YEAR 2, WEEK 20, Day 2, Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 16 May 2023:

Isaiah 8:8-10 – …and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

“God with us (Immanuel)” means salvation for those who accept Jesus and condemnation for those who don’t. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Those who choose to put their trust in and give their allegiance to anything or anyone other than Jesus are lost.

Isaiah 8:12-22 — Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary…. Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples…. To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

Don’t worry about all the things everyone else is worried about. Focus your thoughts, energy, and activities on Jesus and serving Him today as His ambassador to a foreign land.

Disciples follow the teachings of Jesus which are bound up in their hearts and minds.

Our national problems are not political; they are spiritual. Even the church can be tempted into seeking sanctuary in worldly institutions rather than in The Lord. If the church would truly honor The Lord as holy, living according to His word and proclaiming His word, the entire nation would be blessed. A dimmed light promotes darkness. To the teaching and to the testimony!

Isaiah 8:13, 14 — But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary.

The world fears the wrong things. Those who fear the LORD have nothing else to fear. Those who don’t fear the LORD have everything to fear.

Isaiah 8:19 – …. should not a people inquire of their God?

Where do you go for answers?

Isaiah 8:20 – If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

The “dawn” is spiritual birth through the Holy Spirit. You must be born again through faith in Jesus to truly live by God’s word. Anyone can study God’s word, but the Holy Spirit empowers you to live God’s word. True Christians proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit within them. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12) “…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16) “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” (John 3:3) “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:7) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….” (1 Peter 1:3)

We need is God’s word, which is living. There is no revelation apart from God’s word.

1 Corinthians 9:12 — Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

Don’t let issues, disagreements and conflicts distract people from hearing the Gospel from you and witnessing the power of the Gospel in your life through your behavior. We are often called to surrender our rights for sake of the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:12)

Paul did not demand his rights before others because he didn’t want anything to detract from his preaching of the Gospel of Christ. He preferred to suffer maltreatment from others rather than risk any offense or conflict standing in the way of his message.

“…but we endure….” Paul points out that self-control in our relationships and encounters with others takes great self-discipline, patience, endurance, and perseverance empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 9:25). Sometimes everything within us wants to “put other people in their place,” or “give them what they deserve,” but if we do, they may not hear another word we say.

  • 1 Per 2:22-23 — He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
  • Hebrews 12:1-4 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In our struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
  • Philippians 2:3-8 — Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Are you willing to quietly and patiently suffer maltreatment from others, responding only with love and the Gospel message that you may glorify God? “Pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

1 Corinthians 9:16 — Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Do you say this? Woe to Christians who do not preach the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:18 — What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

Preach the Gospel without regard for any reward or credit. Remove self from the conversation. Take yourself out of the picture. It has nothing to do with you, only Jesus. Don’t make a name for yourself through the Gospel. Just Jesus.

1 Corinthians 9:24 — Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Keep your eyes fixed on the prize of Jesus. Running is hard; it takes every bit of your effort. Sometimes you feel like you can’t go any further, but you must keep pressing forward with all your might. You must run your best race, not getting distracted by the other runners, no comparison. When you are winning the race, you are often running alone. Don’t be surprised if there are not many people who are willing or able to run with you. Find a running partner who can push you to new levels.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 — Every athlete exercises self-control in all things…. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Self-control and discipline are key attributes of a disciple. It takes incredible self-control not to respond to abuse from others. Again, don’t stand up for yourself. Read Galatians 6:1-3. Deny self; take up your personal cross of abuse, and follow the lead of Jesus through personal adversity as you love sinners unconditionally.

  • Galatians 6:1-3 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 May 2023: Show shocking love by not defending yourself against maltreatment and by responding to evil with good. Do this as an act of worship and as a testimony to others of the power of the Gospel. Think nothing of yourself, but preach the Gospel. Have the strength, courage, and faith to trust God to restore what is denied you by others. Don’t let an issue of maltreatment stand in the way or be a distraction from the Gospel. Remember, when you defend yourself, you make yourself and the issue the center of attention rather than Jesus. Deny yourself and take up your cross in that situation, and bear the burden of the offense against you as a gift to God and as an act of fellowship with Jesus who suffered and died on the cross for you. (1 Corinthians 9:15-27)

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