Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 6 July 2022:
Deuteronomy 32:6, 15, 18 – Do you thus repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?… But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation…. You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
All of us have failed to honor God as we should and have responded to His mercy and grace with selfishness and disobedience. The pridefulness of some religious people leads them to believe that through good deeds, they are somehow repaying God for what He has done for them without first acknowledging that it would be impossible for anyone to repay God and conceding the fact that even the ability to do good deeds is a gift which comes from God. The psalmist asks, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?” (Psalm 116:12) Of course, there is no way we could ever repay the Lord, but Paul offers the appropriate response to God’s mercy and grace – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Deuteronomy 32:26, 27 – I would have said, I will cut them to pieces; I will wipe them from human memory, had I not feared provocation by the enemy, lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, Our hand is triumphant, it was not the LORD who did all this.’
God works in your life primarily for His glory, which is your purpose – to glorify Him. God wants the world to see what He can do in your life, not what you can do through your own willpower, talents, and abilities. Therefore, God will place you in circumstances completely out of your control and give you assignments impossible for you to handle within your own abilities so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that it wasn’t you; it was Him.
Deuteronomy 32:30 – How could one have chased a thousand, and two have put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?
God will not bless disobedience, even among His children, especially among His children. When we choose to disobey God, He will allow us to face the natural consequences.
Deuteronomy 32:47 — “For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
For so many, the Bible is just empty words. But for the Christian, the Bible is the word of life which teaches the fear of the Lord which in turn produces wisdom (Proverbs 2:2-6), but most importantly, greater unity with Him. God uses His word to transform your heart (Proverbs 2:10) and to guide you along the right path in life (Proverbs 2:13-15). God’s word should be more valuable than silver, and its insights should excite you more than would finding a hidden treasure. Do you feel that excitement?
Deuteronomy 32:47 — “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.”
Moses had come to the end of his service as leader of the people of Israel and to the end of his life. He gathered all the people to the edge of the Promised Land to give them his final words of wisdom as they prepared to embark upon their long-awaited historic conquest without him. It is impossible to imagine the emotion he must have felt at this moment. He had spent his whole life preparing to lead or leading his people, building them into a mighty nation. He had watched an entire generation perish in the desert through the process. He had given his all to his people; he had a genuine heart for his people, and there is no way to measure how deeply he cared for his people. So, from all his experience and with all of his love, what were the final words Moses wanted to leave with his people — “Be strong and courageous,” and “be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life.” Of course this is the same message repeated throughout the Book of Deuteronomy — “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).” Jesus reiterated the importance of God’s word by reciting Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’” Of course, Jesus modelled dedication to the study and practice of God’s word. I believe that our nation, our world, desperately needs to see God’s people return to God’s word. The Defenders Reading Plan, and associated website and Facebook Group, was created for the sole purpose encouraging Christians to do just that. What a blessing that people are reading the Bible together and sharing with each other from across to globe! For those reading along this year, let me congratulate all of you who finished ¼ of this year’s readings. “They are not just idle words for you….”
“It’s puzzling that so many Christians try to live the Christian life without reading their Bible, except for sporadic perusals of God’s Word, seeking a pithy thought for the day. The Word of God is not merely a source of helpful suggestions, preventative warnings, or inspirational thoughts: It is life itself! God gathered the children of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land to review their pilgrimage with Him. They had spent forty years in a desert because their parents had not trusted God’s word. Their parents died without seeing the Promised Land because they had not believed God’s word. Even the revered Moses was soon to leave them because he had not shown proper reverence for God’s word. Many of them knew those who had been put to death as a consequence of their disobedience to God’s word. Over the years God’s word had become the most important thing in the life of the Israelites. God commanded His people to bind His words on their hearts, to teach them diligently to their children, and to regularly discuss them in their homes (Deuteronomy. 6:4–9). So essential was His word that it was to hold a prominent place in the daily lives of His people. Our reverence for God’s Word is revealed not only by what we say but also by what we do. Spending more time reading and studying the words of people rather than the Word of God, reveals our hearts’ condition. To blatantly disregard God’s Word is to reject life itself. To obey God’s Word is the surest way to experience all that God has in store for us.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Philippians 4:1 – “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.”
