Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 30 July 2022:
Joshua 22:5 — “Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
All relationships are based upon trust. Joshua explained to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh that the foundation of their relationship of trust would be each party’s obedience to God. You can trust the godly neighbor.
Joshua 22:12 — “And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.”
The Israelites feared that the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh would drift into rebellion due to their geographical separation, so the Israelites looked for evidence to validate their fears. They viewed these tribes with undeserved mistrust and started a fight based upon false assumptions. Have you ever done that with someone, assumed the worst from them and treated them unfairly as a result? Love demands that we assume the best from others and treat them accordingly.
Joshua 22:20 — “Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.’”
Sin always hurts others, whether intentional or not.
Joshua 22:24 — “We did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord.”
Parents must have a plan to ensure that their children’s children don’t forget the Lord.
Joshua 22:31 — “Today we know that the Lord is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the Lord. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the Lord.”
The Israelites had misjudged the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh and almost acted rashly which would have been a great sin. Fortunately, they communicated their concerns and resolved the matter, discovering that what they once viewed as sin was actually an act of good faith. We too, acting from fear or envy, might view the actions of others as sinful when in actuality their behavior is reasonable. Best to give others the benefit of the doubt and communicate gracefully any concerns you might have. Open, honest, humble, communication is key. Christians should be masters at resolving conflict or potential conflict. We are all about peace.
Psalm 85:4 – “Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us!”
Repentance is continuous. A humble, repentant spirit mourns over sin, continually asks for forgiveness, accepts continual forgiveness, and doesn’t wallow in guilt and regret but rather demonstrates love for Christ and appreciation for grace by wholeheartedly resolving to sin no more.
Psalm 85:8 – “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, but let them not turn back to folly.”
After receiving forgiveness from God, don’t keep doing the things for which you asked for forgiveness. Honor God with your behavior. Worship God with your behavior. Love God with your behavior.
Psalm 85:10 – “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
Love and faithfulness go together. If you love God, be faithful to Him. Living righteously gives you peace.
Psalm 85:8-13 — I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
God’s word to us is the same word Jesus spoke when He met the disciples after His betrayal and resurrection: “Peace.” (Psalm 85:8; John 20:19, 21, 26) Peace is given by God’s grace and experienced through obedience to God. Accept peace from God and then live at peace with God. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to dishonor the One who saved you and freed you from your sin, and don’t continue to destroy your own peace and joy by continuing in sin. Hebrews 12:1 encourages you to, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And… run with perseverance the race marked out for [you].” Life is challenging enough without the needless burdens of sin. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” God wants you to have the fullness of joy that comes from complete surrender to Jesus and obedience to Him in love.
The psalmist speaks of the requirement of God’s people to obey God in order to appreciate the fullness of his blessings on earth. This reminds me of what Jesus said: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:10-11) As a parent, I want nothing but the very best for my children, but when they don’t listen to my instruction and/or don’t make the effort to do what is right, they suffer needlessly and often cause each other to suffer. Likewise, I can look at my own life and see that most of my problems have been self-induced – they never had to happen. Of course, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes, which is why the Psalmist begins by expressing his gratitude for God’s mercy and grace. But as we grow up in the Lord, we must strive to grow in faithfulness. As the Bible reiterates in many places, including today’s verses, love and faithfulness go together. Demonstrate your love by your faithfulness, and walk with God in peace and joy.
Proverbs 30:1-3 – “I am weary, O God, and worn out. Surely, I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.”
Going your own way apart from Jesus will wear you out.
The more you know, the more you realize how much you really don’t know. Socrates said, “’The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Wisdom and humility grow together. Proverbs says, the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, understanding our total reliance on Him.
Proverbs 30:4 – “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!”
Why would you trust your own judgment or the judgment of other mortals over that of Jesus, the God-man?
Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God proves true.”
God does not call us to trust in blind faith but rather faith in a revealed God. The Bible says that God is revealed in your conscience, in nature, in the miracles of God, and in God’s word. When you obey God’s word in the faith you have, it will be proven true, and your faith will grow.
Proverbs 30:6 – “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
People add to God’s word to water it down, to make it more “reasonable,” to conform it to what they prefer. People also attempt to add to God’s word to make it more “sophisticated” or “relevant” to the times. Also, many cults and false leaders add to God’s word. The simplicity of God’s word is perfectly unchanging. You don’t need more word or a better word, you just need a heart that will obey God’s simple word.
Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
Agur struggled with untruthfulness and infidelity under certain circumstances. So, he prayed to God for strength of integrity. What sins are struggling with? Are these issues at the center of your prayer life? The things that hinder your relationship with God (sin) should be your greatest prayer concern.
Proverbs 30:10 – “Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.”
You are not in a position to condemn (judge) others. Your perspective is always biased and very limited. Also, you cannot perceive what God is doing in the heart of another person. Be very careful what you think and say about others.
Proverbs 30:20 – “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’”
In sin, a heart grows harder and harder and more and more desensitized to sin to the point where sin is no longer acknowledged. The extreme is the sociopath who can commit an atrocity with absolutely no sign of remorse, some of whom can completely erase the deed from their mind and convince themselves that they never did it at all. Some can even pass a lie detector test in their complete self-deception. Most of time, such psychological disorder can be traced back to patterns of decision over time.
Proverbs 30:32 – “If you have been foolish, exalting yourself… your hand on your mouth.”
Ironically, self-exaltation is usually a product of deep-rooted insecurity. To stop always talking about yourself, seeking credit, or seeking the approval of others, you might have to get to the root of your insecurities – why you feel you need it. You might also need to remind yourself of your purpose in life – to glorify God alone. Self-exaltation draws attention away from Jesus, a mission failure on your part and a terrible sin.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 July 22: What sins are you continuing to commit though you know they are wrong? Where do you lack self-control? Remember, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (see Gal 5). Pray that God will convict you and strengthen you to truly repent. If you have been saved, you have been declared righteous once and for all before God through faith in Jesus (imputed righteousness), but now God wants you to grow up in that righteousness and to experience the joy of unity in Him and to glorify Him in your sanctification. Let love and faithfulness meet together in your life and experience the peace you have received by pursuing righteousness:
- 1 Peter 3:18 — For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
- 2 Timothy 2:22 — So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
- 2 Timothy 3:16 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness….
- Hebrews 12:11 — For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
- James 3:18 — And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- 1 John 2:1 — My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
- 1 John 2:29 — If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
- 1 John 3:7 — Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
- 1 John 3:10 — By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.