YEAR 2, WEEK 4, Day 4, Thursday, 26 January 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 26 January 2023:

2 Chronicles 24:1, 2 – Joash was seven years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba. And Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.

A seven-year-old leader guided by wise, godly counselors is far better than the most experienced secular politician. Often more important than the leader are the counsellors and advisors to the leader, those who are the real decision-makers. Particularly at seven years old, Joash was simply a figure head, and Jehoaida was the real power broker who lead the nation in a godly way. Likewise, our political leaders today will be guided by others behind the scenes, and knowing who they are and what they believe is of vital importance. Who gives you advice and counsel? Your counsellor and advisor should be very close to Jesus, but your eyes need to always remain on Jesus. Bad counsel and advice can be devastating in your life.

Jehoiada courageously saved Joash’s life, protected him, raised him up to follow the Lord, orchestrated his crowning as king, and counselled him to do great things in the eyes of the Lord. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord as long as Jehoiada the priest was around, even leading the restoration of the temple of God; but as soon as Jehoiada died, Joash abandoned God, turned to idolatry, led his people astray, and even murdered Zechariah the son of Jehoiada because Zechariah prophesied against Him. After leading the people into wickedness which resulted in God’s judgment and a Syrian invasion, Joash died a complete disgrace – “When they had departed from him, leaving him severely wounded, his servants conspired against him because of the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest, and killed him on his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the city of David, but they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings.” (2 Chronicles 24:25)

A couple of observations from this story:

First, Jehoiada was a faithful and courageous servant of God who had a great influence on the whole nation throughout his life. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth [and] …the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13, 14)
Light reveals the truth and salt both improves the ‘flavor’ (conditions, culture, and climate) of things and also preserves. Throughout his life, Jehoiada served as salt and light in his nation, improving the society and protecting it from decay. As instruments of God’s common grace, we should have the same effect on our families, churches, communities and on society, all while proclaiming the Gospel as instruments of God’s special grace of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. How are you like Jehoiada?

Second, Joash never became his own person of faith; he never made his own commitment to the Lord. He grew up under godly counsel and did what he was supposed to do, but as soon as the counsel was removed, the condition of his heart was exposed, and he did what he wanted to do, which led to his great demise. Many people call themselves Christians because they grew up in Christian homes, went to church on Sundays, and generally live ‘good’ lives (from their own perspective); but salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, a personal encounter with God, resulting in a personal decision and a life commitment to follow Jesus and become one with Him. Faith and salvation aren’t inherited and can’t be borrowed from another person. Without being born again in Christ, and without a genuine relationship with Christ, a person may appear godly when conditions are just right, but when the storms of life come, and they come for everyone, the truth of his/her heart will be exposed –

  • Matthew 6:46-49 — “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
  • 1 Corinthians 3:11 — For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Today, consider how you might be a Jehoiada and consider the integrity (soundness) of your foundation: Is it Christ and Christ alone?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus name

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils his lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, his covenant, his blood
Supports me in the ‘whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand…

2 Chronicles 24:17, 18 — Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.

The Bible further makes the point to you — “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) When Jehoaida’s counsel was replaced with the counsel of the princes, Joash turned from God and led the entire nation astray. Do not let anyone lead you astray simply because (s)he likes you, has a great personality, and is very kind to you. If your friends, relatives, and coworkers are not following Jesus as their top priority, they are adrift and will desire you to go with them to someplace other than where God wants you to go.

2 Chronicles 24:19 — Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.

Church and State – The church is called to be the conscience of government and society whether they desire to listen or not. If the church remains silent in order to remain comfortable or agreeable, destruction is inevitable.

2 Chronicles 24:20 — Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah.

  • Romans 13:14 — But put on the Lord Jesus Christ….
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 – For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality….
  • Galatians 3:27 — For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.…
  • Ephesians 4:24 — and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.…
  • Ephesians 6:11 — Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.…
  • Colossians 3:9-14 — …put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator…. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.….
  • 1 Pet 3:3, 4 — Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.…
  • Are you dressed for success? You cannot fulfill your purpose in life without first putting on Jesus and being wrapped filled with the Holy Spirit.

