Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 15 October 2022:
2 Samuel 19:1-8 – So the victory that day was turned into mourning….
People will naturally look to leaders for encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. Leaders must be extremely careful to guard the morale of their people. It is important that leaders celebrate the victories of their teams. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate God’s blessings with those you have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the endeavor. Keep your personal disappointments to yourself. Leaders can’t send mixed signals.
2 Samuel 19:6 – …because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased.
Where you place your attention, time, energy, and effort reveals what you care about most. Don’t sacrifice relationships which matter most with things that don’t. People need to know they are loved and appreciated. Leaders must communicate their gratitude, and one of the greatest gifts you can give someone else is your attention.
2 Samuel 19:7 – Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the LORD, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.
Victory can quickly turn to disaster without proper leadership. Organizations, groups, and teams are often most vulnerable immediately after a win.
2 Samuel 19:23 — And the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king gave him his oath.
This is an interesting story. When David was down, Shimei kicked him. Now Shimei wants forgiveness. David appears to give it, but later David will tell Solomon to ensure Shimei’s execution (1 Kings 2:8, 9). This event had all the outward appearance of reconciliation, but it was not genuine.
2 Samuel 19:22 – But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?”
Times of celebration are not times to cause divisions or hard feelings. From a position of strength, seek reconciliation rather than revenge, thereby demonstrating Christ-like mercy and grace.
2 Samuel 19:29 – And the king said to him, “Why speak any more of your affairs? I have decided: you and Ziba shall divide the land.”
In 2 Samuel 16, when David flees Jerusalem after Absalom’s conspiracy, Ziba comes to David with provisions, and claims Mephibosheth has broken faith with David. David responds by giving all that belonged to Mephibosheth to Ziba instead. Finally, in 2 Samuel 19, when David returns to Jerusalem, Mephibosheth tells David that Ziba had been lying. David responds by saying “You and Ziba shall divide the land.” David seems not to know whom to believe, but most commentators have concluded that Ziba had previously lied to David in order to make himself appear to be the only loyal subject worthy of David’s benefactions and entitled to Saul’s property. The Bible is very clear that you cannot truly and fully know another person’s heart or the true motives behind their actions. Also, you cannot know all the facts in a given situation. Sometimes we are forced to make decisions based upon limited information. In that place, we must pray and follow the principles of God’s word as closely as possible. When we must decide a case between two opposing parties with limited situational awareness, we must compromise, perhaps giving more credit than is due one of the antagonists. As long as we are operating as best we can under the principles of fairness, God will honor our decision.
2 Samuel 19:35-37 — People need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses.
2 Samuel 19:41-43 — Regaining unity among a divided people is very difficult if not impossible.
2 Samuel 19:40-43; 20:2 — The split between North and South has deep roots in history, across many civilizations.
Psalm 118:5, 6, 14, 15, 17-24 – Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me…? The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous… I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
How wonderful that we have received the salvation of which the Psalmist could only prophesy! Now, how should be live? “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by… the builders, which has become the cornerstone (Acts 4:11).”
Palm 118:9 – It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
During a period of political rivalry, it is important to explain to people that the hope of the nation is God, not politicians. No matter who is elected, how strong the economy is, or how strong the military is, nothing can protect the nation that isn’t protected by God. National defense is best achieved through repentance and revival.
In the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah answered God’s call to prophesy against his own government. His faithfulness to God appeared to be treason to his earthly king, and he was imprisoned, persecuted, and exiled; yet Jeremiah pleaded with his country to follow God’s ways, not the politicians. Jeremiah was just a young man who initially lacked confidence, but God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord…. Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:6-10) Jeremiah was not called to act under his own wisdom, strength, talent and skill; he was called to act under the power and authority of God. Under the authority of God, Jeremiah was “set… over nations and over kingdoms… to overthrow.” (Jeremiah 1:10) Likewise, Jesus gave us the Great Commission to “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;” and Jesus placed these two bookends on that commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Like Jeremiah, we, as a ‘priestly kingdom’, have been set over the nations by the authority of the KING of kings and through his power, not ours. The Ancient Prophets had a glimpse of us long before we existed – “Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.” (Micah 5:7-9) Like Jeremiah, using weapons that are not of this world (not of flesh), we are called to “destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) It is a global insurgency as we transform hearts across the planet, destroying “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and [taking] every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Our message as Christ’s ambassadors is the same as it has always been — “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Are you ready to join in the Great Victory? Or will you be like the tens of thousands who walked away from Gideon’s Army in the face of seemingly impossible odds only to miss out on the incredible experience of the power of God at work? God is inviting us to be a part of what only He can do, to step in faith, knowing that our power is wholly insufficient (the definition of faith). This is what Jesus did with the disciples when he sent them out to heal – “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” However, when they proved unable to heal (despite the power and authority given to them), Jesus explained the problem — “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?… Because of your little faith [you could not heal]. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (see Matthew 17) If we fail to rise up like lions, it is not because we lack the authority and Holy Spirit power; it is because we lack the faith. Faith grows every time to take another step in faith. Through baby steps, we eventually learn to stride.
