YEAR 2, WEEK 19, Day 4, Thursday, 11 May 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 11 May 2023:

Isaiah 3:1-3 – For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms.

There is no hope for a nation when God takes away His support.

Isaiah 3:4-7 – And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, everyone his fellow and everyone his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable. For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”; in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.”

When a nation is judged by God, He gives them incompetent leaders, and lawlessness prevails.

Isaiah 3:8, 9 — Because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.

How relevant are these verses within the context with today’s socio-political situation? “Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.” (Isa 3:9)

Isaiah 3:12 — O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

This verse speaks to God’s people – those who should have known better and maintained their holiness were deceived by popular teachings and failed to be the conscience of their nation.

Isaiah 3:16-26 – The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes… therefore the Lord will… lay bare their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness… and branding instead of beauty. Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground.”

One of the signs of a falling nation is that people become focused on vanity and sensuality. Again, how relevant are these verses within the context with today’s socio-political situation?

1 Corinthians 6: 1, 4, 5, 7 — When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? … So, if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame…. To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

Christians are not to take disputes between one another to the secular court system – this is shameful and defeats our witness before the world. It is better to suffer wrong and be defrauded than to defame the Church and the Name of Christ with public, worldly disputes.

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus gives us specific instructions for how to settle disputes with Christians — “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Jesus spoke in a more challenging way about disputes in Matthew 5:38-41 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Matters between Christians are to be settled within the church by leaders within the congregation; but how often have you seen Christians actually adhere to this teaching? Today we even see entire church denominations suing each other in public, secular courts, surrendering their authority as “priests” to unbelievers. And how often do we see Christians going to secular counselors to solve their problems instead of church leaders? What does this say about the condition of the church? How much do church culture and norms reflect what God actually intended for the body of Christ? What might you have accepted that is unacceptable?

More verses for consideration:

  • Romans 12:17-21 — Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  • Matthew 5:43-48 — “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
  • Luke 6:27-2-36 — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
  • 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 — See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
  • Proverbs 20:22 — Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
  • Luke 9:23 — And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 — Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

The saved Christian will still sin through the sanctification process but will not be inclined to sin or controlled by their former habits of sin. To be clear, the goal of the Christian life, and the aim of a disciple (an apprentice) if Jesus is the become Christlike, not just to become a ‘good,’ moral, respected, person, but to become “one” with Jesus (John 17:22-23), to become completely united with him in heart, mind, soul, and body, living life exactly the way He would if in the same situation (family, job, community, church, etc.) as He would if in that Christian’s situation. Too often we aim too low – we should for behavior change rather that complete transformation into Christlikeness.

  • Romans 8:28-29 — And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 — And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
  • 1 John 3:2 — Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
  • Philippians 1:6 — And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 4:16 — I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1 — Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
  • Philippians 3:17 — Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6 — And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit….
  • “Putting on Christ’…is not one among many jobs a Christian has to do; and it is not a sort of special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

1 Corinthians 6:18 — Flee from sexual immorality.

Sexual sin is considered especially egregious and is greatly condemned, in stark contrast to the world’s complacency.

It is unthinkable that a Christian indwelt with the Holy Spirit would commit adultery, homosexuality or any other sexual abomination. We are called not to just avoid sexual immorality but to “flee” from it.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 May 2023: Today, practice being wronged in a way that brings glory to God, using the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel rather than to defend your ‘rights.’

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