WEEK 40, Day 4, Thursday, 3 November 2022


Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 3 November 2022:

1 Kings 14:6 — I am charged with unbearable news for you.

We are called to tell the truth, not what people want to hear.

1 Kings 14:22 — Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

Rehoboam the son of Solomon was given by God a tremendous responsibility – to be king of Judah, “the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.” Rehoboam was a terrible king who defiled the land and led the people into the same sort of idolatry and sexual sin practiced by the pagans around them – “They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.”

Under Rehoboam’s leadership, the people had lost their light and were now pure darkness. How could the son of Solomon allow this to happen on his watch? The Bible, in 2 Chronicles tells us: “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14) This simple statement is worth repeating — Rehoboam did not “set his heart to seek the Lord.”

You too have been given a tremendous calling that comes with salvation. You are called to love, serve, and glorify God; to be “salt and light,” an Ambassador for Christ, a priest within a priestly kingdom, a witness. You have been called to go into to the world and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded, under the authority of Jesus Christ. With such and awesome calling and responsibility, have you “set your heart to seek the Lord?”

  • Deuteronomy 6:5, 6 — You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
  • Deuteronomy 10:12 — And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart.
  • Deuteronomy 10:16 – Circumcise… your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
  • Deuteronomy 11:16 — Take care lest your heart be deceived.
  • Deuteronomy 11:18 — You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart.
  • Deuteronomy 15:9 — Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart.
  • Deuteronomy 30:10 — Obey the voice of the Lord your God…. Turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
  • 1 Samuel 12:24 — Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
  • Psalm 40:8 — I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.
  • Psalm 40:10 — I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
  • Psalm 86:11 — Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
  • Psalm 119:7 — I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
  • Psalm 119:32 — I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!
  • Psalm 119:112 — I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.
  • Proverbs 3:1, 3 — My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments… Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • Proverbs 3:5 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
  • Proverbs 4:23 — Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

John 2:3-5 — When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus was obedient to his mother, despite the inappropriateness of her request, her lack of understanding, His adulthood, and His position as the Son of God. What does this tell us about how God views obedience to His commands? Jesus modelled obedience for us all. Do you obey God’s commands even when it doesn’t seem to make any sense? Are their some ‘small’ or ‘outdated’ commands that you have decided God doesn’t really care that much about? Do you have habitual sins that you commit casually in the name of ‘grace’? “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1, 2)

- Philippians 2:8 -- And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

John 2:15 — And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

This is not the “gentle Jesus” often described in traditional storytelling. Jesus knew when and how to be forceful to defend the powerless for God’s glory.

John 2:23-25 — Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

The Bible says only God really knows the hearts and motives of people. (1 Corinthians 2:11; Proverbs 14:10; Jeremiah 17:10) We can only judge another person’s actions, and even then we don’t judge perfectly – “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:1) “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20) “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) People can disguise their motives from others, often even deceiving themselves in denial, but never from God, and God judges the heart. “Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalm 44:21)

When Jesus warns us not to “judge” others, I don’t believe He is countering other places in the Bible which encourage us to warn and rebuke others concerning their behavior. (Matthew 18:15-17; Proverbs 1:23; Proverbs 27:5; Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; James 5:20; Luke 17:3-4; Hebrews 4:12; etc.) I believe He is warning us against attempting to play the role of the Judge rather than merely a peer witness, warning us not to condemn others or rebuke others from a prideful, self-righteous, self-centered, harsh, ungracious, unloving position. We can only compare the actions of others to the standard of God’s word, never assuming we understand only what God understands about them, and our confrontations with others must be out of love for sake of reconciling them to God; and as witnesses, we must also be ‘character witnesses’ before the Judge in intercessory prayer.

Today’s readings tell us that while Jesus was in Jerusalem, many “believed” in His name when they saw the miracles He was doing, but Jesus “did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He himself knew what was in man.” The word “entrust” is the same Greek word used for “believed.” So, in other words, the people ‘believed’ in Jesus, but Jesus didn’t believe in them because He knew their true hearts. Jesus knew these people only cared about His miracles, what He might do for them, and He knew they didn’t really have a heart for Him; they weren’t ready to follow Him, love Him, and obey Him. Saving faith results in a life fully committed to Jesus, though still imperfectly.

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) Many who say they believe in Jesus don’t even have demon-level belief – they don’t even shudder in their sinfulness before the Holy Sovereign! Jesus knows their hearts. Many also do good deeds in the name of Jesus, but in truth, their good deeds are really attempts to get something for themselves (self-centeredness) either from God or from others, such as blessings, honor, recognition, or other payoffs. This is not love (which prioritizes others over self (selflessness) and is focused on giving), but rather lust (which prioritizes self over others (selfishness) and is focused on getting). Many proclaim ‘love’ for another when they are really motivated by lust, which transcends the sexual into every aspect of human relationships; for example, power lust seeks to control others for personal benefit. We can’t always know another person’s motives behind their behavior, in fact, we often deceive ourselves about the “why” behind our behavior, but God always knows whether ‘good deeds’ are loving (selfless) or lustful (selfish), God-centered or self-centered. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

How you feel about sin says much about how you feel about Jesus. How you treat other sinners reveals much about how you really feel about the grace you have received through Christ. Repent, sin no more, and rejoice in God’s love and grace. If you are truly convicted about the sin in the lives of others for their sake and are eager to bring them closer to Jesus by gently speaking the truth to them, you are demonstrating love. True love speaks the truth in love.

  • John 17:17 — Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
  • Ephesians 4:25 — Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
  • Zechariah 8:16 — These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;
  • Romans 6:1-2, 11-15 — What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
  • Hebrews 10:26-29 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
  • 1 John 1:8-9 — If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 November 2022: Guard your heart and set you heart on seeking and serving the Lord. Do all things today to the glory of God, and don’t deviate from your calling as an Ambassador for Christ. Walk in the joy of grace and in obedience today.

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