Psalm 118:18 – The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.
God disciplines but never gives you what you really deserve, which is death, eternal death. Don’t despise the Lord’s discipline, which is the loving Father’s way of maturing you and conforming you to the image of His Son, Jesus. Everything through which your are going is a gift from God. See Romans 8:28-29. If you are in Christ, what you are experiencing isn’t happening to you, it is happening for you.
Psalm 118:19 – Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
Only God can open the gates of righteousness to you; give thanks for the grace you have received in Jesus.
Psalm 118:22 – The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Again, this is Jesus.
Psalm 118:29 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Salvation should make you rejoice every day.
Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Again, Christians should be masters of relationship, experts at conflict resolution. Unlike the worldly, Christians enter into relationships as ambassadors for Jesus (not representing self), on a mission of reconciliation. Christians should not see people as others do but rather see them as Jesus does. Christians should enter relationships intent on administering grace even to the point of great personal suffering (taking up the cross) and should remain in a state of perpetual forgiveness. Christians don’t regard others as the enemy but rather regard the dark spiritual forces controlling them as the enemy. Guided by the Spirit, Christians enter into relationships with the power and perspective of the Holy Spirit to see and understand what is impossible for others to see and understand. Christians should enter relationships as leaders in love, intent on taking others where they cannot go by themselves – leaders know The Way (Jesus) and show The Way. Christians listen in order to hear beyond the words, to truly understand the heart and hurt behind words. Christians strive to always return love and blessings for hate and curses. Christians have nothing to lose in an encounter with others because they have already died in Christ and are already living eternal life in Christ. A Christian who is secure in Christ should have peace and never lose it. Christians radiate peace and love and light when others are trapped in hate, anger, and bitterness. Practice your Christianity today; don’t just contemplate it. Make your every word and deed intentional and for God’s glory. You were purposefully made by God in physical form and placed intentionally on this earth to communicate God’s truth and to translate God’s invisible truth into tangible, visible reality for His glory – this is your earthly purpose. Reveal to others the Spirit that they cannot see through your reconciling words and acts of kindness.
Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Nothing escapes God’s attention, and He is in complete control. He will not be mocked.
Proverbs 15:4 – A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Even when Christians have to tell people things they may not want to hear, they always seek to do it in a way that is receivable by them, that lifts them up rather than tears them down, that heals rather than hurts, that potentially draws them closer to Jesus rather than pushing them farther away. Christians never make the “issue” the focus but rather Jesus.
Proverbs 15:7 – The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
The wise understand and accept that knowledge and wisdom come from God, and they have the requisite humility to submit to the will of God, not so the foolish.
Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
A gift (a sacrifice or act of admiration) can be given as an act of genuine love or selfishly, hoping to get something in return such as favor or a special blessing. Two people could give the exact same gift, but the gifts could be valued completely differently in God’s sight based upon the true heart of the giver. People cannot truly know the heart of another and can be deceived by a gift. However, God knows the heart of all people and is never deceived. Be careful not to deceive yourself by your own ‘sacrifices.’ Effort, even sacrifice, is not always love. In their relationships with God and with others, many people go through the motions, doing all they things they know they are supposed to do in relationship but for all the wrong reasons. Before you make the sacrifice of time, resources, work, etc, ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this?” Is it out of selfless love or because of an outcome you are hoping to achieve for yourself? Jesus said that, “denying self,” was key to following Him, not “self-denial.” The dictionary defines “self” as, “A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others.” Popular psychology lifts up and finds hope in self-esteem, self-realization, self-actualization, self-respect, etc. This teaching has crept into Christian thinking. Self-denial is a struggle against our “self,” against our independent will, placing restrictions on self in an attempt to control self. It sees self as the problem but also self as the answer. However, denying self is seeing our essential being as Christ, with no distinction between ourselves and Him. We seek perfect oneness with Him. We seek the mind of Christ and the perfect will of Christ. And we seek the power of Christ (which is already ours) rather than our own strength. We become crucified with Christ, self dies, and we are resurrected in Him – the new life is Christ, the body His vessel. The last-mentioned fruit of the Spirit is self-control, something that is impossible for man, but possible with Christ. The key to self-control is denying self, becoming nothing that Christ in you would be everything.
