Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 24 July 2022:
Joshua 16:10 — “However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.”
You must obey ALL of God’s commands and be willing to go the distance to receive the full blessings of God. There are always consequences for disobedience, and some consequences may be tangibly significant, but they are always spiritually significant. Often the consequences are not realized until many years later, perhaps not for generations, but the roosters always come home to roost. In this case, the Israelites chose to disobey God by not driving out the Canaanites – avoiding the challenge was the easy thing to do and didn’t seem to result in many problems for them. However, we will soon read that this decision to disobey God would prove extremely costly over time. Unfortunately, they failed to understand that the weight of daily discipline is nothing compared to the burden of life regret.
In Joshua, chapter 6, God gave strange and very specific instructions to bring down the walls of Jericho — “You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” March around the city for seven days and march around the city seven times on the seventh day. Imagine how the people must have felt marching around the city on days 1 (nothing happens), day 2 (nothing happens), day 3 (nothing happens), etc. What if the people simply stopped marching on the sixth day or only marched around once on the seventh day, giving up when no results were observed? It takes faith to be totally obedient to God, particularly when it doesn’t appear to make any sense or produce positive results. However, unconditional obedience is required to receive the blessings God intends for you. Don’t quit on day six — keep marching in fidelity! Persistence is the path to the promise.
Psalm 84:1, 2 – “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
How important is it to you to be close to God today in His church with His people? If you don’t feel like going to church this morning, check your heart, and go anyway. Be where God intends you to be, and pray that God will use the experience to convict your heart.
Psalm 84 is identified as “A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.” Korah was the grandson of Kohath, one among the 250 who challenged the rights of Moses and Aaron to the priesthood as recorded in Numbers 16. You may recall from Numbers 16 that God wrathfully opened the earth and consumed Korah and all associated with Korah, his household and possessions. (Numbers 16:28-35) However, we learned in Numbers 26 that the sons of Korah did not die; God spared them in His mercy. God purified the house of Korah. Seven generations later, the prophet Samuel arose from the line of Korah (1 Chronicles 6:31-38; 1 Chronicles 38; 1 Samuel 1:1, 20). The Korahites became doorkeepers and custodians for the tabernacle. (1 Chronicles 9:19-21, 1 Chronicles 2) Some became expert warriors and joined King David in various military exploits. (1 Chronicles 12:6) Pertaining to the Psalms, the Korahites became David’s music ministry leaders in the Tabernacle and Temple.
There are many Psalms attributed to the sons of Korah (About 25). All mirror the same heart for the Lord that is revealed today in Psalm 84. For example, you may have been touched by Psalm 42:1 — “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” – another testimony of how much the Sons of Korah loved the Lord. The Psalms written by the Sons of Korah are not just platitudes but are rather deep expressions of praise which come from their real encounters with God, having experienced God’s wrath, but also His mercy and grace. For example, with Exodus and Numbers 16 in mind, we have a greater appreciation for the heart behind Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” The heart of the Korahites so beautifully revealed in the Psalms is a heart of genuine gratitude, praise, and worship that comes from true salvation.
The Korahites were descendants of men who “despised” God, an infamous group who brought a level of wrath from God the likes of which the people had never seen before (“something new” — Numbers 16:28-35). The ignoble beginnings of the Korahites were, of course, known by all and recorded for eternity in the Bible. But more importantly, what was also evident to all and recorded in the Bible for eternity is what God did in the Korahite family through the Sons of Korah. God’s justice combined with His mercy and love transformed the Korahites, and this is their very public testimony that brings great glory to God. The Sons of Korah loved much because they had been forgiven much. They could not help but proclaim their love in both word and deed. As Paul Harvey use to say, “Now you know… the rest of the story.” Perhaps you have a similar testimony. Your story of salvation brings glory to God when you proclaim it publicly. Your story is your witness of the Truth of God. Proclaim it with passion today!
Is Jesus your ultimate desire and your joy? Is he your strength? Do you trust him implicitly? Do you long for a heart that is more desiring of God, more loving of God, and more obedient to God? Perhaps, like me, you can relate to the man who said to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!” I am struck by the fact that it is God that softens our hearts and gives us a heart that seeks Him (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26), while at the same time, God’s greatest command to us is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).” In fact, the Bible warns us to “be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God (Joshua 23:11).” God gives us the ability to love Him and to love others, and God also gives us the responsibility to do both. But if I have the desire to love, do I need a command to love? No. In perfect love, there is no need for commands, and obedience is natural, inevitable. As John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).” But in our imperfection, God’s commands guide us in our sanctification and our pursuit of love – they are a lamp unto our feet as we seek to walk with God. Paul reminds us that we have to “fight the good fight” and “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22) Give thanks that God in His grace has enabled and equipped us to grow in our love for Him and for others. As was the case with the Korahites, the more we learn the truly appreciate the love, mercy, and grace we have received from God through Jesus, the more we are ‘amazed by grace,’ the more we will grow to love and naturally obey Him and proclaim Him – “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
- Jeremiah 29:13 — You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Psalm 84:3, 4 – “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah”
We can be at home without a home when we are in the presence of God.
