Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 7 January 2023:
2 Chronicles 6:4-11 — God fulfills His promises generationally as he expects family to work together for His purposes for many generations. He expects mothers and fathers to build legacy for their children’s children’s children. How parents plan for many generations today?
2 Chronicles 6:16 — Now therefore, O Lord, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, “You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.”
God’s tangible promises to Israel were conditional. Similarly, we must obey God to receive the fullness of His blessings. His love is unconditional towards who are in Christ, but many of His blessings are conditional. This theme is loud and clear throughout the Old and New Testaments.
2 Chronicles 6:18 — But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!
God does not live in a building and is not contained in any way. God didn’t need a temple, but the people did, a place to unite in worship, a place of remembrance, ministry, fellowship, and sanctuary.
2 Chronicles 6:24 — If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house.
God uses defeat in battle to punish a sinful nation. Repentance and prayer is what a sinful nation requires.
2 Chronicles 6:26-30 — When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
God uses natural conditions and disasters to punish a sinful nation. Repentance and prayer is what a nation requires.
2 Chronicles 6:30 – …then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind….
God hears the prayers of a truly repentant nation. Also, register in your mind, once again, the fact that only God knows the true heart of a person – you cannot know or judge the heart of a person; you can only judge the actions of a person from the standard of God’s word. Be very careful not to play the role of God by judging beyond actions. You will encounter people who do the “right” things with the wrong motives, and you will encounter people who do the wrong things out of immaturity but who are under the conviction of the Holy Spirit – God is doing things in their lives you cannot perceive. Too often, “mature” Christians pridefully and ungraciously treat immature Christians too harshly as a parent who expects the eight-year-old to act like the twenty-eight-year-old. As a result, they exacerbate and discourage the young one. In so doing, these prideful, puffed-up Christians also reveal the immature condition of their own hearts. All children must be rebuked at times, but in different ways. Jesus harshly rebuked the Pharisees (who claimed to have great knowledge and righteousness), but He was gentle with others whose outward behavior was worse than that of the Pharisees but who lacked understanding and were open to the truth of God. Jesus did not excuse or accept any sin, but handled sinners differently. We are all called to be “salt and light,” but too much light is unbearable, and too much salt is distasteful; wisdom knows how to rightly apply salt and light to others in a way that is edifying.
– Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
– 1 Corinthians 8:1 — This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
– Romans 14:4 — Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
2 Chronicles 6:34 — If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name….
The greatest weapon in any battle or struggle is prayer. Victory in all situations rests in the hands if the LORD.
2 Chronicles 6:39-36 — If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them… yet if they turn their heart… and repent and plead with you… if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart… and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers… then hear… and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you.
Though all people sin, God is nonetheless angered by sin and will hold all sinners accountable. However, he responds to genuine repentance and forgives. The truly repentant would not think of continuing in known sin.
Psalm 2:1 – Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The entire Bible reveals a cosmic, timeless battle over who is really King. Is God God, or are people gods? Is it, “Thy will be done on earth…,” or is it, “My will be done on earth….” This battle will continue until Jesus’ return, and until then, everyone will take a side.
Psalm 2:7 — God has always planned to work through His Son to accomplish His mission of world redemption.
Psalm 2:10-12 — Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
– Genesis 13:9 — Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.
Remember when we read through Genesis 13, we discussed the choice everyone makes in life to trust, serve, and glorify either God or self, to build an alter to God or a tower to self. We also observed that this choice involves both a life resolution and daily decisions consistent with that resolution. Today we see how the resolution is played out in the decisions both people and nations make.
Abram and his nephew Lot left Egypt and entered the Negeb. Our readings pointed out that Abram “called upon the name of the Lord” but does not make a similar statement about Lot. Eventually, competition over limited resources cause strife between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. Abram, who called upon the name of the Lord, not only took the initiative to promote peace, he also surrendered his rights as the senior leader to choose first which land he would settle, giving Lot the first choice. It takes faith to surrender your rights for sake of others and to trust God with the outcome. It takes faith to lead as Jesus commanded – “And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all'”…. “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Mark 9:35; Matthew 23:11, 12) This faith involves a resolution to trust, serve, and glorify God with your life, and then the resolution becomes real at the moment of decision, one decision at a time over a lifetime.
