Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 11 July 21:
2 Chronicles 26:16 – “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.”
2 Chronicles 25 and 26 tell two stories about two kings, Amaziah and Uzziah, who both honored God at the beginning of their reigns (at least in their actions), who were blessed greatly by God accordingly, who subsequently turned from God in their pride, and who ultimately suffered terrible, humiliating deaths under God’s wrath. In both cases, their worship was self-centered rather than God-centered, a means to an end, a way to get what they wanted rather than to honor and serve God in accordance with His will. Their true motivation respectively was to increase their own glory and power rather than to give God the glory and to acknowledge and depend upon His power as the Sovereign Lord.
- Matthew 6:24 — No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
There is a saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” However, power didn’t corrupt these kings; rather, power merely exposed and magnified what was (or wasn’t) already in their hearts from the beginning – “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.” (2 Chronicles 25:2) By definition, a half-hearted approach to worship and obedience doesn’t honor God as God – “I am the LORD your God…. You shall have no other gods before me…. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Exodus 20:2, 3; Mark 12:30) Partial obedience is disobedience and a divided heart is a polluted well – “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26) As we learn from today’s readings, if we allow the seeds of sin to remain in our hearts, it will take root, grow, and choke out our fruitfulness – “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.” (John 15:2) All sin starts in the heart – above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) –
- Matthew 15:19 — For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
- Romans 12:9 — Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
- Song of Solomon 2:15 — The little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
- Proverbs 6:27 — Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?
Both great crisis and great success are used by God to expose sinfulness within the heart and self-centeredness which is fueled by fear and pride (two sides of the same coin). Subsequently, God freely invites the half-hearted to repentance and reconciliation with Him, never rejecting those with humble and contrite hearts. Both Amaziah and Uzziah were given by God clear opportunities to repent, but they both rejected these opportunities. The results were inevitable. There is an important lesson for us in these stories reinforced by today’s readings from Psalms –
- Psalm 81:7, 8, 10, 11-16 — In distress you called, and I delivered you… I tested you…. Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.
- Acts 17:30 — The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent….
- Romans 2:4 — Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
- 1 Corinthians 15:34 — Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Matthew 3:8 — Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
- Isaiah 55:6 — Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near….
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 July 21: Humbly repent where you know you are not honoring God wholeheartedly, and walk with a renewed commitment and with a confident reliance upon His grace, trusting the Lord to increasingly draw you closer to Him and to conform you to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28, 29).