Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 14 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 26:3, 5, 6 – “I am against you, O Tyre, and will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves…. For I have spoken, declares the Lord God. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
– God will control nations, control nature, control circumstances, and control history to reveal Himself to the world.
– The nation that does not put God first and honor God as God will face the consequences of complete destruction.
2. Ezekiel 27:3 – “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’” Tyre had an extremely high opinion of itself in the midst of being condemned by God. The nation was completely out of touch with what God actually demands. Tyre truly had everything a nation could desire and was the product of the very best efforts people could put forward, but Tyre did not fear God. Because its foundation was ungodly, Tyre fell instantly like a house of cards. No doubt it had its mega-churches, luxurious cities, and mighty armies. Yet, in a blink of an eye, one of the greatest nations on the planet was left in ruins. This is a lesson for us. Our national motto remains, “In God We Trust.” Will America in its strength put its trust in God rather than economics, military strength, and ‘enlightenment’?
3. Proverbs 14:2 – “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” What you do reveals how you really feel about God.
4. Proverbs 14:4 – “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” You have to get your hands dirty to get anything done. Someone has to be willing to do the dirty work.
5. Proverbs 14:8, 15 – “The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving…. The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” Wise people think carefully before they act.
6. Proverbs 14:14 – “The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.” God does not shield Christians from the consequences of their sin.
7. Proverbs 14:26 – “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Only God can protect your family.
8. Proverbs 14:31 – “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” Generosity is an act of worship. The religious acts of the greedy person are unacceptable.
9. John 11:4 — “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Since we cannot understand what God is doing, and since we view circumstances from a self-centered perspective, it is very easy for us to misinterpret what is happening to us and to begin to think that God is neglecting us or punishing us when bad things are happening. It is hard for us the imagine that “bad” things aren’t really “bad” but rather best.
10. John 11:5 — “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”
– In perfect love, Jesus delayed, much to the dismay of those who loved Him. Because of His love, Jesus allowed Martha, Mary, and Lazarus to go through a terrible experience that God would be glorified through it all and also that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus could grow in a deeper, more enlightened, and more meaningful relationship with the Lord. To them, Jesus’ delay may have appeared unloving, but yet they trusted in Him. Had it been up to Mary and Martha, they would have skipped this painful experience and would have missed out on what God had in store for them, but God responded to their pleas in a way that would give them what was best rather than what they desired. From our perspective, the pain of life does not make any sense, but how can we possibly understand what God has in mind: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).” The question is, “How will we respond to painful circumstances, knowing that our perfect, loving Father is in control and has called us to serve as His instrument to Glorify Himself?” Can we be like Job who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”? How will we respond to the circumstances the Lord puts before us today and the days to come? God will answer all of your prayers in a way that is better than you can imagine from your limited perspective. His goal is not to give you blessings. His goal is to bring you closer to Him. We don’t live on blessings, we live on Jesus. Are we prepared to serve as God’s instruments to glorify Himself regardless the personal cost?
11. John 11:14, 15 — “Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’” Again, Jesus wants you to experience whatever you need to experience to know Him better. Trust Him and focus on Him rather than what He can give you. Your life is not about comfort, health, wealth, worldly success, or security; your life is about being one with Him. This is where He desires to take you, and if that is your goal, all things, whether seemingly good or bad, will be good.
12. John 11:21 – “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’” What emotions do you suppose were behind Martha’s words? It takes great faith to trust God in His apparent silence or delay while going through life crisis. It takes great faith to believe in God’s unconditional, perfect love and not to start blaming Him. No doubt Mary and Martha had their doubts, but they maintained hearts responsive to the Lord. They were probably like the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief (Matthew 9:24)!”
13. John 11:25, 26 — “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” If you really believe this, it changes your whole outlook on life and all of your priorities.
14. John 11:27 – “She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” Jesus put Martha through life crisis to take her to the next level, to take her from head knowledge to heart knowledge, to make her faith real by giving her an opportunity to personally experience the Truth of God rather than to just rely upon teachings. Martha was going to see first-hand the power of God in her life; no longer would her faith rely on stories and the testimony of others. She was about to become a true witness. You won’t grow in faith unless you step out in faith, unless you place yourself, or are placed, in situations when you can truly see God work. God will not let you stay where you are in your relationship with Him. You will either step out in faith to truly experience Him, or He will push you out through circumstances that He will orchestrate for your benefit and for His glory.
15. John 11:32, 33 — “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
– How differently do you think Mary, Martha, and Lazarus felt about Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead? But Jesus wasn’t just using this situation to draw those three closer to Him, he was using their situation to bring glory to God before a watching world — “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.” (John 11:45) It takes great faith to believe that God’s delay is always for a greater good, a greater purpose that I cannot understand. But in faith we bring glory to God while He draws us closer and closer to Him.
16. John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.”
– One of the shortest verses in the Bible is one of the most powerful. Through it all, God Himself has great compassion for you because of His perfect love for you. Tied for shortest verse in the Bible is Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always.” These two short verses have much to tell us.
17. John 11:39, 40 – “Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’” Jesus has control over science and nature and uses them to reveal Himself.
18. John 11:41, 42 – “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.’”
– What God does in your life is ultimately not about you but about God and His purpose of reconciliation in the world. God’s ultimate intent is not to give you a better life on earth but to glorify Himself and conform you to Christ-like character. Your goal should be His goal.
– Jesus saw His public prayers as an important testimony to others.
19. John 11:43 — “Lazarus, come out.” The blessings of God always require our instant, willing obedience to His commands.
20. John 11:45, 46 — “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”
– Jesus Christ will always be divisive. Everyone will pick a side, but no one stands in the middle. It is either all about Jesus or not at all about Jesus. Anyone who say’s they are Christian but don’t surrender all to Him are hypocrites.
– Jesus’ incredible miracle divided the crowd, some believed and some didn’t. Miracles cannot change the heart, though many claim their disbelief comes from a lack of evidence of God. Belief is not a knowledge issue, it is a heart issue. However, the chief priests and Pharisees only saw Jesus as a threat to their earthly position (John 11:48).
21. John 11:54 – “Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.”
– Those who reject Jesus will not see Him, experience Him, or have an appreciation for what they are missing. Jesus is with His disciples in obscure locations.
– Had Jesus desired political power or power within the religious institutions, this would have been His opportunity to claim a position of leadership, yet He did the opposite of what most people would do, He withdrew. His goal was to glorify the Father and the Kingdom of God, not to build a kingdom on earth that would help people get the things they wanted that were mere substitutes for God.
22. John 11:57 – “Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.” The religious leaders wanted Jesus arrested. What does this say about the dangers of church politics?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 Nov 18: Today, trust God with your adversity. Instead of viewing it as ‘bad’, consider how God is answering your prayers in a better way to bring you closer to Him. In your adversity, seek Jesus rather than just His blessings. You will receive the ultimate blessing — Him. (John 11)