Naturally, Lot chose what appeared to be the choicest land, the Jordan Valley near major cities, leaving Abram with the harsh land of Canaan. However, Lot’s apparently self-centered choice placed his tent in Sodom – “Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” Meanwhile, Abram moved to the wilderness and, once again, “built an alter to the Lord.” After this separation between Abram and Lot, the Bible says the Lord spoke to Abram but doesn’t make a similar statement concerning Lot. From this point on, we will see nothing but tragedy strike Lot and his family, while God continues to bless Abram and his family.
Just as people make a choice concerning who they will serve, so do nations, which are nothing more than organizations of people who share common purpose. Today the Psalmist proclaims the Sovereignty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and questions, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’” (Psalm 2:1-3) What is the message to the Nations? “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” The bookends to rejoicing are fear and trembling, honoring God and holy and sovereign, and blessings come to those who take refuge in Him. Those who reject Christ face God’s anger and wrath and “perish in the way.”
Consider how the Psalmist’s message today relates to the Great Commission – “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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
How do your decisions reveal the God you serve? How does what you say about social issues reveal to others the God you serve?
God expects all earthly leaders to serve Jesus. This is part of our message and His ambassadors.
Psalm 3:8 – Salvation belongs to the Lord.
People place their hope in many different things. Some place their hope in politicians, others in finances, others in friends and family; but hope, peace, and security are ultimately found only in Jesus. Build your house on the rock of Jesus. Everything else is shifting sand.
Proverbs 8:1-6 — Wisdom is available to anyone with a humble heart.
Proverbs 8:8 – All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
All the teachings of men are twisted and crooked in some way. Only God’s word can be trusted completely. God is the Creator of Ethics (unchanging truths and justice), while mankind creates “morals” (from the word mores, which means the commonly accepted ways of the populace, not what is right in God’s eyes but what is accepted. Morals are always changing like shifting sands as fickle people drift in a sea of social influences. Likewise, God is the Creator of Principles (unchanging truth about how the Created order works, wisdom), while mankind creates “values” (distorted perceptions of how things work based upon our extremely limited human perceptions and ideas passed along from one imperfect mortal to another. Time and time again, God warns us not to lean on our own understanding but to trust His word, even if it doesn’t seem to agree with our current understanding, our values and morals.
Proverbs 8:13 — The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
To love God is to hate evil, not to accommodate, tolerate, or accept it. The more you love God, the more you hate evil. If you are complacent concerning evil, you care little about God. If you can gaze upon evil (such as on TV) and not be outraged, your heart is not right. If your speech is not gracious and pure, your heart is not right.
Wisdom requires daily attention. If you don’t follow God’s wisdom closely, you will only hurt yourself as you resist the power of the Creator and the logic behind His Creation and His plan.
Proverbs 8:17 — I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
The Christian life requires diligence, a word with the following synonyms: conscientiousness, assiduousness, assiduity, hard work, application, concentration, effort, care, industriousness, rigor, meticulousness, thoroughness; perseverance, persistence, tenacity, dedication, commitment, tirelessness, indefatigability, doggedness. Do these words describe your daily walk with The Lord?
Proverbs 8:17-36 — The truth is timeless and unchanging. The truth determines totally predictable outcomes in life, whether we believe the truth or not. What we believe to be true determines our behavior. If we truly believe truth, we will live by truth and be blessed. If we don’t really believe truth (regardless of what we say), we will live by lies and sin and will suffer natural consequences.
Proverbs 8:22-31 — When you tap into God’s wisdom, you become synched-up with all of Creation. You are in harmony with all logic. Things will start to work for you like never before.
Proverbs 8:33-36 – Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.
Again, wisdom comes only from God, received through obedience to God’s word. Life and blessings are found in obedience; death and destruction come from disobedience.
Wisdom requires daily attention. If you don’t follow God’s wisdom closely, you will only hurt yourself as you resist the power of the Creator and the logic behind His Creation and His plan. “Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 January 2023: Today, “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Be blessed today by taking refuge in Him.