Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 16 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 30:8, 19, 26 – “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” God’s ultimate aim is to glorify Himself. Everyone will eventually know Him as their Lord and Savior through Jesus or as their ultimate Judge.
2. Ezekiel 31 – God will destroy all pride which is an affront to His Sovereignty and Majesty.
3. Proverbs 16:2 – “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” We tend to believe our own lies about our motives and intent. We often tell ourselves we are doing something for God or for others when we are really being self-serving. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” God knows your heart completely as well as the truth of your motives. Pray that God will reveal your heart to you and give you the strength through the Holy Spirit to turn your selfishness to selflessness.
4. Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” The way to get what you want is to want what God wants. When you are working on God’s plan, your plan cannot fail. It is only when you go your own way and start working for yourself that you have to start worrying. God has given you just enough time, energy, and capability to do what He wants you to do. If you find yourself harried, stressed out and worn out, you are probably doing things God never asked you to do.
5. Proverbs 16:6 — “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” Our iniquity is atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ who displayed perfect sacrificial love for us. We demonstrate our appreciation of the grace we have received by emulating the love and faithfulness of Jesus.
6. Proverbs 16:20 — “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” There gives great blessings to the person who not only will carefully study God’s word but who will also trust God enough to obey His word.
7. Proverbs 16:26 — “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” God knows that a little want is good for you. A life of ease and comfort will ruin a person. Stay hungry and drive on!
8. Proverbs 16:32 — “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” The most difficult battle to fight is the inner battle, the struggle with self. If you have self-control, you are stronger than any warrior. If you can control your emotions in relationships and learn how to engage people in a positive and effective way, you will be a very influential person. Remember, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), not merely a product of human force of will. You can’t overcome self with self alone.
– Proverbs 25:28 — A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
– Acts 24:25 — And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
– 1 Corinthians 7:5 — Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
– 1 Corinthians 7:9 — But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
– 1 Corinthians 9:25 — Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
– Galatians 5:22-24 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
– 1 Timothy 2:9 — likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
– 1 Timothy 2:15 — …continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
– 2 Timothy 1:7 — for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
– 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
– 2 Peter 1:5-8 – “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.
9. John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus died on a cross for sinners, including you. He commanded that those who would follow Him must deny self and take up their cross for others, suffering the sins of others, humbly, as their servant, that they might know Jesus or know Him better.
10. John 13:16, 17 — “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” Jesus, though the Son of God, completely humbled himself and made himself a total servant to those undeserving around Him, even to the one who would betray him. Of Jesus, the Bible says, He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7, 8) The Bible calls us to “Have this mind among ourselves,” and Jesus said that we are blessed, not by knowing what Jesus did, but by DOING what Jesus did. Christ died for sinners; are we better than He, our Master? When we accept God’s mercy and grace for salvation and then demand justice from those who have sinned against us, we are seeking to make ourselves worthier of justice than the Son of God. This must never be considered. How could we possibly demand more rights than Jesus? If He was willing to die for sinners, we certainly must do the same. Have you ever said to someone, “I’m not your servant!”? Christians can never say something like that or think that way. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) Note from the life of Judas that being with God’s people, participating in the activities of God’s people, and fellowshipping with God’s people does not make you a Christian — “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me…. It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” Judas was among the twelve, participating in Jesus’ activities, yet the son of perdition. Yet, Jesus never kicked Judas out of the group or even fired him as the money handler (though Judas stole from the resources). Likewise Jesus does not filter the fake, self-serving, self-righteous ‘Christians’ from the churches. Be certain that you are worshipping Jesus in spirit and in truth. Christians follow Christ in obedience, from the heart, denying self, taking of the cross in relationships, and modelling Jesus sacrificial, selfless love to unloving people.
11. John 13:20 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” You are God’s presence on earth for other people.
12. John 13:33-38 – “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.’”
– Love led Jesus to the cross and then to the Father. Love is willing to die for the beloved. A disciple’s love imitates Christ’s love.
– “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does your radical love for others make it clear to all that you are a follower of Jesus rather than just another person who says that they are a Christian but who acts just like everyone else?
– When you were saved, you were saved into a family, a spiritual family of God’s people, the church. Jesus said that the true church would be recognized by the love shown between its members. This family would be so full of genuine love flowing from the Head, Jesus that the world would have to take notice. Of course how could you expect anything else from the Bride of Christ but remarkable love? Is your community overwhelmed by the remarkable love flowing from your church? Do you have a genuine love for the people in your church, even the obnoxious, immature, annoying people? These are the people that really test your willingness to love which is one of the reasons God commands you to fellowship and worship with them. The quality of your relationships with the people within the family of God reveals much about the quality of your relationship with God – they go hand-in-hand.
– Hebrews 10:25 — Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
13. John 13:37, 38 — “’Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.’” We cannot obey God within our own power; we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. When we start trying to serve God solely from our own knowledge and strength, we will fail. God will use that failure to humble you and remind you to rely on Him. Remember, what God wants you to do is beyond human ability, because He wants to reveal Himself to the world, not reveal you. You can do ALL things, but only THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens you, and only the things God wants you to do through His power. All other ‘things’ are really no things at all, just meaningless efforts of futility, filthy rags no matter how much you declare them good deeds.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Nov 18: Display the same type of mercy, grace, and love to others that Jesus displayed on the cross for you. Deny yourself today, and take up your cross for others. Forgive today the way you want God to forgive you. Don’t try to make yourself better than God by demanding better treatment from others than Jesus did for you. If He, the Son of God, was ready to forgive unconditionally and suffer for sinners, what right do you have to do otherwise? (John 13)