Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 9 July 2022:
Joshua 1:5-9 — “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The Israelites were preparing to enter a foreign land and face mighty adversaries. Remember how the spies described the land and its inhabitants — “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Numbers 13:22-23) God told Joshua to be “strong and courageous,” but not in battle, rather in obedience to His word – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
What is your success plan? Where does Bible study and application fit into your plan? On what are you meditating day and night? What are you using to decide your course? When you are particularly challenged, do you spend more time with the Lord or less? “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” (Martin Luther)
- Psalm 20:7 — Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
- Psalm 56:4 — In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?
- Jeremiah 17:5 — Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
- Isaiah 40:31 — But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 26:3-4 — You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
- Isaiah 43:2 — When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
- Proverbs 16:20 — Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
- Psalm 119:165 — Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 — For we walk by faith, not by sight.
- Galatians 6:9 — And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
- Psalm 9:10 — And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
- Psalm 28:7 — The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
- Psalm 112:7 — He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
- Psalm 37:5 — Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
- Hebrews 11:6 — And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
- Isaiah 41:10 — Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Jeremiah 17:7-8 — “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
- Psalm 91:1-16 — He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, …
- Proverbs 16:3 — Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Psalm 76:1 – “In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel.”
Nations are great when God is known by the people and respected by the people as God.
Psalm 76:1, 11 – “In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel…. Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared.”
Asaph’s Psalm explains where God is truly “known” He is truly worshipped, feared, and obeyed. When speaking to the Pharisees who pursued obedience and religion motivated by pride and self-righteousness, Jesus reiterated this truth — you must not be like the hypocrites [actors]. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward…. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:5, 9, 10) Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary says that “hallowed” means to “mentally venerate,” and venerate means to revere, adore, esteem, honor or worship. When God is truly hallowed, and honored as KING in the heart, genuine worship and acceptable obedience is the result. Today we read that the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon and said this, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, half the greatness of your wisdom was not told me; you surpass the report that I heard.” (2 Chronicles 9:5, 6) Her experience with Solomon seems like a great example for the Christian life. Hearing about Jesus and believing enough to go to him is the first step – “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:5) However, our faith blossoms when hearing transitions to experiencing. We are not witnesses to what we have heard, nor witnesses to a philosophy or religion. We are witnesses to what we have seen and experienced first-hand; and we are witnesses to who we know personally and genuinely. It is the reality of Christ within us that produces fruit and works which will not be destroyed (see 1 Corinthians 3:12). When the queen of Sheba experienced first-hand the truth of Solomon, then she offered him many gifts with a heart similar to what Asaph describes in today’s Psalm – “let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared.” In response to the queen’s honoring of him, Solomon “gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked.” Consider how Solomon’s response to Sheba compares to the words of Jesus referenced yesterday from John 15: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Let it be said “In [your heart] God is known; His name is great in [your heart].” John 15:11 — “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Psalm 76:11-12 — “Make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them; let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth.”
The nation who obeys God is the nation God blesses. Again, our only hope for America is repentance and revival.
When you must choose between your loyalty to God or government, always remain loyal to God.
Proverbs 9:10 — “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Wisdom that is not founded on God, the Creator of Wisdom, is no wisdom at all.
Do we have the wisdom to see what is going on around us, to understand the meaning and implications of current events and situations? Do we have a knowledge of the Holy One that enables us to see things from His perspective? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “ As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:7-9).” However, “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).” Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).” The Bible says that while the Israelites were responding to the “activities” of God in the desert, Moses sought to understand the “ways” of God through a deeper, closer, committed relationship with Him (Exodus 33). Can we see the events around you from the context of your close relationship with God and an understanding of His “ways?”
The Book of Genesis records that Sodom and Gomorrah had reached a condition where there was nothing left but for God to totally destroy these cities. With great urgency, the angels pressed Lot to leave, but Lot and his family did not have the same conviction as the angels. “The outcry to the Lord against its people [was] so great that [God] sent [the angels] to destroy it (Genesis 19:13).” However, although Lot was “distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (2 Pet 2:7, 8)” he remained hesitant to leave when God said it was time to go. So desensitized to current conditions was Lots family that when Lot pleaded with them to leave, they only laughed, thinking that he was joking. “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them (Matthew 13:15).’” Lot was saved only because the angels mercifully forced him to go out – sometimes love involves taking people where they don’t want to go. Of course most are familiar with the ultimate fate of Lot’s wife who simply couldn’t let go of this ungodly lifestyle. The shocking story of Lot’s daughter that follows the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah reveals just how compromised his family had become by the sinful culture around them. How could a “righteous man” like Lot allow this to happen to his family? When did he lose sight of the true state of things? This reminds me of a statement in the Forward to the book “The Light and the Glory” by Peter Marshall: “The most significant index of the extent of our moral decay was our very indifference to it.”
In Matthew we see another perspective gap, this time between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus commands them to sail to the region of the Gadarenes; this was not a favored place for the Jews because it was inhabited by Canaanites and Baal worshippers – it was the “other side.” Baal worshippers believed Baal to be the god of “rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture.” How might the knowledge of this played with the minds of the disciples when a furious storm arose “without warning”? To them (from an earthly perpective) the “truth” of the situation was that “We’re going to drown!” However, the “Truth,” Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the boat — “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” How has the Truth, Jesus changed your perspective on life? How has it changed the way you interpret and respond to circumstances? Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (John 17:3).” Eternal life doesn’t begin when you die and go to heaven; it begins the moment you are saved and know Christ. When you know Christ, your whole perspective changes:
- Ephesians 1:17-21 — I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
- Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Proverbs 9:13, 14 — “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,”
Foolish people are loud and proud, bold and audacious.
Proverbs 9:17 — “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
The simple seek personal gain at the expense of others. The simple also seek something for nothing and shortcuts to accomplishment rather than diligent hard work. Everyone is looking for “secrets” to success rather than self-discipline. Successful people are willing to do each day what unsuccessful people aren’t.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 Jul 22: When you have challenges today, rather than simply jumping into perceived solutions, spend extra time with God first, turning to His word in prayer. Before any problems arise, prioritize your time with God, so when problems do arise, you are already prepared. Trust in Him, and obey His word without deviating from it. “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)