WEEK 51, Day 7, Sunday, 25 December 2022

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 25 December 2022:

1 Chronicles 20:1 — In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, Joab led out the army and ravaged the country of the Ammonites and came and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. And Joab struck down Rabbah and overthrew it.

“But David remained at Jerusalem….” From this statement, 2 Samuel 11 continues to describe how David committed adultery with Bathsheba:

To me one of the most shocking, tragic, and frightening stories in the Bible is that of David’s adulterous and murderous deeds committed against his faithful warrior Uriah (but more importantly against God).  How could this “man after God’s own heart” do such terrible, terrible things (deserving of the death penalty), particularly against someone as faithful and dedicated as Uriah who was deployed in combat fighting for the king?  If David, a man who had such a close relationship with God, could do such a thing, what does that suggest about the potential susceptibility of ordinary people like us to sin terribly?  We must vigilantly guard our hearts and walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

There are countless lessons in this story which will continue to unfold as we read on, but when I look at the chain of events (or decisions) that led to this tragedy, the words from 2 Chronicles 20:1 and 2 Samuel 11:1 jump out at me – when David should have gone out with Israel to battle, he stayed home.  Simply stated, David wasn’t where he should have been or doing what he should have been doing.  David set the conditions for his demise through his complacency towards personal responsibility.  Complacency kills!  He had let his personal guard down and had, as we say in the Marine Corps, “gone internal” or had become “focused inward.”  His focus shifted from “He” (God) to “me.”  Self-gratification became the goal.

2 Samuel 11:2 expands upon David’s mental/emotional state: “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.”  Why is the warrior king, during a time of war, on his couch late in the afternoon or idly walking around the roof of the palace?  As the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”  David’s wandering mind led to wandering eyes which led to inappropriate inquiries which led to adultery and murder.  Small decisions led to massive destruction (much of which we haven’t read about yet).

Faithfulness must be continuous.  We all need a break from the responsibilities of life, and God’s word is clear that rest is critical to our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.  However, even in our rest, we must remain alert to spiritual attacks.  Just as our hearts, brains, and vital life supports systems remain active while we sleep at night, Christians must always guard their hearts and be very careful not to drift into complacency.  Rest is important, but it must not become an idol, and quite often, responsibilities will demand we deny self for sake of doing what we must.  When we shirk our responsibilities in life, we make self king and open the door to sin.  David should have stayed focused on his responsibilities and should have gone to battle with the rest of the men.  You can imagine David telling himself, “I deserve a break; after all, I am the king, and look how hard I have been working all these years; Joab can handle it.” Be very careful when you find yourself looking for an escape from the burdens of responsibility or commitment.  During these times of mental and emotional weakness, you are very susceptible to sin.  David went to his rooftop and let his mind and eyes wander.  Where do you go when you feel you need a break from life’s responsibilities and just want to “check out” or “turn off,” when you just want to stop thinking?

Be very careful about where you turn for entertainment or “amusement.”  In Latin the word “muse” means to think.  In Latin, when you place the letter “a” in front of a word it means the opposite; so “a-muse” means to not think or to stop thinking.  However, as stated above, we never really stop thinking.  So, amusement involves letting your guard down intentionally, to “just relax and escape the concerns of life.”  Where do most Americans choose to stop thinking?  In front of media devices or in front of TVs, which promote very destructive behaviors – essentially, they open the gates of their minds to sin.  Also, many choose to ‘relax’ in social settings which promote excessive eating and alcohol.  Does that make sense?  “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

We all need a break from work and life stressors, but replace amusement with recreation, which is to ‘re-create’ oneself, activities which promote your health and welfare, which help prepare you for another day serving God.  Do enjoyable, constructive things that refresh you, revive you, and contribute to a better you.  Have fun, but with a sober, fully engaged mind.  Use that “down time” to get outside and appreciate God’s creation, to pray, read the Bible, and fellowship with others – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) Finally, don’t let your mind drift into negativity — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

  – Proverbs 4:23-27 [NIV] — Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it…. Keep [God’s word] within your heart…. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.  Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.  Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Above all else, guard your heart by meditating upon God’s word and remaining vigilant in thought, word, and deed.  Don’t let your eyes drift or your feet wander.  Also, remember, “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)  Sheep don’t rest with wolves, neither do Christians turn to the ungodly for entertainment for amusement.

