Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 25 January 2023:
2 Chronicles 23:1-11 — God’s faithful people need to come together to plan how to promote revival.
2 Chronicles 23:3 – And all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, “Behold, the king’s son! Let him reign, as the Lord spoke concerning the sons of David.”
God keeps His word. No one can thwart His plans.
2 Chronicles 23:9, 10 — And Jehoiada the priest gave to the captains the spears and the large and small shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of God. And he set all the people as a guard for the king, every man with his weapon in his hand.
We see throughout the Bible the expectation and responsibility for men to be ready, able, and willing to fight to defend themselves and others when necessary and within God’s standards. We see throughout the Bible that fighting, in itself, is not evil just as commerce in itself is not evil; it is the motive and the means that must be considered carefully. In 2 Chronicles, Jehoiada the priest leads this fight with weapons from the Temple against the corrupt illegitimate, ruling authorities. In Luke 22, Jesus warns his disciples to buy swords to defend themselves if they don’t have any – “The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That’s enough!’ he replied (Luke 22:38).” Self-defense is a responsibility and right that cannot be delegated or abrogated.
2 Chronicles 23:16 – And Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lord’s people.
Covenant is made in a community of faithful believers.
2 Chronicles 23:17 – Then all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.
Obedience means forsaking all ties with substitutes for God. To follow Jesus, you must completely eliminate those things that have been distractions and that have tempted you to sin. Is it time for you to clean house?
2 Chronicles 23:18 – And Jehoiada posted watchmen for the house of the Lord under the direction of the Levitical priests and the Levites whom David had organized to be in charge of the house of the Lord, to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David.
A faithful, powerful church has faithful ministers God chooses for the congregation in order to do what God commands.
Matthew 18:1-4 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus will challenge your pride. If you are seeking to “get ahead” of others or to be #1, you don’t understand love yet. If you are always talking about yourself, you don’t understand love yet.
Matthew 18:10-14 – See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Jesus first sought His lost sheep, those who were already in the fold but had gone astray. These are those who say that they are Christians but do not really follow Jesus. This is the first focus of the church. How concerned are you about the “carnal Christian”?
Matthew 18:15-20 — If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother…..
- 1 Corinthians 6: 1, 4, 5, 7 — When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? … So, if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame…. To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
Christians are not to take disputes between one another to unbelievers or the secular court system – this is shameful and defeats our witness before the world. It is better to suffer wrong and be defrauded than to defame the Church and the Name of Christ with public, worldly disputes.
In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus gives us specific instructions for how to settle disputes with Christians — “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Jesus spoke in a more challenging way about disputes in Matthew 5:38-41 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Matters between Christians are to be settled within the church by leaders within the congregation; but how often have you seen Christians actually adhere to this teaching? Today we even see entire church denominations suing each other in public, secular courts, surrendering their authority as “priests” to unbelievers. And how often do we see Christians going to secular counselors to solve their problems instead of church leaders? What does this say about the condition of the church? How much do church culture and norms reflect what God actually intended for the body of Christ? What might you have accepted that is unacceptable?
More verses for consideration:
- Romans 12:17-21 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- Matthew 5:43-48 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
- Proverbs 20:22 — Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
- Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Matthew 18:23-35 – … Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart….
Jesus Christ accepts no excuse for your unforgiveness of those who have sinned against you. If you accepted His forgiveness, you have absolutely no right to hold forgiveness from anyone else for any reason. If you are having a hard time forgiving, you don’t really understand the gift you have received through the blood of Jesus Christ. How much you are willing to forgive others reveals how much you truly value Jesus’ sacrifice for you. Have you gone to the cross in your relationships?
Matthew 18:33 – And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?
“Mercy is a gift. It is undeserved. Punishment and consequences are sin’s just reward, but the merciful person does not demand justice for the guilty person. If it were not for God’s mercy, we all would have faced His terrible judgment long ago. If not for His mercy, He would have condemned us after our first offense. If not for His mercy, He would punish us each time we sin. But rather than letting us bear the full punishment for our sin, God demonstrated His mercy when He paid the penalty for our sin Himself.
Do you find it hard to show mercy? It may be that you do not comprehend the mercy that God has shown to you. Jesus commanded His disciples to extend the same mercy to others that they had received from God. When they considered the incredible, undeserved mercy they had been granted, how could they refuse to extend the same unconditional mercy to others?
Could anyone sin against us to the same degree that we have sinned against God? Could any offense committed against us be as undeserved as the abuse hurled against the sinless Son of God? How quickly we forget the mercy that God graciously bestowed on us, only to focus on the injustices we endure from others! If you find it difficult to forgive others, you may need to meditate on the mercy of God that prevents you from experiencing God’s justifiable wrath. Scripture describes God as “ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in lovingkindness” (Neh. 9:17b).” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 January 2023: “Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 Jan 18: Meditate on how you forgive: Is there someone you haven’t really forgiven? Have you said the words but still harbor resentment? Do you feel the urge to keep bringing it up? Are you holding back just a bit of love from that person as an unspoken, unacknowledged punishment? Are you harboring some sort of expectation for the other person to make it up to you? Or, have you truly ‘cancelled the debt’ of the person who has taken something (usually emotionally) from you? Are you willing to pay the price for their sin as Jesus did for you? Seek to settle your forgiveness issues today. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or see someone today if you need to in order to settle a matter. Don’t hesitate to apologize to someone who offended you if you did not forgive the way Jesus expects you to, unconditionally. (Matthew 18:23-35) Practice being wronged in a way that brings glory to God, using the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel rather than to defend your ‘rights.’