Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 12 April 21:
- Joshua 24:14 — “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”
A theme that is often repeated in the Bible is that you cannot serve God half-heartedly. By definition, a casual response to God, a lack of “fear,” or reverence, is really to deny Him as God. You cannot be partially committed to God and honor Him as God, and you cannot expect God to honor your partial obedience which is just disobedience and dishonor. Nor can you expect to wander from God and stay close to Him at the same time. Love of God results in obedience. Unity with God requires obedience. Only in God’s presence is there fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Today, Joshua tells the people to stop kidding themselves. Either serve God or stop pretending to serve Him. Joshua tells the people to put away their false gods which they served instead of fully committing to the Almighty, Sovereign Lord. Likewise, we are called to put away our false god of ‘self’ which wars against the sovereignty of God –
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry
- 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
- Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
If we are using “grace” as an excuse to continue in sin, trivializing the blood of Christ which was shed to pay the penalty of those sins, we are in essence denying the Gospel and rejecting the new life in Christ – “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29) “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9) “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
- Joshua 14:14 – Caleb…. wholly followed the Lord.
- 2 Kings 20:3 — “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.”
- 2 Chronicles 19:9 — And he charged them: “Thus you shall do in the fear of the Lord, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart:
- 2 Chronicles 25:2 — And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.
- Psalm 119:2 — Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
- Luke 11:23 — Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
- Proverbs 25:26 — Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
- Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
- 1 Kings 18:21 — And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
- Joshua 24:15 — “Choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Everyone on earth chooses who they will serve, God or an idol. Some will verbally proclaim the Lordship of God and may even back their oaths up with religious activities and good deeds, but in reality, their hearts are not with God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).’”
A person can do “many mighty works” in the name of God and still lack a saving faith. Also, born-again Christians can drift comfortably out of fellowship with God, replacing sound theology with a self-centered me-ology that plays by the religious “rules” and uses “good works” to legitimize to themselves and to others what has been termed “approbation lust” – the desire to be recognized, to promote oneself.
The desire for recognition or approval can become a powerful, all-encompassing motivator in life that can cause us to do our will for self-glorification while claiming, even convincing ourselves, we are doing the will of God. We can do “right” things for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way. Only you and God know what motivation is behind your daily actions. Pray that God will continually incline your heart more and more toward Him and less and less toward self. Examine yourself. Whenever you hear yourself saying or thinking “I”, ask yourself if that “I” is not short for “idol.”
- Isaiah 10:15 — Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
- Luke 18:14 — I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Romans 15:18 — For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed,
- Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
- Jeremiah 9:23 — Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,
- Proverbs 27:2 — Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
- 1 Corinthians 4:7 — For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
- 2 Corinthians 11:30 — If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- 1 Timothy 6:10 — For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
- Mark 8:35 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
- Read 2 Timothy 3 about the powerless form of religion vs. the true religion.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 Apr 21: Seek to serve God whole-heartedly today. Examine the motives behind your thoughts, words and deeds today. Are you really serving God or something or someone else? Pray that God will renew in you an undivided heart.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 — Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!