Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 19 February 2023:
Nehemiah 2:4 – Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Nehemiah prayed before answering the king. Do you seek answers before answering?
Nehemiah 2:8 – And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
Nehemiah knew that it was God that moved the heart of the king, not Nehemiah’s words.
Nehemiah 2:16 – And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
Nehemiah knew he was protected by God but still used wisdom to keep security. He was careful not to let the word get out about his plans until he was ready.
Psalm 20:9; Psalm 21:13 — O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call…. Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
Trust and Praise. Psalm 20 and 21 remind us to trust the Lord and Praise Him both in “the day of trouble” (Psalm 20:1) and when He gives us our “heart’s desire.” (Psalm 21:2) Romans 8:28, 29 says, “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” In perfect, unfailing love, God uses both good times and bad times to reveal Himself to us more and more, to draw us increasingly closer to Him, to reveal Himself to others through our lives, to conform us to the image of His Son, and to ready us for good works which He has prepared for us in advance, that we would be instruments and messengers of His grace to others.
“Now I know that the Lord saves…. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” (Psalm 20:7, 8) Through trials, God teaches us to rely on His strength rather than our own, and He further reveals His sovereignty, love, and faithfulness. “You… have not withheld the request of his lips.” (Psalm 21:2). When God blesses us, we are further reminded of His love and grace but also refreshed in spirit, renewed in joy, and strengthened in faith.
The key, whether facing bad times or good times, is to continually draw closer to God, not further away, continually praising Him. In Proverbs, Agur prays, “Two things I ask of you… give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” We must guard our hearts against pride and presumption, which can cause us to become complacent (crass and smug) during good times and callous in bad times, hindering our relationship with God.
Certainly Christians can rest upon the assurance of God’s saving grace and trust the benevolence of his common grace (what He provides or prevents), but we must be cautious not to become so accustomed to grace we are no longer amazed by grace and then start demanding grace as if it were our entitlement, losing sight of the holiness and sovereignty of God. As the old Scottish prayer goes, “May God grant us grace to feel our need of grace, then… the grace to be grateful.” Perhaps our gratitude for grace is best revealed by how we show grace and proclaim grace to others.
In all circumstances trust and praise God.
- Psalm 34:1-4 — I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 — Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Philippians 4:4-9 — 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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- 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.
- 2 Corinthians 9:8 — And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Proverbs 19:2 – Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
Make rational decisions rather than emotional decisions; make spirit led decisions rather than decisions based merely upon your limited knowledge, but don’t mistake feelings and emotion for the Spirit’s counsel. The Bible says to test your perceptions of the spirit against the word of God. God will never ask you to go against His written word. If you sense selfishness in your decision, it is not from the spirit.
Proverbs 19:3 – When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.
Human nature incites us to blames God for our buffoonery and disloyalty.
Proverbs 19:4 – Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
The vast majority of relationships are motivated by selfishness – selfish friends like the way you make them feel or what you do for them. Often people approach God the same way, seeking His blessings rather than Him. What is the motivation behind your relationships with God and others – genuine love is selfless.
Proverbs 19:6 – Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
Many are in love with a concept of a god who always blesses them – a conditional, self-centered religion. This was Satan’s test of Job: “Take away the blessings, and Job will stop loving God, trusting, and obeying God.” Will you love, trust, and obey God no matter what happens to you?
Proverbs 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
God wants you to forgive the wrongs people do to you.
Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
The word “lends” in this word is the ancient word “lâvâh” which also means to unite or entwine with. So, another way to read this is that when we are generous to the poor, we unite ourselves with God. This is the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17. And this unity, this fellowship with Jesus, actually costs us nothing because God will repay us for what we lend to the poor. You can’t be that. But how often do Christians justify withholding from the poor? There are plenty of logical reasons why a person might not want to give to another person, but obedience to God and love will not always seem logical or reasonable. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, and when He puts it on your heart to give, then be generous.
Proverbs 19:18 – Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.
When you don’t correct someone who is sinning you are contributing to their destruction, and you are revealing your heartlessness.
Proverbs 19:19 – A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.
Your temper is the result of a heart condition that must be addressed before you can control your anger. If you don’t fix the heart, there is no control over sin.
Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Again, it’s God’s plans that matter, not yours. Seek God’s plan rather than trying to create your own.
Proverbs 19:22 – What is desired in a man is steadfast love.
Proverbs 19:27 — Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
Don’t stop reading the Bible every day. You need to be coached daily in the word of God by the Holy Spirit.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 February 2023: Reflect upon God’s grace today, be amazed, sing His praises, and show grace to all in His Name!