WEEK 41, Day 5, Friday, 14 October 2022


Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 14 October 2022:

2 Samuel 18:33 — And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

The consequences of sin are devastating! To make light of sin is the worst kind of denial. The Bible describes those who do not consider the consequences of sin as “so nearsighted that [they are] blind.” (2 Peter 1:9) Even more important than the practical consequences of sin is the fact that our sin is a direct affront to the KING, a direct challenge to, and rebellion against, His Lordship, an offense beyond measure. (Psalm 51:4) Sin is also a rejection (in practicality) of The Way, The Truth, and The Life, the very path the love, joy, peace, contentment, and fulfillment we are ultimately seeking in the first place. In our readings today, David, now facing the terrible consequences of his sin, wishes that he could exchange his life for Absalom’s, but he can’t – Absalom is gone. If only David had “died of self” when God had first called him out and empowered him. David’s choices to place his own desires over God’s perfect will led to the death and victimization of many; it tore a nation apart. David’s murderous adultery was a crime deserving of death; one cannot help but wonder how things would have been different if David had publicly confessed his sin and faced his own consequences. One of primary responsibilities of any leader is to take responsibility and to hold himself or herself fully accountable for their actions – David did not do that at the expense of his family and the nation. Conversely, we see in the New Testament how Paul takes a different approach. He very publicly admits his sin and in so doing proclaims the grace that he has received through Jesus Christ (such as in Romans 7 and 1 Timothy 1). Confession destroys false pride and also gives us freedom in our honesty. In grace, Paul has truly surrendered his life to the Lord and has chosen to work more diligently than anyone for the spreading of the Gospel. It was Paul’s understanding of God’s grace that gave him such passion to preach what was to him truly “Good News.” The more we understand the magnitude of the mercy, grace, and love that we have received from our Father, the more we are inspired to conform to His will and to preach the Gospel to others. The greater we understand the implications of living outside of God’s grace, the greater our urgency to proclaim the truth to a lost world.

2 Samuel 18 — David continually failed to hold himself and others accountable. He didn’t hold Joab accountable, and he didn’t hold his children accountable. Joab defied the king’s orders and killed Absalom just as Joab had defied the king’s intent in killing Abner. Joab did what he thought was right or expedient, regardless of what the king desired. David always knew about Joab’s defiance but did not keep Joab in check; now it cost David his son. This was all a part of God’s punishment of David for his own pride, compromise, adultery and murder. Though David was forgiven by God, David’s sins cost him dearly for a lifetime, and his sins negatively impacted generations. Key to Christianity is humble honesty to self and to others. You can’t fix what you aren’t willing to be honest about. We must confess and repent from (turn completely away) our own sins, and we must be willing to lovingly rebuke the sins of others. To allow sin to continue is completely unloving since sin is, by definition, contrary to love.

  • Ephesian 5:6-14 — Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
  • Acts 19:18 — Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.
  • James 5:16 — Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  • 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 Peter 4:1, 2 — Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

These are powerful verses calling us to do away with self-centered emotions that would impassion us to respond to others from a position of pride, self-righteousness, fear, anger, or judgment. When we have learned how to suffer persecution in love, to “take up our cross,” we have learned to deny self, truly love Jesus, and trust in Him.

1 Peter 4:1-6 — Worldliness and godliness head in two opposite directions. It is impossible to partner with and walk with ungodly people and with Jesus at the same time.

1 Peter 4:7 — The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit that is founded on the perspective of your world view, your faith, and your hope. Self-control is not hard when you really believe Jesus is Lord, when you really love Him, and truly desire to please Him. It is about perspective and focus, about what really matters most at the moment of decision, about what is most “real” in your mind, the instant, momentary pleasure of the temptation at hand, or the inevitable consequences. The unseen must be more real to you than what is visible. For example, the person who struggles with a diet craves certain foods. These foods are very appealing, accessible, and pleasurable, and the consequences associated with eating them are subtle, delayed, and questionable, though detrimental. The visible is more powerful than the invisible, and for most people, the visible usually wins, which is why the diet industry produces $60B in gross annual income. However, some have the ability to focus on the consequences of their actions, perceiving that “the end of all things is at hand.” They are able to focus on what really matters to them rather than instant gratification. What is your focus? Have you ever noticed that when you are extremely busy doing something that really matters to you, you sometimes forget to eat? Likewise, when you are fully committed to serving God with a sense of urgency, many temptations in life become irrelevant.

The Bible says that the fruit of the spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) Notice the first fruit is love and the last is self-control because what you really ‘love’ controls your behavior. Love is selfless and seeks to bless rather than be blessed. The self-centered passions we often feel which we regularly call love is really lust, the opposite of love. The key to self-control is to replace our lusts with love, to become selfless rather than self-centered.

1 Peter 4:8, 9 — Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

God’s greatest commandment for us is that we love Him and one another. So, your primary goal each day should be to grow in love. There are many verses in the Bible describing the attributes and requirements of love – probably a good idea to memorize these verses so they will remain on the forefront of your mind.

