Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 1 February 2023:
2 Chronicles 30:9 — For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.
Now is the time to repent.
2 Chronicles 30:10-12 — So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
The word of God is divisive, separating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, but is always accomplishes its purpose. Preach the truth, and let the Spirit do the sifting. Our hearts should always hope for reconciliation, truly wanting none to perish. Never give up hope for anyone – we have no idea what the Lord might do in their lives.
Chronicles 30:18-20 — “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
God knows your heart. If you are truly seeking God from your heart with all of your ability, God will honor that.
Sound doctrine, yes! But, grace, mercy, and love are foundational aspects of sound doctrine.
- 2 Peter 3:18 — But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
- James 4:6 — .But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
- Romans 15:1 — We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
- 2 Samuel 22:26 — With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless….
- Zechariah 7:9 — Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another….
- Matthew 5:7 — Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Matthew 9:13 – “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
- Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
- Luke 6:36 — Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
- Jude 1:20-23 — But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
2 Chronicles 30:23-27 – Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days…. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
There is one Spirit and one Truth. By definition, the closer we all get to the truth, the closer to get to each other (basic spiritual geometry). The Spirit is naturally unifying. Where there is disunity, there is distance from the Spirit. Unity in Spirit brings great joy to everyone.
- John 17:22-23 — 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.
- 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 — The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
- 1 Corinthians 1:10 — I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
- 1 Peter 3:8 — Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
- Philippians 2:2 — Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
- Psalm 133:1 — A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
- Colossians 3:14 — And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- Ephesians 4:3 — Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11 — Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
- Romans 12:4-5 — For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
- Ephesians 4:1-6 — I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, …
- Romans 12:16 — Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
- Romans 15:6 — That together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 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,
- Acts 4:32 — Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
- Romans 14:19 — So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
- Romans 15:5 — May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
- John 17:23 — 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.
- 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,
- 1 Corinthians 12:12 — For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
- Galatians 3:28 — There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 2:3 — Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
- John 13:35 — By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Matthew 23:11 — The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Servants have the lowest position in the house, are treated with the least respect, do the most work with the least amount of credit, enjoy the fewest luxuries, remain largely behind the scenes and make others look good. Servants don’t live luxurious lives or comfortable lives. Today the term ‘servant leader’ is very popular, but the worldly concept falls far short of Jesus’ meaning which he personally lived. Sun Tzu said that truly great generals never receive recognition because they never fight great, glorious battles. Great generals conquer their enemies without having to fight large, costly battles; they defeat their enemies before they make it to the battlefield; their victories go unobserved, and therefore, these masterful generals receive no honor. Similarly, servant leaders live largely in anonymity, not receiving any credit for the real work they do in quiet places to change lives. No fancy titles, no reserved parking spaces, no seats of honor, no ribbons, medals, or awards; no name recognition, no big offices or big desks; servant leaders just see needs and meet needs in the name of Jesus Christ, never in their own name. If there were rank in God’s Kingdom Army, I don’t think we would know who the generals were, and those who were religious ‘careerists’ would have no rank at all. The job of servant is the greatest job in the Kingdom but the hardest for which to qualify.
Matthew 23:23 — Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Here Jesus commends tithing but condemns the Pharisees for their legalism. Tithing is a highly debated topic in churches today. Many feel that the tithe was part of the Old Covenant and no longer relevant today, observing that, under the New Covenant of love, all belongs to Jesus. Two points for consideration: tithing is a practice that occurred before the Law (Abraham tithed to Melchizedek), and even under the Old Covenant, all belonged to God. Tithing was never meant to place a limit or minimum on giving. God has always commanded far more than just the tithe. Tithing, unlike gifts and alms, was a public act of worship that intentionally give the first and best part of income to God. It was something that could be measured and was used to support the collective works and needs of God’s church and people.
Tithes were given by the people and administered by the leadership of the church, without bias and in accordance with God’s general and special revelation. When God’s people tithed, the church could not only resource evangelism but could also care for its people. When God’s people fell into need, they did not have to sell themselves into slavery to cover their needs (today’s slavery is debt) or turn to ungodly institutions for help. This from an article posted in 2016: “Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate….. What would happen if believers were to increase their giving to a minimum of, let’s say, 10 percent? There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal. Here’s just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money: $25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in five years. $12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in five years. $15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day. $1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work. $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion. How much do you pay in taxes? How much do you pat to debt? How much do you spend on cell phone bills and internet/cable bills? Who gets that money you pay and what do they do with it? Do you tithe?
Matthew 23:26 – You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Good deeds without true love give the appearance of godliness but in fact do not make a person godly. Two people can give the same charitable gift to people in need, and one gift is acceptable to God and the other not acceptable, all depending upon the motive of the heart that gave the gift. Sure, both provide a benefit to the needy, but God can use anyone to provide to the needy, even the wicked. What is acceptable to God is love.
Matthew 23:28 – So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Obedience to God inspired only by love for Him is the true act of worship.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 February 2023: Today, seek to be a true servant leader. (Matthew 23:11)