WEEK 41, Day 5, Friday, 12 October 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 12 October 18:

1. Jeremiah 12:1-3 – “Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart. But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and set them apart for the day of slaughter.” God may allow the wicked to prosper for a time, which may cause you to question Him, even complain. He understands you don’t understand. Go to Him in prayer, and He will guide you into greater understanding and into closer relationship with Him.

2. Jeremiah 12:5 — “And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” If you won’t trust and obey God when things are relatively easy, you certainly won’t trust and obey God when things are really hard. God uses hard times to prepare His minister for harder times.

3. Jeremiah 12:6 – “For even your brothers and the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you; they are in full cry after you; do not believe them, though they speak friendly words to you.” God can show you who to trust and who not to trust.

5. Jeremiah 12:10 — “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion.” Ungodly leaders, whether they claim to be religious or not, can lead a whole nation astray.

6. Jeremiah 12:11 — “The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart.” God’s unchanging word testifies against ungodly leaders and against ungodly society, but people choose to ignore the truth of God.

7. Jeremiah 12:16, 17 — “And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the Lord.”

– God expects obedience from all people.

– We are engaged in a global competition of ideas and beliefs. In this battle, who is most influencing who? God intends for His people, as His ambassadors to foreign lands, to teach His enemies His ways and to turn their hearts towards Him. He intends for us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” (Matthew 28:18, 19) This is our primary purpose on earth – as servants of Christ, we do not pursue our own desires but only the will of our Master, “no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2). As a very visible example to the world, we are to have NOTHING to do with sin, displaying grace, and speaking only godly words. All of our words and deeds should glorify God (not ourselves) and draw people to Him (1 Peter 4:7-11) From a position of holiness, as “priests,” we proclaim the Gospel that sinners might turn to Jesus and be saved – “For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” (1 Peter 4:6) However, if God’s people become influenced by the world, they become “spoiled [and] good for nothing.” (Jeremiah 13:7) If God’s people, who bear the name, ‘Christian,’ make light of the sin from which Christ suffered the cross to save us, then they must be punished. (Jeremiah 13:15-27) For the sake of His glory, God will very visibly punish His adulterous people (who partner with the world) “with tears because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.” (Jeremiah 13:17) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matthew 5:13)

— Hebrews 10:26-36 — 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. But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

— 1 Peter 4:17-19 — For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

8. Jeremiah 13:10 — “This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.” God’s word will often go against what is in your heart, because you are not perfected in love, and God’s thoughts are far from your thoughts. You must choose to follow God’s word instead of what you would prefer. If you will not submit your will to God’s will, you are essentially “good for nothing.” What good is a disobedience servant, and untruthful witness, or a disloyal ambassador?

9. Jeremiah 13:11 – “For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the Lord, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.” God wants people to depend on Him and on nothing else.

10. Jeremiah 13:17 — “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive.” God’s true servants are heartbroken when God’s people refuse to repent. God wants that no one should perish in their pride but that all would turn to Jesus.

11. Jeremiah 13:18 – “Say to the king and the queen mother: ‘Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head.’” No one is exempt from God’s judgement.

12. Jeremiah 13:22 — “And if you say in your heart, ‘Why have these things come upon me?’ it is for the greatness of your iniquity that your skirts are lifted up and you suffer violence.” The one who receives the consequences of his decision to ignore God should not be surprised or blame God for his decision.

13. Jeremiah 13:23 — “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Sin can become a habit which eventually shapes your character and the truth of who you are. You must develop habits of goodness rather than habits of badness. You become more and more what you repeatedly choose to do. Your character for formed from your habits over time. It is very hard to change character quickly, perhaps impossible.

14. Jeremiah 13:26 — “I myself will lift up your skirts over your face, and your shame will be seen.” There are ‘natural’ consequences for your choices and actions, but God is not just a bystander. God Himself is the author of your circumstances and determines your fate.

15. Proverbs 12:8 — “A man is commended according to his good sense, but one of twisted mind is despised.” Many will hate you because you obey God, but those same people resent you when you act as the world does. The world does not really know how to love because it doesn’t really know the God who is love. Focus on your relationship with Jesus who loves you faithfully.

16. Proverbs 12:26 — “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Compare this verse to Jeremiah 23:1 above. Do you guide your neighbors towards Jesus or away from Jesus? Do you give them ‘good ideas’ or the Gospel? Do you encourage them to rely on their own abilities or Jesus? Do you tell them to have a positive mental attitude or to humbly repent and surrender to Jesus? Do you quote popular gurus of the day or Jesus?

17. Proverbs 12:2 – “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns.” You cannot partner with God and expect blessings from Him while you are in disobedience to His word.

18. Proverbs 12:9 – “Better to be lowly and have a servant than to play the great man and lack bread.” Don’t boast of your gifts and talents but rather let them reveal themselves.

19. Proverbs 12:11 – “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter.

20. Proverbs 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” The ability to be humbly self-aware and self-correcting is critical to life success.

