Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Proverbs 16: 27-30

If you don't recognize this building then you just don't watch enough tv. Actually I hate tv but I do have this thing for watching Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Phineus and Ferb). Now I doubt any of you spend your days rubbing your hands together, ready to plot your next sinister scheme.

Take a second now to read today's verses.
Let's take it apart verse by verse--housewife style:

Vs 27- "Hey, best friend, could you believe what so and so did at the PTA meeting the other night? I just cannot believe that. She had no right to cut our idea down like that. Let's get back at her for that and make her look stupid for a change." 

Vs 28--" Hey, best friend, it's me again. Did you hear about Betty Jo? Her teenager got knocked up by that Billy Bob kid. I knew it would happen. I bet she's embarrassed. Well she should be. I heard Mary Lou saying that she wanted to have a baby shower with our Sunday school class. A baby shower for an unwed mother? Scandalous!"

vs 29-- "Hey, Marge? This is me, your neighbor. Did you hear what that Jones family is planning to do? Yes a pool and an ugly chain link fence. I thought we should get up a neighborhood petition. Let's do something about it and fight them. I mean, I can hear the late night parties now. Can't you?..."

vs 30-- "I will not budge on this issue. I have told you that we've done it this way for ten years and I am not going to change just because you, Miss New to our Church, thinks it might be a better way."

Ah, Perry the Platypus. Quietly, meekly fighting evil schemes. 
Often those evil schemes begin right inside of our own hearts; sneaking up on us when we aren't aware.

I think this might be a good time to remind ourselves to put on the full armor of God.
You can find the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Proverbs 16: 26

I doubt any of us have been in this place. We've never known true hunger. Yes, sometimes the cabinets might be a bit bare, but there has never been a feeling of devastation that there will not be a next meal.

Read Proverbs 16: 26

Christians in underground churches often understand this hunger. I have heard of them taking a Bible and dividing it between them..page by page. To take home, savor, feast on. Then they trade pages amongst themselves. Oh, this puts me to shame. How often have I rushed through my study to get to something else. Have I ever savored the Word like these persecuted Christians? 

Have you ever fasted? Join me in an experiment today? Just push back your lunch for an hour or two. Let your stomach get to the point where it growls and growls. Oh and don't drink anything during this time except water. Then, as you get hunger pains, let them be a reminder to you to cultivate your spiritual hunger for God. 

Even going a step further, here is a large list of Hungry Heart verses. (With thanks to soulsheperding.org for the list). Each time your stomach growls--look up one of these passages. You could, in fact, title a page in your journal, "verses for a hungry heart" and then beside them right a little description of each verse. 

  • Psalm 27: 4,8
  • Psalm 42: 1-2
  • Psalm 57:8-10
  • Psalm 62:5-8
  • Psalm 63:1-8
  • Psalm 73:26-27
  • Psalm 84:1-4; 10
  • Psalm 108:1
  • Psalm 119: 20;81
  • Psalm 143:6
  • Matthew 4:4
  • Matthew 5:6
  • Mark 1:35
  • Luke 11:1
  • John 4:34
  • John 6:33, 35a
  • Galatians 4:6
  • Philippians 3:7-14

Saturday, January 28, 2012

P.P. Discussion Week 7

My book didn't discuss some of these as well as in weeks past, so I guess I am going to have to put my thinking cap on this week! Let me know if you wish to discuss any of these:

1) This was just a thought question as Bunyan does not say what the covenant was. My book discussion suggests that Bunyan probably meant for them to agree to advance God's kingdom and His glory. They also would have agreed to pray together and as we will see, to be accountable to one another.

2) Matthew6:24

3) Simply put, "What's in it for me?"

4) He said he always tried to gain the advantage and count his blessings if 'things went his way.'

5) for self thought only

6)Heathens (Gen 34), hypocrites (Luke 20:46-47), devils(Jn 6:70-71), and witches.(Acts 8:1-24)

7) From the book, "When our motives are revealed by the light of God's brilliant holiness on the last day, how many of our supposed good deeds will be found to have been less than honorable and based on carefully concealed self-interest and greed?"

8) This one was a toughee. One commentary says, "At one time Demas was Paul's fellow worker (Philemon 24) but he left Paul,'having loved this present world' (2 Timothy 4:10). He stands for all who abandon their faith in order to get rich.

9)I think we all know who Judas was. Gehazi was Elisha's servant. His story can be found in 2 Kings 4-5.

10) The pillar of salt--Lot's wife. Genesis 19:26

11)They wanted to take the easy path

12) The promises of God open prison doors. See Revelation 1:18 and Acts 12:10 "Standing, Standing, I'm standing on the promises of God my Savior...." remember that hymn?


