Don’t let problems and temptations get between you and Jesus. Keep Jesus between you and everything else.
– In the short chapter of Titus, self-control is mentioned four times. Words used to describe self-control are sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, loving, steadfast, pure, hardworking, kind, submissive, respectful, a model of good works, a person of integrity, dignified, sound in speech, well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, lawful, upright, zealous, and godly. Other Bible verses include attributes such as humble, patient, gentle, quiet, forgiving, gracious, charitable, sober, diligent, frugal, discerning, etc. While we certainly appreciate God’s grace in the face of our inadequacies, we must still consider our shortcomings as unacceptable in our lives and must continuously strive (empowered by the Spirit) to eliminate them. No Christian filled with the Holy Spirit would consider using God’s grace as a pass for a lack of self-control. Those within the church who make light of sin in the name of grace should be rebuked “with all authority.” We must train our character as the professional athlete trains the body.
25. Titus 2:7-8 – “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Words and deeds go hand-in-hand and are both requirements of our calling. You must walk your talk. Some Christians talk without integrity, nullifying their message. Some Christians convince themselves that all they have to do is demonstrate goodness, without words, to be a good witness to others. However, the Bible is clear, we have to proclaim the truth BOTH in word and deed. People will judge your words by what they see in your life, and they will judge your good deeds by what you say. When others admire your lifestyle, that is your chance to proclaim Jesus rather than give glory to yourself.
26. Titus 2:11-15 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” God gives you grace through Jesus not just so that when you die you can go to Heaven and not so that you can continue to live your life as you please with the comfort of knowing that your sins won’t be held against you. Grace opens the door to a life of discipleship, sanctification, and witness on earth, a chance to grow closer and closer to Jesus in obedience and purity, to glorify Him on earth through how we live, and to make disciples among the nations. Grace calls us to be “zealous for good works.” Grace gives us the authority to boldly “declare these things; exhort and rebuke.” Don’t conceal your faith as a chameleon Christian or go along to get along. “Let no one disregard you.” Make sure everyone knows exactly why you are so different – Jesus is your life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Sep 18: All day today, keep your mind on Jesus and see how that effects your self-control. (See notes above on Titus 2)