YEAR 2, WEEK 15, Day 6, Saturday, 15 April 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 15 April 2023:

Job 35:3 – What advantage have I? How am I better off than if I had sinned?

Love does not serve God for profit. Jesus made it clear – “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10) God does not owe us special treatment for obeying Him as we were created to do, nor should we seek special reward. Obedience should be motivated only by love, not by a sense of duty or a hope for reward.

Job 35:7 – If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand?

Again, If we served God perfectly, we would only be doing our duty, nothing more than that. However, we too often expect great praise and special treatment for our partial obedience (which is ultimately disobedience).

Job 35:12 – There they cry out, but he does not answer, because of the pride of evil men.

Many people cry out to God from a position of arrogance, and God does not respond to the arrogant heart but rather the truly humble one. We think too much of ourselves and too little of God to the point where we actually start to think that God owes us something. In our arrogance, we think we can talk to God about “fairness” as if we have some sort of rights before the Perfect One who created us for His purposes.

  • Proverbs 16:5 — Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
  • James 4:6 — But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Job 35:16 – Job opens his mouth in empty talk; he multiplies words without knowledge.

We should all do a lot less talking and a lot more listening in both our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

Psalm 43:5 — Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

In hard times, have you ever felt like God had rejected you, had abandoned you, and had forgotten about you? Take note and comfort that, as the Bible purposefully reveals to us in Psalms, David often felt this way and, like us, had to remind himself to “hope in God,” to “praise Him,” and to rejoice in salvation, even when he didn’t really feel like it. “Rejoice” is a command in the Bible because sometimes we need to be reminded, even commanded, to do it. Rejoice basically means “Joy again” – when you lose your joy, find it again – just do it! Pray in thanksgiving, force yourself to count your blessings, praise God, recite memory verses on God’s love and faithfulness, sing hymns, replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, think only on good things, keep your eyes on Jesus, trust Him, and keep following Him.

  • Philippians 4:4-9 — 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. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
  • Philippians 4:11 — I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Take note that remaining joyful and content through hard times is an ability that must be practiced (Philippians 4:9) before you learn to do it instinctively (Philippians 4:11). You don’t get good at anything without practice, and it usually takes consistency over time. Make your practices each day count.

Sometimes we all need to counsel and coach ourselves not to lose hope in God. This is a normal part of the spiritual walk and is part of our spiritual development. However, we also need the good coaching of Christian friends. Part of a Christian’s spiritual development is learning interdependence (rather than independence or dependence), learning to be mutually caring and supportive, and learning to practice the “one-anothers” with each other. God doesn’t intend for you to go through life alone. God’s greatest command for us is love, and we grow in love when God gives us the opportunity to love others and receive love from others – some people have a hard time caring for others when they need it, but also some people, stuck in pride (and shame), have a hard time receiving care from others. God wants you to have strong Christian friends and family who will gird you up while you are weak and vice versa. If you find yourself saying, “Nobody cares,” perhaps some of the problem is you have put up barriers to relationships; and the way we treat others is usually a reflection of our relationship with God. If you aren’t receptive to God, you probably are not very receptive to other Christians.

  • Proverbs 18:1 — Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
  • Philippians 2:4 — Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
  • Matthew 18:20 — For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
  • Proverbs 27:17 — Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
  • Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Sometimes, when you feel like you need Him the most, God is silent — He is building your faith, trust, and hope. “During a test, the teacher is silent.” Trust God in His silence as He teaches you, and rest in faith and hope. For the true and faithful follower of Christ, God’s silence always ends in a greater revelation and a greater relationship with Him than previously known. Consider what happened to Mary and Martha when they petitioned Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus — in Jesus’ deliberate delay, Lazarus died. This “silence” from Jesus was in fact Jesus preparing to respond to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in a way that they never could have imagined; Jesus intended to take them to a new place in their relationship with Him, to reveal to them something about Himself that they did not previously grasp: Jesus is the Resurrection! God’s silence is not absence. Quite the contrary, God is preparing you for greater things.

Proverbs 15:1-7, 23, 26, 28, 30, 33 — A soft answer turns away wrath…. the wise commends knowledge…. A gentle tongue is a tree of life…. The lips of the wise spread knowledge…. To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!… gracious words are pure…. The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…. good news refreshes the bones…. The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Do your words promote peace or stir up anger? Do your words bring healing or pain? Do your words instruct or distract? Are your answers soft, knowledgeable, gentle, timely, gracious, thoughtful, refreshing, instructional, yet humble?

Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.

We cannot expect to live in disobedience and have God give us what we want. God does not spoil His children. His greatest gift to you is Himself, and desires, first and foremost for nothing, including your sin, to stand as a barrier in your relationship with Him. He has already given you His Holy Spirit and complete access, but in sin, you can quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, and get out of step with the Spirit. He will deal with your walk before your wants.

Proverbs 15:14 — The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.

Foolish talkers don’t seek knowledge. Listen and learn.

Proverbs 15:15 — All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

You must choose to be cheerful regardless your circumstances. To the cheerful, everyday is a holiday, every march is a parade, and every meal is a feast. To a certain degree, your attitude determines your altitude.

Proverbs 15:16, 17 – Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.

Motivated by anything other than love for God and love for others, you can build for yourself a kingdom on earth, but it would be full of trouble and affliction, and it will be burned up in judgment. The Bible says that God’s gifts have no trouble added to them – “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

You cannot get for yourself anything better than what God intended for you. When you are committed to walking with the Lord, He will give you what is best for you rather than what you want; but God often gives the unfaithful what they want, along with the consequences, as a form of discipline or judgment. It is hard when God tears down your idols in order to remove your distractions from Him, but it is devastating when God turns someone over to their idols. If you choose to pursue what you want instead of what God intends, you will only find sorrow and unfulfillment.

Unity with God through obedience and love is the key to contentment and cheerfulness. Life fulfillment comes from your relationship with God, not from your possessions or personal accomplishments. Trust God to provide you with everything you need if you remain in obedience to Him. Whatever you gain in disobedience is only a curse. Be thankful for what God has given you, and be faithful with it. He will give you more when you can be trusted with it, not before.

Proverbs 15:26 — The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.

Are your words gracious, always seeking the best for the other person rather than your own personal interests?

Proverbs 15:28, 29 – The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

The quality of our relationships with both God and man is determined by the condition of our hearts. Check your heart by listening to your language.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 15 April 2023: Today, practice rejoicing and being gratefully content in the Lord.

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