YEAR 2, WEEK 13, Day 6, Saturday, 1 April 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 1 April 2023:

Job 21:22-30 — Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.  Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.  If you return to the Almighty you will be built up; if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver.  For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God.  You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows.  You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.  For when they are humbled you say, “It is because of pride;” but he saves the lowly.  He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.

Today, clean out your tent – remove from your life (your thought and your physical life) all that dishonors God for distracts you from God.

Psalm 37:3 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

“Conformity to the character of God, insofar as creatures are able, is our goal as believers, and the Holy Spirit is the agent chiefly responsible for this work of sanctification (Rom. 8:1–17; Eph. 5:1).  As we follow His leading and the transformation of our minds by God’s Word, the Spirit bears in our lives fruits such as joy, peace, patience, and kindness (Rom. 12:1–2; Gal. 5:22–23).  Goodness and faithfulness are also fruits of the Spirit’s work, as we see in Galatians 5:22 and today’s passage.

Biblically speaking, goodness involves both the external act and its internal motivation.  God measures us not only by how we obey His law but also according to the intent of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7).  Thus, a deed is fully good only when it is motivated by a desire to please the Lord.  Moreover, remember that our Savior had harsh words for those who acted holy but not for the right reasons (Matt. 23).

Fallen people are unable to do what is good according to this standard (Rom. 3:10–11).  Measured by the relative standards of sinful creatures, we can say that unbelievers do civic good and other commendable things, such as loving their children.  Nevertheless, because fallen people do not do these things out of a love for Christ, such deeds are ultimately splendid vices.  Only believers, because we are redeemed by Jesus and have been granted the Holy Spirit, have the ability to do what is good in an ultimate sense.  Sin, however, remains in our lives until our glorification (1 John 1:8–9), so our best works are still tainted by impure motivations.  Thanks be to God, the Spirit does work in us to purify our motivations (Titus 3:4–7), making us more willing to do the right things for the right reasons.

Faith is another fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22).  But when the Apostle refers to faith, he speaks not merely of “believing in God.”  Paul also calls us to “believe God.”  Believing in God is not that remarkable — even demons do that.  What the Lord wants is a people who trust in His promises alone (James 2:14–26).

Every time we sin we show disbelief.  To transgress God’s law is to show that we do not consider evil to be evil and do not fear the Lord’s promised wrath.  To flee sin, on the other hand, is to show faith in God as the ultimate standard of good and to believe His promise that righteous men and women will prosper (Ps. 1).” (Tabletalk Magazine, Ligonier Ministries)

What is the goal for Christians in this life? “…to be conformed to the image of his Son….” (Romans 8:29)

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our imperfect ‘good deeds’ done in all the love we can muster for the Lord and for others, practiced over time in sincerity and humility become steps towards Christ-like character development.  The key is prayerful practice.  Just as we practice skills we want to master, riding a bike, using a hammer, throwing a baseball, etc.; we must also practice the habits of love and the virtues of faith – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. (John 14:15) However, since we aren’t perfected in love, sometimes His commandments are difficult for us; sometimes we don’t obey as we should, and sometimes we obey, but our words or actions don’t match our hearts.  Obey anyway, and your behavior, with prayers of confession and repentance, will be used by the Holy Spirit to shape your heart to make your good deeds a natural joy, no longer difficult for you – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) Practice!

  – Philippians 4:9 — What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

  – 1 Timothy 4:15 — Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

  – Hebrews 5:14 — But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

  – 2 Peter 1:10 — Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

– 1 John 3:4, 7, 8 — Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  Little children, let no one deceive you.  Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

– 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.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

“Your relationship with God ought to bring you more joy, satisfaction, and pleasure than any other relationship, activity, or material possession you have.  Scripture exhorts you to delight yourself in the Lord, finding your greatest pleasure in God and the things dear to His heart.

