Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 15 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 11:1, 2, 8, 13, 16, 17, 18, 26-28 — “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always. And consider today.., consider the discipline of the Lord your God…. You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today…. And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul…. Take care lest your heart be deceived… the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you…. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes…. See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today.”
We are saved by faith, not by works. Yet, God still demands obedience, still disciplines, still holds His people accountable for their actions, and still allows the natural consequences of sin to occur. His Name remains Holy. God does not desire for us to suffer the consequences of disobedience, and so He gives us clear warning. “Take care lest your heart be deceived.” Do you want to experience blessings or curses in life? In John 17, before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed for our “oneness” with Him. Sin hinders that oneness, it quenches the Spirit, grieves the Spirit, and gets us out of step with the Spirit. Our sin doesn’t separate us from the love of God, but it does rob us of the fullness of joy Jesus wants us to have in His love. God’s greatest commandment for us is love. Jesus said if you love Him, you will obey Him. 1 Timothy 1:5 says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Love emanates from 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscience, and 3) a sincere faith. Sin, all sin, is unloving. One last time: Deuteronomy 11:1 – “You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” To love God is to obey Him.
Deuteronomy 11:8 – ““You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today.”
Partial obedience is disobedience.
Deuteronomy 11:13 — “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season.”
Most people today would consider it absurd for you to believe that natural occurrences or that seemingly random circumstances were actually orchestrated by God to bless or to punish, but the Bible says that God punishes nations with weather, foreign armies, corrupt governments, financial crisis, plaques, etc. The same God that made and controls the natural laws to reflect His character also made the moral laws to reflect His character and His requirements. Defying either set of laws has devastating consequences.
Deuteronomy 11:16, 18-20 – “Take care lest your heart be deceived…. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The word of God is our best defense against deception. Not only must we be continuously immersed in it, we must be careful to teach our children who are easily deceived and who need to be grounded in the word at an early age. God calls all Christians to think not just about the next generation but about many generations to come.
Deuteronomy 11:26 — “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.”
Obedience is your choice, but consequences belong to God – you do not choose your consequences. Obey God and be blessed.
Watch this short video overview on Galatians: https://youtu.be/vmx4UjRFp0M
Galatians 1:1 — “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
Don’t miss this important theme in Galatians 1: God, not men, calls, commissions, and empowers His servants. Many attempt to serve as an intermediary between God and people. They do not have the authority to do so. You have direct, personal access to God and have as much access to the leading of the Holy Spirit as anyone else. You do not need a degree from an institution or special rights administered to you by another person. All authority belongs to Jesus, and he appoints and equips people directly. Yes, you can learn from more mature Christians, but your Counsellor and Guide is the Holy Spirit. You are an Ambassador for Christ, not because you were chosen by men, but because you were chosen by God. Proclaim what you know about Jesus to others today!
Galatians 1:6,7,9 — “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ…. If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
Another critical theme: Many, sometimes well meaning, people are distorting the Gospel and preaching a false gospel by mixing it with popular philosophy. The Good News is that we are saved by grace (not our efforts) through faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. However, many are preaching hope in other things — psychology, self-help techniques, positive thinking, bright ideas, “common sense”, etc. Many are trying to turn the Bible into a self-help book and mix it with quotes from modern, secular gurus who also offer a hope apart from Jesus. We are Ambassadors of Christ, not today’s version of morality or human wisdom. We cannot use various techniques to save ourselves. We need Jesus. The Good News is we can have reconciliation with God through Jesus and that there is no other name by which anyone can be saved. Don’t mix messages. Preach Jesus only!
Galatians 1:7 — “There is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
Nothing has changed. Understand that many “teachers” of God’s word distort the Gospel. You are called to carefully study your Bible to test every spoken word of people. The Holy Spirit is your teacher. Every other Christian is just a student like you, some good students, some bad. Some who are in the class are really not students at all.
Galatians 1:10 — “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
False teachers seek the approval of men. Some of these false teachers convince others that they need their approval to be a disciple or Ambassador. Your authority comes straight from God and God alone. Don’t let institutions set up false barriers to your relationship with Jesus, to your growth in Him, and to your witness. Learn from others, but don’t be limited by others.
“At times you will have to make a choice between pleasing God and pleasing those around you, for God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isa. 55:8-9). As important as it is to strive for good relations with others, it is even more important to maintain a steadfast and obedient relationship with Christ. Disobeying God to keep peace with other people is never wise. Peace with God is always paramount.
