Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 18 December 2022:
1 Chronicles 13:1, 2 — David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God….”
David focused his time on his leaders, counting on them to transmit his message, to execute his intent, and to give him feedback and counsel from their perspectives. Only a very few interacted with David daily. David had to not only develop leaders he could trust, but he had to develop leaders who knew how to develop trustworthy subordinate leaders. David needed disciple-making leaders who would develop godly disciple-making leaders. A person has limited capacity to truly disciple others, which takes daily effort to teach, coach and mentor in a way that develops godly character. A person can only truly disciple a limited number. Who are you discipling daily?
Trust is the fabric of any organization. David’s trust throughout his ranks of leaders rested on their fidelity to God above all else and their receptivity to God’s leading. David relied on the confidence that his leaders, in the absence of specific and direct orders, would hear and obey God. Note what David said to the assembly – “If it seems good to you and from the LORD our God….” David was counting on leaders who would not simply rely on their own judgment but who would prayerfully seek guidance from God and be guided by the leading of the Holy Spirit. David didn’t just say, “if it seems good and also lawful;” he said if it is “from” the LORD. Critical to good leadership is being lead by the Holy Spirit, above our incredibly limited, easily deceived human perception and intellect. The Holy Spirit is not limited, but we can quench, grieve, and get out of step with the Spirit through our own infidelity and disobedience. If we don’t experience clear guidance and intent from the Spirit daily as Jesus did, the issue is with our own lack of receptivity based upon the condition of our hearts. A good decision is not just based upon what we think; it must be “from the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 13:3 — Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.
David knew that the kingdom’s future depended on revelation from God and the power of God. So, does your future. Saul did not seek God’s counsel as he should have, and it cost him everything and also caused the needless suffering of countless others. Learn from the lessons of the Old Testament which are provided for you by God.
1 Chronicles 13:10-12 – And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah…. And David was afraid of God that day….
What does it take for a person to stop fighting God’s will, to stop blaming God for the consequence of sin, and to start revering God and obeying him? The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s holiness and sat in the Most Holy Place. After the death of Aaron’s two sons when they approached the Lord inappropriately, God gave Moses these instructions: “Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, for God has proclaimed ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’” God had given very specific instructions as to how the ark was to be handled: It was to be carried only by the Levites on foot using long poles that ran through rings on the sides – there were never to be removed. The people were to be shielded from the ark by the “atonement cover” made of pure gold and a curtain. The ark had been forgotten during the reign of Saul, and the people had lost perspective on the holiness of God. As the ark is carelessly moved in an unauthorized fashion, Uzzah dares to touch this holy object and dies – he had subconsciously presumed that his sinful hands were somehow cleaner that the ground where the ark would have fallen. It is interesting to me how David’s response begins with anger and then turns to fear. The clearer our perspective of God, the greater we appreciate his holiness in contrast to our sinfulness, the more grateful we become for the grace bestowed upon us. Think of Peter’s response to Jesus when he first understood who Jesus was, “he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” Ephesians 3:12 points out that in Christ Jesus, “we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him [to approach Him].” However, this statement does not suggest that we should approach God without reverence. Ephesians 3:14 goes on to say, “For this reason I kneel before the Father….” Today, worship has become very casual. Perhaps we have a problem with our perspective of God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and the grace which we have received. How differently would we approach our God and live our lives with a clearer perspective.
Psalm 146:3 – Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
There is no hope in the world’s political systems and politicians. While everyone else is lifting up politicians and political platforms, lift up only Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
Micah 4 proclaims that there shall not be peace any security on earth until the nations submit to the Lord and “walk in his paths.” Though “all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,” Christians proclaim that salvation comes only through Christ in accordance with God’s will, mercy, and grace. Until the world accepts that truth, the world will “assemble” against God’s people because, “they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan.” (Micah 4:12) Until Christ returns to reign on earth, “the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord…. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples (Micah 5:7, 8).” God’s loyal subjects currently serve as “ambassadors” of God’s Kingdom to the kingdoms of the world where God’s people live as foreigners or strangers. Are you a loyal subject in the Kingdom of God?
Psalm 146:5 – Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.
Let’s ‘campaign’ for Jesus during the next election cycle, starting today.
Psalm 146:7-9 — [God] who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Only God can rightly balance justice and mercy to defend victims and know how/when to forgive victimizers. God’s ways always protect the weak and defenseless.
This is a theme in today’s readings. Jesus said we must worship both in spirit and in truth. True worship is living righteously. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” You don’t love and worship Jesus in truth if you are not obeying Him.
