Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 2 July 2022:
Deuteronomy 28 is one of the most gruesome chapters in the entire Bible, describing in horrific detail the physical manifestation of God’s wrath inflicted on a nation that rejected Him as God. One cannot help but see the ominous warning for our country today. However, if from these warnings we start searching for political solutions for our nation’s ailments, we have seriously missed the point. Individual repentance and collective revival is the only hope for our nation. Our mission is the Great Commission – making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey. If the church fails at its mission, no politician or policy, no financial system or military can save us.
Deuteronomy 7, 25 — The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways…. The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
“As the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God set before them a choice: Heed His voice, obey His commandments, and experience continued victory. Or turn from God, disobey His word, and experience repeated and resounding defeat. It was a simple choice. The choice they made would be evident by the results on the battlefield.
The assurance of victory did not mean that the Israelites would not have to strap on their armor and go to battle. It did not assure them of effortless victory. At times their enemies fought fiercely, and the battles raged back and forth. Nevertheless, as the Israelites walked closely with God, they knew that their efforts would always result in victory.
God gives us the same choice He gave the Israelites. If we walk with Him, obedient to His word, He will stand with us and ensure victory over our challenges. We must face the battle, but God promises us victory if we remain in His will. However, if we choose to disassociate from God, we surely will be overtaken by difficulties. As with the Israelites, our decision will be evident by the outcome. If you are continually being defeated by everything you face, your heart has departed from God.
If you have been experiencing defeat in the challenges you face, examine your heart. When you are buffeted by the crises of life, your heart may have shifted away from God. Choose to listen to God. Then obey what He tells you, no matter what you face, and you will experience victory.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Deuteronomy 28:9, 10 — “The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself… if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.” God’s people obey Him and are recognized by unbelievers because of their obedience.
Deuteronomy 28:15-68 — God will be glorified by your life in a positive way, through your obedience, or in a negative way, through your disobedience. Either way, the truth of His holiness and righteousness will be revealed to the world. Choose obedience and it’s subsequent blessings.
Psalm 74:1 — “O God, why do you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?”
It can often feel like God has forgotten you or abandoned you — He hasn’t. Wait on the Lord. He knows exactly what is happening to you; He is in complete control of your situation; and He can only respond to you in perfect love and faithfulness. You cannot possibly understand the good He has in store for you as He takes you through various trials and tribulations. What seems bad to us, God is bringing together for good. (Romans 8:28) Be still and know that God is God.
Psalm 74 is identified as “A Maskil of Asaph” or song of Asaph. Who was Asaph, and to what event does this Psalm refer? When was “everything in the sanctuary” destroyed by “enemies”?
Asaph was David’s music director and is believed to have written twelve Psalms which collectively make up a larger portion of the entire Bible than several other books in the Bible. Asaph lived from David’s reign, through Solomon’s to Rehoboam’s. So, he offers a VERY unique and important perspective, having basically witnessed the nation of Israel rise to its “Golden Age” under David and then fall to destruction after Solomon turned to idolatry. Asaph watched as the kingdom was torn in two, and he witnessed the Egyptians invade Jerusalem and strip the Temple. Though Asaph appears to have remained faithful in his service to God, he nonetheless personally suffered greatly due to the sins of the leaders and the sins of the nation. No doubt, many of Asaph’s family and friends were killed in the foreign invasions about which he writes. Psalm 74 likely reflects Asaph’s distress at the invasion of Shishak the king of Egypt.
What can we learn today from Asaph’s Psalm? First, Asaph clearly recognizes that Israel’s national problems are in fact due to God’s anger in response to the nation’s sins. It wasn’t simply because Egypt had grown strong or because Israel’s leaders had not been competent enough – it was because Israel had turned from God, the true source of their strength.
Second, Asaph, though faithful to God, also suffers the consequences of the nation’s sins. When a nation turns from God, everyone suffers the consequences. It is important for Christians understand that reality as they prepare for the future.
