Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 18 March 2023:
Job 7:1 — Has not man a hard service on earth, and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?
We should anticipate that life in this sin-corrupted world will be hard. If you are not currently going through a crisis, you certainly will, and we know life ends in death. But even through our inevitable trials, we can trust that God is bringing about an unimaginable goodness that we can’t comprehend in our present condition. (Romans 8:28) And we can have joy in our hope in eternal life through Jesus. And this hope we have is not hope in a wish (such as “I hope my team wins.”) This hope is confidence in a promise made by God Himself, confirmed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Faith is trusting God today, regardless of our human perceptions, and hope is trusting God with the future, regardless of our human perceptions. Part of successful living is accepting life for what it is, challenges and all, and finding joy in faith. God has not called us to live in denial, as if the storms of life won’t come for us. God calls us to live in faith, hope, love, joy, peace, radiantly, and powerfully through the storms, with Him, as an act of worship and as a witness to others. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock [of Jesus].” (Matthew 7:25) Paul described life as a fight, a race, a challenge requiring endurance. The race is set before you — run it well, and remember, it is not how you start that matters most, it is how you finish:
- 1 Corinthians 9:24 — Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
- 2 Timothy 4:7 — I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
- Hebrews 12:1, 2 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Job 7:16 – I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Job did not want to live any longer but did not consider taking his own life due to his submission to God. Being willing to lose your life for a cause is not as hard as being willing to give your life up totally while living, denying self regardless the pain to serve God in the here and now.
Job 7:17 – What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him.
Job understood that he had a special relationship with God. He was not just a sophisticated animal. In his heart, every person has a sense that (s)he should have a special spiritual relationship with God, though (s)he may not understand it and though many struggle against their conscience to deny it.
Psalm 31:1 – In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
The message of the Gospel is that we are saved by the righteous on Jesus (God), not our own righteousness, which is not righteous at all. A simple way to think of the meaning of righteousness is to think of it as being ‘right with God,’ to be reconciled, to have all matters or debts settled. Jesus paid our debts on the cross and made us eternally right with God, righteous. Of our own account, we are unworthy. Jesus made us worthy.
Psalm 31:5 – Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
Redeem means to buy back, or to make something that was once bad good again. Note that the Psalmist says, God does the redeeming. Again, Jesus made us righteous, redeemed. God is faithful though we are not faithful, our salvation rests securely on His unconditional love for us, not on our imperfect, always failing love for Him. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
Psalm 31:7, 8 – I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Bible verses like this are here to remind us to rejoice when we don’t feel like it, during hard times; to remind us that God’s love for us is unconditional, enduring, everlasting, and overpowering. God is the Creator. God is Sovereign and Almighty, and God is love. When the God who made and controls everything and who is love loves you, what does that say about what you are going through? God is loving you through your challenges, drawing you closer to His love, and using your circumstances for an ultimate good that exceeds your wildest imaginations. “…you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy….” Sometimes you might be tempted to think God has abandoned you, turned you over to your circumstances. No, He will never leave you or forsake you. Trust in Him.
Psalm 31:6 – I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.
The more you love God, the more you hate what He hates.
Psalm 31:9 – Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress.
Distress is inevitable in this broken world. But when hard times come, we should draw closer to the Lord who will guide, protect, comfort, and love us through them.
- Philippians 4:4-7 – 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.
Psalm 31:12 – I have been forgotten like one who is dead.
Your friends might abandon you, like the disciples abandoned Jesus during his darkest hour, but God will never abandon you.
Psalm 31:14, 15 – But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand….
You can rest easy knowing your times are in God’s hands. Jesus rested in the boat while the disciples panicked in the great storm, fearing death. Jesus knew who was in control. We just read about how Paul remained confident through a shipwreck because he knew who was in control. Jesus said, “Peace I give you.” Rest easy, be confident, rejoice. Your God has you in the palm of His hand. He is in complete control and loves you immeasurably.
Psalm 31:24 – Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
The strength of your courage is dependent upon your actual faith in God. Faith makes you courageous.
Proverbs 18:1 – Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
Friendliness is a mark of unselfishness. Unfriendliness is selfishness. How friendly are you? If you are a Christian who says, “I’m just not a people person,” you may want to check your heart and reexamine your mission from God of love and reconciliation.
Proverbs 18:2 – A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Instead of just relying on and venting what you think is right, stop and humbly, carefully, consider the opinions of others, not just to validate or invalidate your own thinking but also to truly understand the other person. If you are correct, your beliefs will stand the scrutiny of critique. If the other person is wrong, the important thing is not to celebrate your debate victory but rather to pursue their reconciliation with Jesus. Don’t win arguments; win souls.
Proverbs 18:3, 5-6, 8, 19, 21, 23 – A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating…. quarreling is like the bars of a castle…. Death and life are in the power of the tongue….
Your words have great power to help or to hurt people. Jesus said that we will be held accountable for every careless word we speak. We are Christ’s’ Ambassadors. We should only speak His words. We do not have the right or authority to do anything else.
Proverbs 18:9 – Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.
Careless work is a sin before God.
Proverbs 18:10-11 – The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination.
Trust and reliance on human strength, or self-reliance, is deceptive idolatry. Again, God works through people, but idolatry sees mankind, or other substitutes for God, as the source of strength and places faith created things rather than the Creator. God will not tolerate things to distract people from Him.
Proverbs 18:13 – If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
If while you are listening to someone you are formulating your response simultaneously, you are not really listening.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 March 2023: Be at peace today. Demonstrate peace today. Explain your peace through Jesus today to anyone who asks why you are so different. (Psalm 31)