Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 17 May 2023:
Isaiah 9:2, 6, 7 — The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9 is an incredible prophecy of Jesus –
- Matthew 1:20-23 — “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
- Matthew 4:12-17 — Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 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.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- John 8:12 — 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.”
- Matthew 28:18 — Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”
- Revelation 22:5 — And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Jesus reigns! All power and authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him by the Father, and He will return to reign on a new earth. We are ambassadors for Him and His Kingdom in a foreign land. Our job is to proclaim His Majesty as KING of Kings for all who might listen as we prepare for His triumphant return. How are you doing as Christ’s ambassador in this foreign land?
- Psalm 105:1-6 — Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
Today the psalmist encourages us to proclaim God’s wondrous works as the he does. But the psalmist didn’t have the benefit of knowing Jesus Christ. How much more do we have in which to rejoice and proclaim to the world today? Practice Psalm 105: 1-6 today and every day –
- Give thanks to the Lord!
- Call upon His Name!
- Make known His deeds among all the peoples!
- Sing praises to Him!
- Tell of His wondrous works!
- Glory in His Name!
- Seek the Lord, His strength, and His presence continually! Continually means continually!
- Remember the wondrous works He has done!
- Remember you are one of His chosen ones!
1 Corinthians 10:4, 5 – For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Believing in God is not the same as following God, not the same as being a disciple. We are called to make disciples, not merely believers. James says that even the demons believe in God. Love of God naturally produces obedience to God. God is never pleased with disobedience and doesn’t just accept it as ok. Grace is not a license to sin; it is the power to obey in love rather than in fear and obligation.
1 Corinthians 10:6-22 — Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…. We must not indulge in sexual immorality…. We must not put Christ to the test… nor grumble…. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it…. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry…. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
The entire Bible not only warns us to flee from sin but also reminds us that, through Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. We like to make excuses for our sin and claim that we “can’t help it” or “can’t control ourselves.” Some will even go so far as to proclaim that, “God understands.” However, the Bible points out that there is no temptation to which we can’t say “No.” The problem is not that we can’t say no to sin, it is that we really don’t want to say no – we choose our desires over what God commands; this is idolatry (placing something ahead of God). The Bible warns us, not to avoid idolatry, but to “flee from idolatry.” We must actively avoid all sin before it becomes tempting to us. We can’t be in fellowship with the Lord and with sin at the same time. As Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Luke 11:23).”
1 Corinthians 10:7-10 – Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
All sins (defiance of God’s will) from sexual immorality to grumbling, reveal rebellion in our hearts against the LORD-ship of God; they reveal a lack of love and render us guilty of the Greatest Commandment. This is idolatry, placing something ahead of God in our lives.
1 Corinthians 10:11 — Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
The Old Testament stories were recorded for our instruction. Dig deep into the Old Testament (which was quoted by Jesus regularly), and learn all that God wants to reveal to you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Again, your temptations are no greater than those of others. You have the ability to resist if you want to.
1 Corinthians 10:14-17 – Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
The blood of Christ SHOULD compel us to flee from all sin in our gratitude for the blessing bestowed upon us. It SHOULD compel us to likewise bless others.
1 Corinthians 10:21, 22 – You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
We cannot love both God and the world. We cannot walk with God and continue to sin. Just as a married person cannot continue in sexual relations with others, the bride of Christ must be set apart as holy.
1 Corinthians 10:23 — “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
You can act within the bounds of the law concerning a matter and still be immoral by doing “legal” things that will hurt others. In this case, you would be breaking the ultimate law of love. We must consider how our actions hurt others. We must remain on the mission of reconciliation.
1 Corinthians 10:24 — Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
We are called to do the most good for the most people, not what is best for us.
“As a Christian you are obliged to view your actions in light of how they will affect other Christians. You will discover God’s will for your life when you consider His activity in the lives of others. This goes contrary to worldly thinking. The world encourages you to live your own life, taking care of your own needs and wants first. Sin promotes independence. It isolates you from others and separates you from those you could help or who could encourage you. God designed you for interdependence.
Whenever you meet another Christian, you come face to face with Christ (John 13:20). There ought to be a deep respect within you as you encounter other lives guided by the Holy Spirit. Do not live as if you have no responsibility toward your Christian brothers or sisters. God holds you accountable for how you relate to them. Don’t revel in your “freedom in Christ” to the point that you neglect your responsibility toward others (Rom. 14:15). Paul celebrated his freedom in Christ, but he was keenly sensitive to what might cause other Christians harm (1 Cor. 8:13). He was aware that his sin could not take place in isolation but could bring pain to many others (1 Cor. 5:6).
You have a responsibility to live in such a way that you do not hurt others. You must deny yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to put to death your natural inclination to be self-centered. As long as you focus on yourself, you will be oblivious to the needs of others. Ask God to free you from selfishness so that your life is free to bless others.” (Henry T. Blackby)
1 Corinthians 10:32, 33 — Give no offense…. please everyone…. not seeking [your] own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Don’t let your behavior stand in the way of the message of Christ. Beyond our actions, our motive must always be love. Doing the right things with the wrong motives is sin for you.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 May 2023: Today, take time to truly consider the motives behind your actions. Were you motivated by fear, hope for reward, a sense of obligation, or by the greatest motivation of genuine, unconditional love? God calls us to be motivated by love, not just duty, and definitely not fear, pride, or greed. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33) Deny self, proclaim Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:24-33) Journal how many times you resist the temptation to defend yourself and how many times you proclaim “Jesus Christ” to others.