Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 18 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 14:2 — “The LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
Are you still amazed by grace? Do you understand the incredible thing God has done for you and the great fortune you have that so many others don’t have?
Deuteronomy 14:3 – “You shall not eat any abomination.”
There are many theories for why God told His people not to eat the certain animals and foods He told them not to eat. Some talk about health reasons; some think because the pagans ate these food, God used dietary laws as a way to separate His people from other people, to keep them focused on their holiness. Likely these reasons are both true, along with other reasons, some we might never understand. Safe to say, we should never put anything in our bodies that does not honor God or that hurts the body. We should take care of our temples as an act of worship and demonstrate thanksgiving and the character of God in the way we eat. Many Christians know the way they eat is unhealthy, yet they do it anyway. For other Christians, “proper” nutrition has become an idol. This too is an abomination. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)
Deuteronomy 14:23 – “And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.”
The tithe facilitated an environment where the people ate together and all were fed together, resulting in fellowship, camaraderie, unity, and charity. How often does your church feast together?
Deuteronomy 14:23 — “…that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.”
God’s commands are intended to teach you how to love and respect Him as God.
Deuteronomy 14:24-26 – “And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”
Money was created to be a substitute for goods to facilitate trade across great distances. God’s word has much to say about the sin of manipulating the value of currency because it essentially robs people of their goods; currency manipulation is a form of stealing, and the people most affected are the poor. Jesus flipped the tables and drove out the moneychangers in the Temple because they were manipulating the currency and stealing from the poor and from the church. God forbade his people from earning wealth on the interest applied to money and loans because it is money for nothing and a way to take advantage of others. (Deut 23:19; Proverbs 28:8; Psalm 15:5; Ezek 18:12, 13; Deut 23:20; Levitcus 25:36-37; Nehemiah 5:7; etc) All personal finance advice today encourages people to “make your money make money” by lending it to others with interest, rather than merely selling or trading the fruit of your honest labor at fair market value. This is a trap. This is why bankers are so rich and the poor are so poor. Abrahams plan for retirement was much different than the rich fool’s plan condemned by Jesus in Luke 12. Abraham built an industry (sheep) that would continue to produce in order to sustain him in his unproductive years (which were few). The rich fool’s plan was to hoard resources in order to have something to live off of in his unproductive years. The rich fool’s plan looks a lot like most retirement plans today. God’s plan for his people is not to hoard golden eggs but to raise geese that lay golden eggs. (Proverbs 27:23-30)
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 — “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”
The tithe is intended, in part, to provide for those in need. Today, most give less than 3% of their income, and charity has largely been turned over to the government and to private secular organizations. God intended a far different plan.
Psalm 70:4-5 — May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!
Proverbs 18 – Notice how much the Bible has to say about the words that come out of your mouth. Do your words project the character of Jesus? Your words will reveal whether you are selfish or selfless.
Proverbs 18:1 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”
Isolation is a form of self-centeredness and is contrary to love. Christianity is all about close relationships with God and with others. You were created for relationships, to love God and others. This is your purpose. Isolation is a product of selfishness, fear, and pride. It is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Life is about relationships, and we have been given the mission of reconciliation. One way people deal with disagreeable people is to avoid them; Christians cannot do that. The evidence of how much we love God is primarily revealed in how much we love people. A Christian loner is an oxymoron.
Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Don’t talk. Listen. One of the most important habits of a reconciler is to seek first to understand before being understood. Whether the other person is right or wrong, the reconciler must truly understand what is behind their position. Why are they doing what they are doing? Only then is there hope to address the heart of the matter at hand. All relational problems are, at their core, spiritual problems, disunity with Jesus. The world hates those who are hateful. Christians see beyond the issues and seek to draw the hateful to Jesus in love.
Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”
There are countless ‘teachers’ out there, but wisdom is scarce. Let the Holy Spirit be your Counselor through the word of God.
Proverbs 18:4 – “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.”
Everyone has an opinion, but very few are worth hearing. People are talking all the time, without much genuine thought behind their words. Words of wisdom are very rare. And now, technology has given everyone a global voice. In two days, we put out more information than the rest of human history combined. Technology has also enabled much transferal of information and learning but also advanced techniques for information manipulation, weaponized information. So, in these deep waters of words, it is even more important for you to go to the bubbling brook of God’s word.
Proverbs 18:6, 7 – “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”
A foolish mouth only gets you in trouble. Always consider your words very carefully. Why walk into a fight. Even still, how could you since you have been given by God the ministry of reconciliation and have been appointed by Him as His Ambassador? Consistently remind yourself, with each new encounter, that you have been crucified and no longer live, that you don’t represent yourself but rather Jesus, that as a follower of Jesus, you must deny self and take up your cross. Your goal for all conversations is that Christ be revealed and that the other party might be drawn, in some way, closer to Him.
Proverbs 18:9 – “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”
Everyone suffers when people don’t do their jobs well. Make no mistake, negligence is a sin. Before God gave Adam a helpmate, He gave Adam a job. Before sin, work was worship; it was productive and fruitful. After sin, work became burdensome, secular. God calls us to return to worshipful work that glorifies Him. Work is an act of love, providing the best, our best, to others. Be excellent in all you do, and in all you do, do it for His glory.
We spend far too much time, energy, and effort trying to fix what someone broke due to pure negligence, complacency, or laziness. Small, seemingly insignificant, decisions to cut corners or disregard fundamentals have a huge ripple effect that affects many and can become catastrophic. Truth be told, too much of your time is also wasted fixing what you broke because of your bad habits: you don’t put something away where it goes, then later you spend hours looking for it — hours you could have used doing something productive, hours you will never get back. When you aren’t disciplined and diligent in your habits and practices, you pay a huge opportunity cost and destroy your productivity; this is a sin that you must work on daily. God is very interested in our attention to detail in all that we do. Our professionalism ultimately glorifies Him.
Proverbs 18:12 — “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
Most people cannot see their own destruction because they are blinded by pride.
Proverbs 18:13 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Our greatest commandment is love. One of the primary ways we show our love for others is in how we communicate with them. God gives very specific instructions on how we should communicate with others, and He says He will hold us all accountable for how we communicate. This verse is one such example. God is telling you, that not only is it shameful for you to ever interrupt someone, it is shameful to really not listen empathetically before responding. If you find yourself already crafting your response before the other person is done talking, you are not really listening and are being foolish. One helpful technique is to summarize back to the person what you heard them say and to ask them to clarify their feelings behind their statement before you respond with your viewpoint. Try doing this every time and see what happens. Also, remember that if you an Ambassador for Christ, you have no personal opinion, you only represent the position of Jesus. Take self out of the equation.
Proverbs 18:18 – “The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders.”
See Numbers 33:54 – The lot eliminates perceptions of unfairness or biases by removing the human element from the decision-making process. In this “game of chance,” God remains in complete control.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 June 22: Today, pay very close attention to how you communicate with others. Endeavour for every word which comes out of your mouth to be loving, positive, uplifting, encouraging, and uniting. However, listen for understanding at least twice as much as you speak. Everyone should walk away from you today feeling refreshed and satisfied from the Living Water of the Holy Spirit which flowed from you.