A loving church unites behind God’s truth, desires true companionship with one another, works diligently together, and takes care of one another. They are a community within the community; they are family. Does this describe your church? Question: How many people in your church are going to have children soon? Who is sick? Who is having car trouble? You get the point.
Philippians 4:3 — “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel.”
Women play prominent roles throughout the Bible.
Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”
Are you rejoicing today? Would everyone today describe you as joyful?
Philippians 4:4-7 — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“Don’t be anxious! Paul said there is nothing that should cause a child of God to worry. He was well aware of things that cause anxiety. His nation was occupied by a foreign army and ruled by corrupt leaders. He was writing from prison, where he was being held as a result of false accusations. He was separated from those he loved; his motives had been questioned, and he had been misrepresented. Some were trying to undermine all that he had accomplished in starting churches. He suffered physically and faced imminent execution (2 Cor. 11:23-29). Yet Paul said there would never be a crisis so troubling that God could not bring peace in the midst of it!
God will not necessarily take your problems away, but He will carry the load for you. He wants you to experience His peace, which is beyond human comprehension. You will never fully understand how God could give you peace in some of the situations you face, but you do not have to understand it in order to experience it. This peace is not just for those who “handle stress well”; it is for everyone! You may know that God wants you to experience peace but wonder how this is possible, given what you are presently facing. Yet, Scripture says to be anxious for nothing. God’s word clearly indicates that there is nothing you can face that is too difficult, too troubling, or too fearful for God. No matter what your circumstances are, turn your anxiety over to God and let His perfect peace guard your heart.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Christians should be known for their joy, reasonableness, confidence, wisdom, steadiness, and peacefulness. Are you know by everyone to be very reasonable?
Whenever I lose sight of the fact that my God is LORD, that He is in complete control of all circumstances, and that He only allows His perfect will to occur in my life, whenever I lose sight of that, I become “anxious” and “unreasonable.” However, when I obey Proverbs and “Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and do not lean on [my] own understanding,” and when I surrender my concerns to God, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” guards my heart, mind, and actions. Proverbs reminds us that with love comes faithfulness (Proverbs 3:3). The more my love for God grows, the more faithful I desire to be; and the more faithful I am, the more attuned I become to the love of God, and the more my faith grows, which in turn makes me less anxious and unreasonable. With all this comes great peace that transcends circumstances.
-- Matthew 11:28 -- Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. -- James 4:8 -- Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Philippians 4:6, 7 – …do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our understanding is so incredibly small. It is absolutely impossible for us to understand God’s perfect will in any situation apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is more critical for us today than to be united with the Holy Spirit, to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, receptive to the Holy Spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit, and in step with the Holy Spirit. We must walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, not in our own understanding.
Philippians 4:8 — “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
The transformation of our minds includes the choice to think godly thoughts and eliminate negative, ungodly thinking. Christians must practice the discipline of thought control. You must endeavor to only think about what is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Your attitude will be infectious. In the presence of God, what is there to think about but “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, whatever is excellent or worthy of praise”? When you are with the love of your life, shouldn’t every minute be a celebration? Shouldn’t your overflowing joy be evident to everyone around you? Shouldn’t that in itself be an incredible testimony to the wonderfulness of the One you love? When you awake in the morning to begin another day with Jesus, shouldn’t you genuinely feel the uncontrollable urge to say, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”? (Psalm 118:24) The secret is truly “knowing” Jesus and resting in his “riches of glory.” It’s time to celebrate!
“What you think about in your unguarded moments reflects what your mind dwells upon. What you speak about when your guard is down is a good gauge of what is in your heart (Matt. 12:34). Your mind needs exercise just as your physical body does. To keep your body healthy, you must be careful what you put into it, and you must exercise regularly. To keep your thoughts pure, you must guard what goes into your mind. To exercise your mind, you must contemplate things that are noble and truths that stretch your mind.
Some Christians allow the world to fill their minds with ungodly thinking. Some people seem drawn to concentrate on the negative, choosing to be pessimistic about everything. Some remain satisfied with thinking of the mundane. Others fail to intentionally place Scripture in their thoughts, choosing instead to adopt human reasoning. Others, however, choose to expose their minds to the truths of God–to that which is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and good.
The things you allow your mind to dwell on will be revealed by the way you live. If you focus on negative things, you will inevitably be a negative person. If you allow unholy thoughts to fill your mind, ungodliness will become common in your life. If you fill your mind with thoughts of Christ, you will become Christlike.