Psalm 84:10 — “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
What is your life’s ambition? How do you define life success? Does your joy depend on anything other than merely being in God’s presence? Would you rather be a nobody with Jesus or have everything this world can offer? What is your ultimate goal in life? What does the Bible say your goal should be?
Psalm 84:11, 12 – “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
What guarantees joy, prosperity, and security in life?
Proverbs 24:7 – “Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth.”
In biblical times, elders or local officials met at the city gate to settle disputes and to impart wisdom to the people. As the local Ambassador for Christ, are you that person to others? Do people naturally come to you because of your godly wisdom? Notice that many people who desire to be leaders, push their ‘wisdom’ out to others who never asked for it. Many people want to be thought wise, but few people have paid the price for wisdom.
Proverbs 24:10 – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
Your strength is built through proper discipleship, one day at a time over time; it is tested in adversity. When the storms of life come (and everyone will go through the storms), everyone will see whether or not your house was built on a solid foundation.
Proverbs 24:11 — “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”
Proverbs 24 has much to say about how we are to deal with unrepentant sinners. Most importantly, we are reminded that we have a responsibility to rescue them from their sin – we can’t ignore what they are doing; we are our brother’s keeper. Elsewhere in the Bible, God says it like this: “If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 33:8, 9) However, rescuing is dangerous business. Much like saving someone drowning, if you are not a strong swimmer, you are in danger of being pulled down too. We must be very careful not to go into the rescuing business casually or complacently – “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 22:23) So, Proverbs warns that rescuing takes much preparation, well prior to the actual rescue attempt. (Proverbs 24:3-10) At the ‘day of adversity’ when you make the rescue attempt, you will discover how prepared you actually were. We have a responsibility to be prepared. Proverbs also gives us some ground rules for rescuing unrepentant sinners: Do not be envious of them or desire to be with them (Proverbs 24:1, 19); don’t act like you can’t see what they are doing (Proverbs 24:12; remember, silence is consent); do not rejoice when they suffer the consequences of their sin (Proverbs 24:17; the makes God unhappy); don’t worry about sinners or fear them (Proverbs 24:19); do not join with sinners (Proverbs 24:21; this is perhaps the Christian’s biggest mistake today); do not accept, tolerate, validate, excuse, or minimize their behavior (Proverbs 24:24); rebuke them by speaking honestly of their sin (Proverbs 24:25, 26); treat unrepentant sinners fairly and unemotionally (Proverbs 24:28, 29); and finally learn from their mistakes and take heed of the consequences of sin. (Proverbs 24:30) You will have plenty of opportunities to respond to sin today. What will you do? What most people seem to do is nothing. Again, silence is consent.
Proverbs 24:11, 12 — “…will he not repay man according to his work?”
God will not excuse His messengers who do not call out for repentance. The Good News is ‘good’ in context with the ‘bad’ news, that mankind is facing the wrath of God. It is in the context of the looming wrath of God that salvation through Jesus is such Good News. Those who don’t desperately feel the need for salvation will not cry out to the Savior. We must first communicate the truth of the problem before we can point to the Truth, Jesus. Unfortunately, few want to hear the truth, so you will suffer if you have any courage to speak truth — suffer with joy and thankfulness to be found worthy. Suffer out of love for God and for the sinner. Love makes you courageous. Courage, by the way is not the absence of fear. In fact, fear is required for courage. Courage is being faithful in spite of fear.
Proverbs 24:16 – “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
Everyone falls, but how God’s people respond reveals the power of their God to the watching world. How God has seen you through your trials, tribulations, and personal failures is an important part of your testimony to others. A personal testimony likely eliminates any possibility for personal pride (because it is humiliating), and gives all glory to God. It is about one worthless, pathetic sinner who was saved by Jesus Christ and then used by God for His purposes. A personal testimony gives all glory to God, and the witness goes out of His was to avoid sharing any of the glory.
Proverbs 24:17 – “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”
Verses 16 and 17 go together. We get up to help others up, not to step on them. The Christian does not want to see anyone fall — our heart hopes genuinely for the repentance and salvation of the most despised, wicked wretch. Remember, everything God gives us is to accomplish His mission of reconciliation. If you are not reconciling, you’re wrong.
Proverbs 24:24 – “Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are in the right,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations.”
God has put in the hearts of every person a sense of justice and a conscience. Likewise, God has enabled people to have a sense of guilt. Some will respond to their guilt with self-justification, and others will understand that justification can only come through Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 24:26 – “Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.”
Love demands complete honesty, and love demands that we speak the truth about sin.
Proverbs 24:32-34 – “I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
God gives every bird its worm, but He doesn’t throw worms in nests. God expects His people to work hard, to be disciplined, diligent, and persistent. Everything that matters requires daily effort to receive a future reward – finances, fitness, relationships, knowledge, wisdom, sanctification – it all falls under the principle of the farm – you will reap what you sow. God enables growth, but He also calls us to cultivate it. You are cultivating your future harvest today – what will you have?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 July 22: Share your testimony with someone today that God may be glorified, that they will be edified, and that you will be further sanctified.