Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 27 March 2022:
Exodus 34:3 — “No one shall come up with you.”
Everyone must develop their own relationship with God.
Exodus 34:6, 7 — “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Pay attention to how God introduces Himself and defines who He is? He is Mercy, Grace, Love, and Faithfulness, but He is equally Justice. He forgives, but He also demands holiness and hold His followers accountable.
Exodus 34:10 — “And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”
God wants to reveal Himself to others through the miraculous things He does in your life.
Exodus 34:11 — “Observe what I command.”
God’s direction for you starts with “Obey me.”
Exodus 34:12 — “Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst.”
Immediately after God commands obedience, He warns against being influenced by the unfaithful, knowing our tendency to compromise for others.
Exodus 34:13 — “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim.”
God tells you that you must make the commitment and the effort to remove temptations in your life.
Exodus 34:16 – …and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.
Your closest relationships must support your process of sanctification.
Exodus 34:21 — “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.”
Rest is required. Mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion makes you vulnerable to spiritual failure. The Sabbath rest has many practical benefits, but the main point is that it is an act of faith and a public, corporate testimony of that faith. Proverbs 3 tells us that we must trust God rather than our own understanding. From a human perspective, the Sabbath is counter-intuitive, particularly during times of extreme need. Tithing, another public and corporate command, is also counter-intuitive. Why would you work less and give away a tenth of what you have when you need so much? Remember, the Israelites were doing this in the desert while surrounded by enemies. The Sabbath command and the command to tithe are acts of commitment that say, “God is the Provider, not me…. God is in control of my future, not me…. God comes first in my life.” Much like the Sabbath rest and tithing, forgiving and giving are also counter-intuitive commands, requiring faith to obey. As the Bible says, without faith, it is impossible to obey God.
Exodus 34:26 — “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God.”
Only bring your best to the Lord. What do you do with the first part of your day? How much of your time in a day is fully dedicated to God? How much of your daily labor is dedicated solely to God’s serving and advancing the Kingdom? What would be a tithe of your time? First, let’s look at your week: There are 168 hours in a week. If you fully rested on the Sabbath, you would have 144 hours remaining in the other six days. One tenth of 144 is 14.4, divided among six days is 2.4 or about 2.5 hours. Could you dedicate 2.5 hours a day to discipleship, evangelism, ministry, fellowship, and worship? If you took you sleeping hours out of the picture, you daily tithe of time would be 1.5 hours. Could you dedicate that? Interestingly, according to the NY Daily News, the average American spends five hours a day watching TV.
Exodus 34:28 — “So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water.”
Isolation and fasting can help your clarity and focus. The first step to following Jesus is getting self out of the way.
Exodus 34:29 — “Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
People will see change in you that you can’t even see in yourself.
Exodus 34:35 — “And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”
Many people will not be ready for all you have to offer, and you might have to filter what is presented based upon the maturity of the audience. You are salt and light, but too much salt can be distasteful and unbearable, and too much light can be too painful to stand. Don’t compromise the truth, but know your audience.
Psalm 36:1-4 – Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.
Today the psalmist considers the heart of the “wicked” person who is more influenced by temptation than by the fear of God and who has convinced himself through self-flattery that his sin is really no big deal. The psalmist describes how sin leads this person down a destructive path where the person ceases to act wisely, loses the ability to discern evil, and makes decisions that only lead to trouble. What is most instructive is how the psalmist ends this psalm – “Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.” (Psalm 36:11-12) The psalmist isn’t just pointing a finger at others but rather humbly praying that God will protect him from the destructive influence of sin and sinful people in his life.
It would be easy to assume the Psalmist merely had someone else in mind when referring to the wicked, particularly after reading Psalm 35 – “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me fight against those who fight against me!” (Psalm 35:1) Similarly, we have a tendency to ascribe to someone else the verses in the Bible that speak to the wicked and foolish, much like when we hear that convicting sermon and regret the person we know who “really needs to hear it” isn’t there; or perhaps we hope the person sitting next to us is paying attention. However, verses such as these are most profitable if we approach them in true humility and ask ourselves how much ‘transgression speaks deep in our hearts.’ (Psalm 36:1) What pet sins might we be holding onto while flattering ourselves with positive affirmations and self-talk about how good we are?
In Psalm 35, the psalmist laments the sinful hearts, thoughts, and deeds of others, but in Psalm 36, as the psalmist continues to contemplate sin, he looks in the mirror and prays for God’s strength against personal sin. Do you?
“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.” (Romans 12:3) We all have a tendency to approach God’s word and approach others arrogantly rather than humbly. Thus, Jesus began His teachings to the disciples with these words — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) The difference between our thoughts and God’s thoughts are infinite, but the distance between our thoughts and those of the person who so deeply offends us aren’t as far as we would like to think they are, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;” (Jeremiah 17:9) and “we see in a mirror dimly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) We all need God’s grace, and having received God’s grace, we are duly obligated to respond to others with grace, returning only goodness for evil (or what we perceive as evil). And chances are, in a given situation, we weren’t as ‘right’ as we thought we are, and they aren’t as ‘wrong.’
“Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me….” (Psalm 36:11) Pride (and self-righteousness) is an ever-present and highly alluring temptation. Hence, Jesus’ words — “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Here are four verses worth meditating on today –
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Romans 12:1 — Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
- Galatians 5:16 — But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
- 1 Corinthians 10:24 — Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
Make today count. You cannot do anything about the past, and you have no idea what tomorrow may bring. Today is your opportunity to trust God, obey God, and glorify God, one decision at a time. Today is your mission field. If you are faithful with just today, God will show you a future for which you never would have planned. Just one faithful moment today could change the course of your life forever. If God puts something on your heart, act on it today; don’t wait until tomorrow. And don’t worry about tomorrow either. God is in control of tomorrow. Faith is trusting God today; hope is trusting God with tomorrow; and love is our goal, our motivation, and our vocation (which means calling).
- Luke 9:62 — Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
- 1 Corinthians 9:10 — Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
- Hebrews 3:13, 15 — But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin…. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
- Luke 5:26 — And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
- Luke 12:28 — But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
- Proverbs 3:28 — Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
- Matthew 6:34 — “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
- James 4:13, 14 — Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
- Ephesians 5:16 – [make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
- Colossians 4:5 — Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Proverbs 27:4 — “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”
Jealousy is worse than anger. Jealousy despises another not because of an offense but because of blessings they have received. Jealousy is purely an internal temptation that reveals an ungrateful heart. Jealousy is outwardly directed at a person but inwardly directed at God who gave someone else something He didn’t give the jealous person, which makes the jealous person resentful. Jealousy reveals a deep relationship problem a person has with God. Treating people poorly out of jealousy only makes the problem worse.
Proverbs 27:23-27 – “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.”
Churches do not spend enough time providing discipling in the Biblical principles of economics. These are very important verses that teach the importance of creating industry rather than simply making money, raising geese that lay golden eggs rather than simply trying to collect golden eggs. Invest in the ability to produce wealth for the long-term rather than just acquiring wealth in the near-term. Have a plan for the future and build upon it daily. The Biblical retirement plan is not storing up riches in barns (which Jesus condemned) but rather creating production capacity that will continue to produce after your primary working years.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 Mar 22: Pray for increased humility and that you would be a faithful ambassador of Christ and messenger of reconciliation.