Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 10 July 2022:
Joshua 24:14 — “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”
A theme that is often repeated in the Bible is that you cannot serve God half-heartedly. By definition, a casual response to God, a lack of “fear” or reverence, is really to deny Him as God. You cannot be partially committed to God and honor Him as God, and you cannot expect God to honor your partial obedience which is just disobedience and dishonor. Nor can you expect to wander from God and stay close to Him at the same time. Love of God results in obedience. Unity with God requires obedience. Only in God’s presence is there fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Today, Joshua tells the people to stop kidding themselves. Either serve God or stop pretending to serve Him. Joshua tells the people to put away their false gods which they served instead of fully committing to the Almighty, Sovereign Lord. Likewise, we are called to put away our false god of ‘self’ which wars against the sovereignty of God –
– Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry
– 1 Samuel 15:23 — For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
– Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
– 1 Kings 18:21 — And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
– Joshua 24:15 — And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
If we are using “grace” as an excuse to continue in sin, trivializing the blood of Christ which was shed to pay the penalty of those sins, we are in essence denying the Gospel and rejecting the new life in Christ – “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29) “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9) “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9)
– Joshua 14:14 – Caleb…. wholly followed the Lord.
– 2 Kings 20:3 — “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.”
– 2 Chronicles 19:9 — And he charged them: “Thus you shall do in the fear of the Lord, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart:
– 2 Chronicles 25:2 — And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.
– Psalm 119:2 — Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
– Luke 11:23 — Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
– Proverbs 25:26 — Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
– Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
– 1 Kings 18:21 — And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
Joshua 24:15 — “Choose this day whom you will serve…. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Everyone on earth chooses who they will serve, God or an idol. Some will verbally proclaim the Lordship of God and may even back their oaths up with religious activities and good deeds, but in reality, their hearts are not with God. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23).’”
A person can do “many mighty works” in the name of God and still lack a saving faith. Also, born-again Christians can drift comfortably out of fellowship with God, replacing sound theology with a self-centered me-ology that plays by the religious “rules” and uses “good works” to legitimize to themselves and to others what has been termed “approbation lust” – the desire to be recognized, to promote oneself.
The desire for recognition or approval can become a powerful, all-encompassing motivator in life that can cause us to do our will for self-glorification while claiming, even convincing ourselves, we are doing the will of God. We can do “right” things for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way. Only you and God know what motivation is behind your daily actions. Pray that God will continually incline your heart more and more toward Him and less and less toward self. Examine yourself. Whenever you hear yourself saying or thinking “I”, ask yourself if that “I” is not short for “idol.” Are you really serving God our yourself, perhaps in the name of God.
– Isaiah 10:15 — Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
– Luke 18:14 — I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
– Romans 15:18 — For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed,
– Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
– Jeremiah 9:23 — Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,
– Proverbs 27:2 — Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
– 1 Corinthians 4:7 — For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
– 2 Corinthians 11:30 — If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
– Ephesians 2:8-9 — 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.
– 1 Timothy 6:10 — For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
– Mark 8:35 — For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
– Read 2 Timothy 3 about the powerless form of religion vs. the true religion.
Psalm 77:11 — “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”
In times of trouble and doubt, it is good to remember what God has done for His people and for you in life; count your many blessings. When you begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, remember His perfect record of love and faithfulness. God is always good, loving, and faithful.
Psalm 78:4 – “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
God expects you to tell your children (or children you know) all that you have seen God do in your lifetime as a witness to His glory.
Psalm 78:5-7 — “Teach… children that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
God expects parents to teach their children to trust and obey God. Jesus said that our mission on earth was to make disciples (not just believers). Your first responsibility of discipleship is within your own family.
Psalm 78:7 — “…so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;”
Believers believe Jesus is the Son of God, but disciples don’t just believe, they follow and obey Jesus, dedicating all of their lives to Jesus. Jesus has appointed us to make disciples who obey – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)
Psalm 78:11 – “They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.”
Forgetting what God has done leads you to depart from Him.
Psalm 78:20 – “He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?”
You selfishly depart from God when you selfishly want more than He provides or when you don’t wait patiently and confidently for Him to provide.