Proverbs 15:10 – There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.
How have you seen this revealed in life?
Proverbs 15:11 – Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!
People judge what you do, but God sees deep within you to judge why you do it – He knows the truth of your motives and heart. Many people do ‘good’ deeds for the wrong reasons: fear, pride, greed, duty (legalism), rather than love. God desires gifts offered in love. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the true motives behind your actions and purify your love. Jesus said, the first step to following Him is to “deny yourself.” Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remove self from the equation – the hardest step.
Proverbs 15:13 — A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
Do your words lift people up or tear them down?
Proverbs 15:14 – The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
Why haven’t increased education, increased information, and incredible technological advances made the world a better place? Because wisdom is a heart issue not a head issue. Information is not transformation. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. As the world gets smarter and smarter while walking farther and farther away from God, people merely get more capable of spreading evil and destruction. Jesus’ final prayer was for our unity, but unity in Him. The world wants unity too, but unity in man. Globalized technology has become the new Tower of Babel, and the secular unity being created will lead the global heard to a cliff. The message of the Gospel is the hope of the world.
Proverbs 15:16 – Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.
Christianity has become less appealing in America because people, more and more, seem to be getting the results they are looking for through the knowledge of man. You can have a large screen TV and two cars in the garage without ever reading your Bible, going to church, or walking with Jesus. But while the world seeks to build mini kingdoms on earth, the Christian seeks the Kingdom of God. The more you value Jesus, the less you value earthly treasures and the less you are impacted by the worries of the world.
Proverbs 15:17 – Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
Joy is found in love, not in pleasures. God is love. Joy is found in God. The love we share with others must be the love we have received from God, transferred over through us to them. Be one with God and with others in God, and experience the fullness of joy.
Proverbs 15:19 – The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.
An attitude of laziness sees everything as a pain and accomplishes very little. An attitude if diligence is very freeing and sees much progress in life.
Proverbs 15:23 — To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
Do you know when to speak and when to be silent? Do you have a good, constructive sense of timing when providing advice to others?
Proverbs 15:26 — The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure. Words are only pure when they come from a truly gracious heart. God knows the heart, and the kindest words are an abomination (a very strong word) to Him when they come from the wrong heart. You can say all the right things and be completely wrong. Again, God knows your thoughts. Thoughts that prioritize something as higher or more important than God are idolatry and an abomination. Are your words gracious, always seeking the best for the other person rather than your own personal interests?
Proverbs 15:28 – The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
As an ambassador of Christ (your purpose on earth), you must be very, very careful to think before you speak, remembering that your words must not be your own but Jesus’. Your words must mirror the words of the Bible. What you think and what you want doesn’t matter and likely only stands in the way of God’s truth. If you feel any self-centered emotion, better to keep your mouth shut than to misrepresent the Lord and Savior. Jesus warns that we will be held accountable for every careless word that comes out of our mouths. How seriously will you take God’s warning?
Proverbs 15:29 – The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Acceptable prayers are God-centered rather than self-centered.
Proverbs 15:31 — The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
Do you receive correction well?
Proverbs 15:33 — The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
There are many really intelligent and knowledgeable people in the world, but very few wise and honorable people. Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied, and wisdom can only be obtained through the Holy Spirit by those who are in Christ. Even the most knowledgeable person in the world can’t know what only God can reveal in any given situation or circumstance to know how to rightly apply knowledge, and knowledge applied apart from true love (which only comes from God) will also be misapplied. You must abide in Christ and be willing to read God’s word with a humble spirit and apply the correction of His word, revealed by the Holy Spirit, into your life.
- John 15:1-17 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
The greatest leadership attributes are fear of the Lord, humility, love, and faithfulness.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 October 2022: Dedicate today to giving thanks for all that God has done for you, and proclaim His love and faithfulness to as many as you can today.