Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 10 April 2022:
Psalm 41:1 – “Blessed is the one who considers the poor!”
Again, give freely! God gave you all, at the expense of His One and Only Son, when you deserved nothing at all, in fact, when you deserved death. How you give displays how you truly feel about what God has given you. It also reveals how much you really trust God to take care of you in the future – “If I give away what little food I have, God may use it to miraculously feed thousands, but what will I eat?”
Psalm 41:9 — “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
Having just read in Mark 14 the story of the Last Supper and Jesus’ betrayal, the similarities with David’s betrayal described in Psalm 41 are not missed: “One of you will betray me – one who is eating with me… one who dips bread into the bowl with me… you will all fall away.” (Mark 14:18, 20, 27) However, David highlights a significant difference between his situation and that of Jesus: David was not innocent. Jesus displayed mercy and grace from a position of perfection and complete holiness. Jesus was the only soul who has ever walked on earth who could have demanded justice for Himself, yet he didn’t for our sake. Conversely, David, in his persecution, recognized that he could not stand simply on justice; he too relied upon forgiveness, mercy, and grace from God – “As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” (Psalm 41:4)
Towards the end of Psalm 41 David says, “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.” (Psalm 41:12) What integrity could the sinner David be talking about? I believe it is the integrity of his honest repentance displayed in Psalm 41:4 and the integrity of his humility before the Lord – David truly acknowledged that he was a sinner who relied totally upon God’s grace for salvation, and David honestly, though not perfectly, sought to please God in love and obedience. David’s integrity was his faith in God’s promises, and his willingness to live by them to the best of his ability –
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
While Jesus certainly had the right in His perfection to demand justice from others, we, total sinners relying totally on God’s grace, certainly do not have the right to demand justice for ourselves from others. Jesus points this out throughout his teachings. He taught us to pray to God, “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us (Luke 11:4);” and His famous parable about the “Unforgiving Servant” in Matthew 18 is a harsh warning to those who would receive God’s grace while refusing to give grace to others — “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35)
To live in integrity is to acknowledge our total dependence on God’s grace and to treat others accordingly. The more we truly understand what God has done for us, the easier it is to treat others graciously.
Psalm 42:2 – “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
Do you thirst for God’s presence? He will not deny you.
Psalm42:4 – “How I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise.”
Are you leading many to God with shouts of praise?
Psalm 42:11 — “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Are you ever doubtful, fearful, or depressed when you know that, through faith, you shouldn’t be? It is comforting to know that the Bible records that all of God’s servants struggle with these feelings and that God understands them. Remember last week when we read in Mark 9 of the man who begged Jesus to heal his son? When Jesus questioned the father’s belief, “the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!’” Perhaps you feel that way sometimes – you have faith but desperately want more complete faith. Be grateful that God knows your limitations and can provide all the strength you need in your weakness. Pray that God will build up your faith and help you in your unbelief.
Proverbs 10:2 — “Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.”
The wicked may gain great treasure on earth but remain spiritually dead, missing the whole point of life on earth.
Proverbs 10:3 — “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”
Godly people are satisfied with what God has provided them, but the ungodly are never satisfied no matter how much they acquire for themselves and no matter how much they proclaim their happiness. Nothing on earth can fill a God-sized void in life.
Proverbs 10:4 — “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
We were created by God to love Him but also to work for Him. We are spiritual, but we were also intentionally created physical and placed in a physical world to translate God’s spiritual reality into the physical reality — “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s first command was to “subdue the earth.” To bring His order into a world of disorder. God provides, but He expects us to work in accordance with His will. His provision is not meant to accommodate our irresponsibility (though in mercy and grace He often does). God’s “natural” principles still apply to us even though God empowers us with the “supernatural.” Decisions have predictable consequences, and actions produce predictable results. A fundamental life principle for everyone is you will reap what you sow. If you want a result in life, you will have to work for it using the abilities God has given you. Christians are responsible, hard workers who pursue excellence in all things.
Proverbs 10:8 — “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.”
Someone once pointed out that “listen” and “silent” are spelled with the same letters. Read God’s word and receive. In prayer, don’t just talk. Listen. Spend less time pondering over what you think and want and more time asking what God thinks and wants.
Proverbs 10:12 — “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
The Greatest Commandment is love. Love and forgiveness are inseparable. Our mission is reconciliation. Forgiveness and reconciliation are inseparable. Resolve to burry all offenses. Cover them over with love and forgiveness.
Proverbs 10:18 — “The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.”
Don’t hide your hatred, and don’t spew your hatred — just don’t hate! Love!
Proverbs 10:22 — “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”
A person can be rich with sorrow, or rich without sorrow. When you are truly walking with Jesus, you are rich and joyful. Your richness and joy won’t be measured by currency.
Proverbs 10:24 — “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.”
The righteous want what God wants and live for what God wants. Therefore, when the righteous ask, they receive because they are only asking for what God wants. If you are frustrated with not getting what you want, you likely have a problem with your “wanter.”
Proverbs 10:25 — “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.”
Everyone goes through the storms of life, but the outcomes are not the same.
Proverbs 10:28 — “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”
Hope is trusting God with the future. God will not disappoint. The wicked trust themselves with the future though they have no control over it. This results in a terrible existence.
Proverbs 10:29 — “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.”
Like the old analogy of the ship and the lighthouse, the Lighthouse does not move for the ship but serves as a beacon of protection. A person will either be guided by the Light or destroyed on the unseen rocks of life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 April 22: Today, trust in grace, rest in grace, walk in grace, display grace, proclaim grace, and give grace that the world may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. Commit to radical, shocking forgiving and giving as an act of worship and celebration. Work on your attitude towards others today. Search your heart for unloving feelings — hatred, animosity, un-forgiveness, resentment, etc. Don’t just keep the peace with others when you don’t have peace in your heart, and don’t blame the offender for your unloving feelings. Change your heart by drawing nearer to Jesus and by employing the “mind of Christ” which you already have available to you (1 Corinthians 2:16). Be “controlled by the love of Christ,” seeing others as Jesus sees them, in need of reconciliation. Forget about yourself and focus on being an Ambassador for Christ to the offender (see 2 Corinthians 5). Burry the offense in love. (Proverbs 10:12, 18)