Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 16 April 2023:
Job 36:5 — Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding.
We should stand in awe, wonder, and amazement that God even tolerates sinful man and furthermore would pour His love upon us.
Job 36:10 – He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity.
God commands the wicked to repent. Eternal life requires the ultimate repentance of deciding to submit your life to Christ and then continual repentance from the daily sins which limit your ability to experience the fullness of life in Christ.
Job 36:11 – If they listen and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness.
Being in fellowship with God, under any circumstances, is contentment. A lack of contentment is a heart problem, not a resource problem.
Job 36:14 – They die in youth, and their life ends among the cult prostitutes.
Job lived in a very wicked time, yet he remained holy, set apart for God. Are you pure and holy in these wicked days?
Job 36:15 – He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.
Affliction is often used by God to humble us, teach us, and draw us closer to Him.
Job 36:18-23 – Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing, and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside. Will your cry for help avail to keep you from distress, or all the force of your strength?… Take care; do not turn to iniquity, for this you have chosen rather than affliction. Behold, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, “You have done wrong”?
Affliction draws some people closer to God and others farther away. In affliction, many question God, become angry with God, blame God, and even deny God. Elihu warned Job not lose perspective in his pain of God’s sovereign righteousness. If you are not currently going through affliction, you will. How will it affect your relationship with God? Remember, Romans 8:28-29 teaches that it isn’t happening to you, it is happening for you. Through life’s challenges, which God allows for His purposes and your ultimate benefit. Don’t become bitter; become better.
Job 36:26 – Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.
How arrogant is it for man to believe he can decide for himself who God is and who God isn’t?
Psalm 44:3 — For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.
Christians understand their total dependence upon God and NEVER take credit for their own success but give ALL glory to God.
Psalm 44:6 — For not in my bow do I trust.
It is not your own talents and abilities that will ultimately determine your success but rather your relationship with God and His mercy and grace bestowed upon you. Your future is solely in His hands. Eternal life is “knowing Him,” being truly one with Him (John 17:3). Don’t wait until you die to experience eternal life.
Psalm 44: 9, 17 — But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies…. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.
God does use circumstances to discipline His people, and during trials, we should search our hearts, minds, and actions as the psalmist does to ensure that we are aligned with God and that we haven’t hidden forbidden booty in our hearts that has caused our own “defeat at Ai” (Joshua 7). How foolish and dishonorable it is for a Christian to suffer needlessly due to the consequences of personal sin (Hebrews 10:29; 1 Peter 4:15)! However, as Job and his friends learned, you cannot explain every problem you have as a punishment for sin. Nor is crisis an indication that God has abandoned you, rejected you, or fallen asleep. God may be preparing you for greater things or to use you in a very mighty way.
In any case, you can always trust God with your circumstances, even if you are partly to blame for them (Romans 8:8). Consider the lives of the protagonists in the Bible — how do you think Joseph felt having been left forgotten in prison with a life sentence, having previously been sold into slavery by his brothers? How do you think Moses felt before his burning bush experience, wandering in the desert as a deposed prince, a fugitive murderer? In their seemingly helpless situations, they could not understand that God was preparing them for great leadership. God has placed us in service to Him to reach the lost in a sinful world that is both corrupted by sin and full of sinners. He knows that this calling will often involve pain while we operate in this world of destruction and hurt. In the battlefield which we fight, the wounded are all around us; sin has corrupted even the cells of our bodies; and hurting people hurt people – God knows as you reach out to the wounded, you are going to get hurt too.
The Bible says that when we suffer trials in the name of Jesus, we actually have cause to rejoice because we are experiencing a special and unique fellowship with Jesus as we “share Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13). Paul would encourage us: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3).” However, it gets lonely and sometimes terrifying deep in enemy territory, and what do you do when you appear surrounded and are receiving no communications from the Commander? Trust and Obey! And Pray! We see today that, in silence, the psalmist recounts that God has always been more than faithful – the evidence upon which faith is based (Psalm 44:1-8). In dark, silent times, remember that God is always faithful even when we are not, and trust in Him; wait on Him; be still and know that He is Lord (Psalm 46:10). Don’t let your pride stand in the way of allowing others to minister to your needs. In your times of strength and confidence, remember how you suffered, and empathetically minister to the needs of others going through trials – God never intended for us to go it alone.
- 1 Peter 4:19 -- Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. - 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 -- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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. - Philippians 4:4-13 -- Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…. 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…. I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Psalm 44:24 — Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
Faith is tested when God appears to have forgotten you during your trials. During the exam, the professor remains silent. God is faithful to see you through.
Psalm 45:7 — You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
If you love righteousness, you have to hate wickedness. How much do you hate wickedness? Are you prepared to “ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness (v4)?”
Psalm 45:17 — I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.