2 Chronicles 24:20 — Thus says God, “Why do you break the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.”

You cannot prosper while continuing to disobey God in any area of your life. Yes, you will continue to sin, but you must have, as your heart’s desire, the intent not to sin, and you must pursue holiness with all of your might.

When political leaders stray from justice and righteousness, a faithful prophet is required to proclaim the truth. You can be that prophet in someone’s life. God has placed you, His ambassador, priest, saint, and servant, in relationships on purpose to proclaim the truth to those people.

2 Chronicles 24:21 — But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord.

A successful prophet is one who is faithful to God’s word, regardless of what people think. God might very well allow you to suffer and die for Him. Spoiler alert: we all die anyway. Dying for God is an honor, but truly living for God, in Christ, dead to self, is an even greater honor. Martin Luther King said, “A man who does not have something for which he is willing to die is not fit to live.”

2 Chronicles 24:24 — Though the army of the Syrians had come with few men, the Lord delivered into their hand a very great army, because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Joash.

God Himself destroys wicked people and wicked nations, and He may use other wicked people to do it.

Matthew 19:13-15 — Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

After correcting His disciples for attempting to keep little children away from Him, Jesus uses these children for an object lesson on faith. Both Luke and Mark record more of Jesus’ words – “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17; Mark 10:15)

Jesus says that saving faith is like the faith of a child – with an open heart, ready to receive mercy and grace, trusting, eager, hopeful, joyful, excited, and comfortable in complete dependency.

Jesus says that we are to have a child-like faith, not a childish faith. Childish people don’t act their age, refuse to grow up, and dishonor the family name. Getting older is not the same as growing up. And as we all know, an adult can still act like a child. Throughout the Bible, Christians are called children of God (starting with Hosea 1:10), and the Bible has much to say to God’s little children –

  • 1 John 2:1 — My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
  • 1 John 2:12 — I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
  • 1 John 2:28 — And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
  • 1 John 3:7 — Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
  • 1 John 3:18 — Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
  • 1 John 4:4 — Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
  • 1 John 5:21 — Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

The Bible encourages God’s little children to maintain child-like faith but to mature in their understanding and behavior:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:2 — I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready….
  • Hebrews 5:12 — For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food….
  • Hebrews 5:14 — But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:20 — Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
  • Ephesians 4:13 — …until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….
  • Hebrews 6:1 — Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God….

In the Book of John, chapter 8, Jesus describes the difference between the children of God who truly love God, hear is word, and obey God and the children of the devil who do not really believe God, do not accept His word, and do what the devil desires. (John 8:39-47) Jesus called the Pharisees (religious leaders who claimed to be godly and righteous) children of the devil, despite their religious pedigrees. Claiming to be a child of God is not the same as actually being a child of God, and believing ‘in’ Jesus is not the same as believing Him, trusting Him, committing to Him, and obeying Him. James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19) Saving faith is an obedient faith that continues to grow for a lifetime. We are not saved by our good deeds, but our good deeds are the evidence of our salvation. Good deeds are not the path to salvation but the proof of salvation. As Jesus said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45) God expects you to bear the fruit of faith –

  • John 15:4-5, 8-14 — Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
  • 1 John 2:6 — …whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
  • 1 John 2:14 — I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
  • 1 John 2:17 — And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
  • 1 John 2:24 — Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
  • 1 John 3:9 — No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

A final point should be made about the actions of Jesus’s disciples and His response to them: For unexplained reasons, the disciples stood as a barrier between the little children and Jesus, perhaps considering them an annoyance, a distraction, or somehow unworthy of Jesus’ time and attention. Jesus essentially told them to get out of the way. As we mature, we must be very careful with how we treat those we see as less mature – “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

  • 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….
  • 2 Corinthians 6:2, 3, 11-13 — Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry…. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
  • Romans 14:13 — Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
  • Luke 11:52 — Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
  • Mark 9:42 — “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

Matthew 19:21 — If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.

