Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 17 January 2023:
2 Chronicles 15:1 – The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded….
Go out with the Spirit of God as your guide.
2 Chronicles 15:2 — The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
The LORD is with you while you are with Him. Do not forsake Him. God will not support your unfaithfulness and sin. If you want to make your own choices apart from Him, He will let you, and He will let you suffer the consequences of those choices.
2 Chronicles 15:3, 4 – For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.
Don’t turn to God only in distress.
2 Chronicles 15:3-6 – In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands. They were broken in pieces. Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.
When a person or a nation turns from God, there is lawlessness and inevitable suffering.
2 Chronicles 15:7 – But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.
The true definition of courage is faith in the LORD, one day at a time.
2 Chronicles 15:8 – As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord.
One of the key steps of courage is removing wickedness and compromise from your midst and truly worshipping God with your every deed.
2 Chronicles 15:9-15 — A true Christian leader leads those around him/her to repentance, worship, and obedience.
2 Chronicles 15:16 — Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.
Sometimes people have to choose fidelity to God over fidelity to family. Sometimes Christians have to reject the ungodly teachings and examples of their parents. Though the Bible commands us to respect our parents as well as the authority of government, God comes first.
A true Christian leader may even lead seniors to repentance, worship, and obedience.
2 Chronicles 15:17 — Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true all his days.
Few people are described in the Bible as wholehearted. Do you serve God with a true heart? In repentance, be very careful to make your repentance complete and total.
Matthew 12:46-50 – “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”
This statement from Jesus is a bit shocking. But no more shocking than some of His other similar statements regarding family –
- Matthew 10:37 – Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
- Matthew 8:21, 22 — Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
- Mark 10:29-30 — Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Is Jesus showing disdain for His own family or family in general? Is he being uncaring or unloving? How could Jesus say such things?
First, Jesus is not communicating a lack of love for His own family. Throughout His life, Jesus honored His family, and on the cross, one of Jesus dying concerns was for the care of His mother – “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:26-27)
Neither is Jesus de-valuing the importance of family in general. The Book of Mark records that Jesus sharply rebuked the Pharisees for violating the Fifth Commandment – “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13) And Jesus inspired the writings of the New Testament authors who made very clear the importance of honoring family —
- Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
- 1 Timothy 1:8 — But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Jesus is not downplaying the importance of family and our responsibilities to family but rather is highlighting the greater significance of our spiritual family as brothers and sisters in Christ. Throughout this chapter (Matthew 12) and before, Jesus had been attacked by the Jewish religious leaders who trusted in their blood lineage and adherence to the Law for their righteousness and salvation. And when these proud Jewish religious leaders conspired against Him, Jesus reminded them of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him – “I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles…. and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:18-21) Jesus is making a vital point that God’s family is a spiritual family rather than a blood family, and that righteousness and salvation is not transferred from person to person or earned through merit or works but come only through faith in Jesus Christ. To be born into God’s family, a person must be born again, born from above, or born of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ — “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
When we were saved through Christ and born again, we were born into a spiritual family and become heirs to His Kingdom:
- John 1:12 — But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
- Galatians 3:29 — And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
- 1 John 3:1 — See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
- Romans 8:29 — For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
- Acts 17:29 — Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
- Ephesians 1:5 — He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
- Galatians 4:5 — to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
- 1 John 3:2 — Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
- Hebrews 2:11 — For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
- Romans 8:15-17 — For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
So how close are you to your spiritual family (your brothers and sisters in Christ)? Do you honor your spiritual family? Do you pray for your spiritual family? Do you prioritize time with your spiritual family? Do you take care of your spiritual family, and do they take care of you? Your relationships within your spiritual family reveal something about your relationship with God. What do your relationships with members of your church reveal about your relationship with God?
- 1 John 4:7-12 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- John 17:20-23 — I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 January 2023: Pray that God will give you closer relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Prioritize your brothers and sisters today.