Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 15 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 28:2 — “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods….'” When pride causes us to trust in ourselves or anything else rather than God, we face judgment. When a nation thinks they don’t need God anymore, it’s end is near.
2. Ezekiel 28:16 – “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned.” When you do business with the world for the sake of personal gain, you lose your holiness and step outside of the Lord’s protection.
3. Ezekiel 28:17 – “You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.” Foolishness is serving self rather than God. Foolishness chooses riches over righteousness. Foolishness seeks praise rather than seeking to be praiseworthy. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
4. Ezekiel 29:6 — “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD.” God will prove His Sovereignty to all nations. God’s will is to glorify Himself. People and nations are either with Him or against Him.
5. Proverbs 15:8, 9 – “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.”
– God is not interested in the religious activities of those who are merely seeking blessings for themselves with no real desire to serve and obey God wholeheartedly.
– Everything comes from God, belongs to God, and is controlled by God. Man’s self-confidence and self-reliance are an illusion.
6. Proverbs 15:16, 17 – “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” You cannot get for yourself anything better than what God intended for you. When you are committed to walking with the Lord, He will give you what is best for you rather than what you want; but God often gives the unfaithful what they want, along with the consequences, as a form of discipline or judgment. It is hard when God tears down your idols in order to remove your distractions from Him, but it is devastating when God turns someone over to their idols. If you choose to pursue what you want instead of what God intends, you will only find sorrow and unfulfillment.
7. Proverbs 15:24 – “The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.” Everyone is either on the right path or the wrong one. Only one path leads to God, and it is “narrow.” Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” No one gets to God but through Him. The Jesus path is the only path. If you don’t really believe that, you not only have no witness, the Bible says to are an anti-Christ.
8. John 12:3-8 — “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.’” God sees beyond words and deeds, judging the motives and the hearts of people. Judas claimed concern for the poor for selfish reasons. From his selfish, unloving position, he criticized Mary’s act of worship as impractical and wasteful. However, Jesus understood the intentions of her heart, to worship him. When Jesus says to Judas, “the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me,” I think he is saying much more than just “you can take care of the poor later.” I think he is saying that the poor remain, not because a lack of resources, but rather because a lack of love, love first for God and then for others. Mary understood that love starts with God and flows from God. We have no real love to give others unless we are abiding in Christ, and the love of Christ is flowing through us. Many people give to charities, not to love God and others, but rather to feel righteous or to get some sort of credit. How many charities have you seen named after a person rather than named to glorify God who provides everything? These self-centered philanthropic activities do provide some relief to people in need, but not only does the self-centered giver remain without “credit” from God, but these superficial efforts fail to address the root cause of the issues causing the need – sin. The heart of man’s problem is the problem with man’s heart.
– 1 Samuel 16:7 — But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
– 2 Chronicles 6:30 — then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind,
– Proverbs 21:2 — Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
– Isaiah 29:12-14 — And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read. And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
– Jeremiah 11:20 — But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.
– Matthew 15:19 — For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
– Mark 7:21 — For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
– Romans 10:10 — For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
– 1 Corinthians 4:5 — Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
– 2 Corinthians 5:12 — We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart.
– Ephesians 6:5-7 — Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,
– Hebrews 4:12 — For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
– Hebrews 10:16 — “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
9. John 12:4-11, 13 — “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it…. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
– Many, many people are involved in “Christian” ministry for selfish reasons, even though they quite often have not admitted it to themselves. For this reason, C.S. Lewis advised friends to not make ministry a source of livelihood. Be certain that your acts of ministry are in no way motivated by selfishness such as a desire to feel good about yourself, to feel righteous, or to be noticed by others. Only God truly understands your motives because you even deceive yourself; but with humility, God can show you where you are not motivated by love alone.
– Selfish interests often blind us to God’s interests.
10. John 12:26 — “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
– Jesus did not live life for himself, asking God to bless him along his personal journey. Rather, Jesus lived only for the Father’s desires, plan, and will. Jesus did nothing unless the Father directly commanded him, and everything the Father commanded, He did. In Today’s readings we see that every single word that came out of Jesus’ mouth was commanded to him by the Father (John 12:49). This obedience was exemplified by Jesus at a very young age – “‘Why were you searching for me?’ he asked. ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’” If God is God (of course He is), and we are called to serve and glorify Him (as we are), and glorifying God is the purpose of our existence (which it is), how could we do anything but what the Father desires. Jesus was the perfect example, and commanded us to follow him as a faithful servant. So, what else in this world matters? However, today we read in both Ezekiel and John that pride gets in the way of our fidelity to the Lord. As described in Ezekiel, when we pursue our own paths for our own purposes and our own desires, we are putting ourselves before God and, in fact, calling ourselves god (Ezekiel 28:1-5). This self-worship is idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and putting a Christian spin on it does not change the truth of it. The Pharisees and those that followed them proclaimed their faith in God while they in fact refused to follow Jesus because they “loved praise from men more than praise from God (John 12:43).” Jesus warned that we cannot serve two masters. We are either about our Father’s business or pursuing the American dream. What is driving your actions today? What will you do today, what you think is best or what the Father has commanded? Whose words will you speak today, yours for the Father’s? In what will you place your trust, God or the economy and your job security? What will you fear today, God or man? What would happen if today we all boldly followed Christ in deed and no one or nothing else? See you on the battlefield.
– Many will talk about Jesus, but few will follow Him.
– Read this verse to know whether or not God will honor you.
11. John 12:37 – “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him….” Miracles do not lead to faith.
12. John 12:41 – “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.” Real prophets point to Jesus.
13. John 12:47-50 — “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
– Sinners are judged by the Father, not by the messenger who testifies to the truth of God’s word and reveals sin through his testimony. Our job is to proclaim the truth, and we MUST point out sin and the need for salvation through Jesus Christ alone. The Father does the judging.
– Many struggle with how to reconcile these verses with the following: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:22, 23) Also, consider John 9:39 – “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’” Christ came to bring salvation and restoration, to “proclaim the truth.” The Truth will stand as witness against all who reject His message when he returns to judge the living and the dead on the last day. This is better understood when we consider John 3:16 in context: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 Nov 18: Make your goal today to humbly serve Jesus and others today rather than yourself. Try to do nothing for personal gain. (John 12:6; Ezekiel 28)