Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 20 February 2022:
See this class given by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul explaining Jacob’s blessings to His sons — https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/themes-from-genesis/jacobs-blessing
Psalm 20:9; Psalm 21:13 — O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call…. Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Trust and Praise. Psalm 20 and 21 remind us to trust the Lord and Praise Him both in “the day of trouble” (Psalm 20:1) and when He gives us our “heart’s desire.” (Psalm 21:2) Romans 8:28, 29 says, “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” In perfect, unfailing love, God uses both good times and bad times to reveal Himself to us more and more, to draw us increasingly closer to Him, to reveal Himself to others through our lives, to conform us to the image of His Son, and to ready us for good works which He has prepared for us in advance, that we would be instruments and messengers of His grace to others.
“Now I know that the Lord saves…. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” (Psalm 20:7, 8) Through trials, God teaches us to rely on His strength rather than our own, and He further reveals His sovereignty, love, and faithfulness. “You… have not withheld the request of his lips.” (Psalm 21:2). When God blesses us, we are further reminded of His love and grace but also refreshed in spirit, renewed in joy, and strengthened in faith.
The key, whether facing bad times or good times, is to continually draw closer to God, not further away, continually praising Him. In Proverbs, Agur prays, “Two things I ask of you… give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” We must guard our hearts against pride and presumption, which can cause us to become complacent (crass and smug) during good times and callous in bad times, hindering our relationship with God.
Certainly Christians can rest upon the assurance of God’s saving grace and trust the benevolence of his common grace (what He provides or prevents), but we must be cautious not to become so accustomed to grace we are no longer amazed by grace and then start demanding grace as if it were our entitlement, losing sight of the holiness and sovereignty of God. As the old Scottish prayer goes, “May God grant us grace to feel our need of grace, then… the grace to be grateful.” Perhaps our gratitude for grace is best revealed by how we show grace and proclaim grace to others.
In all circumstances trust and praise God.
- Psalm 34:1-4 — I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 — Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Philippians 4:4-9 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- 2 Peter 3:18 — But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
- 2 Corinthians 9:8 — And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
How does the Bible describe alcohol? The Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol, just drinking in excess. However, the Bible gives us a higher calling to “walk” in love and not to do anything that would cause another to stumble — “If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love…. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…. it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble…. (Romans 14:13-23).” America has an alcohol problem, and many people around you struggle with alcohol. Is your employment of your freedom to drink alcohol normalizing or promoting a behavior that leads others astray? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.
Proverbs 20:2 – “The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.”
If you become an enemy of the state, which at times might be required, it will most likely cost you dearly. The Bible warns us to be very careful to submit to ruling authorities whenever possible. When it is not possible, either leave or expect great persecution.
Proverbs 20:3 – “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
If you find yourself in a quarrel, whether you started it or not, you are being foolish. It takes two to tango. Never wrestle with a pig in the mud because you both get dirty, and the pig likes it. If you chase to the poisonous snake that bit you, the poison only goes more quickly to your heart. In a game of chicken between two drivers, the one with the nicest car loses. Any more analogies required to make the point?
Don’t be a fool and get involved in quarrelling. Have you ever, through sound wisdom and gifted speech convinced a fool of anything? Fools are people who refuse to hear and learn, who are controlled by emotions and passion. Stay away from pointless arguments that only distract people from the Gospel. You are an ambassador for Christ, not for good ideas, current standards of morality, social customs, or politics. Proclaim Jesus and stay above the fray. Remember, being ‘right’ is not nearly as important as being loving.
You only dishonor God and yourself (His ambassador) when you fight with others. A Christian should never quarrel. If you fight with others, you are seeing your own selfishness and self-centeredness being revealed. It is hard to defend yourself when you are dead, dead to self, crucified with Christ. Don’t convince yourself that you are only expressing “righteous anger,” unless you get absolutely nothing out of winning, and only Jesus is glorified.
Proverbs 20:4 – “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”
Everything that matters in life is subject to the Principle of the Farm—you reap what you sow. You don’t get stronger, wiser, richer, more skilled, and more Christ-like unless you are willing to work hard every day for a future harvest. People always overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime. Spend every day working your personal life farm in order of priority. If you aren’t first investing in Bible study and prayer, your priorities are out of order, and you will not end with the harvest you desired. There are no shortcuts on a farm. You get what you put into it. Successful people are willing to make the daily sacrifices unsuccessful people aren’t willing to make in order to have a long-term payoff. What you do today determines your future; you won’t get today back, and you can’t make up for what you failed to do in the past. Make the most of today.