How can you find pleasure in what God enjoys?  Only as you spend time with Him will you begin to take delight in the things God loves.  As you spend intimate time with God and allow Him to show you your situation from His perspective, you will begin to see things as God sees them.  As you adjust yourself to God, your heart will begin to desire the same things God’s heart desires.  When you pray, you will find yourself asking for the very things God desires.  Matters foremost on God’s heart will be preeminent in yours.  Your first request in prayer will not be for yourself, but for God’s name to be exalted and His kingdom to be extended (Matt. 6:9-10).

Have you been asking God to give you the desires of your heart without first seeking to understand what is on His heart?  God places this important requirement for those who pray: that we seek His priorities and make them our own.  This great qualifier prevents us from asking out of selfishness.  As we find joy in the Lord, we will see what is truly important, and we will long for these things as the Father does.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

Proverbs 1:1-2 – The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:  To know wisdom and instruction….

Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied with understanding that exceeds personal experience, understanding empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Wisdom is the ability to make right decisions.  Discipline is the internal strength or self-control to carry out those decisions.  Success requires both good decision-making (wisdom) and discipline (self-control) to carry out those decisions.  Both wisdom and self-control are fruits of the Spirit, not the product of intellect.

Proverbs 1:4 – …to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth….

Not everyone is gifted with talent and resources, but everyone has equal access to wisdom from God through the Holy Spirit.  Wisdom (or character) not talent will determine your success. 

Proverbs 1:5 – Let the wise hear and increase in learning.

Developing wisdom is a life-long endeavor involving daily study of God’s word.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom is available to all who would receive it from God.  Those who are foolish choose to be.  Rejecting God is the beginning of their choice.  Many who claim to be Christian reject God every time they choose to sin in ways they perceive to be small, but there is no small sin because all sin is a personal choice to attempt to dethrone God and enthrone self, cosmic treason.  Merely believing in Jesus (demon faith) is not enough.

Proverbs 1:8 — Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.

God intended for children to be raised by a father and a mother.

Proverbs 1:10-19 – My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent….  my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.  For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives.  Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

The ungodly world appears very prosperous.  It is very critical that the church does not become entangled with the world.  Year after year, the church gives more money to building debt than it does to missionaries.  Christians give far more to credit cards and home loans than they do to tithes, freewill offerings, and alms.  We desperately need to repent.

Proverbs 1:20, 21 – Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks….

God wants you to use His word to guide you through the noisy chaotic world to make wise decisions and not to be led off course like most everyone else.

Proverbs 1:23 — If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you.

Wisdom requires repentance, a turning away from old behavior.

Proverbs 1:24, 25 – Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof….

If you cannot hear God, it is not that He is not speaking but rather that you are not really listening.  God stretches out His hand, but you must take it.

Proverbs 1:28, 29 – Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD.

There is a point of no return where change is no longer possible.  The reason is because of the Principle of the Farm we have discussed below:  You reap what you sow, but not when you sow.  You don’t get a harvest overnight, and you can’t rush a harvest no matter how “diligently” you work.  At the time of need, you will only have at your disposal what you invested over time.  Like everything else that really matters in life, your knowledge and relationship with the LORD must be developed over time, cultivated into your character.  The better you know the LORD, the better you will relate with Him and be blessed by the life outcomes you desire.  If what you cultivate over time in your character is worldly spiritual neglect, then that is what you will have from which to draw in times of need.  An old Chinese proverbs says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is today.”  If you have not planted the right seeds of Christlike character, today is the day to start.  This is the beginning of wisdom – the fear (assigning the greatest honor and prioritization) of the LORD – wholehearted, loving obedience one day at a time.   

Proverbs 1:32 — For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them. 

Do not be complacent with God’s commands.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 April 2023: 

Trusting in the Lord and His grace, strive to do good from a heart of love, and pray for God to increase your love where obedience is still a chore; as you “dwell in the land,” doing your job, taking care of your family, and interacting with others in your community, befriend faithfulness. When you fail, which we all do daily, repent, and fail forward, being increasingly conformed to the character of Christ.

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