Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 4 April 2023:
Job 24:1-4 – Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?
Sometimes it is hard to understand why God delays in punishing evil people.
Job 24:5-12 – …the poor… without clothing… the fatherless child… wicked men…. [the hungry and the thirsty] ….
Sometimes it is hard to understand why God allows so much suffering.
Job 24:13-17 – …the murder… the adulterer… [the thief] ….
Sometimes it is hard to understand why God allows so much injustice.
From our human perspective, we cannot understand what God is doing, and His actions may even seem unfair or uncaring at times. How often do small children say to their parents, “That’s not fair!” when the children don’t understand why their parents have denied them what they want for reasons the children can’t understand? The difference of understanding between God and people is far, far greater than the difference between a parent and a child. Are you prepared to trust and obey God when it seems to make no sense at all, when life is at stake?
Mark 11:13 – And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
“Jesus cursed the fig tree for its fruitlessness, for not living up to what it appeared to be when it had foliage but no figs. That is a warning to all who profess faith in Him. We are to bear fruit for God’s glory, and if we are not bearing fruit in service to God and neighbor, we must repent and rely on His grace. If we do not, that may be a sign that we are not in His kingdom after all…. A fruitless tree is no good at all, and neither is a fruitless disciple. Those who bear no fruit prove that they never had saving faith to begin with, and those who have saving faith demonstrate their trust in Christ by bearing spiritual fruit (James 2:14–26). As professing Christians, we should be seeking to bear fruit in keeping with repentance, asking God to do what He needs to do in order to make us ever more fruitful.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Mark 11:15-17 – And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
There is a time for everything – a time for peace and a time for war. What determines the right response, what determines the validity of a person’s behavior, is God’s will. Fear and pride get in the way of righteousness. We like to think of Jesus as always peaceful, but in many places throughout the Bible, He is very confrontational, and this temple scene is the most well-known example of Jesus’ righteous anger. Jesus was at the center of God’s will. Avoiding conflict is often motivated by self-interest and fear. Jonathan Edwards said that there were two places in which we should never yield to others – if integrity is at stake, or if truth is at stake. Yet, Christians today often prefer to yield in these areas in order to avoid conflict; there is often a false humility attached to this pacifism, but in truth they are motived by fear and pride (I’m above this). Jesus was certainly not afraid to challenge the well-established, culturally accepted, corrupt practices of the day, even those that had been tacitly sanctioned by all other religious leaders. How about you?
Mark 11:18 – And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
Human religion, motivated by fear, leads us to hostility towards God’s plan.
Mark 11:25 — And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Do you think Jesus meant this literally? How does this relate to The Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us of our sins, as we forgive others who sin against us?”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 April 2023: Before you pray to God, thanking Him for the unmerited grace that you have received and asking for His unmerited blessings in your life, give unmerited grace and blessings to those in your life who have somehow offended you. Forgive everyone unconditionally as you are far less worthy of justice than Jesus who gave up His rights to be justified that you would receive everlasting life. While you were still sinning, Christ died for you. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Don’t wait another moment. Forgive, and do it personally, face to face if possible. (Mark 11:25)