Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 23 November 2022:
2 Kings 12:2 — And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
In American politics there is much debate as to whether a person is equipped for the job (as there should be), but often what is more important is who that person surrounds themselves with for counsel and guidance. As an eight-year-old (2 Kings 22), Josiah was not equipped for the job, but he was surrounded by godly administrators and counsellors. Note that the first counsellor mentioned in 2 Kings 22 is his mother. Parents are critical to the success of their children. We will see later that Josiah slips a bit when he does not listen to sound, godly counsel.
2 Kings 12:3 — Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.
There can be no compromise with sin. The slightest bit of disobedience to God’s commands can have devastating consequences, often not revealed for many years. Obviously, to disobey God in any area is to fail to respect Him as God at all. Either He is sovereign or He isn’t. What are you still hanging on to that detracts from your purity?
2 Kings 12:4, 5 — Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the Lord, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the Lord, let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.”
There are different types of giving — tithes, gifts, and alms. The tithe is 10% given to the church. It is mandatory and given in public. “Gifts” are given to the church above and beyond the tithe. It is private and given in secret as are alms which are gifts to the poor and needy, again, above and beyond the tithe. The average church giver today gives less than 2% of their income. This is wrong. Many suggest that the tithe is a part of the Old Law which is no longer required. However, the tithe is not simply part of the Old Law. Abraham gave a tithe before the Law (Gen 14:20), and Jesus endorsed the tithe (Luke 11:42 — “These you ought to have done”). The tithe is a steady, reliable source of income for the church to use to do its work. Today, our churches are weak in part because God’s people don’t tithe. Give your tithe as a public commitment and display of worship, and give your gifts and alms in secret. God loves the cheerful giver.
2 Kings 12:7 — Why are you not repairing the house?
With good intentions and good ideas must come a specific plan for execution. As they say, “The devil is in the details.” Leaders must set goals and objectives and ensure people actually get things done. Hope is not a method. God calls us to work efficiently and effectively to turn vision into reality. And any good plan accounts for the reality of human nature. People act like people do, and that is a reality that must be planned for.
2 Kings 12:13, 14 — But there were not made for the house of the Lord basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the Lord with it.
First things must come first. Before the church buys that new electric drum set, they may want to consider buying Bibles for those who don’t have one. Before you consider buying that new large screen TV, you might want to replace your roof. Take care of what matters most first. Do the hard thing first.
- Proverbs 24:27 — Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
2 Kings 12:18 — Jehoash king of Judah took… his own sacred gifts….
Jehoash led by example and did exactly what he was asking everyone else to do.
John 16:1-4 — I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
Jesus warned His followers they would be persecuted by people from within the church in the name of God because, though these persecutors were very religious, they “have not known the Father, nor me.” Jesus warned His followers so, under the pressure of the worldly church, His true followers would not ‘fall away.’ We must be very careful not to allow unfaithful but powerful elements within the contemporary church compromise our fidelity to Jesus. If you are truly obeying God’s word, you might find that your greatest critics are members of the church. Jesus warned His followers they would be persecuted in the name of religion and righteousness like He was persecuted by religious leaders and governing officials. However, we must be careful not to allow the harsh, callous culture turn us into harsh, callous people too. We must be faithful to our message and ministry of reconciliation.
“Whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” Many Christians have hurt other Christians and unbelievers while thinking they were serving God in the process. Even if you are right on a spiritual matter, you can be terribly, sinfully wrong in how you address the matter with others if your motivation is wrong or your approach is inconsiderate or unloving. In other words, you can handle God’s word hurtfully and foolishly – “Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” (Proverbs 26:9) If your actions don’t feel gracious, reconciliatory, and loving, they probably aren’t, and you are likely outside of God’s will. When you are operating outside of the command of love, you are no longer gathering with Jesus but rather scattering – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
- 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.
