Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 11 September 18:
1. Isaiah 12:1 — “… your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.” God doesn’t want to deal with you in anger but rather comfort you, but as a loving, perfect Father, God does discipline His children. Don’t let sin hinder your joy in the Lord. Learn, grow in Christ-like character, and be thankful for the love of Abba, “Daddy.”
– Hebrews 12:5 — And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
– Romans 8:28, 29 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son….
2. Isaiah 12:3-6 — ” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Genuine worship starts with confession and repentance, then joyous gratitude for salvation and total reliance on God. Those who know God naturally worship Him and eagerly proclaim His Name to all. Those who are challenged proclaiming Jesus have a relationship problem.
3. Isaiah 13:11 — “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.” God will judge the world at a time when people remain arrogant, prideful, and blind. Like Sodom and Gomorrah (v19), the world won’t see it coming. Even those who claim to be religious will be surprised in judgment.
4. Isaiah 13:6-20 — God expresses His anger in concrete ways to punish sin. Many churches have stopped preaching this message for a much more popular god that is only love, mercy, and peace, not justice, a god that accepts anything and everything. God is a God of mercy and grace but also justice, which is required of a truly loving God. Imagine just one day on earth where there was absolutely no justice – it would be hell on earth. Growing closer to God results in becoming more, not less, passionate about justice and righteousness, while also growing more passionate about grace and mercy through Jesus. Good leaders struggle with how to administer justice combined with appropriate levels of mercy and grace. Justice is giving people what they deserve. Mercy is not giving people what they deserve, and grace is giving people good they don’t deserve. Only God can rightly administer justice, mercy, and grace.
– Zephaniah 3:5 — The Lord within her is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.
– Matthew 5:43-45 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
– 1 Peter 2:19 — For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
5. Isaiah 13:17 – “Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold.”
– A people who are motivated by materialism and earthly gain are no match for those who are inspired by a higher calling. Napoleon said, “There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.”
– Gold and silver are meaningless on the day of Judgment.
6. Proverbs 11:2 — “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” Pride comes when you start thinking about yourself more than about God, when you start serving your own interests ahead of God’s – this is disgraceful.
7. Proverbs 11:11 – “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown.” As the church goes, so goes the nation. Our nation will be blessed if God’s people proclaim the Gospel clearly and communicate His truths boldly within the public discourse as the conscience of the nation. If the wicked are louder and more influential than God’s people, our nation will not endure it.
8. Proverbs 11:28 – “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.” Our national motto is, “In God we trust.” Is this true? If we trust in anything else, we are doomed as a nation.
9. Titus 3:1 – “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work….” God commands us to obey the government.
10. Titus 3:2 – “…to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” We are not allowed to speak poorly of anyone but must show humility towards ALL, regardless of how much they deserve it.
– “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another…. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:2-11) Those who are guided by the Spirit see things from a spiritual perspective and view others from that spiritual perspective, rather than the way everyone else sees things. Understanding the realities of the spiritual condition of those who are trapped in sin, particularly from our position of having been freed from sin by grace through Jesus, we can only respond to sinners with “gentle… perfect courtesy.” Those “Christians” who quarrel and who are led by their passions are not guided by the Spirit, and we should avoid them.
– We must remember that those sinful people who cause so much pain and destruction are deceived and enslaved. Again, what did Jesus say on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
– Saved by grace, we must bestow grace to all.
11. Titus 3:9 — “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Don’t let foolish debates get in the way of Jesus and His Gospel. While everyone else gets wrapped up in national politics and church politics, proclaim Jesus and the word of God which cuts through all the foolishness. Arguments over non-essential, debatable topics outside of the clear Gospel message aren’t likely to bring people closer to God or to each other. We are on a mission of reconciliation which requires gentle perseverance. Read 1 Corinthians 8 where Paul warns us to let our superior knowledge get in the way of love. Paul was dealing with a church where many still believed there were many gods rather that One God. Paul warned those who knew better not to act in ways that would simply drive the immature away from Jesus and back into sin. Never compromise the truth, but don’t present it in a way that can’t people handled by others. Would you feed an infant a steak, and then punish the infant for not eating it?
12. Titus 3:10, 11 — “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Avoid the divisive person who is not a reconciler. Our mission is clear, the mission of reconciliation, not division. (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19) There is no reconciliation among people unless there is first reconciliation with Jesus. Our aim is not the proclamation of “diversity” but rather the proclamation of “university” – the combination of two words: unity and diversity. God created us to be part of a universe – many different people, serving different roles in different ways, united in Jesus to fulfill the purpose of God, glorifying Him that His will be done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Read John 17, Jesus’ last recorded prayer before the Cross – his prayer is that we would be one with God and, therefore, with each other. Apart from God, there can be no unity, and diversity isn’t a strength but rather a divider. While everyone else is proclaiming diversity, proclaim university – unity in our diversity through unity with Jesus.
13. Titus 3:14 – “And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.” God calls us to work in order to take care of our daily needs and to help others, not to build personal empires. Living in and with excess only robs you of your peace and joy while denying others what they need. Living in excess is a sin; make no mistake about that.
14. Titus 3:15 — “Grace be with you all.” Paul ends his letter with a reminder of the grace we have received. Keeping that in perspective today and everyday will help you live out Titus 3:1-9. Seek to see every moment through the reality of the Cross.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 Sep 18: Today, endeavor to ignore the controversies and dissensions plaguing the world today and focus on Jesus who is the remedy to all of those foolish problems. Don’t takes sides in the arguments of the day, but rather proclaim the word of God and seek to guide people closer to Jesus. (Titus 3)