In many ways throughout the Gospels, Jesus said that the first step to following Him is to deny self. He means what He says. Obedience is only an issue where selfishness and self-centeredness remain. When we refuse to surrender all, only then do we say things like, “What exactly does the Law demand?” or “How many times must I forgive my brother?” or “Who is my neighbor?” In self-righteousness, we want to give God only what He has specifically asked for, and we look very carefully within the boundaries of the Law to find a place within what is written to build our own glorious kingdom, a sanctuary from authority; we then build our palace far bigger than the temple of God within our hearts (1 Kings 7:2-3; 1 Kings 6:2; 1 Kings 5:11). However, what God has demanded is our everything, all of us.

We are created to serve and glorify Him, and we were designed to have joy in serving Him. We were not created to serve self. The Bible says that we are Ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is an official representative to a foreign country who represents the positions and interests of the appointing nation. But what would happen if an ambassador began to show loyalties to the foreign country, began accommodating the demands and positions of that foreign country at the expense of their own kingdom, or began working on the side to establish their own private residency and position within that foreign kingdom? Not only would that ambassador be removed from position, he would likely be labeled a traitor. Proverbs 22:12 says, “The… LORD… overthrows… the traitor.”

Are we still trying to get something for ourselves? Do we still think that there is what is God’s and then what is ours? Have we not realized that it’s all God’s, including our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies? Are we really going to challenge God’s Lordship in any part of us or what we claim to possess? Are we going to set out today to take care of ourselves and what we want? Or are we going to forget about self and serve God wholeheartedly?

  • Luke 10:27 — And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
  • 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.”
  • Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • Romans 12:1 — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Matthew 19:22 – When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

“Your life is the sum of the responses you have made toward God. Once God makes Himself known to you, what you do next is your decision. Your reaction reflects what you believe about Him. The rich, young ruler lived a moral life. He was well versed in Scripture and the laws of God. But his response to Jesus’ invitation clearly showed that, although he possessed a head knowledge of the teachings of God, he did not know God in an experiential way that could be demonstrated by a response of faith (Matt. 19:16-22).

Whenever the Lord speaks to you, it will require an adjustment in your life. This truth can dramatically affect your prayer life. Every time you pray you must be aware that if God answers your prayer and reveals His will to you, it will immediately require you to reorient your life. Each time you read your Bible, you must be prepared to obey what God tells you.

Why did God use Peter and James and John so significantly to turn their world upside down? And why were others, like the rich, young ruler, never heard from again? Choices! The disciples chose to believe, and their belief was proven by their obedience. The rich, young ruler could not bring himself to obey, and Scripture tells us that he “went away sorrowful.” You are faced with the same question as the rich, young ruler. What adjustments are you willing to make in order to respond positively to Christ?” (Henry T. Blackaby)

Matthew 19:25-26 – When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

You cannot use will power to deny self. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can give you power over self. Self cannot defeat self, but self is no match for the Holy Spirit. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit over self.

Matthew 19:29 – And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

You cannot stay where you are, with all that you have, and with who you are with and still follow Jesus. Meditate upon this – it only makes sense that a new creation has no need of its old things.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 January 2023: Today, meditate upon and truly work at denying self for Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit will empower you to overcome self. Monitor and record your thoughts – how many are focused inward (on self) and how many are focused outward (on God and others). Evaluate your actions, whether they are self-serving or charitable. Evaluate your motives, why you do what you do. Are you motivated by fear, pride, duty, or love? Check your perspective – do you evaluate everything from your perspective and position (“How does this relate to me?… How does it affect me?… How does (s)he compare to me?…”) or do you evaluate everything from God’s perspective and position? Do you put everything in the context of your interests or God’s? Look humbly and deeply into yourself today. Keep your thoughts on Jesus and on serving Him through your every action. Deny self, take up your cross today, and follow Jesus with all that you are, all that you say, and all that you do. (Matthew 19:25-26)

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