Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 25 May 21:
1 Kings 6:11-13 — “Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, ‘Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.’”
- Abide (v): 1) to dwell, to stay, to be present, to sojourn. 2) to endure without yielding, to accept without objection.
God abides among those who abide in Him, and His presence is revealed through the love and obedience of those who are with Him. God’s presence is manifested by transformed lives, not by a building or by ceremonial acts of worship. While Solomon was focused on the work of building the Temple, God was focused only on loving obedience to Him – “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Religious activities and gestures are meaningless compared to obedience produced as the natural fruit of love.
- Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
- 1 Samuel 15:22-23 — And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.
Obedience is not the path to salvation; it is the product of salvation and the fruit of sanctification. We are “saved through faith. And this is not [our] own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 8:9) And today’s readings from 2 Corinthians 3 point out that we can walk in confidence because our “sufficiency is from God” through Christ, not from our own merit or efforts. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) Not only is our salvation from God and not of ourselves, so also is our sanctification – “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) Grace and the power of the Holy Spirit enable our love and obedience, which is the evidence, the natural fruit of our salvation – “Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations….” (Romans 1:5)
We can only love God (and others) because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not merely human effort (Galatians 5:22), but as we have said before, we must be careful not to grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit, or get out of step with the Spirit through disobedience. (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Galatians 5:25) When we do, we essentially distance ourselves from the Lord. A person can’t walk with God and go their own way at the same time.
- Galatians 5:7 — You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John added, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Love makes obedience easy, natural. Jesus also said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-39) We primarily fulfill the great and first commandment of loving God through the second great commandment of loving others – “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20, 21) God “dwells” where love abides in the “temple” of the faithful disciple:
- 1 John 4:11, 12, 16 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- John 15:1-17 — 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) Have you ever been in the same room with someone but still felt very “distant” from them due to a disagreement with them? Though God’s Spirit dwells in the believer, unrepented sin can stifle the relationship and effective communication with Him. “When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” (Isaiah 1:15) “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” (John 9:31) “Live… so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) Don’t let disobedience distance you from God. James says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8) “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
- 1 John 3:24 — Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
- John 14:23 — Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
- Proverbs 28:9 — If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
- 1 Peter 3:7 — Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 May 21: Today, confess and repent of sins which are stifling your relationship with God. Pray that God will reveal areas in your life that need to be purified which are currently blind spots for you. All the while, walk in confidence and boldness in Christ, whose grace is sufficient for you.