Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 14 January 2023:
2 Chronicles 11:17 — They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.
2 Chronicles 12:1 — When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.
2 Chronicles 12:9-10 – He [Shishak king of Egypt] also took away the shields of gold that Solomon had made, and King Rehoboam made in their place shields of bronze and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house.
2 Chronicles 12:14 — And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
Rehoboam was a highly skilled leader who lived a compromised life before the Lord, so he failed to live up to his full potential, missed out on the blessings he could have received from the Lord, suffered under God’s discipline needlessly, led many people astray, and lived a relatively comfortable, marginal life until he died. Beginning his reign with such great promise, his ‘epitaph’ ultimately reads – “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”
Rehoboam replaced the gold shields with bronze shields, a great public symbol of the life he led. Gold is a symbol of rare, highly valued purity, suitable for noble purposes – “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3) “I will make people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir.” (Isaiah 13:12) “Instead of bronze I will bring gold….” (Isaiah 60:17) “…the city was pure gold….” (Revelation 21:18) While gold is a precious metal, bronze is an alloy metal, a mixture of copper, tin, other metals and even non-metals. For perspective, in today’s market, gold is worth around $1,920 dollars per ounce, while bronze is worth about 36₵ per ounce. Both gold and bronze are shiny, but there is no comparing bronze with gold. The symbol of Rehoboam’s life, which he displayed to the world, was bronze instead of gold, compromise instead of purity, instead of holiness and genuine worth, unsuited for noble purposes. What shields do we carry before the world? Will we display shiny but cheap shields of compromise and impurity, or will be carry precious gold (which by the way is much heavier than bronze) shields of wholehearted commitment to the Lord? “For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.” (Psalm 89:18)
- 1 Peter 1:3-7 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- Ephesians 4:1 — I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called….
- Philippians 1:27 — Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel….
- Colossians 1:10 — …so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:12 — …we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:11 — To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
- 2 Timothy 2:15 — Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Rehoboam was skilled, but a ‘bronze’ heart is no comparison to a ‘gold’ heart which is fully dedicated to the Lord – “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart…. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” (Psalm 119:2, 10) Is your heart bronze or gold before the Lord?
2 Chronicles 12:2 — In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the LORD, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.
Again, God uses ungodly nations to punish his unfaithful people.
2 Chronicles 12:7-8 — When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance…. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
God responds to genuine repentance but may not completely remove the consequences of your sin. It is hard for us to see how God is using pain to chisel away the unwanted sinfulness in our hearts to reveal the masterpiece He is creating us to be. Beautiful rose bushes must be pruned, pure silver must be put through the fire, and our hearts must be refined through adversity. Romans 8:28 reminds us that, in Jesus, there are no bad circumstances, only good.
2 Chronicles 12:14 — And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.
You must set your heart to seek The Lord or you will inevitably do evil. If the earnest desire of your heart is not the LORD, perfect unity to Jesus, you will fail to accomplish your life’s purpose.
In one generation after Solomon, the kingdom was forever divided. Chronicles records that “Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time.” (2 Chron 11:16,17) However, by the 5th year of Rehoboam’s reign, “he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 12:1) Rehoboam’s goal was not to establish a kingdom for God but rather a kingdom for himself (11:1), and “he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” Psalms point out that God has commanded fathers throughout the generations to impress upon their children the vitality of fidelity to the Lord that “they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psa 78:7). 1 Kings 2 records that David charged Solomon to “be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses.” However, 1 Kings 11 records that “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, [and] Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.” Tragically, the Bible does not record a charge from Solomon to Rehoboam to set his heart on seeking the Lord and to remain faithful.
Psalm 4:3 – But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
“No one is more precious in the Lord’s sight than a godly person. God is pleased whenever He finds someone who strives to live a righteous life and bring glory to Him. God sets such people apart in a special place in His heart. They are always kept before Him, and He stands ready to respond to their faintest cries for help.
