Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 22 November 2022:
2 Kings 11:1 — Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family.
Selfishness can grow in a person’s life to where they are willing to do unthinkable things. When a person is fundamentally motivated by selfishness, though they might appear nice under favorable conditions, you never know what they will be willing to do under unfavorable conditions — “It’s you and me until it’s you or me.”
2 Kings 11:2 — But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom.
Unselfish people are willing to take great risks and make great sacrifices for others, placing others over self. While Athaliah was willing to murder for personal gain, Jehosheba was willing to risk her life for a baby. Jehosheba played a critical role in the history of Israel and earned a place of honor in God’s eternal word because she was willing to put it all on the line out of love for another; at the moment of decision, she did what was right, and it made all the difference.
2 Kings 11:4 — And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son.
Covenant relationships are life commitments that instill powerful trust and confidence and amazing accomplishments. Marriage is intended to be a covenant, not a contract.
2 Kings 11:5 — And he commanded them, ‘This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house….
Even God-enabled efforts require planning and organization.
2 Kings 11:8 — And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death.
Strict rules surround holy things. Where there is no room for error, there can be no opportunity for complacency or compromise. Today, in our “it’s all good” society, we have grown too comfortable around holy things.
2 Kings 11:9 — The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest….
Someone has to be in charge and must command the loyalty of others. In this case, warriors submitted to the tactical leadership of a priest.
2 Kings 11:10 — And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD.
The church kept weapons and had a plan to fight.
2 Kings 11:12 — Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
This was a revolt against the standing government. But how do you reconcile this act with Romans 13:1, 2 — “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”? All authority has been given to Jesus. We must obey government until government calls us to disobey the KING of Kings. We serve King Jesus above all else.
2 Kings 11:14 — And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!”
The most treacherous person in the kingdom accused everyone else of treason. Those who are guilty of treason are quick, with great passion, to call the faithful treasonous.
2 Kings 11:20 — So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king’s house.
People want justice and rejoice in justice, but they often aren’t willing to pay the price of sacrifice to get justice. Everyone benefits from justice, but only a few are willing to fight for justice. Jesus said we are the “Salt and Light” of the world. Salt preserves, and light exposes darkness. We must be the few in society that are willing to expose the darkness and preserve society. Proverbs 29:2 — When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
2 Kings 11:21 — Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.
The people who advise the leader are often more important than who the leader is.
John 15:1, 2, 5 – “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…. 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.”
Jesus desires and expects continual spiritual growth and fruitfulness from His followers, not from their abilities but through His life flowing into them and through them as they abide in Him. The primary focus of the Christian isn’t to produce fruit or to do the work of the Gardner, but rather to remain connected and focused on Him so growth and fruit will occur naturally. The vine merely abides, and God provides the life. The growth process is often painful as God “prunes” your character to make it more Christ-like and productive. Pruning removes what hinders further growth. What must be removed from your life so that you may continue to grow in Christ?
God will prune away your idols of personal achievement to teach you to abide in Him alone and glorify Him alone “that your joy may be complete” in Him alone. (John 15:11) God will prune away those things we chase after which have no eternal value because He has “appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
- Ecclesiastes 2:11 — Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
What sort of fruit does a Spirit-led Christian produce?
First, there is the internal fruitfulness of the Spirit. See Galatians 5:22, 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.” The attributes God removes are those opposite of the Beatitudes – He prunes away pride, pleasure seeking, arrogance, self-sufficiency, cruelty, impurity, resentfulness, bitterness, defensiveness, etc. These heart conditions produce the works fo the flesh which are contrary to the Spirit – “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves our discipleship. (John 15:8)
Second, internal fruitfulness produces external fruitfulness through joyful obedience to God’s commands which is an essential attribute of genuine love. (John 15:10, 11, 17) Those who obey God’s commands, with love and oneness with Him as their motive, are friends with Christ and understand God’s will. (John 15:15) If we walk in obedience, we will walk in the power of God (meekness) and will have rest within our spirits even though we will be hated and persecuted by the world. In our persecution, we have true fellowship with Christ.
- John 15:10 — 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.
- 1 John 3:24 — Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Third, fruitfulness involves multiplication or reproduction – fruit ultimately makes more fruit. Fruitful Christians make disciples. How are you bearing fruit in this way, not you, but God through you?
- Matthew 28:18-20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Colossians 1:5-6 — …because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.
- 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 — What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
Finally, fruitfulness is revealed in supernatural unity among believers in Christ such as was exhibited by the Early Church — see Acts 2.
