Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 December 18:
1. Hosea 6:3 – “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord.” Don’t just know ‘about’ Him. Press on with all your being to know Him personally.
2. Hosea 6:6 – “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
– God wants you to truly know Him and love Him, not merely to practice religion and morality.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — No amount of activity for God will ever take the place of a heart that is right with Him. Through the ages God’s people have been persuaded that they could please Him through their service and their offerings, regardless of their heart condition. King Saul offered generous sacrifices, hoping God would overlook his disobedience (1 Sam. 15:22-23). David may have assumed that after all he had done on God’s behalf, God would overlook his sin (2 Sam. 12:7-15). Ananias and Sapphira thought that their generous gift to the church would compensate for their deceitfulness (Acts 5:1-11). Paul was certainly one who had thought his zealousness would please God. After his conversion, however, he concluded that even if he had faith to remove mountains, gave all he had to feed the poor, and offered his body to be burned for the sake of God, and yet had a heart that was not right, it would all be for nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3). We are susceptible to the same misunderstanding as all of these people were. We can be deceived into assuming God is more interested in our activity for Him than He is in the condition of our heart. God has consistently made it clear that He will not be pacified by even the most generous offerings and zealous service if our hearts are not right with Him (Mic. 6:6-8). No matter how much we do in God’s service, regardless of how active we are in our church, no matter how honorable our reputation in the Christian community, He will not overlook a sinful heart. His desire is that we devote ourselves to knowing Him and loving Him with all of our hearts.
3. Hosea 7:3 – “By their evil they make the king glad, and the princes by their treachery.” Sin might please human leaders, but it will not be tolerated by God.
4. Hosea 7:8, 9 – “Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not.”
– Sin ruins people without them realizing it.
– Today also, the church has partnered with the world at the expense of its strength and power. Many Christians and churches have muddied the waters of the Gospel by mixing it with modern philosophy. Many churches have put their faith in business practices and marketing schemes rather than the power of the Gospel. Many Christians and churches have become too busy for the disciplines and relationships of discipleship. Many Christians and churches have turned to talented leaders rather than Spirit-filled leaders who visibly display all the fruits of the spirit. Many Christians and churches have drifted into materialism in pursuit of the American dream. For example, most Christians as well as most churches are in significant financial debt to ungodly worldly institutions to the point where individuals don’t tithe, and churches don’t maintain storehouses to support the congregation and missionaries as they should. Christian families suffer from the same problems as ungodly families, and the Christian community doesn’t stand out as very bright or salty. Too many Christians have lost their peace, joy, courage, purity, and love. Within the church, we need a movement of repentance and revival.
5. Hosea 7:11-13 – “Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense, calling to Egypt, going to Assyria…. Woe to them, for they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me!” Some go to the Lord and trust in the Lord for their security and provision; most go to the world and its systems of government and economy. Those that go to the world will compromise their loyalty and fidelity to God.
6. Hosea 7:14 – “They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds; for grain and wine they gash themselves; they rebel against me.” There is a big difference between being sorry for having to face the consequences of sin (regretting sin because of the pain it causes you) and being truly repentant, regretting sin because of its offensive to God and because of its impact on your relationship with Him. The truly repentant reject sin regardless the earthly consequences because they love the Lord. There is also a big difference between seeking God for His blessings and seeking Him for Him alone. Do you want to know God or just have what He might give you.
7. Proverbs 1:3 — “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Love and faithfulness go together. How much you obey Jesus is evidence of how much you really love Him.
8. Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Trusting in God is a heart issue, not an intellect issue. Trust is formed in relationship.
9. Proverbs 3:5-7 — “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.” Again, we cannot trust in our own feelings or intellect, and wisdom comes only from God. God gives us His word to guide us in His wisdom, and we must dig into it. Without God’s word, we naturally turn back to our own misguided feelings and beliefs. Obey God’s word, and walk with Jesus.
10. Proverbs 3:7, 8 – “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” Sin affects you physically, not just spiritually.
11. Proverbs 3:11-12 — “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” In addition to His word, God uses His discipline to teach us and to grow us. Be thankful for His discipline and grow.
12. Proverbs 3:19 – “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens.” God’s moral law and God’s natural law go hand-in-hand.
13. Proverbs 3:27, 28 – “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.” See a need, meet the need.
14. Revelation 3:1 — “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” The most popular and active church was spiritually dead though the population knew it not.
15. Revelation 3:2 – “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Partial obedience is disobedience.
16. Revelation 3:7-12 – [And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.]
– The church that was viewed as weak by people received praise without rebuke from God. The powerful church remains faithful to God with perseverance in a world of infidelity — “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”
– Some believe this verse means that the faithful will be protected from tribulation, while others believe this verse says Christians will be kept from final judgment, not worldly tribulations.
17. Revelation 3:15-20 — “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” The richest church in the earthly sense was the poorest church in God’s eyes. In partnership with the world, they were half-hearted followers of Christ, which really isn’t following at all. You are either walking with Christ or walking somewhere else. Jesus has no part-time employees; you are either working for Him or against Him. He is either your goal today or you are in pursuit of idols. It’s really that simple.
18. Revelation 3:16 – “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” God does not accept the half-hearted ‘Christian.’ Either Jesus is both your Lord and Savior, or He is neither. There is no partial marriage with Jesus.
19. Revelation 3:17 — “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot…” These are particularly haunting words because the church was blind to its own spiritual condition, believing it was spiritually on fire when, in fact, it was lukewarm and unacceptable to the Lord. Perhaps they wrongly interpreted their financial prosperity as blessings of approval from God. In reality, their comfort only made them complacent. Of note, the only churches that aren’t rebuked by God are the poor and persecuted. It is so very critical that we humbly and continually measure our lives from the plumb line of God’s word while also remaining receptive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the rebukes of other Christians who reveal the truth of our personal ‘blind spots’ – what we can’t or refuse to see in ourselves. To God we should pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23) We should also have the attitude of the Psalmist from our readings this weekend – “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” (Psalm 141:5) The foundation of your integrity is your ability to be honest with yourself about your fidelity to God — humility. Can you handle the truth?
20. Revelation 3:19 – “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Be thankful for God’s discipline as it shows He loves you. Your response should be repentance, surrender, and wholehearted obedience.
21. Revelation 3:22 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Can you hear the Spirit? Only through the counsel of the Spirit can you know what to do in life. Only through the Spirit can you have wisdom. Knowing how to hear the Spirit is critical to your life. To hear the Spirit, you have to truly listen from your heart, desiring God’s will and not your own; you have to walk if faithfulness to what you already know from God’s word, you have to pray without ceasing, and you have to remove the noise of selfishness and sin that keep you from hearing. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 – “Do not quench the Spirit.” Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:3 – “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Galatians 5:25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 Dec 18: Be guided by the Spirit today. (Revelation 3:22)