Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 4 April 2022:
Numbers 36:7 – “The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”
God’s laws protected the property and production capacity of families for generations.
Numbers 36:10 – “The daughters of Zelophehad did as the Lord commanded.”
The daughters of Zelophehad were strong women, but most importantly, they were faithful and obedient.
Psalm 64 – Listen to this short message on Psalm 64 by Paul LeBoutillier from Calvary Chapel Ontario: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pyYrVrACXI
Psalm 64:1 — Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint….
God is ready to hear our complaints, but complaining doesn’t change the situation but rather exposes the condition of our hearts, our lack of confidence in God’s loving providence and our lack of strength in Him. Complaining is discouraged throughout the Bible. Here is a good article on complaining and grumbling: https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-complaining.html
- Philippians 2:14-16 — Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
- James 5:9 — Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
- 1 Peter 4:9 — Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
- 1 Corinthians 10:10 — Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Ephesians 4:29 — Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
- Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Exodus 16:8 — And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
- Psalm 106:25 — They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord.
- Romans 8:28-29 — And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
- Proverbs 17:22 — A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
- Job 2:10 — But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
- Numbers 11:1-4 — And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!
- Isaiah 53:7 — He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
Psalm 64:10 — “Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!”
Don’t worry about your situation. Trust God, pray, and obey.
Proverbs 4:23 — “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
When a passage in the Bible starts with “Above all else…” I suspect it is important, and I should pay attention; so, how do I guard my heart?
In Matthew, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8)” which reminds me of another verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).” Jesus’ words in today’s readings hit you right between the eyes when he says that it is not enough to obey the commandments like the Pharisees, God seeks “circumcised hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16)” that “hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).” Obedience is an indicator of what is in our hearts, or as Proverbs says, “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right (Proverbs 20:11).” However, only God understands the motives behind apparent obedience which could be negatively inspired by pride, self-righteousness, or simply fear of punishment rather than love. “The heart is deceitful above all things,” and we can deceive ourselves into believing that, in our “obedience,” we have gained some sort of superiority over others or special merit in the eyes of God. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), and that the Lord test[s] the heart and [is] pleased with integrity (1 Chronicles 29:17).” As Jesus will explain later in Matthew, “The things that… come from the heart… make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15:18, 19).”
So, how do I “guard my heart?” First, I must have a broken, contrite, and repentant heart (Psalm 51) that recognizes (truly rather than superficially) my complete unworthiness and total dependence on God’s mercy and grace – a spiritual beggar, mourning my sinful condition (Matthew 5:3, 4). At the foundation of all sin is “pride and arrogance” which God “hates” (Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 16:18). Those who recognize how dependent they are on God’s mercy can be merciful to others. Those who truly appreciate the forgiveness they have received can forgive and love others (Luke 7:47). In humility we accept God’s forgiveness through Christ without attempting to earn it, and we freely forgive others without seeking payment.
Next, Proverbs says to keep God’s word in our hearts (Proverbs 4:4, 21). “We are to be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s] (Romans 12:2).” God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)” and the Holy Spirit uses it to reveal God’s righteousness and convict us of our sin.
Then Proverbs says that we should watch what we say, what we view, and what we do (Proverbs 4:24-27) – our behavior matters much. It is a vicious circle: sin comes from the heart, but sins further harden the heart and incline it toward greater sin. The Bible says that we “purify ourselves” by “obeying the truth” so that we can truly love others “from the heart (1 Peter 1:22, 23).” An important part of guarding the heart is resisting sin, and an important part of resisting sin is “fleeing” from sin or removing those things from your life that may tempt you to sin. Also, an important part of loving others is to avoid doing anything that might tempt them to sin or “set them up for failure (1 Corinthians 10:32).”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 April 22: Eliminate all, yes all, complaining from your life. Memorize Philippians 4:4-8 and replace all complaining with prayer, thankfulness, praise, and positive thinking.