Proverbs 20:5 – “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Only God knows the truth of another man’s heart, but with wisdom, we can have a better understanding of the motives behind another man’s actions. Understand what a person really cares about, what is at the center of his life, and what is the primary source of his motivation, and you can predict very accurately what he will say and do in any situation. And you can discern if the path he is on is taking him to where he really needs to go, which is closer to Jesus. Most people are unconsciously and subtly deceptive (to themselves and others) in their words and behavior, saying, displaying, and often doing things that they don’t really mean — smiling when inside they are upset, asking others how they are doing when really they don’t care, saying they want to do something when they really don’t, or saying they don’t want to do something when they really do. Many communicate deception because in their hearts they believe the truth is unacceptable. It takes patient discernment to see beyond the façade or masks people wear to understand the deep waters of a person’s heart, and ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can show you something about a person that is impossible for you to see through human discernment. So, the first step is to pray for Holy Spirit enabled discernment and to love others enough to move past the superficial.
Proverbs 20:6 — “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?”
Your faithfulness is your most valuable asset. Truly faithful people are a very rare commodity. The proof of love is faithfulness. The mark of character is faithfulness. Faithfulness is the anticipated response to grace – “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” (Acts 11:23) Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, not a natural human endowment — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness….” (Galatians 5:22) The New Testament says that faithfulness is best expressed by those who not only remain obedient to God’s word but also teach God’s word to others — “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able t)o teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) After all, this is our Great Commission. Faithfulness is a requirement of God’s people – “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) How God uses us and grows us in life depends on our faithfulness – “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’” (Luke 19:17) But our infidelity never nullifies God’s fidelity – “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” (Romans 3:3) As Ambassadors for Christ, we should never let the infidelity of others affect our fidelity to God or to them.
Additional verses about faithfulness — https://esv.literalword.com/?q=Genesis+24%3A49%3B+Numbers+12%3A6-8%3B+Deuteronomy+28%3A1%3B+Joshua+24%3A14%3B+1+Samuel+2%3A9%3B+1+Samuel+12%3A24%3B+Psalm+25%3A10%3B+Psalm+31%3A23%3B+Psalm+37%3A3%3B+Psalm+85%3A10%3B+Psalm+119%3A30%3B+Proverbs+3%3A3%3B+Proverbs+12%3A22%3B+Proverbs+16%3A6%3B+Proverbs+20%3A28%3B+Proverbs+28%3A20%3B+Matthew+23%3A23%3B+Matthew+25%3A21%3B+Luke+16%3A10%3B+Acts+11%3A23%3B+1+Corinthians+4%3A2%3B+1+Corinthians+4%3A17%3B+Galatians+5%3A22%3B+Colossians+1%3A2%3B+1+Timothy+3%3A11%3B+2+Timothy+2%3A2%3B+2+Timothy+2%3A13%3B+Hebrews+3%3A5%3B+Revelation+2%3A10%3A+Revelation+17%3A14%3A+Revelation+19%3A11
Proverbs 20:7 – “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
The best thing a parent can do for their children is obey God and display for them the unmerited, sacrificial, unconditional love of Christ.
Proverbs 20:9 — “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?”
One of the most important attributes of a successful person is the ability to be humbly self-aware, to look introspectively through the light of the Spirit and identify their own weaknesses. Many, many, many people can’t see themselves, living in prideful denial, walking day-to-day with blinders on. Pride is the worse form of blindness. If you ever catch yourself proclaiming your best attributes, repent, and return to humility. If you catch yourself comparing your ‘righteousness’ to that of another person, repent, and return to humility.
The humble Christian who recognizes their own sin and their need for mercy, grace, and forgiveness from God through Jesus, finds it easy to forgive others. It is false pride that makes forgiveness hard. Stay humble, and be patient with others. You have problems with sin too. If you are closer to Jesus than they are (and you don’t really know), then your job is to show them how to get closer to Him, not to push them further away by your words and behavior.
Proverbs 20:10 – “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
Don’t cheat people in your business dealings, but more importantly, don’t shortchange people in your evangelism. Don’t value one person more than another when both souls are equally valuable to God, and don’t consider yourself worthy of grace and others deserving of justice when you rely on grace just as much as they do.
Proverbs 20:11 – “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”
Everyone tries to put their best foot forward, but inevitably, your actions will reveal the truth of your heart. Our true character is eventually revealed by our habitual actions. What is in the well comes out in the bucket. What you do reveals what you really believe.
Proverbs 20:12 – “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.”
Do you have to believe it to see it? Your eyes and ears can be deceiving and can how your heart interprets the inputs it does receive. Which is wiser, to trust your ears and eyes or the One who created them? Wisdom is submitting yourself to your Creator to do what He actually created you to do. You can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, but at best, it would be only mildly entertaining for a moment and ultimately pointless. Many live their lives like a circus act, accomplishing pointless feats. Learn to see things from God’s perspective and to walk in daily obedience.
Proverbs 20:14 — “’Bad, bad,’ says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts.”
God’s economy does not allow for a person gaining wealth at the expense of another. There is a way to gain wealth while genuinely adding value to others. When you do things God’s way, you earn your wages in ways that give more than you get. Others get more than what they paid for. This brings glory to your God.
