Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 11 September 2022:
1 Samuel 16:1 – The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
We should not grieve over the Lord’s decisions, His perfect will.
1 Samuel 16:6-13 — The Lord chooses who He desires and provides the Holy Spirit to whom He desires. We cannot know who God is calling and who He has rejected unless God reveals it.
1 Samuel 16:7 — “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
The Lord looks beyond what you display to others to what is really in your heart. God is looking for the faithful to lead his people, not just the skilled, talented, confident, or popular.
1 Samuel 16:18 — “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.”
David was very talented, but what set him apart was that The Lord was with him. “The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people….” (1 Samuel 13:14)
1 Samuel 16:18 — “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.”
Quite a resume. David was known to have not only competence but also character, someone who could be trusted. Love and gratitude are demonstrated through attitude, word, and deed consistently over time.
1 Samuel 16:21 — And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer.
Again, God arranges circumstances to prepare His faithful servants to accomplish His purposes. With God’s people, there are no coincidences.
Psalm 104 – When you consider the Sovereignty and Majesty of God, it can only cause you to say, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord…. Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!” If your heart isn’t yet filled with this level of adoration for the Lord, pray that God will more clearly reveal His Glory to you as you meditate on verses such as found in Psalm 104.
Psalm 104 — Everything is perfectly orchestrated by God. Everything is totally dependent upon God.
Psalm 104:24 – “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all.”
The natural laws and the laws of ethics (justice) were both created by God in perfection. They both determine the order of things, and the outcomes (or consequences) of God’s natural and ethical laws are inextricably linked, reliable and predictable. If we attempt to defy God’s natural laws (the laws of science or nature), we will face devastating consequences. Likewise, if we attempt to defy God’s moral ethical laws, we will face devastating consequences. Again, God will not be mocked. There are predictable consequences for every action. God’s word can guide you down the path of predictably good consequences. Do not be deceived by following the teachings of man rather than the teachings of God. God is the author of “principles” (the truth about how life works) and “ethics” (justice), but man is the author of “values” (mankind’s interpretation of principles) and “morality” (mores, customs, what is generally considered good and acceptable by the majority). Today, we use all these words interchangeably, and values and morality are preached rather than God’s principles and ethics. This is the story of the Book of Judges where the people did “what was right in their own eyes.”
Psalm 105 — God has orchestrated history for His purposes and is still in total control. He holds the future in His hands.
Psalm 105:4 – Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
The Christian life is a daily endeavor to grow closer to Jesus and to know Him or intimately. Perhaps Psalm 105 was on the mind of St. Richard when he penned his life prayer which became the popular song Day by Day in the 1960s.
St Richard (1197-1253) was born in Droitwich (Worcestershire, England) and raised as an orphan child of a gentry family. St Richard dedicated his life to the ministry and served as Bishop of Chichester from 1244 to 1253. The below prayer is said to be his last utterances before dying and is inscribed on his tomb:
“Thanks be to you, our Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us. Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.” “Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, Love thee more dearly, Follow thee more nearly, day by day.” Is that your prayer today?
Psalm 105:43 – “So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing.”
God does not intend to keep you from trials and tribulations but rather to lead you through them with joy and singing. God intends both good times and bad times to draw you closer to Him. He is where we find joy despite circumstances.
Psalm 105:44, 45 – “And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord!”
God blesses you that you might obey Him and reveal His Glory and Majesty to the world as you serve as His instrument of blessing in the lives of others. He intends His people to reveal Kingdom principles to the world through their actions and influence. Christians translate God’s spiritual principles and ethics into the physical world, living by the motto, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s purpose for His people has always been obedience to Him, motivated by love, for His glory. Jesus exemplified what it is to be fully human. Jesus lived the life God intended for Adam and the rest of humanity which Adam and all of us failed to live, to be His image bearers and instruments of love, translating the invisible realities of God into the tangible world through actions or labors of love. Jesus not only gave us the example of humanity we needed to see, He freed us and empowered us to live out His example, and He promised His presence while we do it. His command to us is “love as I have loved you.” The way we love others, especially our enemies, reveals how we truly love God and exposes the relationship we have with Him. Where we lack in love reveals where we have yet to love Him. Jesus’ love for God determined His every word and deed — “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.’” (John 5:19-20)
Proverbs 11:1 — A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.