Proverbs 18 – Notice how much the Bible has to say about the words that come out of your mouth. Do your words project the character of Jesus? Your words will reveal whether you are selfish or selfless.
Proverbs 18:1 – Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Isolation is a form of self-centeredness and is contrary to love. Christianity is all about close relationships with God and with others. You were created for relationships, to love God and others. This is your purpose. Isolation is a product of selfishness, fear, and pride. It is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Life is about relationships, and we have been given the mission of reconciliation. One way people deal with disagreeable people is to avoid them; Christians cannot do that. The evidence of how much we love God is primarily revealed in how much we love people. A Christian loner is an oxymoron.
Proverbs 18:2 – A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Don’t talk. Listen. One of the most important habits of a reconciler is to seek first to understand before being understood. Whether the other person is right or wrong, the reconciler must truly understand what is behind their position. Why are they doing what they are doing? Only then is there hope to address the heart of the matter at hand. All relational problems are, at their core, spiritual problems, disunity with Jesus. The world hates those who are hateful. Christians see beyond the issues and seek to draw the hateful to Jesus in love.
Proverbs 18:4 – The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
There are countless ‘teachers’ out there, but wisdom is scarce. Let the Holy Spirit be your Counselor through the word of God.
Proverbs 18:4 – The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
Everyone has an opinion, but very few are worth hearing. People are talking all the time, without much genuine thought behind their words. Words of wisdom are very rare. And now, technology has given everyone a global voice. In two days, we put out more information than the rest of human history combined. Technology has also enabled advanced techniques for information manipulation, weaponized information. So, in these deep waters of words, it is even more important for you to go to the bubbling brook of God’s word.
Proverbs 18:6, 7 – A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
A foolish mouth only gets you in trouble. Always consider your words very carefully. Why walk into a fight. Even still, how could you since you have been given by God the ministry of reconciliation and have been appointed by Him as His Ambassador? Consistently remind yourself, with each new encounter, that you have been crucified and no longer live, that you don’t represent yourself but rather Jesus, that as a follower of Jesus, you must deny self and take up your cross. Your goal for all conversations is that Christ be revealed and that the other party might be drawn, in some way, closer to Him.
Proverbs 18:9 – Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.
Everyone suffers when people don’t do their jobs well. Make no mistake, negligence is a sin. Before God gave Adam a helpmate, He gave Adam a job. Before sin, work was worship; it was productive and fruitful. After sin, work became burdensome, secular. God calls us to return to worshipful work that glorifies Him. Work is an act of love, providing the best, our best, to others. Be excellent in all you do, and in all you do, do it for His glory.
We spend far too much time, energy, and effort trying to fix what someone broke due to pure negligence, complacency, or laziness. Small, seemingly insignificant, decisions to cut corners or disregard fundamentals have a huge ripple effect that affects many and can become catastrophic. Truth be told, too much of your time is also wasted fixing what you broke because of your bad habits: you don’t put something away where it goes, then later you spend hours looking for it — hours you could have used doing something productive, hours you will never get back. When you aren’t disciplined and diligent in your habits and practices, you pay a huge opportunity cost and destroy your productivity; this is a sin that you must work on daily. God is very interested in our attention to detail in all that we do. Our professionalism ultimately glorifies Him.
Proverbs 18:12 — Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Most people cannot see their own destruction because they are blinded by pride.
Proverbs 18:13 – If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Our greatest commandment is love. One of the primary ways we show our love for others is in how we communicate with them. God gives very specific instructions on how we should communicate with others, and He says He will hold us all accountable for how we communicate. This verse is one such example. God is telling you, that not only is it shameful for you to ever interrupt someone, it is shameful to really not listen empathetically before responding. If you find yourself already crafting your response before the other person is done talking, you are not really listening and are being foolish. One helpful technique is to summarize back to the person what you heard them say and to ask them to clarify their feelings behind their statement before you respond with your viewpoint. Try doing this every time and see what happens. Also, remember that if you an Ambassador for Christ, you have no personal opinion, you only represent the position of Jesus. Take self out of the equation.
Proverbs 18:14 – A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?
Spiritual health and strength is infinitively more important than physical health and strength.
Proverbs 18:18 – The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders.
See Numbers 33:54 – The lot eliminates perceptions of unfairness or biases by removing the human element from the decision-making process. In this “game of chance,” God remains in complete control.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 December 2022: Worship the Lord on this Sunday by living righteously, obeying Him, and proclaiming Him as the only Way, Truth, and Life. Reveal the character of Jesus to others today by your actions, but don’t let people praise you for your good works but rather your Father in Heaven and His One and Only Son, Jesus. (See today’s readings)