Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 4 February 2023:
2 Chronicles 33:1 – Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem.
Though Manasseh was one of the most evil kings to reign in Jerusalem, God allowed him to rein for fifty-five years for His purposes. Faith requires perseverance.
A young orphan is in danger of being influenced by the wrong people outside of family. We have metaphorical spiritual orphans within the church, not being properly discipled by more mature Christians.
2 Chronicles 33:2, 3 — And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.
When you sin, you repeat the destructive behavior of so many others before you who have already demonstrated the foolishness of disobedience. Wise people do not repeat historic folly. The Bible is provided, in part, so you can heed the lessons of those who have gone before you. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)
2 Chronicles 33:9 — Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
You will either lead people closer to Christ or further away. Who are you influencing, and how does your impact advance the Gospel which is your life’s mission?
2 Chronicles 33:10 — The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.
People today have more access to God’s word than any other time in human history, and God speaks today through His word and the Holy Spirit. God’s word is clear; the question is will we pay attention? Faith without obedience is dead.
2 Chronicles 33:11-13 — Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers…. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
Manasseh was a terribly evil king who led the whole kingdom away from God and even murdered his own children (v6) as an act of worship to idols, yet God was willing to accept his humble prayer and to forgive him. God forgives the truly repentant. But it took great suffering for Manasseh to finally turn to God. Pride is a very powerful thing. Where does pride still reign in your life? What will it take for God to humble you? Better to have self-discipline than to require God’s external discipline to get your attention.
2 Chronicles 33:17 — Nevertheless, the people still sacrificed at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.
Do not leave a door open for sin to enter. Compromise usually leads to greater compromise. Remove completely from your life those things that would tempt you to sin.
2 Chronicles 33:19 — And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness, and the sites on which he built high places and set up the Asherim and the images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the Chronicles of the Seers.
How Jesus saved you from your sin, made you a new creation, and changed the course of your whole life is your testimony. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you no longer must be ashamed by your past, but you can now proclaim the truth of the Gospel. Witnesses testify to what they have personally experienced; anything else is simply hearsay. You are a witness if Jesus has made you a new creation. Share your testimony with thanksgiving and joy.
2 Chronicles 33:21-24 — Amon… reigned two years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them. And he did not humble himself before the Lord, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more. And his servants conspired against him and put him to death in his house.
Amon’s story is the opposite of his father Manasseh, both started out in severe sin, but Manasseh humbled himself before the Lord, and Amon didn’t. The door is open to everyone, but every person makes their own choice.
Psalm 13 – Sometimes when God is silent during trials, you may feel as if God has forgotten you; even John the Baptist needed reassurance that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord, the Savior. As mentioned previously, during the exam, the teacher is silent. Faith is tested during times such as these. Faith is trusting God now and acting on that trust. Hope is trusting God with your future. Love is an affection for God that gladly surrenders all to God regardless of outcomes – faith, hope, love – these three remain. We are weak, but He is strong: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” (v5)
Proverbs 4:1 — Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction….
Proverbs, chapters 1-4 implore the reader to “listen to… hear… receive… accept… store up… and obey” God’s word. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) We must know God’s word and then obey God’s word as we progressively grow in Christlike character to be the embodiment of God’s word.
Proverbs 4:4 — Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
We must live by God’s word rather than popular opinion or man’s ‘wisdom’. God’s word brings life as God’s word leads you to The Way, The Truth, and The Life, Jesus.
Proverbs 4:4-13 — Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth…. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly… Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many…. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.
Key to a successful and fulfilling life is remaining in God’s word. To have wisdom, you have to get it from God’s word. This is a lifelong, disciplined effort.
Proverbs 4:7 – The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
The first step to becoming wise is the make wisdom your top priority, seek wisdom as if seeking for treasure, never forgetting that all true wisdom comes from God and leads us naturally closer to Jesus. Wisdom is unity with God.
Proverbs 4:11 — I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
Parents must lead their children by example. Teach them what wisdom is and show them what it looks like. Jesus taught and then demonstrated. The Marine Corps has a training adage — “Educate; demonstrate; replicate, evaluate, remediate.” The leader, teaches what to do; demonstrates what to do, and then coaches as the student attempts to replicate the teacher’s example.
Proverbs 4:14, 15 – Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
Following God requires turning from evil and will cause you to walk away from the crowd. The Christian life involves choosing a path in life that is 180-out from the path most everyone else is taking. Often you will walk with no one else but God. You cannot follow Jesus and the world. You cannot go two opposite directions at once; if you try to, you will go nowhere.
Proverbs 4:18, 19 – But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
Godly people grow in spiritual maturity little by little for their whole lives. The Christian path gets brighter and brighter everyday as you get closer and closer to God, but those who walk the way of the world, further and further from Jesus, walk deeper and deeper into darkness.
Proverbs 4:23-27 – Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Guarding your heart is critically important, and it requires great effort (vigilance). You guard your heart by choosing carefully what you think about, what you focus on, where you go, what you do, and what you say. Daily decisions, which start with your choice of attention (what you decide to pay attention to) and your subsequent thoughts and attitudes, slowly shape your character over time. To grow in Christ-like character, seek the mind of Christ. This requires making every effort to eliminate from your mind what Chris would not think about. You are not a victim of your thoughts, you can change them, albeit gradually at times, by fixing your attention on all that is good, rather than all which is bad, replacing the negative and evil messages of the world with God’s word, hymns, praises, prayers, etc, remaining in good company, and continually rejoicing (even when you don’t feel like it), praying, praising God, and serving others. Take charge of your soul in the power of Jesus.
- 2 Corinthians 11:3 — But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
- James 1:14-15 — But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
- Mark 7:20-22 — And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
- Romans 8:6-11 — For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. …
- Romans 12:2 — Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- 1 Corinthians 2:16 – “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 — We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
- Philippians 4:4-8 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- 1 Corinthians 14:20 — Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 February 2023: Guard your hearts by controlling what goes into your mind and by controlling your thoughts. Fill your mind with Christ!