Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 3 April 2023:
Job 23:12 — I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
Job hungered for God’s word more than food, understanding that God’s word was more important to his life. Remember how we were first introduced to Job in chapter 1: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil…. Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him.’” Job stood out as a man among men before God because he prioritized God’s word in his life and obeyed it. Do you treasure God’s word more than your food, and do live by His every word?
Notice how Jesus responds to every attack by others against Him with God’s word (like he did against Satan’s temptations in the desert) and how he knew God’s word perfectly by heart. He knew the word so well, He even silenced the Sadducees, invalidating their defining doctrinal position, by pointing out the tense of a verb – God “is” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (as opposed to “was” the God of Abraham….). (Luke 20:34-44) What did Jesus say about God’s word? “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’”
Today in America, most people are physically overweight but malnourished in God’s word. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease, over 70% of Americans are overweight, and of them, 38% are obese. Meanwhile, 11% of Americans ‘report’ having read the whole Bible. Of course, reading and studying are two different things; and studying under the teaching of the Holy Spirit is quite another; and obeying God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit is quite another. Are you having trouble finding time to prayerfully study God’s word each day? Here is an idea guaranteed to help: pledge to yourself not to eat until you have completed your prayer and Bible study. Another suggestion is avoid reading books about the Bible rather than the Bible itself. A trend in the church today is that Christians are preferring secondary sources rather than God’s perfect word. Don’t muddy the waters –
- Ezekiel 34:18, 19 — Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
- John 6:63 — It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
- John 17:17 — Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- Hebrews 4:12 — For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
- 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
- 1 John 2:27 — But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
- 2 Timothy 2:15 — Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Job 23:27 — Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job 23:27 above is such an amazing verse from one of the oldest books in the Bible! Most people would guess this verse came from the New Testament. Job hungered for God’s living word because of the hope he had in his living God, which only grew as he studied and applied God’s word. Through God’s word, Job not only had been guided through life, he had built a personal relationship with God which sustained him through his greatest challenges. Notice that in his misery, Job turned to God, not away from God – “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.” (Job 13:15) Job’s incredible faith was cultivated over a lifetime of study, prayer and walking in God’s word — “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Be sanctified through God’s word, be strengthened through God’s word, be prepared through God’s word, and be sustained through God’s word as the Holy Spirit uses the living word to draw you closer to the Word, Jesus – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)
Mark 10:15, 24, 28 – Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it…. Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!… With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God….
Meditate today on what it means to receive the kingdom of God like a child. As a parent, I have very vivid and powerful memories of the births of my children. My immediate love for each of them was overwhelming, though they were completely helpless, could do nothing for me, and had no real comprehension of my love for them. My love for them wasn’t and isn’t conditional or dependent upon their love for me; I love them because I love them. My desire for my children has been that they receive my love and grow in love and maturity so they may experience the fullness of life and joy and fulfill the purpose God intends for them. How much more does our perfect Heavenly Father love us and desire the very best for us? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
Notice in the verses above that the kingdom of God is “received” and not achieved. The gift of grace is just that – a gift. We don’t earn God’s love, nor do our good deeds add to His love or our bad deeds subtract. The child’s behavior doesn’t change the father’s love for him or her, but it does affect the child’s joy, peace, experiences, consequences and relationships (with the father and others). We certainly don’t earn God’s love, but God wants us to experience the fullness of His love and to grow up in His love by remaining in His love – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11)
“Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God!… With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God….” (Mark 10:24-27) How hard is it for us to work our way into the kingdom of God? It is impossible. Jesus is reminding us of our utter dependence on Him as the way into His kingdom, salvation by grace through faith in Him and Him alone, not by works. Like newborn babies, we are solely dependent upon the love, grace, mercy, provision and instruction of the Father. Only by admitting this can we be part of the kingdom of God, and only by trusting in this can we have peace, joy, confidence, and hope through the trials of life.
God calls us to a childlike faith, but certainly not a childish faith. God intends for us to grow up, to mature into Christlike character. The Bible calls this growth in Christ sanctification. Though we participate in sanctification, this too is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13; 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 6:11, 19, 20; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:22–24; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 13:20, 21). God calls His children to holiness, and graciously gives what He commands (1 Thess. 4:4; 5:23). The Father’s way of growth for us is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but rather our effort dependent on Him (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10–14; Heb. 12:14). Abiding in Christ is understanding that without His enabling we cannot do good, but He is ready to strengthen us for all He has prepared in advance for us to do through Him (Phil. 4:13). Abiding in Christ involves trusting Him for both our provision and our growth, asking for His help constantly, and growing in faith as we receive His help (Col. 1:11; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; 2:1).
We abide in God’s love, grow in God’s love, and bear fruit in God’s love when we abide in God’s word – reading God’s word, meditating upon God’s word, praying God’s word, walking God’s word, and embodying God’s word. Through prayerful study and application of God’s word we grow in our knowledge, love and unity with The Word of God, Jesus:
- Romans 10:17 — So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
- Luke 8:11 — Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
- John 17:8, 17 – For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me…. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- 2 Peter 1:21 — For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- Matthew 4:4 — But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
- Matthew 17:5 — “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
- Hebrews 4:12-13 — For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
- Luke 10:39 — And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
- John 8:47 — Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
- John 8:31 — So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples….”
- John 15:7 — If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
- Luke 21:33 — Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
- Luke 8:21 — But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
- Philippians 4:6-7 — 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.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 — Pray without ceasing….
- Romans 8:26 — Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- Luke 11:9 — And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
- Jeremiah 33:3 — Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
- Matthew 26:41 — Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
- Ephesians 6:18 — Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
- Colossians 4:2 — Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 — If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
- Mark 1:35 — And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 April 2023:
Read Psalm 119 and pray that God will give you a passion for God’s word like Job had.
Rather than focusing on self-mastery today, focus on the Master. Sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer and Bible study, listen, learn, grow, and be at peace. Don’t ask Jesus to walk with you; walk with Him – Follow Him. “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23)