Psalm 78:34-37 — “When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly…. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.”
Many people obey God only out of fear or hope for reward, but God demands obedience motivated by love. God knows the difference between selfishly motivated worship and unselfish worship and service. Outwardly, they may look the same to other people, but God judges the heart behind the deeds. God is not fooled like people are.
Psalm 78:52 – “Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.”
God is the Good Shepherd. (see Psalm 23; John 10)
Psalm 78:67-68 – “He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves.”
The past is not the present, and you aren’t who you were yesterday, but rather who you are today. Some people proclaim their past successes while failing to bear fruit today, while others wallow in their past tragedies or failures instead of making the most of today. However, those who are ready to be faithful to the Lord today, trusting in His mercy and grace, with great anticipation (rather than anxiety and fear) of what God will be both blessed by God and used by God. Past fidelity does not make up for today’s infidelity. It is today that matters, and it is not how you start that matters by how you finish the race.
Psalm 78:72 — “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”
Good leaders require both character and competence. They must be both ethical (by God’s definition) and good at what they do. Many leaders are talented, with large personalities, but lack integrity. High competency often overshadows bad character in the eyes of the public, with unfortunate consequences.
Psalm 78 — God’s history of discipline within your family and your church should teach you the futility of sin and rebellion.
Proverbs 10:2 — “Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.”
The wicked may gain great treasure on earth but remain spiritually dead, missing the whole point of life on earth.
Proverbs 10:3 — “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”
Godly people are satisfied with what God has provided them, but the ungodly are never satisfied no matter how much they acquire for themselves and no matter how much they proclaim their happiness. Nothing on earth can fill a God-sized void in life.
Proverbs 10:4 — “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”
We were created by God to love Him but also to work for Him. We are spiritual, but we were also intentionally created physical and placed in a physical world to translate God’s spiritual reality into the physical reality — “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s first command was to “subdue the earth.” To bring His order into a world of disorder. God provides, but He expects us to work in accordance with His will. His provision is not meant to accommodate our irresponsibility (though in mercy and grace He often does). God’s “natural” principles still apply to us even though God empowers us with the “supernatural.” Decisions have predictable consequences, and actions produce predictable results. A fundamental life principle for everyone is you will reap what you sow. If you want a result in life, you will have to work for it using the abilities God has given you. Christians are responsible, hard workers who pursue excellence in all things.
Proverbs 10:8 — “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.”
Someone once pointed out that “listen” and “silent” are spelled with the same letters. Read God’s word and receive. In prayer, don’t just talk. Listen. Spend less time pondering over what you think and want and more time asking what God thinks and wants.
Proverbs 10:12 — “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
The Greatest Commandment is love. Love and forgiveness are inseparable. Our mission is reconciliation. Forgiveness and reconciliation are inseparable. Resolve to burry all offenses. Cover them over with love and forgiveness.
Proverbs 10:18 — “The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.”
Don’t hide your hatred, and don’t spew your hatred — just don’t hate! Love!
Proverbs 10:22 — “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”
A person can be rich with sorrow, or rich without sorrow. When you are truly walking with Jesus, you are rich and joyful. Your richness and joy won’t be measured by currency.
Proverbs 10:24 — “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.”
The righteous want what God wants and live for what God wants. Therefore, when the righteous ask, they receive because they are only asking for what God wants. If you are frustrated with not getting what you want, you likely have a problem with your “wanter.”
Proverbs 10:25 — “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.”
Everyone goes through the storms of life, but the outcomes are not the same.
Proverbs 10:28 — “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.”
Hope is trusting God with the future. God will not disappoint. The wicked trust themselves with the future though they have no control over it. This results in a terrible existence.
Proverbs 10:29 — “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.”
Like the old analogy of the ship and the lighthouse, the Lighthouse does not move for the ship but serves as a beacon of protection. A person will either be guided by the Light or destroyed on the unseen rocks of life.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Jul 22: Seek to serve God whole-heartedly today. Examine the motives behind your thoughts, words and deeds today. Are you really serving God or something or someone else? Pray that God will renew in you an undivided heart.
– 2 Corinthians 13:5 — Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!