Today’s readings tell us love requires hospitality without grumbling. How are you doing on that one? This is particularly difficult because often people won’t treat you well in return for your hospitality, generosity, and graciousness; you will often suffer maltreatment from those to whom you are showing kindness. In fact, unwavering hospitality will remain impossible for you if you are attempting to demonstrate it from your own strength of will. Only through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit will you be able to love this way: We must serve “by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

“For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does…. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:6, 10) When, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we demonstrate unnatural, supernatural love and hospitality, we are not demonstrating and proclaiming our personal “goodness” but rather the power of the Gospel; what is clearly impossible for us brings glory to Jesus – “To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11) Loving hospitality is a gift of grace, undeserved by those who receive it; but we don’t produce the hospitality we give, we only transfer what we have received from God to others: “as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10) “With respect to this they are surprised….” (1 Peter 4:4) Your shocking display of love and hospitality will certainly stand out, be misunderstood at times, even ridiculed, but it will be a powerful testimony to the love of Christ. And when you suffer in your hospitality, you will have a special fellowship with Christ, growing only closer to Him –

  • 2 Corinthians 1:5 — For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
  • Philippians 3:10 — …that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death….
  • 2 Timothy 1:8 — Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God….
  • 2 Timothy 2:3 — Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
  • Hebrews 13:16 — Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
  • 1 Peter 4:13 — But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
  • Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking…. live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1, 2) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…. We have the mind of Christ…. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 Peter 1:13) Prepare your mind, arm yourself to love today by setting your mind on Christ, His will and His grace. Don’t attempt to produce grace but rather to show grace, the grace of God which has been given to you – share it. Don’t hope in your strength and goodness but rather His strength and goodness. And be prepared to give an answer to anyone “who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)

  • John 1:17 — For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
  • Acts 11:23 — When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose….
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3 — Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 — But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
  • 2 Corinthians 6:1 — We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 — And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 — But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

1 Peter 4:12-15 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

Life is hard in this sinful, broken world. And the Bible says to Christians, “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).” Just as Jesus was persecuted by the world, his true followers will also be persecuted from the dark world that hates the light. In this we are to rejoice that we have been afforded the opportunity to “share Christ’s sufferings.” When God called you to proclaim Jesus to the broken, sinful, hateful world, he knew you would get hurt; but in that suffering, He is drawing you closer to Him. However, the Bible also warns that living foolishly only causes pointless, needless suffering. As the saying goes, “Life is hard, but it is harder when you’re stupid.” How much pain in your life is really self-induced? How many times have you heard Christians complain about “attacks from Satan” or “spiritual warfare” when what they are really dealing with are the natural consequences of their own careless behavior? Obedience to the word of God will not take suffering out of your life, but it will remove the self-inflicted pain which is usually our biggest problem. Walk in the light of God’s word that you may live in as much peace as possible.

1 Peter 4:13 — But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. Because of this process, you will never be surprised by what comes your way. You say, ‘Oh, I can’t deal with that person.’ Why can’t you? God gave you sufficient opportunities to learn from Him about that problem; but you turned away, not heeding the lesson, because it seemed foolish to spend your time that way.

The sufferings of Christ were not those of ordinary people. He suffered ‘according to the will of God’ (1 Peter 4:19), having a different point of view of suffering from ours. It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. When it comes to suffering, it is part of our Christian culture to want to know God’s purpose beforehand. In the history of the Christian church, the tendency has been to avoid being identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. People have sought to carry out God’s orders through a shortcut of their own. God’s way is always the way of suffering— the way of the ‘long road home.’

Are we partakers of Christ’s sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy our individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? It will mean not knowing why God is taking us that way, because knowing would make us spiritually proud. We never realize at the time what God is putting us through— we go through it more or less without understanding. Then suddenly we come to a place of enlightenment, and realize— ‘God has strengthened me and I didn’t even know it!’” (Oswald Chambers)

1 Peter 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

“The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.

If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.” (Oswald Chambers)

1 Peter 4:18 – If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?

No one deserves salvation. Thank God for grace, and don’t take grace lightly.

1 Peter 4:19 — Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

It takes faith to suffer and to return good for evil. Do you trust God enough not to vindicate yourself or demand justice for yourself? “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

It is sometimes hard to do what is right when everyone around you is doing wrong, but obedience is an act of faith and love. Obedience is a commitment to pursue faithfulness out of gratitude and reverence to our “faithful Creator” who hates sin of all kinds. The key to overcoming temptation is not developing greater will power but growing in greater love and appreciation for Jesus. Keep your eye on the prize, and you won’t see anything else.

“Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. But the people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us. No one better understands a saint than the saint who is as close and as intimate with Jesus as possible. If we accept the sympathy of another saint, our spontaneous feeling is, ‘God is dealing too harshly with me and making my life too difficult.’ That is why Jesus said that self-pity was of the devil (see Matthew 16:21-23). We must be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy for us to tarnish God’s character because He never argues back; He never tries to defend or vindicate Himself. Beware of thinking that Jesus needed sympathy during His life on earth. He refused the sympathy of people because in His great wisdom He knew that no one on earth understood His purpose (see Matthew 16:23). He accepted only the sympathy of His Father and the angels (see Luke 15:10).

Look at God’s incredible waste of His saints, according to the world’s judgment. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places. And then we say, “God intends for me to be here because I am so useful to Him.” Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.” (Oswald Chambers)

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 October 2022: Today, show hospitality to others, particularly to the inhospitable by focusing intently on the reality of Jesus and the grace He shows you. When you notice that you don’t feel hospitable, take time to reflect upon that and truly consider what your feelings say about the condition of your heart. Pray for the love of Christ to compel you to greater love. (1 Peter 4:9-11) Pray for a perspective of God and a heart which will allow you to be shockingly hospitable to the ungrateful with an attitude of gratitude and not even a hint of grumbling.

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