Finally, Asaph, though undoubtedly disillusioned by his government, never lost his faith in God or his perspective that “God [is] King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.” (Psalm 74:12) In a time of national despair, Asaph understood that a stronger military, a better economy, more civil unity, or more capable elected officials would not save the nation, only the power of God. Asaph put his trust in God.
“In God We Trust.” As were approach another 4th of July and prepare for Independence Day celebrations, it would be good for us to reflect upon how Asaph’s story and his prayers remain relevant in our day.
– Revelation 18:3 — For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
– Jeremiah 6:14 — They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace
– Acts 10:35 — …but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
– Luke 24:47 — …and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
– Psalm 9:20 — Put them in fear, O LORD! Let the nations know that they are but men!
– Psalm 22:28 — For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
– Psalm 10:16 — The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.
– Psalm 33:10 — The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
– Psalm 33:12 — Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
– Luke 12:30 — For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
– 1 Peter 2:9 — But you [Christians] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
– Mark 13:10 — And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.
– Psalm 18:49 — For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.
– Psalm 45:17 — I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
– Psalm 22:27 — All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
– Psalm 46:10 — “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
– Psalm 72:11 — May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!
Psalm 74:2 – “Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!”
God’s congregation is those whose sin debt He has paid through the blood of Jesus Christ and who know follow Him as His disciple.
Psalm 74:7 – “They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.”
God’s enemies will profane His name and seek to destroy the work of His people on earth.
Psalm 74:8 – “They said to themselves, ‘We will utterly subdue them;’ they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.”
God’s enemies will not be satisfied while there are still those who worship God.
Psalm 74:9, 12 – “We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long…. Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”
A lack of prophecy is evidence of a weak, dying church. Despite the weak and dying churches, God will still work His plan for salvation across the earth for those He intends to save.
Psalm 74:16 – “Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.”
God is still in control.
Psalm 74:22 – “Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!”
Just like sick people vomit, the fools will scoff. Remain true to the LORD in the midst of an epidemic of sin.
Proverbs 2:6-10 — “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”
Where are you going to seek wisdom?
The Lord gives wisdom. It is not something that can be obtained by man apart from God’s enabling. You must be born again to “understand righteousness.” Wisdom must “come into your heart” (not just your mind), and it must “be pleasant to your soul.” Jesus clearly explained to Nicodemus (see John 3) that you must be “born of the Spirit” to have true wisdom, and we cannot give spiritual birth to ourselves, it must come from God. We are “dead to our sins” until we are saved through Christ and come alive with the Spirit within us. And it isn’t that we choose to be born, it is that when we were still not alive (powerless), God chose us and chose to pay for our sins. As today’s Psalms explain: “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts (Psalm 65:3, 4)!” Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. No matter how smart you are or become, you can never understand enough within your human abilities to rightly apply knowledge. The Bible says that our thoughts are infinitely removed from God’s thoughts. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that reveals to us the mind of God and reveals to us what we don’t have the capacity to know otherwise. We then need the conviction of the Holy Spirit to have the self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) to do what we know we should do. You have been chosen by God; now what?
Proverbs 2:7, 8 – “…he is a shield to those who walk in integrity….”
God’s shield does not protect you if you are not behind it.
Proverbs 2:10 – “…for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul….”
True understanding requires knowledge to move from your head to your heart through the Holy Spirit, which is wisdom. With much knowledge of the Bible, and much commitment in the name of God, Paul persecuted Christians, until God impacted his heart and taught him a true understanding of God’s word. Knowledge will never be enough. You must have a deep knowledge of God’s word, but you must also have the Holy Spirit leading you into true understanding. Information is not transformation.
God’s word will change your heart.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 July 22: While others are talking politics, political parties, and candidates, share the Gospel and talk about Jesus, The Way, The Truth, and the Life. Proclaim the only thing which can bring peace and unity – Jesus Christ (see John 17). “Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (1 Peter 5:14)