Sin separates us from God, causing Him to close His ears to our praying. It is futile for us to pray when we are knowingly practicing sin. But the opposite is also true. God chooses to honor us by listening to our every cry when we are living a godly life. An abiding security comes with living a blameless life. The righteous person never has to wonder whether God has listened to his prayer (1 John 5:14-15). The godly person has confidence that God has indeed heard her prayer and will immediately respond in all of His power.
It is exhilarating to be set apart by God, knowing that God observes your consecrated life and is pleased with what He sees. What a tremendous privilege to know that your life holds a special place in God’s heart! The world may not accord any special status to you, but you will know that you are cherished by God. The world continues to find new ways to honor people, but even the world’s most extravagant accolades are pitiful compared to the unfathomable blessing of holding a special place in the heart of God!” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Psalm 4:4 – “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.”
There is a right way to handle anger, and it involves silence, meditation, prayer, and worship.
The Christian life is to be lived “on purpose,” intentionally striving to accomplish God’s purpose for our lives, in accordance with His intent. While the Bible has much to say about the importance of planning in life, Jesus explains that successful execution of the ‘plan’ is accomplished one day at a time, making the most of every opportunity that is placed in front of us:
- “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)
- “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.’” (John 4:13, 14)
- “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” (Proverbs 27:1)
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time [every opportunity], because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15, 16)
While we can and should plan, one of our major challenges is that we don’t know the details of the plan, only the ultimate end state. It’s God’s plan, not ours, and our thoughts could not be farther than His thoughts; also, we can see in the Bible that God always takes His servants off of their intended course to accomplish His plan in His ways.
- “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
- “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24)
God’s command to Abram was “Go… to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) So, when you don’t know where you are going, the key is to stay close to the leader. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) When we drift from God’s intended trajectory for our lives, this is called “sin,” a word taken from marksmanship which means, “to miss the mark.” Expert marksman know a counter-intuitive secret to shooting that makes them far superior to the rest: the expert marksman does not focus his eye on the target but rather on his front sight – the sight (the thing closest to him) is very clear (the more clear the better the shot), but the target is very blurry. The marksman need only be concerned that the very clear sight has a very blurry target behind it. Then he applies the other fundamentals of properly releasing the round or projectile carefully as not to move the sights from their intended location. This rather uncomfortable approach to shooting always produces amazing results.
It is no accident that the Bible uses “sin” to describe what causes us to “miss the mark.” We make the amateur mistake of trying to see the target clearly while allowing our sights to get blurry – a guaranteed miss. As Christians, what we must see VERY clearly is Jesus Christ in our lives, revealed through our lives TODAY. Our eyes must be fixed upon Jesus as we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in all that we think, say, and do today, walking as Jesus would walk, making his appeal to the world for him through the power of the Holy Spirit and under his authority. To that end, the disciple has some very basic daily habits or fundamentals of good ‘marksmanship’ such as Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. However, another very important, often overlooked, daily habit of discipleship is humble, Spirit-led assessment. At the end of the day, we must receive our debrief from the Holy Spirit on how well we lived the day to God’s glory. How well did we deny self, take up our cross (proclaim Christ in word and deed), and follow Jesus? How well did we produce the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Did we succeed at making ourselves slaves to Christ and servants to all others? Did we consider everyone else’s needs above our own? Did we directly communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ (rather than just hinting at it) to all those around us? Did we forgive and seek forgiveness while on our mission of reconciliation? Note from our verse today that as we consider our day’s activities and decisions, the Holy Spirit will convict us about the condition of our hearts that produced those actions. It is always a heart problem and a love problem. Even our outwardly good deeds may be burst into flames by the conviction of the Holy Spirit which reveals the selfish motivations behind them. Honest daily assessment with repentance and confidence in Grace will bring us a brighter day tomorrow, one day at a time – “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
The assessment process IS NOT a time to wallow in guilt, get frustrated, or quit striving. One of the key attributes of discipleship is persevering, working through mistakes and challenges. Countless people have taken piano lessons, but very few people are concert pianists. Why? Because most get frustrated at their constant mistakes and quit practicing, happy to tinker around on occasion, perhaps at parties – no perseverance required. Let’s make beautiful music unto the Lord through daily, persistent habits of discipleship which include ending each day quietly in our beds pondering our hearts.
