Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 2 October 18:
1. Isaiah 57:1 – “The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity.” A corrupt nation turns it’s back on religious persecution.
2. Isaiah 57:5 — “You who burn with lust among the oaks, under every green tree, who slaughter your children in the valleys, under the clefts of the rocks?” The unrighteous nation that uses abortion as birth control will be judged by God in a terrible way.
3. Isaiah 57:15 — “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Relationship with God starts with a contrite heart.
4. Isaiah 57:21 – “’There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” God said it; that settles it. Peace only comes from God, period.
5. Isaiah 58:2-4 – “Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.”
– God does not bless or draw near to willful disobedience. Why is the church so powerless today? Disobedience. Why does revival tarry? Disobedience. God will not be mocked by those who claim to seek Him but don’t obey Him.
– “Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure.” God knows what self-centered religion looks like – He is not fooled.
– “Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.” How you treat others reveals the truth about how much you love and honor God. Following Jesus requires denying self and taking up your “cross” in relationships.
– “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23) “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) There is an appearance of godliness that has no power – among those who claim to seek the Lord daily but, in reality, are only pursuing blessings from God for their own prideful purposes. These are they who pain themselves in pursuit of religious activities with the wrong heart and wrong motives, believing that their self-glorifying piety will earn them favor from God (not to mention the respect and praise of men). Self-righteous acts of self-denial (like fasting with the wrong heart) are presented as holiness. However, God sees beyond the deeds into the heart. And eventually a person’s deeds will expose the truth of their hearts even to men. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7, 8) Those who proudly proclaim the name of Christ, actively participate in their church activities and yet fail to keep themselves “unstained from the world” are “double-minded… unstable in all [their] ways… [and] must not suppose that [they] will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:7) Jesus gave us the steps to discipleship: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) This is an all or nothing proposition.
— Matthew 6:24 — No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
— Luke 11:23 — Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
— Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
— Mark 10:21 — “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
— Luke 9:62 — Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
6. Isaiah 58:5, 7 – “Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself?… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house…?” Once again, the first step to following Jesus is denying self. The next step is sacrificing for others daily, sometimes tangibly and sometimes emotionally. We demonstrate our love for God by how we love others, particularly those who can’t or won’t reciprocate. We received unmerited grace from God as the supreme act of His love. When we give unmerited grace to others out of love, we are living out the Gospel.
– Matthew 25:40 — And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
– Matthew 25:45 — Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
– 1 John 2:10 — Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
– 1 John 3:10 — By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
– 1 John 3:16 — By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
– 1 John 3:17 — But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
– 1 John 4:20 — If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
– 1 John 4:21 — And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
7. Isaiah 58:9 – “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer.” When you truly call to God from a humble, repentant heart, He will answer.
8. Isaiah 58:6-14 — God demands obedience before sacrifice and religion.
9. Proverbs 2:1-6 – “… then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God….” Read Proverbs 2:1-5 and find out how to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Note: Here is a link to a video overview of James — https://youtu.be/qn-hLHWwRYY
10. James 1:1 – “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” James identified himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. How do you identify and introduce yourself?
11. James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Wisdom comes only from God.
12. James 1:8 — “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” The sinful Christian is double-minded.
13. James 1:12 — “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” Trials are a test intended for blessing as they bring you closer to Jesus. See Romans 8:28, 29.
14. James 1:14, 15 — “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Among the world, the flesh, and the devil, the one you need to worry about the most is the flesh. It is their own desires that destroy the sinner. There are many temptations out there, but they are only an issue for you when you allow them to enter your heart.
15. James 1:20 – “…. the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” This is not hard to understand. Christians who live by grace and who are called to proclaim the forgiveness and grace that comes through Jesus, cannot be disposed to anger. Only God’s anger is righteous. Yours isn’t.
16. James 1:22-24 – “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” The true Christian obeys, not perfectly but intently. The hypocritical Christian is disobedient, but claims to be Christian. If you accept the Bible as the word of God; if you read it, believe God has called you to obedience, and pursue obedience as an act of love. If you believe Jesus paid the penalty of your sin on the cross and then you disobey the word of God, you don’t really believe what you say you believe.
17. James 1:26 – “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” How you speak to others reveals what is really in your heart. Perhaps there is no more powerful verse about careless words than this one.
18. James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
– Charity and purity are essential Christian attributes.
– A true Christian relentlessly guards His purity and holiness.
– Compare James 1:27 with Isaiah 58. What is the Bible telling you? Is it hard to understand?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 Oct 18: Identify yourself and introduce yourself today as a servant of Jesus Christ, then prove it by your shocking, sacrificial love. (James 1:1)