YEAR 2, WEEK 4, Day 6, Saturday, 28 January 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 28 January 2023:

2 Chronicles 26:5 — He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.

Uzziah followed wise godly counsel and was blessed. Do you have wise Christian counsellors in your life who lead you in pursuit of God’s will?

2 Chronicles 26:16 – But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.

2 Chronicles 25 and 26 tell two stories about two kings, Amaziah and Uzziah, who both honored God at the beginning of their reigns (at least in their actions), who were blessed greatly by God accordingly, who subsequently turned from God in their pride, and who ultimately suffered terrible, humiliating deaths under God’s wrath. In both cases, their worship was self-centered rather than God-centered, a means to an end, a way to get what they wanted rather than to honor and serve God in accordance with His will. Their true motivation respectively was to increase their own glory and power rather than to give God the glory and to acknowledge and depend upon His power as the Sovereign Lord.

  • Matthew 6:24 — No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

There is a saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” However, power didn’t corrupt these kings; rather, power merely exposed and magnified what was (or wasn’t) already in their hearts from the beginning – “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.” (2 Chronicles 25:2) By definition, a half-hearted approach to worship and obedience doesn’t honor God as God – “I am the LORD your God…. You shall have no other gods before me…. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Exodus 20:2, 3; Mark 12:30) Partial obedience is disobedience and a divided heart is a polluted well – “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26) As we learn from today’s readings, if we allow the seeds of sin to remain in our hearts, it will take root, grow, and choke out our fruitfulness – “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2) All sin starts in the heart – above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) –

  • Matthew 15:19 — For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
  • Romans 12:9 — Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
  • Song of Solomon 2:15 — The little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
  • Proverbs 6:27 — Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

Both great crisis and great success are used by God to expose sinfulness within the heart and self-centeredness which is fueled by fear and pride (two sides of the same coin). Subsequently, God freely invites the half-hearted to repentance and reconciliation with Him, never rejecting those with humble and contrite hearts. Both Amaziah and Uzziah were given by God clear opportunities to repent, but they both rejected these opportunities. The results were inevitable. There is an important lesson for us in these stories reinforced by today’s readings from Psalms –

  • Psalm 81:7, 8, 10, 11-16 — In distress you called, and I delivered you… I tested you…. Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
    to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.
  • Acts 17:30 — The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent….
  • Romans 2:4 — Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
  • 1 Corinthians 15:34 — Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
  • 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Matthew 3:8 — Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
  • Isaiah 55:6 — Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near….

2 Chronicles 26:18 – …and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the Lord God.”

It is not the position of government to control worship.

Psalm 10:1 – Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

The Psalms are very honest prayers, designed to show us how to pray. God wants us to be honest with Him. Tell Him how you really feel, and trust Him with your transparency.

Psalm 10:2, 3 – “In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.”

How many businesses and business practices take advantage of the poor and ignorant? How many get rich, not from producing anything new, but from taking advantage or exploiting the weaknesses, insecurities, and temptations of others? God knows. A Christian should never work in an industry that exploits. By the way, for those of you who support the lottery systems, consider that “households making less than $28,000 a year are dishing out $600 a year on lotteries.” Lotteries are an example of a business that exploits the ignorant and the poor.

Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Unbelievers have a pride and arrogance problem. Those who sin (ignoring God at the moment) have a pride and arrogance problem that exposes itself in certain circumstance but may otherwise be hidden. What is at the root of your sin?

Psalm 10:6 – He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”

The prideful are blind to the truth and cannot see the inevitable consequences of their decisions. The prideful have an inability to admit their faults and will intentionally, though often subconsciously, filter out any information that does not validate their position, beliefs, and behavior. They often respond emotionally to critique in order to avoid reasoned contemplation.

Psalm 10:16 – The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.

Be careful not to lose your perspective in patriotism. God is King, nations come and go. You are an ambassador of The Kingdom of God, representing Jesus in a foreign land. Your message to the nation is the Gospel. While others are pointing to certain leaders or political parties for national ‘salvation’, make sure you are point to Jesus. The Christian is the most faithful citizen and true patriot.

Proverbs 28:1 – …the righteous are bold as a lion.

Are you as bold as a lion?

Proverbs 28:2, 7, 11, 16 – …a man of understanding…. The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding….

The word “understanding” is used four times in Proverbs 28. Understanding involves submission to God and His word. Knowledge and understanding are not the same thing. You might know what the Bible says, but you won’t understand it until you apply it. Those who disobey God lack understanding.

Proverbs 28:5 – Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.

God is the source of all justice. The further away someone is from God, the further away they are from justice. Pure justice comes only from God. Justice cannot be administered by the ungodly. Many people will claim to be on the side of justice when, in fact, they are only pursuing self-centered agendas. God sets the standard for justice, not people. God’s standard is not the same as social morality (the standard of society) which shifts like the sand and favors popular opinion. The majority is usually wrong. Those who would administer justice must submit to God’s just word.

Proverbs 28:7 – The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

Gluttony is taken very seriously in the Bible. This lack of self-control is a spiritual issue, revealing a heart condition that always transfers into other areas of life too.

Proverbs 28:8 – Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.

Greed won’t work.

Proverbs 28:9 – If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Behavior affects prayer.

Proverbs 28:13 – Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

Facing the pain of confession helps us overcome the power of sin and guilt in our lives and also invites others to do the same. Confession is the first practical step in genuine humility; it destroys the pride which causes you to cover up your sin and allow it to continue. Confession is a public acknowledgment that you rely on God’s grace rather than your own “goodness.” Confession opens the door for the true honesty required to address the problem at hand. Confession frees you from the struggle of trying to pretend to be something you really aren’t. Confession is the first step on the path of becoming who you really want to be. Confession is very hard because pride doesn’t want us to admit our failures, particularly to others. However, where you are prideful is where you are seeking give credit and honor to yourself rather than to God. God will not share credit with anyone.

Proverbs 28:14 – Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Those who do not honor God as God are hard-hearted.

Proverbs 28:18 – Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.

The consequences of sin are often instantaneous and catastrophic.

Proverbs 28:19 – Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.

A dream isn’t a plan, and a plan isn’t getting things done. You must have a real plan for getting things done, and you must be willing to make the daily sacrifices required to actually execute the plan. Nothing worth doing is easy. Many know what to do but simply aren’t willing to do it. Some are willing to work hard but do not take the time to plan their work, so much effort is directed in the wrong places. A good plan gives you focus and direction. Hard work gives you results in your focus areas. God honors prayer, and God will work miraculously in your life to do what you can’t do (if what you are doing is aligned with His will), but God will not honor your lack of discipline with miracles.

Proverbs 28:25 – A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Greed is the opposite of trusting in the LORD. You hoard what you don’t trust God to replenish. Greed is fear, not faith.

Proverbs 28:26 – Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

How foolish is it for someone who has lived less than a century on some spot of the planet, less than a speck in the universe, think that they can figure life out without God, the Creator of all.

Proverbs 28:27 — Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

Do you believe Proverbs 28:27 is true?

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 January 2023: Humbly repent where you know you are not honoring God wholeheartedly, and walk with a renewed commitment and with a confident reliance upon His grace, trusting the Lord to increasingly draw you closer to Him and to conform you to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28, 29).

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