Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 16 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 21:2 — “Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.” The people who had chosen not to honor God by disobeying Him and living as they pleased actually thought that God would miraculously save them. The response they got from God through Jeremiah was the opposite of what they expected. They were completely oblivious to their enmity with God. Today many claim a special relationship with God while they remain in defiance of His commands. God will not be mocked.
2. Jeremiah 21:14 – “I will punish you according to the fruit of your deeds, declares the Lord.” God holds everyone accountable for their actions.
3. Jeremiah 22:3-6 – “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation. For thus says the Lord concerning the house of the king of Judah: ‘You are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, yet surely I will make you a desert, an uninhabited city.’” Through faith in Jesus, we are credited with the righteousness of Christ, though we did not deserve it. While we were still sinners Christ died for us; we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, through faith, not by our works. The goal of salvation (justification) is sanctification (being conformed to the image of Jesus – Romans 8:29) while we await final glorification through Christ. Through salvation, we are no longer compelled by the law to obey God but rather compelled by the love of God to obey Him, freed from the bondage of sin, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Love produces fruit naturally. Grace does not change the standards and expectations of the Holy and Just God but rather changes our ability and motivation to obey Him. Grace doesn’t remove the consequences of sin, but should change our response to sin through conviction of the Holy Spirit, genuine repentance, and a changed life. Having been justified, God expects us to live justly through love. And as the above verses demonstrate, the truth of our love for God is revealed in how we treat others. Children of God who don’t obey God should anticipate the discipline of their Heavenly Father, not in condemnation but rather in sanctification. “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32) Judge yourself truly that you would not require the Father’s discipline – “But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.”
4. Jeremiah 22:8, 9 – “’Why has the Lord dealt thus with this great city?’ And they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God….’” Again, God will judge those who reject His commands.
5. Jeremiah 22:15 – “Do you think you are a king because you compete in cedar?”
– Your great accomplishments don’t give you any more control or security than you had before. Your fate is completely in God’s hands. God honors those who honor Him.
– What makes a king a king? Is it his personal power? No, a king’s power comes from his legitimate authority. When a single police officer in uniform breaks up a mob of angry men who are physically more powerful than he, he does so by the power of his authority. It by that authority that he remains confident to command, “Stop in the name of the law!” The Bible says, that all authority is established by God. (Romans 13) The Father gave all power and authority to the Son (Mat 28:18) though the Pharisees questioned His authority. (Mat 21:23) Jesus commended the centurion above all others because he understood the power of Jesus’ authority. (Luke 7:8) Calling upon his authority, Jesus commanded us to go throughout the world and make disciples who would obey all of his commands as King of kings (Matt 28:18-20). We are called to live lives of power under the authority of the King as His Kingdom of Priests (Rev 1:6), reigning in life through Jesus. (Romans 5:17) Eternal life and our holy priesthood does not begin when we die, it began the moment we were born again (John 17:3), and the power of God flows through is as nourishment flows through a vine to the branches. (John 15) Jesus said that, under His position of authority, His every word and deed was subject to the authority of the Father. (John 14:10) Likewise, our authority as Christians is subject to the authority of the Father and Son. Let us live lives worthy of our calling. (Ephesians 4:1)
– Romans 5:17 — For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
– 2 Timothy 2:12 — If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
– Revelation 5:10 — You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
6. Jeremiah 22:21, 22 – “I spoke to you in your prosperity, but you said, ‘I will not listen.’ This has been your way from your youth, that you have not obeyed my voice. The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds” Have you stopped to consider that perhaps the customs, traditions, and morality that you grew up with and learned might be very, very far from God’s standards and will? Many spiritual leaders in the world are only following the wind. Only those who are truly following Jesus can really preach what God wants preached.
7. Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
– God shows the truly humble what they cannot see in themselves. God will show you the truth of your heart if you will listen, and God will draw you closer to Him if you will obey.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts. Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10-17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4-8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21-23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8-9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3). Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.
8. Proverbs 16:25 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
– Again, the Bible reminds us that only God can show us the way we should go; we cannot trust in our own understanding. If you are not following Jesus day by day, you are off course and going down a path that leads to death.
From Henry T. Blackaby — Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Rom. 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like a ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matt. 7:13-14). Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105). It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you.
9. 2 Peter 1:1 – “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ….” All who are saved through Christ have equal righteousness and equal access to the power of the Holy Spirit.
10. 2 Peter 1:2 – “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” The more we truly know Jesus, the more we grow in grace and peace.
11. 2 Peter 1:3-9 – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…. so that… you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
– As a Christian, you have everything you need to live a holy and abundant life (2 Pet. 1:3-11). Your intelligence, your education, or your family background do not determine the holiness of your life. Everything you need to live a victorious, joyful, and abundant life is found in the Holy Spirit who resides within you. (Gal. 5:22-23) According to Peter, each Christian, by faith, has access to these qualities: goodness, knowledge of God, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. It would be of no use to inherit a fortune if you did not know it was yours. Likewise, it is of no benefit to inherit everything necessary to become like Christ if you do not claim it. If we continue to lack self-control when God has made it available, we rob ourselves and those around us. If God is willing to instill brotherly kindness into our behavior, but we never display it, people will suffer needlessly as a result. The key to all that God has made available to us is our faith. We must believe that God wants to build these qualities into our lives. In the Gospels, Jesus related to people according to their faith. (Matt. 8:13; 9:29; 15:28) He rewarded genuine faith by granting salvation and healing. If He met unbelief, He did not reward it. (Mark 6:5-6) Review the qualities that Peter said God wants to instill in you. If you lack any of these qualities, ask God to work them into your character, so that you will be more like Christ.
– We don’t obey to be saved. We obey because we have been saved and are being saved.
12. 2 Peter 1:12-15 – “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” God calls us to remind each other to remain obedient.
13. 2 Peter 1:14 – “…since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.” God can show you your future if He wants to. However, God doesn’t show you the future to accommodate your lack of trust in Him.
14. 2 Peter 1:16 – “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Witnesses testify to what they have personally seen or experienced, not what they have heard from others. Your witness to others is a testimony to what Jesus has done in your life and what you have personally grown to know about Him. If you have a hard time sharing your testimony, it may be that your real experience with Jesus is very limited. Don’t just read about Jesus and then try to convince people of what you have read – your heart won’t be in that. Instead, walk with Jesus in faith, watch Him work miraculously in your life, and grow closer and closer to Him in genuine relationship. If you truly experience the power of Jesus and the truth of His word in your life, you won’t have any trouble bearing witness to it.
15. 2 Peter 1:19-21 – “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” All Scripture is the word of God.
16. 2 Peter 1:21 – “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Everybody has an opinion, and many seek to use Biblical proof texts to validate their opinion. The Bible has been used to justify all sorts of thoughts and deeds; it has been used as a self-help book; a business book, and for all sorts of ambitious ends. However, true prophecy comes from the Holy Spirit and draws from God’s word to communicate what God would say on a current situation or matter, always pointing to Jesus; God’s prophet will not add, take away, or conflict with God’s written word but will place it in current context in ways that could not have discerned through mere intellect. God’s message will always be different than what we would have expected because His thoughts are farther from ours than the Heavens are from the earth.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Oct 18: Journal today on how well you personally know the person of Jesus and what you have personally experienced from Him vice what you have merely read about or heard from others. Use this experience as the foundation of your personal testimony, and pray above all other prayers for a deeper, more meaningful personal relationship with Jesus.