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September 4

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“Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you” (Ecclesiates 7:21 NKJV).

From: September 4, 2020

DON’T LET WHAT PEOPLE SAY DETERMINE YOUR HEART’S IDENTITY

Solomon warned against being overly sensitive to what others say about you. Guard your heart. For from time to time, even those closest to you may say something disparaging of you. You might even overhear one who works for you, cursing you. Not to your face of course, but behind your back. But don’t let it go to your heart. For if you examine yourself, you’ll have to admit that you’ve spoken ill of others too. And if you take to heart everything that people say about you, it can lead to an angry and bitter disposition that is always looking for an offense. Or it can lead to a pandering kind of personality that is always seeking a compliment or praise.
 
Yet, do take to heart everything that the Lord says about you. For He created you and sent His Son to die for your sins. God knows you better than you know yourself. He has a new name for you that will align with your heart’s true identity. Let what the Lord says about you go deep into your heart. Seek His approval. Live not for the applause of people, but for the approval of God.
 
PRAYER: Dear Father, You know us better than we know ourselves. Examine our hearts and show us today where repentance is needed. We want our hearts to be in alignment with Yours. We want to after Your heart. Teach us to be unoffendable, so that our identity and approval are centered on what You say about us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.” (2 Corinthians 7:9 NLT).

From: September 4, 2018

PAIN PRECEDES REPENTANCE
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was the most corrective of all his epistles. He was sorrowful to send it, knowing the pain it would cause. However, when he heard from Titus how the Corinthians had repented and changed their ways, he was overjoyed. He observed a spiritual truth: Pain precedes repentance.
 
Worldly sorrow comes from having been caught. It does not result in repentance, which is both a change of mind and of conduct. But godly sorrow results in true repentance, so that both mind and conduct are changed.
 
Paul didn’t want to hurt the Corinthians, but he loved them enough to correct them, causing them a little pain, but with great result. His correction was aimed at their repentance. And he was overjoyed to see their godly response.

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV).

From: September 4, 2017

There is a sorrow that comes from getting caught doing wrong and having to suffer the consequence. There is a sorrow that comes in the shape of grief when losing a loved one or experiencing some loss. There is a sorrow that comes as shame and guilt after sobriety returns. Yet, all of these are worldly sorrows that do not produce repentance. Worldly sorrow only produces regret, which ultimately leads to death. For worldly sorrow is about self and circumstance, not God. But “godly sorrow” is different. It is sorrow according to God’s will that brings our sin into contact with the cross of Christ. Instead of being sorry for the suffering that comes from sin, we are sorry for the sin itself because it is what nailed Jesus there. This “godly sorrow” that “worketh repentance” is a gift from God, just as faith is. Repentance and faith are inseparable. In repentance, we turn from our sin. And in faith, we turn to God by trusting in Jesus, God’s provision for our sin.

“We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.” (Psalm 48:9 ESV)

From: September 4, 2016

Thinking on God’s “steadfast love” is an appropriate act of worship. What kind of love is this? The Hebrew word is “chesed,” which may be translated “lovingkindness” or “covenantal love.” In the Greek New Testament, the word “agape” would be its equivalent. This kind of unconditional, unmerited, and unchanging love is worthy of our meditation. The psalmist spoke of his meditation of it in worship, yet it’s supreme revelation isn’t found until the cross of Christ. It is in Jesus that we see God’s steadfast love made manifest. As John said, “This is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Beloved, think on this steadfast love of God revealed in Jesus Christ!

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiates 9:10 NKJV)

From: September 4, 2015

Solomon’s study of life “under the sun” was limited to the physical world, and therefore, did not include observations of life “beyond the sun.” So, the idea of an afterlife with eternal reward and judgment are not topics considered by him. Yet, there is a wisdom here for those still on this side of the “grave:” Work with all of your might, while there is still light. As Jesus taught his disciples, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). I want to finish this earthly life serving the Lord with all of my might. How about you?

“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiates 7:8 NLT)

From: September 4, 2014

Many people begin well, but few finish well. Even Solomon, the inspired author of this book, did not finish well. If only he would have followed the wisdom that God had given him. As we grow older, we tend to choose rest over reward and comfort over challenge. We look to the modern invention of retirement, rather than reaching and stretching for the finish line. I want to finish strong like Jesus, not Solomon. Lord, give me the strength and grace to finish well. Are you making plans to finish well?

“Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations” (Psalm 48:12-13)

From: September 4, 2012

The Psalmist saw God Himself as being present in his city, both as inhabitant and defender. I wonder, should we tour our own city and look for Him? Where is God at work here in this city? Where is He present? And how can we join Him in His work, here in our city?

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Cor.7:10)

From: September 4, 2011

This is not merely expressing regret at wrong, but feeling God’s sorrow at our offense. This spiritual sorrow leads to a commitment to change, wanting no longer to offend God. This leads to our utter dependence on God to save us from our sinfulness, crying “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner!”