Our readings have much to say about God’s desires for the Christian family. First, Christian families must recognize their total reliance on the grace and blessings of God. (Psalm 45:2) They must be led by honorable, mighty men who fight for “truth, humility, and justice,” who “love righteousness and hate wickedness.” (Psalm 45:4, 7)
Also, these families must be led by godly, noble matriarchs who are fully devoted to their husbands and who honor them in every way. (Psalm 45:10, 11; Proverbs 12:4) Through wisdom, these women build secure homes for their families. (Proverbs 14:1; Proverbs 31)
Together, these parents lead a house that flourishes because they don’t just hope for good but rather are diligent enough to “plan for good (Proverbs 14:11, 22, 23),” working very hard, and investing in the capabilities required for future productivity. (Proverbs 14:4) The Christian family should be characterized by love and faithfulness. (Proverbs 14:22) The Christian home should be a sanctuary (Proverbs 14:26), a place where everyone feels safe.
A Christian home must be led by noble parents who raise generations of noble Christian leaders after them. (Psalm 45:16) As the Bible says, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. (Malachi 2:15)”
Every Christian has made mistakes in parenting, perhaps some big ones. Today is a new day. Trust God with the past and the future. Seek to parent today like your Father in Heaven would, walking in His grace, which is sufficient in your constant failure.
- Psalm 127:3-5 — Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
- Deuteronomy 11:18-21 — You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth
No one has had perfect parents. Forgive your parents unconditionally and honor them.
- Exodus 20:12 — Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
- Ephesians 6:1 — Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
- Proverbs 23:22 — Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
- Colossians 3:20 — Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
- 1 Peter 4:8 — Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers….” (Malachi 4:6) Pray that God will move in the hearts of your family members (including you) where there might be brokenness and disunity. The most important institution established by God on earth is the family. He created it, and He will empower it for His glory. The secret to a strong, united, loving and joyful family is to build it upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and to rest (or abide) upon that foundation — “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11) God desires your family to be united in Him for your joy and for His glory — “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:11, 22, 23)
Proverbs 16:1, 2 – The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Key to success in life is making sure your plans are God’s plans for you. Don’t expect God to bless what you want to do. Receive God’s blessings by doing what He wants you to do.
“How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts. Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10-17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4-8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21-23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8-9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3). Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 16:3 — Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Don’t ask God to bless what you are doing. Ask God to show you how to be a part of what He is doing that you might join Him in it, grow closer to Him in the effort, and glorify Him. Commit to being a part of what God is doing, and you will be blessed.
Proverbs 16:4 — The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
God uses the ungodly for His purposes, often to discipline the godly. If you don’t like your political leaders, your employers, or other difficult people in your life, your first step might be prayerful repentance. God controls all circumstances and places people in your life to teach you something. Conversely, consider verse 7 — “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Proverbs 16:8 — Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
Don’t sell out for instant, fleeting gain that can never satisfy. Don’t be like Esau who traded his birthright for a bowl of soup.
Proverbs 16:12 — It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.
Make no mistake, all sin is an abomination, cosmic treason against the KING of Kings. Don’t take any sin lightly.
Proverbs 16:13 — Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.
God loves it when you speak the truth.
Proverbs 16:21 — The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Wise Christians know how to use gentle, gracious words to persuade others rather than arguing with them.
Proverbs 16:25 – There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Again, the Bible reminds us that only God can show us the way we should go; we cannot trust in our own understanding. If you are not following Jesus day by day, you are off course and going down a path that leads to death.
Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Rom. 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like a ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matt. 7:13-14).
Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105). It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 16:32 — Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
God designed His people to be a “kingdom of priests… [to] reign on the earth (Exodus 19, 6; Revelation 5:10).” However, before a ruler is worthy to rule anything else, he must be able to rule over self. In fact, it is an inability to rule self that disqualified God’s people for positions of leadership within His Kingdom throughout the Bible. To have and maintain the right to lead in the Kingdom, one must first demonstrate sustained personal self-control, discipline, obedience, holiness. The Kingdom of God submits to the authority and will of the King (“thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven). Our first responsibility is to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ in our own lives and then model that life to others. Jesus modeled obedience for us and then told us that if we truly loved Him we would obey him completely; He then commanded, from our position of total obedience, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Clearly, self-control is not accomplished of our own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Key though is to recognize that Christians already have been equipped with that power. Now we have the responsibility to live by the Spirit rather than selfishness (deny self), pick up our crosses (see ourselves as crucified with Christ), and choose to truly follow Jesus rather than asking Jesus to follow us (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23). The problem we have with self-control is that we have not yet fully committed to live for God rather than self. However, we were created with the specific purpose of serving and loving God; apart from our purpose, our lives are meaningless and dead. Isn’t it time to choose to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and “rule our spirits” for His glory?
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- 2 Timothy 2:11, 12 — The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him
- Numbers 32:11, 12 — Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 April 2023: Pray that God will help you to demonstrate His love and His ways to your family today. Draw closer to God so you can draw closer to your family, and pray that God will inspire you other family members to do likewise.