Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 24 July 21:
Psalm 85:8-13 — I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
God’s word to us is the same word Jesus spoke when He met the disciples after His betrayal and resurrection: “Peace.” (Psalm 85:8; John 20:19, 21, 26) Peace is given by God’s grace and experienced through obedience to God. Accept peace from God and then live at peace with God. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to dishonor the One who saved you and freed you from your sin, and don’t continue to destroy your own peace and joy by continuing in sin. Hebrews 12:1 encourages you to, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And… run with perseverance the race marked out for [you].” Life is challenging enough without the needless burdens of sin. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” God wants you to have the fullness of joy that comes from complete surrender to Jesus and obedience to Him in love.
The psalmist speaks of the requirement of God’s people to obey God in order to appreciate the fullness of his blessings on earth. This reminds me of what Jesus said: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11) As a parent, I want nothing but the very best for my children, but when they don’t listen to my instruction and/or don’t make the effort to do what is right, they suffer needlessly and often cause each other to suffer. Likewise, I can look at my own life and see that most of my problems have been self-induced – they never had to happen. Of course, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, which is why the Psalmist begins by expressing his gratitude for God’s mercy and grace. But as we grow up in the Lord, we must strive to grow in faithfulness. As the Bible reiterates in many places, including today’s verses, love and faithfulness go together. Demonstrate your love by your faithfulness, and walk with God in peace and joy.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 July 21: What sins are you continuing to commit though you know they are wrong? Where do you lack self-control? Remember, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (see Gal 5). Pray that God will convict you and strengthen you to truly repent. If you have been saved, you have been declared righteous once and for all before God through faith in Jesus (imputed righteousness), but now God wants you to grow up in that righteousness and to experience the joy of unity in Him and to glorify Him in your sanctification. Let love and faithfulness meet together in your life and experience the peace you have received by pursuing righteousness:
- 1 Peter 3:18 — For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
- 2 Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- 2 Timothy 3:16 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness….
- Hebrews 12:11 — For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
- James 3:18 — And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- 1 John 2:1 — My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
- 1 John 2:29 — If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
- 1 John 3:7 — Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
- 1 John 3:10 — By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.