Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 16 July 2022:
Joshua 8:1-9 – And he commanded them, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready. And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. And they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us, just as before.’ So we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will give it into your hand. And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.”
God’s ways may involve the use of tactics and even tactical deception.
Joshua 8:30 – “At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal.”
The proper response to God’s salvation is worship.
Psalms 79:9 – “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!”
God will always deal with you in a way that brings glory to Him.
Psalm 79:10 – “Why should the nations say, ’Where is their God?’ Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!”
It is sometimes hard to understand why wickedness continues and why God allows the innocent to suffer. We must remember that God has a plan and will remain faithful to His promise of Romans 8:28 to work all things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His Romans 8:29 purpose: to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Continue to trust and obey.
Psalm 79:13 – “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”
In the midst of suffering, continue to give thanks to God and to praise Him to all.
Proverbs 16:2 — “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
It is vital for Christians to understand that their hearts can be very deceptive. We tend to give ourselves more credit than we should. Paul warned, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3) You must seek the daily Counsel of the Holy Spirit to be shown what you cannot see within your own heart. And you must remain in a state of humility and repentance, not sorrowfully but joyfully, knowing that you are growing in grace. Continually examine your heart (empowered by the Holy Spirit), considering the real motivation behind your actions, particularly your acts of worship. Are you truly motivated by selfless love or by fear, pride, or mere duty. Seek the heart of Jesus, a heart of pure love.
Proverbs 16:3 — “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
Don’t ask God to bless what you are doing. Ask God to show you how to be a part of what He is doing that you might join Him in it, grow closer to Him in the effort, and glorify Him. Commit to being a part of what God is doing, and you will be blessed.
Proverbs 16:4 — “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”
God uses the ungodly for His purposes, often to discipline the godly. If you don’t like your political leaders, your employers, or other difficult people in your life, your first step might be prayerful repentance. God controls all circumstances and places people in your life to teach you something. Conversely, consider verse 7 — “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Proverbs 16:8 — “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.”
Don’t sell out for instant, fleeting gain that can never satisfy. Don’t be like Esau who traded his birthright for a bowl of soup.
Proverbs 16:12 — “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.”
Make no mistake, all sin is an abomination, cosmic treason against the KING of Kings. Don’t take any sin lightly.
Proverbs 16:13 — “Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.”
God loves it when you speak the truth. Successful people and good leaders appreciate hearing the truth, no matter how difficult it is to receive. They don’t fight it or reject it but rather accept it and conform to it. When you live in accordance with the Truth (Jesus is the embodiment of truth), you are flowing with the currents of life and all creation rather than trying to swim against them. You are aligned with the perfect will of God and are ready to receive all His blessings.
Proverbs 16:21 — “The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”
Wise Christians know how to use gentle, gracious words to persuade others rather than arguing with them. What comes out of your mouth reveals your wisdom for lack of wisdom.
Proverbs 16:26 — “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.”
God wants you to stay hungry. There is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone. Rejoice in your challenges. When you understand that challenges are required for growth, you will start to understand that adversity is as blessing too, and you will start to enjoy the struggle.
Proverbs 16:32 — “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
The greatest battle anyone will fight is the battle for self-control (which can only be won through the Holy Spirit). The mightiest person is the one who has overcome self. The greatest miracle on earth is genuine love displayed.
God designed His people to be a “kingdom of priests… [to] reign on the earth (Exodus 19, 6; Revelation 5:10).” However, before a ruler is worthy to rule anything else, he must be able to rule over self. In fact, it is an inability to rule self that disqualified God’s people for positions of leadership within His Kingdom throughout the Bible. To have and maintain the right to lead in the Kingdom, one must first demonstrate sustained personal self-control, discipline, obedience, holiness. The Kingdom of God submits to the authority and will of the King (“thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven). Our first responsibility is to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ in our own lives and then model that life to others. Jesus modeled obedience for us and then told us that if we truly loved Him we would obey Him completely; He then commanded that, from our position of total obedience, “Go 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.” Clearly, self-control is not accomplished of our own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Key though is to recognize that Christians already have been equipped with that power. Now we have the responsibility to live by the Spirit rather than selfishness (deny self), pick up our crosses (see ourselves as crucified with Christ), and choose to truly follow Jesus rather than asking Jesus to follow us (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23). The problem we have with self-control is that we have not yet fully committed to live for God rather than self. However, we were created with the specific purpose of serving and loving God; apart from our purpose, our lives are meaningless and dead. Isn’t it time to choose to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and “rule our spirits” for His glory?
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- 2 Timothy 2:11, 12 — The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him
- Numbers 32:11, 12 — Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Jul 22: Glorify God today through wholehearted love and obedience to Him, revealed most prominently in selfless, sacrificial love towards others in His Name.