  – 1 Corinthians 10:31 — So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

  – Colossians 3:17 — And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Chronicles 20:5 — And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite….

In Chronicles 20, we read about the slaying of four giants, on the brother of Goliath.  You remember the story of David and Goliath:  When David met Goliath on the field of battle, 1 Samuel 17:40 says, “Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch.  His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”  Why did David take five stones?  Perhaps because David was prepared to kill all five giants!  At any rate, David’s courageous leadership helped others around him see what is possible.  How might you be able to help others overcome their giants by killing yours?  Also, we must remember that when we kill our giants, there will be others we will need to fight as well.  Be strong and courageous through your personal challenges for yourself and for others.

Psalm 148:5 – Let them praise the name of the Lord!  For he commanded and they were created.

The creation praises God and brings glory to God by fulfilling the purpose God intended for it.  We were created to love Him and others, and we praise Him and bring glory to Him when we obey the Great Command of love.  Will you praise God today and glorify Him by fulfilling your purpose of love?

Psalm 148:14 – “He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!”

God has chosen you and your church to be instruments of praise so all the world can praise Him.

Psalm 148 – One of God’s primary commands for you is to praise Him.

Proverbs 25:1 — These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied.

Most of the Proverbs deal with how to treat other people because life is all about relationships, and or mission on earth is about relationships.  Christians must strive to be better people in order to bring glory to God, but our message is not to proclaim goodness but rather Jesus, the only truly Good one, the one on whose grace we depend and seek to emulate

Proverbs 25:2 – It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.

What motivates your quest for knowledge will largely determine what you discover.  Many get the right answers to all the wrong questions.  Many seek increased knowledge to validate their own assumptions, turning a blind eye to greater truths.  What might we have discovered in science and technology has we not raised up our children within an education system that excludes God from the equation?  So much knowledge is a misguided, prideful pursuit among people seeking to free themselves of God’s truth. “’Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Proverbs 25:3 – As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.

There is no way for us to truly know the character, motives, and intent of a leader.  Only God knows.  We can only judge the deeds of a person, whether they are just and righteous or not.  Be very careful not to assume the motives of anyone. 

Proverbs 25:4 – Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.

Are you diligently seeking to remove the dross of sin from your life that you would be a worthy vessel for the Holy Spirit?

Proverbs 25:5 – Take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Proverbs 25:6, 7 – Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.

Too many people seek ministry and positions of church leadership for which God has not anointed them.  Too many leaders fail miserably because they are seeking to do what God never intended for them.  If you are truly obedient to the responsibilities and opportunities God has placed in front of you, increased responsibility will naturally happen, and you will be truly ready for it.

Proverbs 25:9 — Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret.

Settle matters one-on-one, quietly in order to preserve the dignity of both parties and to protect the relationship.  Don’t let an issue distract you or others from Jesus.  Better to surrender your rights in a matter than to lose focus on your mission of reconciling yourself and others to Jesus.  Life is not about you; it is about Him.  You are just a humble servant and messenger.  Whatever you give up for the sake of love, God can replace a thousand fold.

Proverbs 25:14 — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep, even as a casual gesture, such as saying to someone you bump into who you haven’t seen in a long time, “Let’s keep in touch.”

Proverbs 25:15, 16 – With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.  If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.

Patience and self-control is key to positive relationships and to success in general.

Proverbs 25:19 – Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.

The wrong people in your life can make things bad that should be good.

Proverbs 25:21, 22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

God expects your love for your enemies to be tangible; if it doesn’t cost you something, it probably isn’t worth very much. 

Proverbs 25:26 – Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

Accept as much sin in your life as you would accept feces in your drinking water.  Don’t pollute yourself with compromise.

Proverbs 25:28 – A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Those who lack self-control are perpetual victims.  Most people in America will die from diseases associated with smoking, a poor diet, a lack of exercise, and too much stress.  However, they will really die from a lack of self-control.   Self-control comes from the Holy Spirit, not from a better education or positive thinking.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 December 2022:  Today, begin the habit of replacing your amusement with recreation, learning to convalesce without letting your guard down to sin and destructiveness, resting in a positive, fulfilling way that continues to bring honor and glory to God.  Teach others how to do the same.

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