Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, – 25 April 2022:
Leviticus 23:10 – Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest….
Festivals are connected with work cycles and give opportunity to celebrate the fruits of one’s labor and share these fruits with God and God’s people.
Leviticus 23:42, 43 – “You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Living in booths reminded the people of their history experiencing God’s miraculous provision under seemingly impossible circumstances, and it reminded them that both their history and their future was in God’s hands. Living in booths for a week reminded God’s people that they didn’t need many comforts to experience the blessings of God; it brought the people closer together in supporting relationships, and it kept their camping skills up in preparation for crisis. Church communities today should consider annual celebration of the Feast of Booths.
Romans 9:1, 2 — “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.”
Paul loved his people so much that he was willing to confront them with the truth, even at the expense of his relationship with them, even at the expense of his own life. He sought peace – peace between them and God, not peace with them (a truce) while they remained in sin. On the contrary, he was willing to cause conflict in order promote love, true love, love that can only come from fellowship with God. He would rather be hated that they might learn the love of Christ. John the Baptist had the same heart for Herod when he challenged Herod on his adultery. Do you have the heart for those around you to tell them the truth, to call them to repentance in love?
Romans 9:8 — “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”
God has spiritual children on earth but no grandchildren. Spiritual birth is strictly between God and the individual and has nothing to do with earthly heritage. Galatians 3:29 — “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Romans 9:18 – “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”
It is impossible for us to understand what God is doing in the lives of others or who God will draw to His Son. At one point, Paul, still known as Saul, actively persecuted Christians; would you have maintained hope in his salvation at that time, prayed for him earnestly from the heart, and sought opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to him? Or would you have view him as the enemy, seeking ill will towards him? The Bible reminds us that people are not the enemy; Satan who controls them is the enemy. People separated from God are the goal of our mission. Prayer is our primary weapon. It might have been wise to avoid Paul when he was still Saul, but during that time praying for him and remaining prepared to proclaim the Gospel to him in word and deed remained essential. Check your perspective and your heart very carefully when dealing with ungodly people, particularly ungodly people who threaten you in some way. Pray for them with a genuine heart for their reconciliation; and if you find any resentment in your own heart, pray that God will conform your hear to that of Jesus’ who died for those who persecuted Him.
Romans 9:32 – Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone….
Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is also dead. Salvation comes through faith. Obedience is the natural result of faith. Jesus is very clear, those who truly love Him obey Him because they love Him and are compelled to care deeply about what He cares about. Those who love Jesus need not be constrained by the Law. The Law is still valid, reflecting the character and desires of God, but no longer something one struggles over.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 April 22: Today, always speak the truth in love when others need to hear it (Romans 9:1, 2). Remember that you are an ambassador for Christ, and your goal is to bring others to peace with God (reconciliation), not necessarily to keep the peace when sin abounds. Consider the words of Jesus — “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37).”