Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 4 October 18:
1. Isaiah 61:1 — “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
– See Luke 4:18 where Jesus proclaims that He is the fulfillment of the prophetic verses of Isaiah. Jesus later tells His disciples (including today’s disciples) that they have been given the Spirit and have been anointed to continue brining the Good News, to bind the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty through Jesus, and to set the captives free. With all power and authority, Jesus called us to the Great Commission of making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey. You have been anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.
— 2 Corinthians 1:21 — And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
— 1 John 2:20 — But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
— 1 John 2:27 — But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
— Revelation 3:18 — I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — God’s timing is perfect! When He speaks, the time to respond in obedience is now. We often act as if we have all the time in the world to obey Him, but history doesn’t wait on our commitments. There is no such thing as postponing a decision with God. Either we obey, or we disobey. It is either faith or unbelief, obedience or disobedience. When God announces that now is the acceptable time, what you do next is critical. How often people have been unprepared when a word came to them from the LORD. God said, “Now is the time for you to respond to Me” and their response was, “But I’m not ready. I have some things I need to do first. I’m too busy!” (Matt. 8:21). God’s timing is always perfect. He knows you, and He is fully aware of your circumstances. He knows all that He has built into your life until now, and He extends His invitation knowing that His resources are more than adequate for any assignment He gives you. That is why Scripture tells us God is concerned with our heart. If we do not keep our heart in love with Jesus, our disobedience when God speaks could affect the lives of others. When God speaks it is always out of the context of eternity. We don’t have to know all the implications of what He is asking. We just have to know that it is a word from almighty God. “Now” is always the acceptable time to respond to the Lord!
2. Isaiah 61:3 — “They may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD.” Be a mighty oak of righteousness in the LORD.
3. Isaiah 61:8 — “For I the LORD love justice;” We forget this sometimes. Through grace, we have received freedom as described in Isaiah 61:1,2, but this isn’t a freedom to sin but rather a freedom to live justly, to live obedient, holy, and pure lives that serve others and glorify God. We have been given the freedom and authority to defend justice.
– Romans 8:21 — that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17 — Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
– Galatians 5:1 — For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
– Galatians 5:13 — For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
– 1 Peter 2:16 — Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
– 2 Peter 2:19 — They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
– Titus 2:15 — Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
– Colossians 2:10, 15 — and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority…. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
5. Isaiah 61:8 – “I hate robbery and wrong.” You cannot love Jesus without hating sin.
6. Isaiah 61:10 — “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Jesus covers over your sin, and clothes you with His righteousness so that you can stand before the judgment of the Father, acceptable and approved.
7. Proverbs 4:2 — “Do not forsake my teaching.” Many pray, seeking a word and direction from God, special revelation, but they have not taken seriously and to heart the word God has already provided in the Bible, general revelation. Be faithful to what God has already said, and watch God work in your life.
8. Proverbs 4:7 — “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.” If you want to be wise, you have to work at it through the disciplines of discipleship. Your daily disciplines reveal what you really want. God does not just drop wisdom into the lap of the half-hearted.
9. Proverbs 4:14-15 — “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” Dedication to God is a complete life change that is as much about what you choose not to do as it is what you choose to do. You will have to walk away from the things everyone else accepts as normal and acceptable — God’s standard for you is much, much higher. God’s word says that all Christians are clergy, priests, and saints, but we don’t act like it.
10. Proverbs 4:18, 19 — “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Each day, people are going further down that path they have chosen, whether on a journey closer to Jesus or a journey further away, a journey closer to light or a journey closer to darkness, closer to life or closer to death. Those being sanctified shine brighter and brighter until death or Christ’s return. Your last day on earth should be your best day – strive for that.
11. James 3:8 — “No human being can tame the tongue.” The tongue reveals the heart. Only God can change the heart; only God can tame the tongue. Your will power will never be enough. Self-control is the last listed fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5. It is not the fruit of intellect or personal will power. If you have trouble taming your tongue, it is a problem with your relationship with Jesus, not a problem with your education, your upbringing, or your force of will. You can try to wrestle yourself; theoretically, that would be an even match, but the sinful you has had far more training, practice, and development than the virtuous you. Turn that fight over to the Holy Spirit – no contest.