Psalm 4:6 – There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
All goodness comes from the Lord. People will always let you down, but God never will.
Psalm 4:8 – In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
You will only find peace in Jesus. Peace on Earth only becomes a reality when Jesus is present. When you trust in Jesus with all your heart, you will have peace in any situation. You will be able to rest peacefully in the back of the boat while it is being tossed about by the storms and while everyone else says, “We perish.”
Proverbs 14:5-7 – God knows people will reveal their character through their words. We were created, in part, to transfer spiritual truth into the physical world, to impact the world to God’s glory, to “subdue” the earth by living out God’s will and reconciling the world to Him. Our thoughts are within ourselves, but the first place we impact the world is in our words and deeds. Our words are powerful and create change (remember God created by speaking). Our words are often more powerful than our actions. They will either glorify God or dishonor Him; they will promote life or death, construction or destruction, peace or strife, love or hate. Our words will either lift up or tear down. They will promote unity or disunity. Every word matters, not only what you say, but how you say it. Your words reveal who you are really serving and how much you really love. Jesus said that we will be held accountable for “every careless word” we speak. (Matthew 12:26) What impact will you have on this world with your words? How will those around you think and feel after you speak?
Proverbs 14:9 — Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.
Christians make amends for sin when it is within their power to do so. Exodus 22, Leviticus 24, and Numbers also speak to the principle of restitution.
Proverbs 14:10 — The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
You never know what a person is going through. Show mercy and grace.
Proverbs 14:12 — There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
You must be guided by wisdom which is above your own, wisdom which can only come from God.
Proverbs 14:14 — The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his.
The deceiver is deceived. Throughout the Bible you will see a pattern where God allows sinners to get a taste of their own medicine (Galatians 6:7, 8; Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7; Luke 6:38; Mark 4:24). Jacob deceived by pretending to be someone else, and he was subsequently deceived in the exact same way – “Why have you deceived me?” How do you think Jacob interpreted these circumstances? Do you think Jacob saw himself as an innocent victim? Do you think he asked himself, “Where is God?” Do you think Jacob asked for forgiveness from God for his deception while simultaneously asking for justice concerning Laban’s deception against him?
Proverbs 14:15, 16 — The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
Don’t believe what you hear from others; believe God and His word. Very, very few read and obey God’s word. If you choose to do that, you will turn away from evil and the majority.
Proverbs 14:21 — Blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Do you wanted blessings? What have you done for the poor?
Proverbs 14:25 — A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
Jeremiah was a truthful witness. He spoke the truth no one wanted to hear in hopes of saving lives. Are you willing to proclaim Jesus to those who do not really want to hear it?
Proverbs 14:26 — In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.
If we are walking with the Lord, we can walk confidently into the battles and through the storms of life. One thing to notice in the Bible is that God rarely keeps His people from the battles and storms but rather guides and protects them through the battles and storms, revealing Himself to His people and the watching world in the process. God didn’t keep Noah from the flood but through it. Today we read in the Old Testament that God’s people had to face the Midianites and in the New Testament that Paul had to endure terrible storms and catastrophe on the high seas. Yet, in both cases, God worked miraculously to bring glory to Himself through His servants. No Israelites were lost in the battle against the Midianites, and as God had promised, no one died when Paul’s ship was destroyed. In both cases, God was glorified before a watching world, and the faith of God’s people was only strengthened for greater challenges ahead. In his prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one (John 17:15).” It is in the battle and storms of life that we bring glory to God when the watching world sees the power of God working through our lives making all the difference.
Proverbs 14:30 — Tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Most health issues start out as heart issues.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 January 2022: Seek the Lord and serve the Lord today wholeheartedly and let your shield of gold be a testimony before the world that brings glory to God.