21. Proverbs 12:25 – “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Most people are struggling with anxiety. Do your words make them glad?

22. Proverbs 12:26 – “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” A good leader leads people to where they need to go. Christians are leaders who lead people to righteousness because that is where everyone needs to go. But Christians can only lead if they are followers, followers of Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate leader.

23. Proverbs 12:27 – “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” The lazy person has everything they need but refuse to do anything with it.

24. 1 Peter 4:1, 2 — “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” These are powerful verses calling us to do away with self-centered emotions that would impassion us to respond to others from a position of pride, self-righteousness, fear, anger, or judgment. When we have learned how to suffer persecution in love, to “take up our cross,” we have learned to deny self, truly love Jesus, and trust in Him.

25. 1 Peter 4:1-6 — Worldliness and godliness head in two opposite directions. It is impossible to partner with and walk with ungodly people and with Jesus at the same time.

26. 1 Peter 4:7 — “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that is founded on the perspective of your world view, your faith, and your hope. Self-control is not hard when you really believe Jesus is Lord, when you really love Him, and truly desire to please Him. It is about perspective and focus, about what really matters most at the moment of decision, about what is most “real” in your mind, the instant, momentary pleasure of the temptation at hand, or the inevitable consequences. The unseen must be more real to you than what is visible. For example, the person who struggles with a diet craves certain foods. These foods are very appealing, accessible, and pleasurable, and the consequences associated with eating them are inapparent, distant, and questionable – the visible is more powerful than the invisible, and for most people, the visible usually wins. However, some have the ability to focus on the consequences of their actions, perceiving that “the end of all things is at hand.” They are able to focus on what really matters to them rather than instant gratification. What is your focus? Have you ever noticed that when you are extremely busy doing something that really matters to you, you sometimes forget to eat? Likewise, when you are fully committed to serving God with a sense of urgency, many temptations in life become irrelevant.

27. 1 Peter 4:7-11 — End times call for prayer to God and love within the church.

28. 1 Peter 4:8 — “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” If the Bible says, “above all,” then it should be clear that love is your life priority, but not just a casual ‘love’ but “earnest” love which implies significant, sincere intensity. If it is hard for you to sincerely and intensely love others, particularly those who are hard to love, you must “above all” other priorities in your life, search your heart and understand what it is about your relationship with Jesus that is making it hard for you to obey His top command.

29. 1 Peter 4:9-11 — “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

– The Bible tells us to be hospitable without grumbling because the expectation is we will show hospitality to inhospitable people and in such a way that is difficult for us. How should we act while we are being taken advantage of? We should be good stewards of grace (giving people what they don’t deserve); every word that comes out of our mouth should mirror the word of God, and we should serve with all of our might through the special empowerment of God — all this to glorify God.

– We should speak God’s words in love. What you do is essential but not enough. You must proclaim Jesus, clearly, with your actions demonstrating the truth within you.

30. 1 Peter 4:12-15 – “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”

– Suffering is a reason to rejoice.

– Life is hard in this sinful, broken world. And the Bible says to Christians, “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).” Just as Jesus was persecuted by the world, his true followers will also be persecuted from the dark world that hates the light. In this we are to rejoice that we have been afforded the opportunity to “share Christ’s sufferings.” When God called you to proclaim Jesus to the sinful, hateful world, he knew you would get hurt; but in that suffering, He is drawing you closer to Him. However, the Bible also warns that living foolishly only causes pointless, needless suffering. As the saying goes, “Life is hard, but it is harder when you’re stupid.” How much pain in your life is really self-induced? How many times have you heard Christians complain about “attacks from Satan” or “spiritual warfare” when what they are really dealing with are the natural consequences of their own careless behavior? Obedience to the word of God will not take suffering out of your life, but it will remove the self-inflicted pain which is usually our biggest problem. Walk in the light of God’s word that you may live in as much peace as possible.

31. 1 Peter 4:18 – “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” No one deserves salvation. Thank God for grace, and don’t take grace lightly.

32. 1 Peter 4:19 — “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

– It takes faith to suffer and to return good for evil. Do you trust God enough not to vindicate yourself or demand justice for yourself? “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

– It is sometimes hard to do what is right when everyone around you is doing wrong, but obedience is an act of faith and love. Obedience is a commitment to pursue faithfulness out of gratitude and reverence to our “faithful Creator” who hates sin of all kinds. The key to overcoming temptation is not developing greater will power but growing in greater love and appreciation for Jesus. Keep your eye on the prize, and you won’t see anything else.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 Oct 18: Today, show hospitality to others, particularly to the inhospitable by focusing intently on the reality of Jesus and the grace He shows you. When you notice that you don’t feel hospitable, take time to reflect upon that and truly consider what your feelings say about the condition of your heart. Pray for the love of Christ to compel you to greater love. (1 Peter 4:9-11)

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