Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 10 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 6:2 — “…that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you.”
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” We learn to fear the Lord and to know Him by obeying His commands, even if we don’t understand the “why” behind them and even if we have not yet obtained the wholehearted desire to follow them. Obedience shapes your character to learn to love and appreciate God. Obedience also protects you from what you don’t yet understand. As we grow in love more and more, obedience goes from being easier and easier to being something we truly want to do from the heart, regardless of how hard or easy it is. When we are truly motivated by love, we no longer need to be commanded to do what God wants because it is what we want; the Law does not end; it is just no longer needed to keep us on path. Jesus did not abolish the Law; He just fulfilled it. It wasn’t an issue for Him because He was one with the Father.
Deuteronomy 6:4-8 — “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”
All that you are must be focused on loving and serving God in them moment. Parents must model this and discuss this with their children continuously. How focused are you on Jesus today, loving Him, serving Him, and proclaiming Him in all that you do?
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
You must love God to obey Him, but your love for Him grows as you work to obey Him. When you obey out of a sense of duty, you learn to obey out of love. You must teach kids to learn how to love God by teaching them to first obey. Disciples learn discipline. Disciple your children first.
Deuteronomy 6:16, 17 — “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you.”
Don’t take God’s grace for granted and be complacent in your fidelity. You have been forgiven that you might be renewed to a right relationship with God, not so that you could continue to disgrace the Name of Christ through bad behavior.
2 Corinthians 11:3 — “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
Purity and fidelity start with your thought life.
2 Corinthians 11:5, 6 — “But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles.’ I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every way.”
Similar to many today, the church in Corinth was being led astray by dynamic, impressive, talented teachers who were falsely preaching “another Jesus” for their own personal gain. They were “rock star” preachers who were wolves in sheep’ clothing. Jesus said that the discerning would recognize false prophets by their fruit, and Paul says the same thing, as humbly as possible, comparing his own fruit to theirs.
Paul is a great example of real leadership, a man who had earned the right to lead and, as opposed to false teachers, had true “knowledge” required for leadership which can only be obtained through the Holy Spirit and from genuine experience and practical application:
Paul preached the gospel free of charge. How many leaders do you know who lead without reward? Paul gave to others but did not take; his leadership was not burdensome. Paul was motivated solely by love, and he did not direct attention to himself but rather to Christ.
Paul’s leadership was gracious, gentle, patient, and enduring; in fact, Paul even questioned whether he was too gentle (2 Corinthians 11:21). To those who are easily enamored by self-confident superficial “leadership,” Paul’s meekness was perceived as weakness, but Paul warns others not to be deceived.
Paul could match credentials with anyone, but he did not consider credentials or pedigree to be the measure or qualifier of leadership but rather Holy Spirit empowerment along with sacrifice and suffering in love for the cause. Paul had put his life on the line countless times for Jesus and often endured without even food or water. All the while in the face of many pressures and temptations, he remained holy and faithful – he did not falter, and his character was unblemished. Despite his shining character, he did not boast in himself but rather boasted in Christ and was quick to point out his own sins, flaws, and weaknesses in order to reveal the Grace of God in his own life. (2 Corinthians 11;28-32)
Consider the popular preachers and leaders today: how many live like Paul? How many “gifted speakers” have been raised up to “super-apostle” status? Take a moment to be introspective. Do you lead like Paul? Have you paid the price to lead? Thousands of years ago, Sun Tzu once remarked that great generals are never honored or noticed because they don’t fight great battles – they win quietly, behind the scenes so that the “great battles” are never required, and they don’t have egos that demand the recognition that comes from spectacular (avoidable) victories. The irony is that greatness is not glamorous, most will miss it. Case in point, in the time of the reign of the mighty Herod, whose kingdom’s ruins still stand prominent today, our Savior was born in a manger — “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2) Today, the only thing most people know about Herod is that he killed countless babies trying to destroy Jesus. But the One who was not esteemed is our Savior!
2 Corinthians 11:14 — “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
Satan’s servants will present themselves as godly or good people. It takes discernment through the word of God to identify these imposters.
2 Corinthians 11:24-27 — “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
What are you willing to endure to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others?
2 Corinthians 11:29 — Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
Christians do not live in isolation. When we sin, there are repercussions throughout the Christian community. When a brother or sister suffers, we are affected. Our calling is not to be solitary Christians but to be members of a priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9).
It was impossible for Paul to remain unmoved while there were believers in Corinth who were spiritually weak. When he learned that false teachers had caused Christians in Corinth to stumble in their faith, Paul burned with indignation. Paul told the church members at Corinth to rejoice when a church member rejoices and to weep when a fellow member weeps (1 Cor. 12:26). We depend on one another, and this influences everything we do. Jesus said that even when we pray, we are to begin by saying “our Father” (Matt. 6:9). We must do everything with our fellow Christian in mind (1 Cor. 14:12).
It’s possible to become so preoccupied with your own spiritual journey that you do not get involved in your church. You can become so focused on what God is doing in your own country that you are oblivious to the suffering and persecution that your fellow Christians face in countries around the world. If other believers around you are rejoicing or hurting, and you are unaffected, you have become desensitized to the people of God.
Ask God to place a burden on your heart for fellow believers. Make yourself aware of their needs. Pray for them and adjust your life to God’s activity in their lives.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 June 22: Lead others today by denying self, taking up your cross and following Jesus. Leaders know the way and show the way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6) If you aren’t leading others towards Jesus, you are leading them astray.