Character development requires honesty – accurate measurements of what you really are compared with who God is and what God would have you be. When you truly see yourself measured against God’s standard, you will be totally humbled. Only from that position of humility can you ever hope to acquire wisdom. When you become prideful, you are showing that you are losing your perspective, and you are dishonoring your Father (Proverbs 11:1, 2). When you clearly see God as your Lord and Savior (Fear of the Lord), you seek after, listen to, and follow His commands; and His instruction guides you along the straight and narrow path. However, if your scales are “dishonest” you place too much weight in who you think you are; you begin to trust in, focus on, honor, and serve yourself. In essence, you put yourself above God (the first form of idolatry). This is wickedness and leads to destruction (Proverbs 11:3-6). When you are self-centered, all your energies are directed toward building your own kingdom on earth rather than serving the Kingdom of God – this is pure futility (Proverbs 11:4,7). When God becomes “small” in your perspective, and you put my hope and trust in yourself, you become your own protector. Therefore, everyone around you becomes a threat. Not only do they become a threat, but as your self-righteousness perspective replaces the truth of righteousness through Christ alone, everyone else becomes “wrong” and less righteous than you. From this perspective, you will tear others down rather than build them up. If everyone has this self-centered, self-righteous perspective, nations cannot stand. However, with a Christ-centered perspective, not only are you blessed, but you become a blessing to others. When more and more people surrender to the Lord, nations are blessed (Proverbs 11:9-14).
Proverbs 11:2 — When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Pride is mentioned around 100 times in the Bible, only a few times is it mentioned in a positive way. Conversely, humility is mentioned around 100 times in the Bible, either as a godly attribute possessed by someone, or something God does to the prideful through discipline and punishment. God hates pride. Do you? Watch out for any indication of pride in your life. Pursue humility. You will either be humble or be humbled.
Proverbs 11:12 — Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
It is always good to maintain a long-term view on relationships. Your family will be with you your whole life. You will have to work with your co-workers for a long time. Your neighbors will be your neighbors for a long time. If your behavior promotes strife with the people around you, you may have to live with it for a long time. You may even be surprised one day when that stranger you argued with in a parking lot or shopping center checkout line (exposing your bad side) turns out to be your new neighbor, church member, etc., someone you didn’t realize you would see regularly. Best to always treat people in a way that promotes peace, whether they deserve it or not, again, not just for your practical benefit but for the benefit of your relationship with God. Additionally, the people closest to you are your first responsibility in ministry and discipleship and is your purist form of worship – “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13) Those closest to you will see more of you than anybody and, therefore, have the best opportunity to see Christ in you. Make the most of the opportunity to bear fruit for the Kingdom.
Proverbs 11:14 – Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Leaders must be able to see what everyone else can’t see, say what is contrary to what everyone else is saying, and do what is contrary to what everyone else is doing. When you are winning the race, you are often running alone.
Proverbs 11:18b — But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
From Henry T. Blackaby — “There are many ways to invest our lives, but none offers greater reward than devoting ourselves to the pursuit of righteousness. Every area of our lives should reflect the holiness of God that is ours by salvation: our thoughts, so that nothing we think about would be inappropriate for a child of God; our actions, so that our lives demonstrate that we serve a holy God; our integrity, so that we are above reproach in all our relationships. Are you taking God’s righteousness in your life for granted? Righteousness is something you must allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. Instead of sowing holy thoughts, are you allowing evil and sinful thoughts to grow in your mind? Are you allowing lust to grow unchecked within you? Does enmity, bitterness, jealousy, or unforgiveness remain in your life? Jesus said if we seek first God and His righteousness, everything else will follow (Matt. 6:33). There is great reward in sowing righteousness. What are you presently doing to plant holiness in your life? (1 Pet. 1:15). How are you putting righteousness in your mind so that your thoughts are holy? How are you cultivating righteousness in your relationships so that you maintain your integrity? Are you instilling righteousness in your activities so that your life is above reproach? If you want to harvest righteousness in your life tomorrow, you must plant seeds of righteousness today.”
Proverbs 11:20 – Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord, but those of blameless ways are his delight.
Blameless ways come from a pure heart.
Proverbs 11:23 — The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath.
The righteous truly desire what is good. They have no need to be controlled by the law because they are controlled by their hearts.
Proverbs 11:25 – Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
God will bless us in accordance with how we bless others.
Proverbs 11:30 – The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise.
How many souls have you captured? The global revolution Jesus began is executed one heart at a time.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 September 2022: Today, this Sunday, seek with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength to grow closer to Jesus and to proclaim Him to all around you.