12. James 3:9-12 — “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” How you treat others reveals how you really feel about God. You can’t honor God while you are dishonoring others. God is the God of truth, not merely words. What you say and what you do both must be true, flowing from a heart of genuine love. If your fruit is wrong or your ‘water’ bad, you need to go to the source — examine your relationship with Jesus. Many people consider themselves to be ‘spiritual,’ and ponder and pontificate on spiritual things, but Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) The truth of your heart is revealed in what you say and what you do.
13. James 3:13 — “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Understanding is not measured in book knowledge, oratory skills, dissertations, or titles, but rather in the nine fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23): love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness [gentleness] and temperance [self-control], along with the absence of the works of the flesh which are manifested in the three areas of sex, religion, and relationships with others — “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Today, James points out that teachers should be model fruit bearers rather than mere scholars. Unless you have proven your understanding by your fruit, your gentleness, and your self-control, you should not be teaching, regardless of how much Bible you think you know and how smart you think you are. Jesus called the fruitless herald of Bible knowledge a “false prophet” whose fruit would eventually reveal the truth of the person. James says that what comes out of our unguarded mouths is usually the first indicator of what is really in our hearts, then our deeds will follow suit. Today, James, when discussing true understanding, first calls out the fruit of ‘meekness’ in contrast to ‘jealousy’, ‘selfish ambition’, and ‘boastfulness’. Meekness is not weakness; it is inner strength which flows from God. The word ‘meek’ comes from the Greek word prautēs (prah-oo’-tace). Prautēs is used in the New Testament to describe three attitudes: submissiveness to the will of God (Colossians 3:12), teachable-ness (James 1:21) and consideration of others (Ephesians 4:2). It is an inwrought grace of soul, a temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. It is that humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense while being free of any desire of revenge or retribution. It is that inner, ‘gentle strength’ that cannot be taught that enables us to deny self, carry our cross, and follow. It is applied humility. Of the nine fruits of the Spirit, this is one does not apply to God the Father. The Old Testament never refers to the Father as being meek, and in the New Testament only the Son is spoken of as meek, and that only in His incarnation. Jesus was “gentle [prautēs] and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29; 21:5; 2 Corinthians 10:1) Like their Lord, believers are to be meek and gentle (1 Timothy 6:11) and to wear these attributes like a garment (Colossians 3:12). By definition, prautēs has nothing to do with ‘jealousy’, ‘selfish ambition’, and ‘boastfulness’. The meek teacher never draws attention to himself but always points to Jesus. It is never ‘I’ or ‘me’; It is always ‘He’.
14. James 3:14-18 — “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Again, notice that bitterness, jealousy, and selfishness are heart issues that corrupt behavior. Heart issues are spiritual issues resulting from a relationship problem with Jesus. Also, note that wisdom comes from above. Earthly ‘wisdom’ is actually demonic, a false, deceptive substitute for the wisdom that can come only from God through Jesus. How do you know if you have real wisdom or demonic wisdom? Real wisdom honors God, not self, and produces purity, peacefulness, gentleness, reasonableness, mercy, impartiality, and sincerity in your life. Use these attributes to test your own wisdom and the wisdom of others. The world is full of smart, talented, funny, attractive, and powerful people, but the world is desperately lacking truly wise people. You can help fill that void by committing to be a true follower of Jesus. What is the first step to following Jesus? Jesus answers that question: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself….'” (Mark 8:34)
15. James 3 — “Not many of you should become teachers.” Everyone wants to be a teacher. Best to point to God’s word, and let the Holy Spirit be the teacher. We tend to interpret God’s word distorted by our own motives, often without even realizing it; and we like to glorify ourselves when we teach rather than focusing all attention on Jesus — we want credit and honor. Even Moses, the humblest of men attempted to share glory with God when He struck the rock twice. His pride made him an unworthy teacher at that moment. Just communicate God’s word directly, pointing solely to Jesus, and trust the Holy Spirit to convict hearts.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 Oct 18: Today, test your ‘wisdom’ by evaluating your selflessness, purity, peacefulness, gentleness, reasonableness, mercy, impartiality, and sincerity. (James 3:14-18)