Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 28 Mar 18:
1. Deuteronomy 19:9 – “…provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the Lord your God and by walking ever in his ways….” God wants you to love Him. You show your love by obeying Him.
2. Deuteronomy 19:11 – “But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.” Notice that cities of refuge were not sanctuary cities for murderers.
3. Deuteronomy 19:14 – “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.” God established clear rules for protecting property rights. Property rights protect a person’s ability to produce and to transfer productive ability to descendants. God strictly protects the livelihood of the family. Note the seventh commandment protects marriage (you shall not commit adultery), and the eight commandment protects property (you shall not steal). People can steal, and governments can steal; God will hold both accountable.
4. Deuteronomy 19:15 – “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” As was discussed yesterday, one witness is not enough. Today, in many cases, all it takes is for one person to accuse another in order to ruin the career and reputation of the accused. This is not Biblical.
5. Deuteronomy 20:1 – “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” God knows His people will have to fight battles. God expects His people to have courage in Him.
6. Deuteronomy 20:1-4 – God has proven His presence and power in the past and will do so again.
7. Deuteronomy 20:17,18 – “…but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.” God has no tolerance for those who would lead His people astray, whether they are believers or unbelievers (see chapter 13)
8. Deuteronomy 20:18 – Worship that imitates pagan worship or involves pagan substitutes for God is a chief sin.
9. Deuteronomy 20:19-20 – ““When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.” Resources are not inherently good or evil and can be used for either good purposes or bad ones. God wants His people to use resources formerly used to support evil to support good for the future. The same resources that supply bad people can also supply good people. God’s people can destroy institutions or take them over. Why not take them over for God’s glory?
10. Proverbs 28:5 – “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.” Understanding grows with proximity to Jesus.
11. Proverbs 28:7 – “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” With understanding comes obedience; obedience is self-control. Gluttony is a lack of self-control, revealing a disobedient heart which reveals a relationship problem.
12. Proverbs 28:13 – “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Be radically but gently honest with yourself and with others. It can be very painful at first but is instantly freeing and opens the door for radical integrity. Someone once said, “Never say anything you wouldn’t want to see published in the paper.” Christians should be an open book with no fear of open publication.
13. Proverbs 28:26 – “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Why would anyone trust in their own understanding and reject God’s unchanging word?
14. Proverbs 28: 27 – “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.” Do you believe this? It takes radical faith to give radically. Today, personally and tangibly give to the poor, not just via internet, a third party, or an organization, but with your own hands and directly to someone in need. Do this in the name of Jesus Christ.
15. Mark 7:5-13 – The Bible leads you to self-examination and self-correction, not a critical spirit towards others. We only address the sins of others with a legitimate heart of reconciliation. If your aim is something else, best to keep your mouth shut as you will not be Christ’s good ambassador.
16. Mark 7:6, 7; see also Isaiah 29 — “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” When the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for failing to wash their hands before eating, Jesus called them hypocrites (fakers or actors) and referenced the above verse from Isaiah. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t understand the value of cleanliness or care about hygiene; the elaborate hand washing ritual practiced by the Pharisees was not about cleanliness, it was a traditional symbol of holiness and spiritual purity. Jesus was not challenging the cleanliness of the Pharisees, he was challenging their holiness and the condition of their hearts. Jesus said that the Pharisees were pretending to serve God in their religious practices but in actuality were serving self; they were inspired by selfishness rather than love and compassion, and their defense of law and traditions was not about glorifying God but rather about glorifying self. They were more interested in demonstrating self-righteousness than in proclaiming the righteousness of God. Even the “good” things the Pharisees did in the name of God they did for the wrong reasons. Christians must continually examine their hearts to ensure that their motivations are truly pure and Christ-centered rather than self-centered – we all tend to drift towards selfishness. Even our religious practices can be motivated by self-interest rather than love for God and others. A simple question to ask yourself – “Why do I do what I do?” I pray that more and more, our motivation will be Christ. Jesus quoted Isaiah 29 when he rebuked the Pharisees; below is the conclusion of Isaiah 29 which should give us hope:
– “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off.… Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction (Isaiah 29:18-24).”
17. Mark 7:8-13 – The Bible trumps church tradition.
18. Mark 7:14-23 – “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
– As mentioned previously, Based on many Bible verses such as Ephesians 2:1-3 and 1 John 2:16 (provided below), church tradition teaches about three enemies of the soul, what has been called the trinity of temptation – the world, the flesh, and the devil (mundus, caro, et diabolus). Today, Jesus confirms that the greatest threat of the three is “the flesh” because the other two are external threats, while “the flesh” is “inside the wire” or an “insider threat”. This is the traitor within. This is where we become the problem, where we now have responsibility for the temptation. When we are tempted externally by the world and the devil, we may not have sinned; but when we start tempting ourselves, we are now guilty of thought sins. Jesus remained without sin when He was tempted externally by Satan in the desert but was not tempted internally, within His heart. The issue is not your circumstances, your environment, or your past; the issue is your heart. Your heart is what God searches, tests, and convicts. Oftentimes, when we are tempted internally, we seek to blame the person or thing that tempted us externally — “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) This is like when my kids say, “The lamp broke,” vice “I broke the lamp.” This deflection ignores to heart of the problem – your heart. Have you ever said something like, “You make me so angry!” Does someone have more power over you than the Holy Spirit? One of the fruits of the Spirit is the power of self-control. Proverbs says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked…. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:26, 28) We would benefit from spending more time considering our own hearts.
– Ephesians 2:1-3 — And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
– 1 John 2:16 — For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world.
19. Mark 7:21 – External acts begin with internal thoughts and values.
20. Mark 7:27 – “And he said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’” Jesus sought to teach Israel their mission before expanding the mission outward.
21. Mark 7:29, 32 – Jesus responded to faith wherever He found it.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day): 28 Mar — Make the effort today to, literally, take note of your thought life: journal the conditions under which you were tempted internally, when your thoughts did not mirror the heart of Jesus, when you became angry, bitter, jealous, greedy, selfish, lustful, prideful, impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, defensive, worrisome, etc. At the end of the day, review your journal and prayerfully consider the condition of your heart. References from today’s readings: Reference from today’s readings: “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)