Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 9 May 2023:
Note: Provided is a link to a video summary of Isaiah 1-39: https://youtu.be/d0A6Uchb1F8
Isaiah 1:3 – The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.
It is far better to be dumb and obedient than smart and disobedient.
Isaiah 1:13, 16 — Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me…. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil.
Obedience and worship go hand-in-hand because love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand. Don’t bring your gifts to God from a position of disobedience, and don’t think that your charitable acts and kind words to others make up for refusal to obey God in other areas. Deal with your disobedience first.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The Greatest Commandment is love. Love comes from 1) a pure heart, 2) a good conscience, and 3) a sincere faith.
- 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Hebrews 10:26-31 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Isaiah 1:24 — Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.
Sinners make themselves enemies of God. Don’t behave in ways that place you at odds with the Father. He loves His children, but cannot stand idle while His Sovereignty is challenged (even for a minute) and the family name is disparaged.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 — This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful…. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
This is how we must see ourselves – “as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” We have a sacred calling and requirement – that we “be found faithful.” We must diligently critique ourselves, but not by just considering our behavior, we must search our hearts to understand the motivations behind our behavior, seeking to eliminate pride, fear, self-centeredness, and guilt that would cause us to do the “right” things for the wrong (fleshy) reasons.
We should also remember that we remain poor judges of our own character, often deceiving ourselves, thinking higher of ourselves than we ought. Even still, we must also recognize the righteousness we have in Christ, not of ourselves but through grace, imputed to us through Him. Spirit-enabled humility is key, particularly when we begin feeling confident in our actions.
- Proverbs 21:2 — Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
- Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 — Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
- Galatians 6:3 — For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We must also acknowledge that if we are poor judges of our own character, we are certainly far worse judges of the character of others. We cannot see another person’s heart and cannot understand what motives are behind the other actions of others. Only God knows the heart.
- 1 Corinthian 2:11 — For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?
- Jeremiah 17:10 — “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.
- Psalm 44:21 — Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
- Proverbs 30:10 — Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.
Until God discloses the purposes of the hearts of ourselves and others, we can only hold each other accountable to behavior from the measure of the word of God, but with humility and gentleness, recognizing that we all sin and fall short of the Glory God, and that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not through the merits of our behavior. Strive relentlessly but humbly to be found worthy of your sacred calling, and be prepared to proclaim why the Good News is so “good.”
1 Corinthians 4:7 — What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Don’t be impressed by your own intellect, talents, or abilities, and don’t seek to impress others, rather proclaim Jesus and draw all attention away from self. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. We think that we have earned knowledge, and therefore, are tempted to get prideful in it. Love is received and given as a gift. Therefore, there is no boasting.
1 Corinthians 4;11-12 — We are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure.
When reviled, bless; when persecuted, endure; when slandered, entreat. Who do you know that serves Jesus to this level? Do you?
1 Corinthians 4:15 – For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Many churches are full of believers but few disciple makers. Again, how many people have become Christians because God used you to lead them to Christ? How many people are growing in Christ due to your direct teaching and coaching? Jesus spent three years walking day-by-day with 12 believers (focusing especially on three) in order to prepare them to serve Him with power. In whom are investing in this way?
1 Corinthians 4:20 — For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
Many people have Bible knowledge and can even parrot theology, but real faith is powerful and changes lives.
“Christianity is not moral platitudes, lofty intentions, and noble thoughts. The fundamental characteristic of God’s kingdom is power. Paul faced constant criticism about his work among the early churches. Some of his detractors would travel to cities such as Corinth and speak extensively about all that Paul was doing incorrectly. At times, people in the churches were enticed to believe the slanderous criticisms against the apostle.
Paul responded with a reminder that the test of a kingdom citizen’s authenticity was not the persuasiveness of his words, but the spiritual power of his life. Paul candidly acknowledged that some did not find him eloquent in speech (2 Cor. 10:10). Yet they could not question God’s power in his life. He had seen many people converted, and many churches were started through his ministry. He had been used to heal the sick and raise the dead through God’s power. Regardless of whether his words were eloquent, they carried spiritual power and authority that came from God.
You will encounter many people who seek to convince you of their opinions concerning the kingdom of God. They may speak passionately. They may even bring charts and graphs to prove their points! But the test of the validity of their words is the spiritual power of their lives. If a person speaks forcefully about a point of doctrine but is habitually sinning, his words are discredited by his life. If a person talks of the power of God but gives no evidence of victory in her life, her words are empty. It is much easier to talk about the victorious Christian life than it is to live it.
If you only have the appearance of godliness without any corresponding spiritual power (2 Tim. 3:5), ask God to cleanse you of your sin and to fill you with His Spirit so that your life is characterized by power.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 May 2023: Today, strive to “be found faithful,” while proclaiming salvation by grace through faith in Christ.