WEEK 33, Day 6, Saturday, 20 August 2022

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 20 August 2022:

Judges 19:12 — “And his master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.’”

The Levite believed that God’s people would be more trustworthy than unbelievers, but he was wrong. Today in America, the statistics on destructive and anti-social behaviors are almost identical within the church as within the secular society. What does the book of Judges have to say to us today?

Judges 19:22 — “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.”

There is no limit to the depths to which people can sink when they turn from God. Sexual perversion is one of the most mentioned traits of the ungodly.

Judges 19:24 – “Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.”

The man was willing to sacrifice the women, even his daughter, to the sexual perverts in order to protect the Levite. Morality had come to a point in society where God’s people were willing to compromise on one horrific sin in order to prevent another horrific sin. Today, we run the risk of giving in to sin after sin without realizing that it will never be enough to appease the ungodly. There is no compromising with the ungodly.

Judges 19:30 — “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

The Levite had to do something shocking enough to get the nation’s attention. To that point, no one seemed to care that the land had become so depraved.

Psalm 94:11-13 — “The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile. Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law. Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.”

Throughout the Bible, God points out that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) So, Proverbs counsels: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil…… Do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:5-12) Today’s Psalms remind us that it is from the study of God’s word that we learn to walk in spiritual discipline and are subsequently blessed.

“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law.” The Hebrew word used for discipline here is “yâsar”, which literally means to chastise with a beating – to get spanked, and the Hebrew word for teach is “lâmad,” which means to goad – goads were very sharp sticks used by shepherds to poke animals to make them go the right direction. So, basically, this verse talks about painful correction, and the blessing which can come from it. You will either suffer the painful correction of the conviction of the Holy Spirit through God’s word (“Blessed are those who mourn”) or you will suffer the greater pain of living life outside of God’s will, which is sin. You will either have internal discipline (being guided by the Holy Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit), or you will receive external discipline (punishment). The wise respond to the Holy Spirit and walk joyfully in the Spirit. Romans 8:28-29 reveals that God uses all discipline for good, so we would be “conformed to the image of his Son.” In the Great Commission Jesus says, “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.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus’ plan for His disciples is that they live disciplined lives obeying all of God’s commands, but you can’t obey them unless you first know them from study and are coached in them daily by the Holy Spirit – “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

How important is prayerful Bible study in our daily walk with the Lord? Here are just a few thoughts from Psalm 119: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” Never have Christians had such access to God’s word along with so many resources and tools with which to study His Word. I pray that more and more Christians would return to God’s Word and receive the daily coaching of the Holy Spirit in order to win the prize –

  • 1 Corinthians 9:24 — Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
  • Philippians 3:14 — I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Today, the Psalmist reminds us of the convicting power of God’s word and that God uses His word along with circumstances to teach us, rebuke us, correct us, encourage us, reward us, train us, and discipline us that we would grow up, or mature, in His word and our relationship with Him — “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Better to be wise and respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit through God’s word and to obey God’s word than to learn the hard way by experiencing the consequence of disobedience and sin – “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” (Proverbs 17:10) No need to experience a hundred needless blows. “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) Don’t act like a sick fool and return to sin; instead, return to God’s word, and respond to the daily conviction of the Holy Spirit.

As a perfect, loving Father, God applies discipline when needed. God’s discipline is often painful but is intended to be a blessing to teach you how to live in the fullness of joy while growing closer to God each day. Those who don’t despise God’s blessings and who are willing to learn will be blessed. Those who defy God’s discipline and insist on repeating their folly will continue to suffer needlessly.

  • Proverbs 3:11-12 — My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
  • Hebrews 12:7-13 — It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 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. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.

Proverbs 20:1 — “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

The Bible does not forbid the drinking of alcohol, just drinking in excess. However, the Bible gives us a higher calling to “walk” in love and not to do anything that would cause another to stumble — “If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love…. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…. it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble…. (Romans 14:13-23).” America has an alcohol problem, and many people around you struggle with alcohol. Is your employment of your freedom to drink alcohol normalizing or promoting a behavior that leads others astray? Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.

Proverbs 20:3 — “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”

Don’t be a fool and get involved in quarrelling. Have you ever, through sound wisdom and gifted speech convinced a fool of anything? Fools are people who refuse to hear and learn, who are controlled by emotions and passion. Stay away from pointless arguments that only distract people from the Gospel. You are an ambassador for Christ, not for good ideas, current standards of morality, social customs, or politics. Proclaim Jesus and stay above the fray.

Proverbs 20:5 — “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Understand what a person really cares about, what is at the center of his life, and what is the primary source of his motivation, and you can predict very accurately what he will say and do. And you can discern if the path he is on is taking him to where he really needs to go, which is closer to Jesus. Most people are unconsciously and subtly deceptive (to themselves and others) in their words and behavior, saying, displaying, and often doing things that they don’t really mean — smiling when inside they are upset, asking others how they are doing when really they don’t care, saying they want to do something when they really don’t, or saying they don’t want to do something when they really do. Many communicate deception because in their hearts they believe the truth is unacceptable. It takes patient discernment to see beyond the façade or masks people wear to understand the deep waters of a person’s heart, and ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can show you something about a person that is impossible for you to see through human discernment. So, the first step is to pray for Holy Spirit enabled discernment and to love others enough to move past the superficial.

Proverbs 20:11 — “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.”

How you act reveals what you really believe.

Proverbs 20:24 — “A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?”

Those who think they have control over their own lives are deceived. God is in control. Security is in God’s hands.

Proverbs 20:27 — “The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.”

The Spirit will convict you of your sin. How will you respond?

Proverbs 20:29 — “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”

Strength is fleeting, but wisdom is developed over a lifetime.

  1. Proverbs 20:30 — “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.”

If you will not respond to the conviction of the Spirit, God may have to get your attention the hard way.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 August 22: If you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit today concerning a particular sin in your life, repent. Don’t delay. Don’t rob yourself of the blessings God has intended for you any further. Pour into God’s word every day and abide in it, not simply to receive the blessing of God, but to truly know and be one with Jesus who is the Word, the Way, The Truth, the Life, and the Light. Eternal life is knowing Him. (John 17:3)

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