Proverbs 20:15 – “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”
Everyone is talking, but few have anything of value to say. Few people truly speak wisdom, and truly wise people use words most sparingly.
Proverbs 20:16 — “Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.”
God wants us to protect others from themselves when we can.
Proverbs 20:17 – “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.”
Dishonest gain only undermines the development of your ability to produce honestly and to become self-sufficient. It is like getting a hand-out but worse because it cost you your integrity, which is worth more than gold. Productivity is a character trait; dishonest gain robs you of your productivity and character. Dishonest gain is not just stealing; it can also be getting a job you never should have really had, getting paid to do work that doesn’t really add value, or getting paid when you aren’t really working at all. You know if you are being productive or not, but God knows even better.
Proverbs 20:21 — “An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.”
Comments on Proverbs 20:17 apply here also.
Proverbs 20:22 — “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.”
When someone hurts you, is your first thought is to get back at them? Do you look at the situation selfishly and with a prideful spirit? In the heat of the moment, do you forget that God knows exactly what is going on and has allowed the offense in question to occur for purposes you cannot understand? Your responsibility is to glorify God in your response (response-able-ty), trusting Him to honor your obedience. Do you tend to demand “justice” upon others who have offended you because you have forgotten your complete guilt and dependence on God’s grace? It is when you think of yourself as “good,” wise, and innocent that you tend respond to others inappropriately. However, it is when you have been humbled by the Lord that you tend to be more loving and forgiving toward others. This was the case with David. When he felt honorable, he tended to inappropriately defend his own honor. However, after he had sinned terribly with Bathsheba, he had not the heart to defend himself, recognizing in humility the true state of his unrighteousness – see 2 Samuel 16. I pray the God will continue to strengthen my faith that I might trust Him with my defense rather than sinning in pride.
It is not our place to get even, play tit for tat, or to settle the score. We are called to return good for evil, to bless those who curse us, and to take up our cross in all relationships. Yes, this is extremely difficult, unless the Cross of Christ is a true reality in our hearts. Nothing we suffer in our forgiveness of others will come close in comparison to what Jesus suffered in forgiveness of us. When you offer mercy, grace, peace, and love to others in the midst of persecution, you are in fellowship with Jesus, drawing closer to Him. It is quite an honor God have given you. Can you see restraint as an act of strength rather than an act of weakness?
When offended by others, you can only handle mercy and grace, not justice. Only God can handle justice because only God is just, and you will likely ere in your favor. Never try to seek justice for yourself against others. When offended, show mercy and grace as shown you by/through Jesus, and leave it to God to settle the score. If you try to be the judge in your own self-defense, you will likely sin.
Proverbs 20:24 – “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”
Trust the path of your life to the LORD and focus on obedience
Proverbs 20:27 – “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.”
You cannot be adequately self-aware, self-controlled, or self-disciplined apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. This should make sense to you: if self is the problem, self can’t fix the problem. You need a power that is beyond self, a power that can see what you can’t see and control what you cannot control. You need something beyond your limited natural abilities, you need the supernatural. Today’s culture promotes humanism, the notion that humans are the answer to human problems. Secular humanistic concepts have crept into the church, and many churches seek to validate these concepts by attaching out-of-context scripture verses to them. Yes, it is important for Christians to be self-aware and self-controlled, but the Bible is clear that only through the Holy Spirit can this be achieved. See Galatians 5. The Bible says that we should constantly have within our decision-making calculus three awarenesses — awareness of God, awareness of self, and awareness of others. We can only have true awareness of all three as God enables. If we seek awareness of these three merely from our own intellect, we will be deceived and constantly in error. You will read many Bible verses this year which will clarify this point.
Proverbs 20:27 – “The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.”
Man was created with spirit, soul, mind, and body. The soul is our psychology and emotions, but the spirit is our connection with God, God’s spirit within us. Those without Christ have physical life, with a body, mind, and even soul, but they are spiritually dead. Those who are born again in Jesus obtain spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit is within them. They are no longer just smarter animals, they are spiritual beings.
Proverbs 20:28 – “Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.”
Leadership is all about relationships, having a right relationship with Jesus and then influencing others to seek Jesus more and more. Leaders know the way and show the way. Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Show people Jesus.
Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
Strength fades away, but character endures.
Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
Building physical strength is a daily effort that is hard but has value. However, that daily investment eventually dwindles with age. However, character and wisdom development are also a daily effort of great value, but the investment isn’t lost with age. Unfortunately, many spend their early years neglecting their spiritual strength only to end up weak in their older years when they need that strength the most.
Proverbs 20:30 – “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
Some people can only learn the hard way.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 20 Feb 22: Reflect upon God’s grace today, be amazed, sing His praises, and show grace to all in His Name!