What you fill your mind with is a matter of choice. Choose to concentrate on the magnificent truths of God, and they will create in you a noble character that brings glory to God.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Philippians 4:11-13 — “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
What was Paul’s “secret” for always being content and cheerful regardless of the situation? How did he maintain an inner peace beyond anyone’s understanding, worrying about nothing? Paul’s peace reflects the peace displayed by Jesus who rested peacefully in the stern of a small boat in the middle of a great storm while the apostles exclaimed, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke 8:24) Paul’s secret was that he remained in the presence of Jesus, relied not on his own strength but in the strength and understanding of Jesus. Paul trusted not in his environment or abilities but rather in Jesus alone. He kept the faith of a child who does not doubt Daddy’s provision and protection. In the arms of the Creator, the Master, the LORD, what circumstances matter? The secret of contentment through any circumstance is trusting that God is not only bigger than all circumstances but will use ALL circumstances to create goodness beyond your imagination. (see Romans 8:28) Through Him, you are already victorious, though you might not always tangibly see it; and you can do ALL things – all things God intends for you to do. If you lack contentment, you lack right perspective on the reality of Jesus. Are you content in all situations because you have placed your complete trust in Jesus?
“Our world promotes dissatisfaction with our lives. We are constantly bombarded with newer and better things that will make our lives more complete if only we would obtain them! If we listen to the world, we will always be comparing the lifestyles and possessions of others with our own, and we will always be dissatisfied. If our contentment comes from possessions, activities, or other people, these can be altered or removed. If our contentment comes from our relationship with Christ, there is absolutely nothing that can take that away.
Paul had enjoyed power and status among his people. He had also been imprisoned and bound in stocks in the depths of a jail cell. He had stood before a king and been stoned almost to death by an angry mob. Paul had enjoyed the benefits and pleasures of life, yet he could give them all up and still be filled with the joy of the Lord. His contentment did not depend on his environment but on his relationship with Christ.
Contentment frees you to enjoy every good thing God has given you. Contentment demonstrates your belief that God loves you and has your best interest in mind. Discontent stems from the sin of ingratitude and a lack of faith that God loves you enough to provide for all that you need. Strive to be grateful for all that God has given you. A grateful heart has no room for envy.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Philippians 4:14-20 — Christians share in each other’s troubles and provide for each other’s needs as Christ’s servants, empowered for ministry by Him.
Philippians 4:19 — “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus will provide all the inner strength you need if you surrender to Him wholeheartedly, trust Him, and obey Him.
“This verse is one of the most practical we will ever encounter in the Bible. Every one of us faces needs in our lives; at times, they are beyond our own means. Those are not the times to become anxious or to panic. Nor should we give up in defeat. It is at these times that God wants to draw from His unlimited storehouse to meet our need as only He can.
Do you believe God can meet the needs of your finances? Your health? Your children? Your parents? Your church? Scripture says you will never face a need for which God’s provision is not more than adequate. This promise appears over and over again in the Scriptures (Ps. 116:6; Heb. 4:16; Matt. 6:8; Ps. 69:33). If you are not experiencing God’s bountiful provision, what is the problem? Is the difficulty with God? Or could it be that you do not really believe that God stands ready to meet your every need?
Every resource of God is available to any child of God who will believe Him. No one has ever exhausted God’s supply nor suffered a shortfall when trusting Him. Unfortunately, some Christians live as if God’s abundant resources were not available to them. They are children of the King, but they live like beggars! Would the people close to you affirm that your life gives evidence of an unwavering belief that God will do what He said?” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Philippians 4:21 — “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.”
Do you greet every Christian in Christ Jesus?
Philippians 4:23 — “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Your peace and joy today depend on your willingness to walk in the confidence of God’s grace.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 July 22: Today, practice Paul’s Philippians 4 example. Rejoice all day. Worry about nothing but pray thankfully about everything, trusting in Jesus and the perfect provision of the loving Father. Don’t think about negative things, only what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Let your love, joy, and peace stand firm on the rock of Jesus Christ, unmoved by the storms of your circumstances. Practice being content in all circumstances by focusing on the immeasurable, inalienable blessings you have in Christ.