Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 20 March 2022:
Exodus 27 — Notice how detailed God’s instructions were, requiring very strict obedience. Some things God commands are very specific, and there is no room for interpretation. What would have happened if Noah didn’t strictly obey God’s instructions for building the ark? What happens when you don’t strictly obey God’s specific commands?
Listen to this message on Exodus 26-27 by Jon Courson — https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=2313&rel=courson_jon/Exd
Psalm 32:1 – “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Guilt #Repentance #Confession #Judgment_mercy #Grace #Blessings_curses
Psalm 32 begins and ends with enthusiastic testimony about the blessings of being forgiven by the Lord and cleansed of all iniquity by the Lord’s redemption. (Psalm 32:1, 2)
The psalmist begins his personal testimony by telling of his intense burden of being racked with guilt over hidden sin, which affected him spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically – “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:3, 4) The first step to receiving forgiveness is having genuine remorse for having sinned against God, a good guilt, or “good grief,” which leads to repentance, rather than the destructive, self-centered guilt of self-pity and victimism.
- Psalm 38:4 — For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10 — For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
- Isaiah 66:2 — But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
- Psalm 51:17 — The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
In his guilt, the psalmist repented and confessed His sin to the Lord — “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5) With genuine repentance and confession comes forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes freedom, peace and joy –
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- Psalm 103:12 — As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
- Isaiah 43:25 — I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more….
- Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
However, we must be careful not to use our freedom in forgiveness to drift back into the sins that God abhors and that destroy –
- Galatians 5:1 — For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
- Galatians 5:13, 14 — For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- 1 Peter 2:16 — Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Then the psalmist warns the godly to “offer prayer to [God] at a time when [He] may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.” (Psalm 32:6) The psalmist may have had the great flood of Noah’s day in mind here when he provided this imagery. We must not presume upon God’s grace, delay in repentance, and continue in sin. There comes a time when our opportunity has passed to avoid God’s discipline, punishment and judgment.
- Isaiah 55:6 — “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near….”
Then the psalmist describes two types of people, those who are guided by the spirit and those who are led by the flesh, those who listen to God and those who listen to their own instincts and desires. The psalmist describes those who ignore their conscience (see Romans 1) as animals and warns – “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle…. Many are the sorrows of the wicked….” (Psalm 32:9, 10) Too often we ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which leaves us responding to the consequences of our own bad decisions, like a mule which must be guided by force. How much better is it to listen to the Holy Spirit’s rebuke and to repent than to receive a hundred blows? “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10) Wisdom is being guided by the Holy Spirit and having the internal discipline to obey without requiring external discipline to keep you on track. The key is humility as opposed to pride –
- Psalm 49:20 — Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, is like the beasts that perish.
- Proverbs 11:2 — When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
- Proverbs 29:23 — One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
- Matthew 5:3-10 — “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.”
- Isaiah 2:17 — And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The psalmist concludes, “Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:10, 11) Don’t let anything stand in the way of you experiencing the abundance of joy that comes from receiving God’s forgiveness and walking obediently in His grace.
Psalm 33:5-8 — “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”
God’s spiritual laws are as real and relevant as God’s natural laws (even more real and relevant). An attempt to operate outside God’s natural laws will have obvious and predictable consequences; attempts to operate outside of God’s spiritual laws also has obvious and predictable consequences. Conversely, just as people can harness the power of nature to accomplish amazing things, so can people thrive under God’s spiritual laws. Perhaps through scrapes and bruises you have learned to respect the Law of Gravity. Perhaps through emotional scrapes and bruises God has taught you to respect His spiritual laws too. Today’s readings in Proverbs and Psalm speaks repeatedly on the consequences of sinning against God who establishes the order of things as well as on the blessings the come from living in harmony with God’s word. The Bible really wants us to get the point.
Psalm 33:10-22 – “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”
Personal security and national security depends on fear of the Lord. God will hold all nations and all people accountable to His word.
Psalm 33:17, 18 – “The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Be very careful not to place your hope in anything but God. Everything and everyone on this earth is perishable, unpredictable, questionable, movable, unreliable, etc. Only God is steadfast and wholly (Holy) reliable.
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 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 they really 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 short change 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 our 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 Mar 22: Listen humbly to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confess your sins today, without delay, turn away from evil, and rejoice in your freedom in Christ.