Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 12 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 8:2 — “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
God uses challenges to test your heart, not that He doesn’t know your heart (He knows it through and through) but so that the truth of your heart would be revealed to you. When faced with challenges, examine your heart from the integrity of your behavior. Do you act less loving when you are stressed? Do you become more selfish when resources seem limited? God wants you to see the truth of you so that you can grow to be more like Jesus and closer to Him. You cannot fix what you refuse to see; honesty with self and with others (humility) is the first step to change.
“God allows us to suffer difficulties and hardships for a purpose. God led the children of Israel to wander through the wilderness for forty years in order to humble them and test them. When they refused to obey Him and enter the Promised Land, the Israelites revealed that they did not really know Him. If they had, they would have had more faith. God spent the next forty years testing the hearts of His people to see if they were prepared for His next assignment. Testing reveals what is in your heart and can also build incredible faith in those who trust and obey God through trials and experience first-hand the assurance of His faithfulness and providence (James 1:3, 12). God allowed His people to hunger so they could experience His provision and develop a deeper level of trust in Him. As the people walked with God they came to understand that their lives depended upon His word. They learned that God’s word was the most important thing they had. After depending on God for forty years while living in the desert, the people listened when God spoke, and they believed. When they finally entered the Promised Land and waged war against their enemies, the Israelites knew that God’s word meant life and death. They were prepared to listen to Him, and as a result He led them to an astounding victory.
Is God presently testing you in some area of your life? What has His testing revealed? Have you become bitter toward God because of where He has led you? Or have you come to trust Him more as a result of what you have gone through?” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 8:3 — “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
With grace, God gives you Holy Spirit power that you did not have before to empower change. When we see the truth of our sin, we can rejoice knowing that we are no longer trapped by our sin, that God gives us the power to change, supernatural power, far beyond mere will power. Ultimately, you cannot change yourself. Though you must work to change, it is the Holy Spirit within you that enables change.
Deuteronomy 8:5 — “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.”
Often, God is using circumstances to discipline you, to show you something you refused to see merely through reading, understanding, and applying His clear word. For example, if you simply refuse to obey God’s clear command to forgive unconditionally, He may place you in a situation where you need unconditional forgiveness.
Deuteronomy 8:11-13 — “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied.”
Christians are tested through hard times, but perhaps tested even more through easy times. We can turn blessings into curses through complacency and disobedience. Do you pray to God more during hard times than good times? Do you grow closer to God through hard times than good times? If so, perhaps God needs to keep you in difficult circumstances for you to accomplish your life purpose of knowing Jesus and being one with Him. If you want good times, be faithful and trustworthy in good times.
Deuteronomy 8:17, 18 — “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
A very common mistake made by Christians is growing prideful in God’s blessings. When you succeed, don’t think it is because of how great you are. Don’t take any credit for your accomplishments — always point to Jesus.
Psalm 68:4 – “Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!”
The Bible shows us that, throughout history, God has taken His servants through terribly dark times, and the Bible teaches us that, under terrible circumstances, we should turn to the LORD and not lose hope in Him. (Psalm 68) In the midst of trials and persecution, it is our knowledge of God and hope in Him that causes us to sing praises and remain joyful (though perhaps not always ‘happy’).
Psalm 68:6 — “God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.”
All have sinned, but through Jesus, Christians are not isolated prisoners of sin but rather are being led to prosperity. Little lamb, follow your Good Shepherd closely. “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train.” (Psalm 68:18)
Psalm 68:19, 20 — “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.
Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death. We still sin daily, but God “bears us up” as we are being delivered from death.
Psalm 68:35 – “…he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.”
It is God who empowers you to do His will, so how powerful does that make you? It is only when you attempt to operate outside of His will that you need to be concerned.
Psalm 69:29-31 — “But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high! I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.”
God desires a heart of worship, not just acts of worship.
God wants you to have faith, joy, and confidence in your salvation through Jesus, not in your deeds, which cannot bring you salvation. “Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).” Our sins are fully, completely, permanently forgiven through God’s free gift of grace (giving us what we don’t deserve), a gift we cannot earn or improve upon, a gift we cannot lose. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)….. Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:11)….. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:18-20).”
Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Through the blood of Christ, our sins have been covered over and Ephesians 2:13 adds: “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Jesus desires, “that your joy may be complete (John 15:11). If you are a Christian, It is time for you to accept the freedom, joy, and peace that is yours through Jesus Christ and spread the message of reconciliation with boldness.
Psalm 69:33 — “For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.”
God does not despise the truly humble and repentant sinner who knows how desperately he needs mercy and grace through Jesus.
Proverbs 12:1 — “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
Do not hate the Lord’s reproof — that is just stupid.
Proverbs 12:2 — “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of evil devices he condemns.”
Is this hard to understand? Even under grace, God cannot tolerate your sin. He will deal with it, in love but with firmness.
Proverbs 12:5 — “The thoughts of the righteous are just.”
The Holy Spirit uses God’s word to transform your mind so that just thoughts produce righteous deeds, evidence of your faith.
Proverbs 12:10 — “The mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
Your ability to be merciful is in direct proportion to your closeness to Jesus. The more you genuinely appreciate the mercies of God, the more you will be merciful. The more you are connected to Jesus (the Vine), the more you will embody mercy and the more mercy will flow through you to others.
Proverbs 12:11 — “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
God is Author of both the natural laws and the moral laws. One theme that is constantly repeated in the Bible is, “You reap what you sow.” God’s natural and moral laws are simple and produce obvious results. We complicate things and do pointless things when we attempt to work around God’s laws. Don’t waste your time, energy, and efforts by doing things God never intended.
Proverbs 12:16 — “The prudent ignores an insult.”
Did you get that? Ignore insults and be prudent.
Proverbs 12:18 — “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Are all of your words healing? Remember your role as Christ’s Ambassador and your message of reconciliation. Every word that comes from your mouth should draw people closer to Jesus, not farther away.
Proverbs 12:20 — “Those who plan peace have joy.”
You have to have a plan for peace.
Proverbs 12:25 — “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
You can help take a load off of others by giving them a good word to ease their anxiety.
Proverbs 12:26-28 — “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray…. In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.”
A good leader guides people to where they need to go. They know the way and show the way. The Bible says that Jesus IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Good leaders lead people to Jesus. Leading people anywhere else is to lead them astray, wickedness. So, all those secular gurus out there are, in fact, wicked.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 June 22: Be a true leader in a age which is desperate for good leaders – lead someone to Jesus today. If you are leading people towards anything else, you are ultimately leading them astray.