- 2 Timothy 2:24-26 — And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
- 2 Timothy 4:2 — Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
- Leviticus 19:17 — You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
John 16:6 – But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
The reality God has in store for us might tend to fill us with grief, though we are reminded that this is part of God’s perfect plan, and we can rely on the Holy Spirit for strength and joy in the midst of trials. God will judge the world, and we will suffer in the midst of that judgment; however, we will be rewarded for faithful service behind the enemy’s front lines.
John 16:8 — When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
Only The Holy Spirit can convict the heart. As God’s messenger, you are called to proclaim truth to others, but the Holy Spirit must do the convicting. Tell people the truth in love, and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest.
John 16:12-13 — I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
The Holy Spirit guides you through a process of spiritual growth — spiritual growth is not obtained on your own ability and isn’t obtained overnight. For those who are diligent disciples, the Holy Spirit reveals more and more truth everyday overtime. The Holy Spirit only speaks the words of the Father. Obedient disciples do likewise. No one should care about what you think but rather what God has revealed to you through His word as revealed by His Spirit. All that matters is the unfiltered word of God flowing out of your mouth as a messenger of Christ.
- Ezekiel 34:18-19 — Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
John 16:14 — He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
We glorify God when we declare His truth to others.
John 16:20 — Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.
The Christian’s response to circumstances and world events is the opposite of those who are not followers of Christ. If you are rejoicing with the world, you might want to question your spiritual discernment. If you are fearing or fretting with the world, you might want to question your spiritual discernment.
We naturally mourn over what the world rejoices over. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t mourn, quite the opposite. Happiness and joy are not the same thing.
John 16:22 – So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Now is not our time of rejoicing. We will not fully rejoice until Christ returns, but our inner joy remains because we are always with Jesus. Today’s feel-good church is severely disoriented to the realities of its environment and situation.
John 16:23, 24 — Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
This is an important word for us from Jesus. The disciples had been with Jesus for a long time and had asked Him for many things, but Jesus said of them, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name.” What is it to ask in Jesus’ name? Essentially it is asking for Jesus’ will rather than our own will, from unselfish motives that seek only to glorify Jesus. To that point in the Bible, the requests of the disciples always had a little selfish intent. To ask in Jesus’ name is to essentially ask on His behalf, not ours. What will you pray for today and why? Are your prayers about you or about Jesus?
John 16:31, 32 — Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.”
Part of your spiritual growth involves God revealing to you your lack of faith. This is your opportunity not to get discouraged but rather to turn to God for strength and to grow in faith.
John 16:32 — Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
Jesus knows better than anyone what it is to be abandoned and rejected and reminds us that the Christian is never alone, never abandoned, and never rejected. Your relationship with God is the only relationship you have that will never fail you in some way.
John 16:33 — I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
The Christian should have and display peace through tribulation because of his relationship with God and total trust and confidence in Him. Jesus wants you to have inner peace on earth when there is no outer peace. Jesus speaks about peace over 100 times in the Bible. To those who have received salvation in Him, Jesus says, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50) Walk In the peace of Jesus. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) Be troubled and worried no longer. Jesus also says, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) Jesus also commands us to spread His peace to the world. We should be beacons of peace through our attitudes and communicators of peace through the preaching of the good word. Today, live in peace and preach peace to others, peace that only comes through Jesus.
God modeled for us how to respond to abandonment and persecution while having peace in fellowship with God. If the world has not yet abandoned you, see if you haven’t indeed abandoned God when it mattered most. When it was time to speak out against adultery, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, injustice, etc, did you run to your home, shut the door and act like you didn’t know Jesus, His teachings, or His call for repentance, which we are called as ambassadors to communicate on His behalf? Don’t fool yourself – silence is consent. Are you scared to leave your comfortable, seemingly secure silence for Jesus? John the Baptist was beheaded because he dared speak out against adultery. Jesus said of John the Baptist that there was no man born of woman greater than John the Baptist. What does Jesus say about your fidelity and courage as His ambassador?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 November 2022: Speak the truth in love, and if others respond unlovingly, respond back to them lovingly. Remember who you represent – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)