Jesus warned that obeying Him might cause division in your relationships (Matt. 10:35-36). If Paul’s primary goal had been to please others, he would never have become an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul went completely against the wishes of his colleagues in order to obey Christ. At times, obedience to God sets family members at odds with each other (Matt. 10:35-36). When you follow Jesus’ Lordship, your family may misunderstand, or even oppose you, yet your obedience to God reflects your identity as His child. Jesus said that those who obey His will are His brothers and sisters (Luke 8:21). God does not intend to divide the home, but He places obedience before domestic harmony.
It is important to get alone in quietness with God so that you understand what pleases Him. The world’s thinking will mislead you more easily when you are not clear about what God desires. It broke Peter’s heart to know that the opinion of a servant girl had mattered more to him than the approval of his Lord! If the desire to appease others tempts you to compromise what you know God wants you to do, learn from Peter’s mistake. Determine that you will please your Lord regardless of the opinions of others.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Galatians 1:12 — “For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Institutions or other people do not distribute the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reveals Himself to faithful followers.
Galatians 1:13 — “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.”
Following the teachings of the most brilliant men in the church, Paul was working diligently and effectively but directly against the will of Jesus.
Galatians 1:14 — “So extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”
Church or national traditions, long accepted for generations, can be a very dangerous thing. The word of God alone, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is our guide for life. Test everything against God’s word.
Galatians 1:15-16 — “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone.”
God chooses to reveal His Son to whomever He chooses, and those He chooses, He chooses for an earthly purpose — to preach the Good News of Jesus to others. Don’t wait for some sort of validation from others. Preach now what God has revealed to you and grow in the word over time.
Galatians 1:15 – “But when he… was pleased to reveal his Son to me….”
“As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him— to give God ‘elbow room.’ We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected Him to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly—God meets our life ‘…when it pleased God….’
Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.
The call of God is not a call to serve Him in any particular way. My contact with the nature of God will shape my understanding of His call and will help me realize what I truly desire to do for Him. The call of God is an expression of His nature; the service which results in my life is suited to me and is an expression of my nature. The call of the natural life was stated by the apostle Paul— “When it pleased God… to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him [that is, purely and solemnly express Him] among the Gentiles….”
Service is the overflow which pours from a life filled with love and devotion. But strictly speaking, there is no call to that. Service is what I bring to the relationship and is the reflection of my identification with the nature of God. Service becomes a natural part of my life. God brings me into the proper relationship with Himself so that I can understand His call, and then I serve Him on my own out of a motivation of absolute love. Service to God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is an expression of my nature, and God’s call is an expression of His nature. Therefore, when I receive His nature and hear His call, His divine voice resounds throughout His nature and mine and the two become one in service. The Son of God reveals Himself in me, and out of devotion to Him service becomes my everyday way of life.
If Jesus Christ is going to regenerate me, what is the problem He faces? It is simply this— I have a heredity in which I had no say or decision; I am not holy, nor am I likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair. But if Jesus Christ is truly a regenerator, someone who can put His own heredity of holiness into me, then I can begin to see what He means when He says that I have to be holy. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into anyone the hereditary nature that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives us are based on that nature— His teaching is meant to be applied to the life which He puts within us. The proper action on my part is simply to agree with God’s verdict on sin as judged on the Cross of Christ.
The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a person is hit by his own sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God— ‘…until Christ is formed in you’ (Galatians 4:19). The moral miracle of redemption is that God can put a new nature into me through which I can live a totally new life. When I finally reach the edge of my need and know my own limitations, then Jesus says, ‘Blessed are you…’ (Matthew 5:11). But I must get to that point. God cannot put into me, the responsible moral person that I am, the nature that was in Jesus Christ unless I am aware of my need for it.
Just as the nature of sin entered into the human race through one man, the Holy Spirit entered into the human race through another Man (see Romans 5:12-19). And redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin, and that through Jesus Christ I can receive a pure and spotless heredity, namely, the Holy Spirit.” (Oswald Chambers)
Galatians 1:22 — “And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.”
You don’t need to be well known or accepted to be used by God powerfully. You don’t need the approval of people to serve God today. You just need to yield to the Holy Spirit.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 June 22: Preach Jesus only today. If you want to give someone advice, point them to Jesus. (Galatians 1:6,7,9)