- John 17:20-23 — “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- Colossians 3:14 — And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- Ephesians 4:13 — Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
- Romans 15:6 — That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 12:13 — For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
- Galatians 3:28 — There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Are you bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8)
John 15:3, 4 — You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
You are saved by faith, not by works; you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. However, having been saved by God’s grace, you must remain in Him to be sanctified in grace. He has called you to obedience, holiness, and good works which God has prepared in advance for you. Now that you have been saved, serve the Lord as His disciple and bear fruit. Jesus said that to bear fruit you must remain in Him, remaining in Him means remaining in His love, and remaining in His love means obeying His commands. (15:4, 9, 10) The fruit that you bear demonstrates your discipleship to the watching world and serves your life’s purpose of glorifying God. (15:8; Proverbs 20:11) Anything you do in life that is self-serving misses the mark. (15:4-6) Jesus describes two types of branches: those that don’t bear fruit and those that do. The branches that don’t bear fruit wither and die to no end, but the branches that do bear fruit add life, and when they fall to the ground (die of self), they produce seeds of new life (disciples).
John 15:5 – Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
“There are those who feel that they must be constantly laboring for the Lord in order to meet God’s high standards. Jesus gave a clear picture of what our relationship to Him ought to be like. He is the vine, the source of our life. We are the branches, the place where fruit is produced. As we receive life from Christ, the natural, inevitable result is that fruit is produced in our lives. In our zeal to produce ‘results’ for our Lord, we sometimes become so intent on fruit production that we neglect abiding in Christ. We may feel that ‘abiding’ is not as productive or that it takes too much time away from our fruit production. Yet Jesus said that it is not our activity that produces fruit, it is our relationship with Him. Jesus gave an important warning to His disciples. He cautioned that if they ever attempted to live their Christian life apart from an intimate relationship with Him, they would discover that they ceased to produce any significant results. They might exert great effort for the kingdom of God, yet when they stopped to account for their lives, they would find only barrenness. One of the most dramatic acts Jesus ever performed was cursing a fig tree that had failed to produce fruit (Mark 11:14). Are you comfortable in abiding, or are you impatient to be engaged in activity? If you will remain steadfastly in fellowship with Jesus, a great harvest will be the natural by-product.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
John 15:10, 11 – 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.
You abide in Jesus through obedience. You love Jesus through obedience. You find joy in life through obedience.
John 15:15 — 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 do not choose to be a friend of God. That is by invitation only. Only two people in the Old Testament were specifically described as ‘friends of God.’ Abraham walked with the Lord so closely that God referred to him as His friend (Isa. 41:8). Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks with his friend (Exod. 33:11). By His very nature God is a friend to us. He loves us with a perfect love and reaches out to us with salvation when we can offer Him nothing in return. It is quite another thing when someone has a heart so devoted to Him that God initiates a special friendship. David’s heart was totally devoted to God (1 Kings 11:4). Although David was not sinless, he loved God. David hated sin (Ps. 103:3); he loved to worship God (Ps. 122:1); he took genuine delight in God’s presence (2 Sam. 6:14); he loved to speak about God (Ps. 34:1); he was keenly aware of his transgressions (Ps. 51:3-4); and he delighted in offering gifts of song, thanksgiving, and praise, asking for nothing in return (Ps. 100). So closely did David walk with God that his words were on Jesus’ mind as He hung upon the cross (Matt. 27:46). Jesus called His disciples friends. He said He would disclose to them things that the Father had shared with Him, because they were His friends. There developed such an intimate friendship between them that He would share what was on His heart with His friends. If you cannot describe yourself as a friend of God, commit yourself to seek after God with all your heart.” (Henry T. Blacakaby)
John 15:20 – Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
If Jesus was willing to be persecuted by sinners for their sake, to reconcile them to the Father, what makes you more deserving of fair treatment than Him. What justification do you have demanding your ‘rights’ from others or seeking their punishment for treating you poorly? If you are going to rest on grace through Jesus, you have no choice but to give grace to all others. You have to be hurt by the sins of others to fully appreciate the grace you have received through Jesus.
John 15:25 – They hated me without a cause.
You will not convince others to believe through evidence our logic. It is not a head problem, it is a heart problem.
John 15:26, 27 — But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
You partner with the Holy Spirit to lead people to Jesus. You cannot lead anyone to Jesus apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s plan is that you serve as Jesus’ ambassador, empowered by the Holy Spirit. This is your life mission.
John 15 – God expects followers of Christ to bear much fruit, not through their power or abilities but through the power of God flowing through them. Only the Creator can create; we can only steward what He has created. Apart from Christ working through us, we cannot do anything. If the life of the vine does not flow through you the branch no fruit can be produced. However, it is natural and expected for a healthy tree to bear fruit and to grow. The fruit from the branch reveals what sort of vine of which it is really a part. Your fruit is evidence of your relationship with God. How fruitful is your fruitfulness? Is your fruit the evidence people need to see that Jesus make people just like Him?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 November 2022: Focus on abiding in Christ so you will naturally bear fruit.