YEAR 2, WEEK 12, Day 6, Saturday, 25 March 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 25 March 2023:

Job 14:1-5 – “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not. And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass….

Job’s suffering caused him to consider the frailty of life and the true sinfulness of man. Any illusions of control over life were gone. Whatever pride he had was removed. Sometimes God needs to take people to a low point for them to see the reality of His Sovereignty and their total dependence on Him.

Job 14:7-17 – But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he…. If a man dies, shall he live again?

There are many forms of escapisms: entertainment, pleasure-seeking, workaholism, vices, or simple denial. However, eventually everyone must face the facts of life – Life is hard, we only get to live it once, and then we die, either into eternal glory or eternal damnation. We must all deal with that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but we can be saved from the penalty of our sins, which is permanent separation from God, by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In his suffering, Job struggled with the harshness of life and his uncertainty of the afterlife. However, through Christ, we have Hope, God’s promise that despite what we are going through He is working all things out for good, and that Christ will return to restore all things. Without Christ, life is a tragedy; with Christ life is triumphant. Which do you choose?

  • Hebrews 9:27-28 — And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
  • Romans 8:28-29 — And we know that 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.
  • Deuteronomy 30:19 — I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live….
  • Romans 8:37-39 — No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Christian life is marked by contentment rather than contentiousness, being satisfied in Christ regardless our circumstances rather than being perpetually dissatisfied and disappointed, disputing with God over what He has allowed to happen in your life in His perfect sovereignty and provision. In our life challenges, God wants us to get better not bitter, to trust Him in the moment (faith) and to trust Him with the future outcomes (hope). Again, don’t judge God from your perceptions of your circumstances; judge your circumstances from the reality of God’s perfect love for you and His promise that He will complete in you the good work He has started.

  • 2 Corinthians 12:10 — For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Philippians 4:11 — Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6 — But godliness with contentment is great gain,
  • 1 Timothy 6:8 — But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
  • Hebrews 13:5 — Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Job 14:13-15 – If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.

Faith’s hope is that, in life, we can find joy in a love relationship with Jesus and that God will provide resurrection after death, forgiveness of sins, and answers to life’s questions. Without faith, life is a very hopeless proposition.

Psalm 34 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all…. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

The Bible is more than clear, afflictions in this life will be many, even for the righteous – and Jesus said, even more for the righteous – “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted….” (2 Timothy 3:12) “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The difference for the Christian is our perspective on afflictions, our strength through afflictions, our response to afflictions, and the outcome of our afflictions:

Our perspective on afflictions: “And we know that 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.” (Romans 8:28-29)

  • Philippians 3:10 — “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death….”
  • Psalm 119:67 — Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.
  • Isaiah 48:10 — Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
  • Psalm 119:75 — I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

Our strength through afflictions: “My soul makes its boast in the Lord.” (Psalm 34:2)

  • Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
  • Isaiah 43:2 — When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
  • Proverbs 18:10 — The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.
  • Nehemiah 8:10 — Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
  • Isaiah 41:10 — So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Exodus 15:2 — The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him– my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
  • 2 Corinthians 1:4 — …who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Our response to afflictions: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6 — And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
  • Romans 5:3–4 — “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
  • Psalm 34:1b–3 — “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!”

The outcome of our afflictions: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

  • 2 Corinthians 4:8 — We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair….
  • Proverbs 24:16 — for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17 — For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison….
  • James 1:2-4 — Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Proverbs 25:2 – It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.

The government-run education system in our country is based upon the assumption that one can acquire knowledge and wisdom without God as part of the equation, and today, the “enlightened” class increasingly reject God, pursuing greater knowledge for their own glory. However, God in His glory withholds ultimate truth for His followers, truth that can only be obtained through the Spirit. Man’s ‘knowledge’ is foolishness in God’s eyes (1 Cor 3).

Proverbs 25:3 – As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.

There is no way for us to truly know the character, motives, and intent of a leader. Only God knows. We can only judge the deeds of a person, whether they are just and righteous or not. Be very careful not to assume the motives of anyone.

Proverbs 25:4 — Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.

Does your holiness render you usable by God for special assignments?

Proverbs 25:7, 8 – What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?

Human discernment is always deceiving because we cannot see the whole picture that only God sees, hence the reason we should not judge others because we do not know what God knows about them and about the situation at hand. 1 Corinthian 4:5 says, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” We cannot see what God sees. Again, without special revelation, we are called to simply obey the general revelation of God’s word. When we walk in general obedience, we won’t quench the Spirit and will be positioned to receive the special conviction of the Holy Spirit. In relationships, we must be led by the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 25:9 — Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret.

Settle matters one-on-one, quietly in order to preserve the dignity of both parties and to protect the relationship.

Proverbs 25:14 — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.

Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.

Proverbs 25:15-16 — With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone. If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.

A key principle in God’s word is that lasting success is achieved little by little, step by step, over time, and that patient restraint is vital. As the pastor says, “People always overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime.” Said another way, “Persistence overcomes the resistance.” The mantra of society today is, “more, faster, better.” People want quick fixes, quick answers, and instant success. Resist the temptation to “get rich quickly.” Patiently obey and watch God work over time — “The mighty oak does not grow over night.”

Proverbs 25:19 – Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.

Trust is the foundation of all relationships. It doesn’t take much to lose your credibility. Christians should strive to be unimpeachably trustworthy.

Proverbs 25:21, 22 – If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

God wants you to treat those who offend you with nothing but kindness. This is hard to do, particularly when you are caught off guard by bad behavior. Often our first response is to push back against offenders. Often our first, unguarded response reveals what is really in our hearts. Pay attention to your first responses, and pray for a genuinely loving heart that automatically loves the sinner who hurts us. Once again, God’s commands (His general revelation), go against ‘common sense’. Obey this command, and you will shock, potentially anger, those around you who preach “common sense” over God’s word: “Don’t let her get away with that! Don’t be a doormat! You need to stand up for yourself!” It takes faith to resist the temptation to fight back and obey God when it just doesn’t seem to make sense. Walk in God’s word and see what happens.

Proverbs 25:26 – Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.

Don’t let the wicked influence your behavior. Prepare yourself to meet the wicked today by reading God’s word, praying for strength in obedience, and resolving in your heart not to sin at the moment of decision. How much feces would you allow in your drinking water? How much sin will you allow in your life?

Proverbs 25:27, 28 – It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Do not let your selfish desires and pride get the best of you today. Apply self-control which is given to you by the Spirit (not your own will power). We cannot overcome self with self. Self-control must come from the Holy Spirit. When tempted, turn to the Spirit for strength. Today, you will be tempted to follow your urges, passions, and your perceptions rather than the Spirit. You will be tempted to put self over God, to draw attention to yourself rather than to Jesus, to do what you want rather than what God commands. Self is perhaps your most tempting idol. In small ways that we often don’t consciously acknowledge (revealed in small decisions), we seek to place self on the throne rather than Jesus. Prepare yourself for the challenge and set your mind before the challenge. Be a selfless servant of Jesus today. When you inevitably catch yourself prioritizing self again, thank God that the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your sin, pray for forgiveness (repent), and start over – this is part of the sanctification process.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 March 2023: Don’t be surprised by afflictions. Don’t misinterpret your afflictions. Pray for a godly perspective on your afflictions, God’s strength through your afflictions, faith, hope, confidence, peace and joy through your afflictions, and that you would glorify God to others through your response to afflictions. Also, remember that God doesn’t want us to go through afflictions alone but wants us to be supported by other Christians. Going through afflictions is a time to draw closer to God and His people, not further away.

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