Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 1 May 2022:
Listen to this message from Dr. J. Vernon McGee on Numbers 2 –
Psalm 50:7-9. 16, 17, 23 — “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God. I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds…. What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you…. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
You cannot remain in right fellowship with God while sin remains, and you cannot expect God to honor your prayers and worship while you continue to dishonor Him. I read this story about Norman Vincent Peale: “When Peale was a boy, he found a big, black cigar, slipped into an alley, and lit it up. When he saw his father approaching, he quickly put the cigar behind his back and tried to act casual. Desperate to divert his father’s attention, Norman pointed to a billboard advertising the circus. “Can I go, Dad? Please, let’s go when it comes to town.” His father’s reply taught Norman a lesson he never forgot. “Son,” he answered quietly but firmly, “I learned long ago never to approach my Father with a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience.” In today’s readings, Psalm 50 gives God’s perspective on the disobedience of His people. In Psalm 51, David gives us a model of repentance as he pleads with God to “restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12).” David understood God’s perspective: “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:16, 17).” While through Christ we have eternal fellowship with God (Romans 8:38, 39), our sins hinder our temporal fellowship with Him (1 Corinthians 3:3). Daily we must practice 1 John 1:9:
- 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.
Psalm 50:14 — “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.”
Your daily attitude and actions are your worship to God more than your religious activities.
Psalm 50:16-18 — “But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers’.”
Studying, memorizing and reciting the Bible is pointless if you aren’t intent on living the words of God with the desire of unifying with God in love. A true Christian will walk the talk. Some false Christians can be very deceptive in their religious speech, perhaps even deceiving themselves. Beyond our words, our attitudes, choices, and deeds often reveal the truth of what is in our hearts. But “good deeds” are nothing but “filthy rags” if not done from a heart of selfless, genuine love for God. Sometimes people will use religious activity, charitable activity, and Bible knowledge to conceal or attempt to compensate for a wicked, self-centered heart. Sometimes people will justify to themselves their self-centered behavior by claiming it to be acts of “service.” But virtue only comes from a truly virtuous, selfless heart, which is only possible through the Holy spirit, available only by God’s grace, a gift which is received, not acheived. Everything else is a façade. God always knows the difference between genuine selflessness and disguised selfishness, and usually other people figure it out over time. Watch out for the Christian that frequently uses the words “I” and “me.” Check yourself too. Why do you do what you do? Honestly, is it for you or only for Him? In honesty, we can all say that our motives are mixed – there is always a bit of selfishness in there, but recognizing, acknowledging, and addressing that with the Lord is key – it is humility. None of us are perfected in love, but we must genuine love our endeavor.
Psalm 50:18 — “If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.”
Contrary to popular misinterpretations of the Bible, Jesus did not ‘hang out’ with unrepentant sinners, and He doesn’t want you to compromise your company either. He certainly engaged and challenged the unrepentant sinner (in love), but He fellowshipped with those who sought Him. Jesus ate with the repentant sinners and tax collectors, those sinners who sought a right relationship with Him, though very imperfectly. Who do you prefer to hang out with? How often do you talk about Jesus in regular conversation with your good friends? What you discuss with your close friends says much about the foundation of your friendship.
Psalm 50:21 — “These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.”
God’s apparent silence before your sin does not signal His indifference or acceptance. He will hold you accountable. God will not be mocked.
Psalm 50:22 — “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!”
When you choose to sin, you have forgotten or disregarded God in that moment. You have defied the KING. You have committed cosmic treason. Fortunately, God’s fidelity does not depend on our fidelity, and His love is not limited by the limits of our love, but in our reliance on and confidence in grace, we must not lose perspective on the seriousness of sin; we must not take grieving the Spirit lightly. Our love and appreciation for Christ should make sin horrific to us.
Psalm 50:23 — “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
Are you living out thanksgiving? A thankful heart is an obedient heart. Obedience is a demonstration of gratitude, love, and an act of worship.
Psalm 51:1-9 – When we understand the difference between who God is and who we aren’t, when we have a glimpse of the gravity of our sin in defiance of the Almighty, we approach God in complete humility, acknowledge our complete reliance on His mercy and grace, and respond to other sinners accordingly.
Psalm 51:10 — “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”
When your goal in life is to be right with God and close to Him, you are on the right path, and He will not deny you your desires. Considering the comments above on character development, notice that the psalmist recognizes that he cannot fix his own heart, only God can create a clean heart and renew a right spirit.
Psalm 51:13 — “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.”
A person who truly has been saved has a natural passion for telling others how to be saved too. It is not a hard thing to get people to talk about what they care most about.
Psalm 51:17 — “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
God seeks genuine, humble love. Unlike our human relationships, you can’t mask your true feelings with God. He knows the truth of you, your motives, desires, and emotions. Walk with the Spirit as He searches your heart.
Proverbs 1:5 – “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Everyone needs to continue to study, meditate upon, and apply God’s word.
Proverbs 1:7 — “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The Christian honors God as GOD and treats God’s written word accordingly, living by that word.
Proverbs 1:8 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”
God intended for every child to have both a father and mother to instruct them in God’s word and ways. Where this is not possible, God’s people are called to support the single parent.
The Christian honors all God-ordained earthly authorities, in family, in church, and in government. Even Jesus honored his mother’s trivial request to turn water into wine.
Proverbs 1:15 — “My son, do not walk in the way with them.”
The Christian does not partner with those who are living life for themselves rather than God.
Proverbs 1:20 – “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice.”
The truth is “self-evident” for anyone who cares to pay attention and heed its instruction. Unfortunately, many refuse to listen.
Proverbs 1:23 — “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you.”
The Christian life requires repentance and a spirit of continual humility while trusting in the Grace of God. Repentance is a continuing action in a Christian’s life: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Proverbs 1:28 – “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.”
There comes a point when it is too late.
Proverbs 1:33 — “but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
The Christian life is a life of confidence, peace, joy, and hope. Even in tribulation, the Christian has unyielding hope in God’s promised future.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 May 22: Show your gratitude to the Lord today through your humble obedience and grateful heart.