Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 7 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 3:18, 19 – “All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you….”
God’s plan did not use women and children for battle. Not only were they more vulnerable, they were the source of future generations. Furthermore, the family is a representation of Christ’s love for His bride the church and the Father’s love for His children. The Husband and Father protects His family, and He doesn’t need them to defend Him.
Men are called to defend their families. How are men today doing defending their families against spiritual attacks?
Deuteronomy 3:21, 22 – “Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”
How can you have fear if God Almighty is with you, doing the fighting for you? It takes faith to believe in what we cannot see and completely understand. We do not have ‘blind faith.’ Our trust and hope are based upon what God has already done and continues to do. He has always proven Himself faithful.
God promised the victory, but the Israelites still had to go into the battle with Him. Are you expecting God to hand you the victory with no effort on your part? Are you praying for God to remove a temptation or sin from your life when all you must do is walk away from it having already been freed from it by Jesus?
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Deuteronomy 3:24 – “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand.”
Do you have this sort of excited expectation of what God is going to do next in your life?
Deuteronomy 3:28 – “But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.”
God called Moses to prepare his replacement. Are you preparing the next generation to fulfill the Great Commandment and Great Commission in the next generation?
2 Corinthians 8:2 — “…for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”
Do you respond to tests of affliction with joy and generosity towards others?
2 Corinthians 8:3 — “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.”
Do you beg for the opportunity to give and give beyond your means? Christian giving is radical.
2 Corinthians 8:5 — “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”
What we give to others is a reflection of what we have already given to God. How we love others is a reflection of how we love God. How we love others is also the primary way we show love for God. Jesus said we should love like He loves; we should love our enemies wholeheartedly.
- Matthew 5:43-48 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- Luke 6:27-36 — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
The above statements from Jesus are meant to be taken literally and seriously. He meant what He said. These verses are not merely intended to expose to the self-righteous their need for God’s mercy and grace, they are also intended to expose to Jesus’ followers what it is to be Christlike, to achieve our purpose and calling in life (see Romans 8:28-29). These verses alone give you something to work on today and to examine as you consider your spiritual fitness.
2 Corinthians 8:6 — “…see that you excel in this act of grace also.”
We only live by God’s grace, the undeserved gift of His Son, Jesus. Do you in turn excel in grace towards others? Grace also includes surrendering your rights to others who mistreat you unjustly. Jesus, though perfectly righteous, took your penalty upon Himself and credited you with His righteousness so you could have freedom from the penalty and power of sin in your life with the promise of one day being free from the presence of sin in your eternal life when He returns to restore all things. How much you value what Christ did for you on the Cross will be revealed by how much you show grace and mercy towards those who persecute you and don’t even want your grace and mercy. Remember, Christ died for you while you were still a sinner and hadn’t asked for His forgiveness. Grace is a gift we give freely, whether it is received or not. How we respond to others is based on who we are not based on what they have done.
- 1 Corinthians 6:7 — To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
2 Corinthians 8:7 — “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you —see that you excel in this act of grace also.”
We are encouraged to excel in everything, yes, everything; particularly, we are coached to excel in giving. So, how much to give? Paul says to use Jesus as our example – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:7).” How much faith does it take to give like that? The churches in Macedonia, though suffering extreme poverty and affliction, gave generously and joyously, considering it an honor to give grace to others in the name of Jesus Christ. They had no problem giving because they had already given themselves to God and understood that is was all for His glory. Have you ever considered why, though we in America are so well off, we find it so difficult for us to give generously? What does that say about our perspective on God and our appreciation of the grace that has been bestowed upon us through Jesus?
2 Corinthians 8:9 — “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Like Jesus, are you willing to become poor that others might be rich?
2 Corinthians 8:18-19 — “With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.”
Paul did not work alone; he was part of a ministry team, comprised of people with different talents and skills and supported by the church. Who is on your ministry team?
2 Corinthians 8:28 — “…we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.”
How we are perceived by others does matter. Go out of your way not to offend while staying within the bounds of God’s commands.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 June 22: Make special effort to connect and unite with fellow believers today. Expand your network of Christian fellowship if possible. Commit to serving God together. Share with each other to see a greater vision of what God is doing where you are. (1 Kings 19:10, 18; 2 Cor 8:18-19)