Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 19 February 2022:
Genesis 48:18, 19 — “And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.’”
God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His was are not our ways. To understand anything, we must rely on revelation rather than just reason. God gives us reason, which has its purpose, but revelation goes beyond reason to reveal what our small minds could never understand. God gives general revelation through the Bible and Creation to guide us along the path, but He gives special revelation through the Holy Spirit to know how to rightly apply knowledge in particular situations. How did Israel know to contradict tradition and to bless Ephraim over Manasseh, despite Joseph’s protests? Israel was acting on special revelation. The Bible does not tell us how He received that revelation, but it does reveal that Israel had no doubt in the special revelation he received from God. Many people say, “I think God is telling me [this or that].” But one should not assume this is special revelation. When God speaks, there is no doubt He has spoken. There may arise doubt in obedience, but there is no doubt in the message. Don’ t confuse imagination with inspiration. And don’t confuse a “positive mental attitude” with faith. A positive mental attitude places confidence in yourself to bring positive results out of challenging circumstances. Faith trust God, despite yourself and regardless the outcome. It’s not about success; it’s about surrender. It’s not about fortune; it’s about fidelity. It’s not about winning; it’s about worship.
Psalm 19:12, 13 — “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”
In light of this morning’s readings, take a moment to review the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and Luke 6 –
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
- “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
- “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”
- Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
I see these heart conditions described in the Beatitudes (attitudes we should truly be) as both the starting point for growth in Christ and as the way of constant thinking which must shape our character as we are increasingly conformed to the image of Jesus. (Romans 8:29). The spirit of the Beatitudes is reflected in today’s Psalms. This is a humble, contrite spirit that recognizes his/her total inadequacy of self and total dependence on God’s mercy, grace (forgiveness and salvation through faith alone in Christ alone); it is a spirit which relies on Holy Spirit empowerment, revelation, conviction, coaching, and encouragement, while walking confidently in God’s forgiveness, love, and faithfulness. The Psalmist is a blessed, joyful mourner who, with earnest, nagging desire (“hunger and thirst”) for a closer relationship with God, realizes his inadequacy to overcome ‘self,’ and is comforted and satisfied (now, but still not quite yet) by the promise of God’s provision.
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” We rely on the “sharp two-edged sword” of God’s word and the revealing Light of the Holy Spirit to expose our hearts, to strengthen or faith in Christ, and to guide us to greater Christ-like character, while continually reminding us we are ‘declared innocent’ in Christ. However, the Bible warns us not to get out of step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25), quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesian 4:30), resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), or outrage the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:29). “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.” In Luke 6, after the Beatitudes, Jesus declares a few ‘woes’ —
- “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”
- “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.”
- “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”
- “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
We conflict with the Holy Spirit when we get prideful, presumptuous, self-centered, and self-righteous, when we disciples get complacent in our disciplines, when we start to lose perspective on our total reliance on God –
- Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
- 1 Corinthians 10:12 — Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
- 2 Peter 1:3-11 — His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Diligently confirm your calling and election in Christ by practicing godliness revealed in virtue, self-control, steadfastness, brotherly affection, and love, and get all the practice you can. To trust in God’s grace is to walk in God’s grace, by showing your gratitude by honoring Him in obedience to His commandments and by showing grace to others.
Proverbs 19:2 — “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”
A goal without a realistic plan is just a dream. Make rational decisions rather than emotional decisions. Make spirit led decisions rather than decisions based merely upon your limited knowledge, but don’t mistake feelings and emotion for the Spirit’s counsel. The Bible says to test your perceptions of the spirit against the word of God. God will never ask you to go against His written word. If you sense selfishness in your decision, it is not from the spirit.
Proverbs 19:3 – “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.”
Human nature and pride incites us to blame God for our buffoonery and disloyalty rather than taking ownership, accepting responsibility, and aligning our thinking and actions with God’s perfect and unyielding will. There are natural and reliable consequences to obedient or disobedient behavior. The fool rages in his/her folly; the wise fear the Lord and keep His commandments – “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live….” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Proverbs 19:4 – “Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.”
The vast majority of relationships are motivated by selfishness – selfish friends like the way you make them feel or what you do for them. Often people approach God the same way, seeking His blessings rather than Him. What is the motivation behind your relationships with God and others – genuine love is selfless.
Proverbs 19:6 – “Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.”
Many are in love with a concept of a god who always blesses them – a conditional, self-centered religion. This was Satan’s test of Job: “Take away the blessings, and Job will stop loving God, trusting, and obeying God.” Will you love, trust, and obey God no matter what happens to you?
Proverbs 19:9 – “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.”
A false witness offers hope in something other than Jesus. We were not created to be ambassadors of organizations, philosophies, theories, morality, or bright ideas. We were created to be ambassadors of Jesus. People don’t need another self-help program, another positive motivational speaker, or a personal guru. They need Jesus.
Proverbs 19:11 — “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
God expects us to show mercy and grace to people as He has shown us mercy and grace. Mercy is not giving people the punishment they deserve, and grace is giving them the forgiveness they don’t deserve. Do you have good sense?
Proverbs 19:14 – “House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Character is more valuable than riches, and it cannot be transferred from one person to another. It comes from a life that chooses to follow Jesus one day at a time over time. Noble character only comes from God.
Proverbs 19:15 — “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.”
God expects you to be a hard worker. He does not bless laziness.
Proverbs 19:21 — “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
What matters is not what we desire. What matters is that we desire what God purposes. What God purposes will prevail. To be out of synch with God, out of “step” with the Spirit will only cause us heartache and pain. (Galatians 5:25) Again, today’s Proverbs tell us, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.” (Proverbs 19:3) It is folly to get mad about the inevitable consequences incurred by self-induced problems brought about by our own sin, decisions made outside the counsel of the Holy Spirit. So often, Christians chase the consequences of sin, looking for solutions without addressing the root sin itself. Until the sin is addressed, seeking solutions is only working against God. It is folly. This is true for individuals, institutions, and nations. You reap what you sow. We must not get mad at God; we must get right with God. Until then, we labor in vein (and vote in vein).
- “To enjoy the things we ought to enjoy… has the greatest bearing on excellence of character.” (Aristotle)
- Psalm 127:1 — Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
- Philippians 2:15,16 — …be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Proverbs 19:22 – “What is desired in a man is steadfast love.”
Any questions? How rare is it to find a person who is truly loving? This is God’s calling for us, to be that incredibly rare and valuable person of genuine love. When we truly love, we are in fellowship with God – “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
Proverbs 19:23 – “The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied.”
Godly people are satisfied with what God has given them and content. Ungodly people are never satisfied.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 19 Feb 22: Pray Psalm 19 today.