Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 24 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 20:1 – “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
God knows His people will have to fight battles. God expects His people to have courage in Him. Some say, “God would never ask you to do something you can’t do.” Actually, God will regularly task you with what is impossible for you to do, so He can do it through you, revealing Himself to you in a greater way and to others who are watching. God doesn’t want to use you to show the world what a really talented person can do. God wants to use you to show the world what He can do, even with someone like you.
Deuteronomy 20:1-4 – God has proven His presence and power in the past and will do so again.
Deuteronomy 20:17,18 – “…but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.”
God has no tolerance for those who would lead His people astray, whether they are believers or unbelievers (see chapter 13)
Deuteronomy 20:18 – …that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God.
We must be very careful not to be influenced by the worlds ‘idols,’ or substitutes for God. Mankind’s prioritization of self over God has corrupted everything, every institution, and all social mores. We are called to be holy, set apart, for God alone. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Deuteronomy 20:19-20 – ““When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.”
Resources are not inherently good or evil and can be used for either good purposes or bad ones. God wants His people to use resources formerly used to support evil to support good for the future. The same resources that supply bad people can also supply good people. God’s people can destroy institutions or take them over. Why not take them over for God’s glory? In Acts 28, Paul takes a ship “with the twin gods as a figurehead” to Rome. The ship may have been dedicated to false God’s, but God Himself used it for His purposes so Paul could proclaim the Gospel in Rome. God is Sovereign over all things, and what mankind intends for evil, He intends for good (see Genesis 50). Use whatever imperfect thing you have at your disposal to glorify God and share the Gospel.
Ephesians 2:1-3 — “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
Ungodly people are led by both passion and intellect. They essentially see themselves as gods to themselves, doing whatever they justify as best. They refuse to submit to God. God’s people are led by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:8-10 — “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We were saved by grace – we did nothing to earn it, and we cannot boast in anything of ourselves that deserved God’s gift to us as salvation. But we were saved for a purpose – “for good works.” Before we were saved “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Now in salvation, we are a “new creation,” and the hostility that once existed between us and God has been “killed.” Now, with “access in one Spirit to the Father,” we are to “walk in” the “good works” which God has “prepared in advance” for us. This is what we are to do in life.
- Ecclesiastes 12:13 — The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Ephesians 2:10 — “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God created you specifically to serve Him. God prepares the good works, not you. Don’t just do what you think is good. Do only what God directs.
Ephesians 2:11-13 — “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility….”
You have total peace with God and complete access to Him in Christ. You are a vital part of God’s family and have a unique fit (like a stone in a building) in God’s Kingdom. You are no longer part of the world and the kingdom of the air (which is no kingdom at all). Alive in Christ by God’s grace, we were created to good works which God has prepared for us that we might glorify the Father and the Son before all Creation and experience the fullness of joy in Him. The Bible says that Christians are ALL saints (in Christ), priests (Ex 19:6, Is 61:6, Rom 15:16, 1 Pet 2:5, Rev 1:6, Rev 5:10, Rev 20:6 – what do we expect from a priest?) and Christ’s Ambassadors (representatives to a foreign kingdom) on this earth. We no longer behave as the worldly do, “gratifying the cravings of the sinful nature,” because we are motivated by love, gratitude, and an understanding, spiritually “seated… with [Christ] in the heavenly realms” (What are you willing to do seated next to Christ?). “Do you really believe what you say you believe is really true?” Today, reflect upon the reality of your position in Christ, and remember your “priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God.”
Ephesians 2:14 – “For he himself is our peace….”
All of Ephesians 2 is worth rereading regularly as a continual reminder for you and for others of the complete sufficiency of Christ and “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense – G.R.A.C.E. which you have freely received and which should fill you with unfaltering confidence, peace, and joy. Too often we act as if we must earn what has been freely given in Christ. Too often we act as if others must earn it too. Too often we talk grace but walk in fear, guilt, regret, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride when the knowledge of Christ should have put an end to all those things. Even when we recognize those inappropriate feelings within ourselves and repent of them, we too quickly and feebly return to habits of self-reliance to eliminate them rather than relying on and resting in the sufficiency of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 2:4-7 — But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
It was God’s love which saved you, not your love for Him, and the security of your salvation rests in His faithfulness, not yours. God IS love; without Him filling you with His love, you wouldn’t have had the ability to love Him or anyone else – “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God has given you the Great Commandment of love because He has already given you the ability to fulfill it; but only by abiding in Him can you bear the fruit of love in your life (John 15). You were dead in your trespasses. Not only is a corpse incapable of bringing life to itself, it cannot even perceive its own death or desire the life it lacks. It was God and God alone in His great mercy, grace, and love who gave you life and your desire for life in Him. This is a great mystery we can’t completely understand, nor do we fully comprehend the immeasurable riches we already have in Christ, but they will eventually be revealed.
Ephesians 2:8-10 — For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
It is the unmerited grace of God that saves us, not our own doing, so we can’t boast. But it is also the unmerited grace of God that sanctifies us, so we still can’t boast. We are Christ’s workmanship; contrary to the philosophies of this world, no one is a “self-made man.” As mentioned previously, while the Bible tells us to work out our salvation (not work for our salvation), to remain diligent, to struggle, and to persevere, we must rely on, trust in, and rest in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must also remember that the good works we do in Him and through Him were prepared in advance by Him, not by us. Again, no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:14 — For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility….
In Christ there is unity among believers, which was Jesus’ prayer to the Father on our behalf recorded in John 17. Unity among believers is the evidence our true fellowship with Christ. Where there is disunity and dysfunction, there is always a grieving and quenching of the Holy Spirit – someone is out of step with the Spirit – don’t let that someone be you; endeavor to remain faithful to God and pour out to others the unmerited mercy, grace and love you have received.
Ephesians 2:19 — “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
You were saved to be a part of a family in Christ. You were not created to be independent or dependent on others but rather interdependent.
Ephesians 2:22 – “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
We have received it already, but we haven’t grown into it already. We are still under construction. As you grow in grace, failing along the way, trust in grace. Don’t try to muscle your way through your sanctification, learn to abide in Him and receive His power as the Vine provides life-giving nourishment to the branch. Learn more and more to appreciate, live out, and truly experience what you have already received in Christ –
“Think of it like this: When one of my daughters was young, I bought her a Danish for the first time. With much excitement and anticipation, I paid for it and set it in front of her. But no matter how much I tried to convince her, she wouldn’t touch it. The Danish belonged to here in reality; it was hers! But it did not belong to her in experience until she took the first taste (and never turned back). God has invited us to participate in life with Him; it belongs to us through our faith in Christ. But only as our faith increases and we take up the promises in reality will it belong to us in experience.” (Pastor Colby Garmen, Pillar Church)
Ephesians 2:22 — “…the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
You are to be united to other members of the church as closely and as intentionally as stones of a temple, and Christ provides the means to unity and purpose. There is no daylight between stones of a temple.
Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 June 22: Today, commit to finding your specific place within the family of God and to whom you should be directly attached (the other stones) in order to fulfill your purpose. (Ephesians 2:22)