YEAR 2, WEEK 20, Day 4, Thursday, 18 May 2023

Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 18 May 2023:

Isaiah 10:5 – Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!

The Sovereign God uses wicked nations, bad leaders, and devastating circumstances to discipline and judge His disobedient people, desiring them to repent and return to Him, while glorifying His holy Name.

Isaiah 10:5-11 – I send him…. But he does not so… think.

God often uses people to accomplish His purposes without them realizing it.

Isaiah 10:5 — When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.

Accomplishments don’t always equate to approval. God allowed Assyria to fulfill their wicked intent and to succeed over His people for a time, but His intent was to hold them accountable as is His intent with all the wicked. When the wicked seem to prevail, draw closer to the Lord and wait upon Him. God is good and works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Isaiah 10:6-11 – …but it is in his heart to destroy….

Human pride leads to arrogant disregard for human life and for God. Do you see the effects of human pride around you today?

Isaiah 10:13 — For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.”

The prideful and arrogant tell themselves that they have accomplished something from their own strength, wisdom, talent, and personal power. Even Christians are susceptible to prideful thinking, attempting to build their own thrones and idols while telling themselves God is with them in their prideful activities. Be very careful not to become self-serving and not to pursue your own kingdom on earth. God will bring down the throne you sit on or the idols you prioritize in your life over Him.

Isaiah 10:15 – Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!

“One of the dangers in the Christian life is to take credit for what God does. This was the Assyrians’ problem. They were a weak nation until God chose to bless them in order to use them as an instrument to punish the Israelites. However, the more God blessed them, the more confident they became in their own strength. When the farmers had good crops, they credited their farming skills rather than God. When their army won a victory, their generals took the credit. When the nation experienced prosperity, the Assyrians attributed it to their military and political might. Finally, God pointed out the absurdity of their conclusions (Isa. 10:5-19).

It is sometimes easier to handle poverty or weakness than wealth or strength. Poverty causes us to recognize our need for God. Prosperity persuades us that we no longer require Him. Scripture holds several examples of those who assumed they were self-sufficient, only to realize their dire poverty apart from God. Samson was the strongest person alive, but he forgot that his strength came from God. Once God removed his strength, Samson was reduced to a pitiful slave. Saul was the first king of Israel, yet when God removed His Spirit from this proud monarch, he became a paranoid, petty man, seeking counsel from the occult.

Be careful how you handle the success God gives you! As you enjoy His blessings in your family, your business, or your ministry, keep in mind that you are an instrument in the hands of the Master.” (Henry T. Blackaby)

1 Corinthians 11:1 – Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

We should be examples to others by imitating Christ, acting exactly like Jesus.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – …maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ….

Customs and courtesies are often helpful visual reminders and acts of respect for the system of social order established by God. They speak to positional authorities and responsibilities, not to personal worth or value. In the military, many honorable captains have saluted less honorable majors out of respect for the position, despite the person. God commands us to honor our fathers and mothers, not because they are always right, but because their position demands it. God does not call us to be contentious against rules of social order. However, customs and courtesies must never supersede God’s specific commands.

1 Corinthians 11:3 — But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Jesus is just as much God as the Father and equally worthy of honor, praise, and worship; yet He remains subordinate to the Father positionally. Likewise, wives are called to subordinate to husbands, but are not any less valued or less used by God.

1 Corinthians 11:10 — That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

The Bible explains that marriage is intended to be a visible symbol/reminder/metaphor of the love relationship between Christ and the Church. (Eph 5) Head coverings were intended to be a part of that symbology.

1 Corinthians 11:11 — Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman.

Again, the man and woman are equally important and interdependent, though they have different roles and responsibilities ordained by God.

1 Corinthians 11:17 – But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.

In your relationships, are you making things better or worse? Are you reconciling or causing greater division?

1 Corinthians 11:19 – …for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

Some division is inevitable due to sin, but Christians must be true to God while continually seeking, from a heart of love, to bring others closer to that truth, not allowing their own sinful behavior to stand in the way.

1 Corinthians 11:22 – What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

In our worship, we should naturally be placing others ahead of ourselves, from the heart. Leaders of love do not have to be reminded to eat last.

1 Corinthians 11:27-32 – Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Jesus broke bread even with Judas, who he never kicked out of the group. Judas accepted the gift in an unworthy manner. We must continually offer peace and grace to sinners, regardless of what they do with it (which is their responsibility, not ours). We must continually search our own hearts to consider what we have done with God’s grace.

1 Corinthians 11:32 — But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

The Lord disciplines His people in painful ways within His grace. Grace saves us but doesn’t remove the demand for obedience of which we are still accountable.

1 Corinthians 11:33 — So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Again, leaders eat last. Worship puts everyone else ahead of self.

1 Corinthians 11:34 – …if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.

If your heart is not right for the situation, best to remove yourself from the situation rather than add to your sin or misrepresent Christ before others. For example, when you start to become emotional during a disagreement, remain silent rather than say the wrong thing. Don’t let your lack of self-control impact others in a negative way. As we continually partake in God’s grace, we must always offer grace to others and put them over ourselves.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 May 2023: Deny your rights, overlook insults, put sinners before yourself, and speak to others in a way that promotes healing and reconciliation, opening the way to the preaching of the gospel. Do this as an act of worship and in gratitude for the grace that you have received from God. Reference from today’s readings: 1 Corinthians 11:34. Listen to others to truly understand them. Do not worry about making them understand you. Listen empathetically, seeking to promote love, unity, healing, and joy. Practice 1 Corinthians 13 love in your conversations today. Put everyone else ahead of yourself; submit to all authority, even if those in authority seem less mature than you (submission can be an act of leadership); obey God’s commands. (1 Corinthians 11)

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