Reading assignments (a small one this week!):
Moody for today's English : pp 119-122
Revel Spire 110-114

Friday, January 27, 2012

Prov. 16 : 25 Cherish His Word

Pro 16:25  There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

I think it's interesting that this verse is almost identical to a verse in chapter 14 of Proverbs . . . Solomon really wanted us to be certain to notice this one!

We need to take great care not to deceive ourselves about the paths that we take. This requires thoughtful study of His word, and applying it to our lives. Examining our ways will help to expose our sins, our pride, and our willfulness. I'm so grateful that we have His word . . .

This song was very inspiring to me --- I know you have heard it many times before, as have I, but it is a wonderful reminder for us.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prov. 16 : 20 - 24 Sweeter than honey

Pro 16:20  He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
Pro 16:21  The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
Pro 16:22  Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
Pro 16:23  The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
Pro 16:24  Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Solomon is commending those who have wisdom and prudence, those who have understanding, and even those who have eloquence in these verses. He's giving us qualities to aspire to, isn't he? I was particularly drawn to verse 24, though. Matthew Henry's commentary pointed me back to the writings (or singing, if I may) of his dad, King David, in the Psalms.

I believe Henry is correct in his assessment --- what other words could be any sweeter for us, than the words of the Lord? We can find words of instruction, of advice, and of comfort there.  In Psalm 119:103 David exclaims, " How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"   And in Psalm 19:10, he adds, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

Indeed, His words are pleasant, and wholesome, and sweet to our souls. Are we hungry for His word? Are we thirsty? When we read His words, do we relish them, for what they can bring to our inner woman?  We know that our bones are what give our bodies strength, and here David is saying that the word of God is our spiritual strength, and will heal our weaknesses.

David and Solomon would not have recognized the granulated sweetener that we use today, but they knew honey to be a valuable and precious sweetening agent in their day.  We know with our minds that God's words are precious, but do we know it with our hearts, as well?  In your journal today, take a moment to write down some ways that God's words have helped you in the past few days. And going forward, add some notes to that page as new events happen, and cause you to cherish His words.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Prov. 16 : 17 - 19 Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar

Pro 16:17  The highway of the upright is to depart from evil:, he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
Pro 16:18  Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pro 16:19  Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

(Finger waggling in front of your nose) "Pride goeth before a fall, you know."

How many times did your mom or grandmom say that to you? I know I heard it sometimes when I was little, and I would be strutting around, all full of myself and my own importance!  They may have shortened the verse, but they had their eyes on the scripture as they admonished us! I am sometimes amazed at the wonderful way that our guidebook, the Bible, shows us examples of people who have lived out some of the good, bad, and ugly things that it (God's word) tells us about. I'd like to examine three of these today, and then ask for your input when we're done.

I've pulled three for us to consider. These three bad boys of the Bible were what I'd call "textbook examples" of pride, arrogance, and haughty attitudes. But they got theirs . . .

Pharaoh was annoyed and insulted when a lowly sheep herder came before him and told him God wanted Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go. What was the Hebrew God to Pharaoh? He had no knowledge of Him until now, and the more that Moses demanded he act, the more obstinate and proud Pharaoh became.  I imagine that Moses' presence in the magnificent court of Pharaoh was a nuisance, and agitated the ruler mightily! Pharaoh was a proud, vain man, and even though he seemed to relent after each plague, he hardened his heart when the plagues were lifted. Finally, when he led his army after the Hebrew nation as they left Egypt, God intervened and destroyed him and his army.

Sennacherib is someone that you might have to dig a little to find . . . you don't hear many sermons on this black-hearted guy! It's an amazing story, but I'm going to be sneaky and not tell you where to find it --- I want you to search out and enjoy the tale! Sennacherib was an Assyrian monarch who had been capturing cities right and left in Judah. King Hezekiah offered tribute (usually money and other valuables) trying to entice the Assyrian into stopping his attacks -- he was poised to pounce on Jerusalem. Sennacherib accepted the tribute and then sent three of his top dogs to intimidate King Hezekiah into surrendering anyway! King Hezekiah made up his mind to seek God, and to do the things necessary to restore the nation's relationship with their God. The citizens of Jerusalem followed Hezekiah's leadership, and not one arrow was loosed toward their city! In fact, 185,000 of the Assyrians were wiped out in the dark of the night, and Sennacherib fled in terror.

Nebuchadnezzar may be more familiar to us (especially those of us who have enjoyed VeggieTales with our kids!) and he's another good example of the perils of pride. God had tried to bring the king to Himself, through Daniel and others, but Nebuchadnezzar had resisted. In the fourth chapter of Daniel we see him enjoying a walk on the palace roof, admiring all that HE had done, and the wealth that HE had amassed, and the majesty that HE was living in . . . he never gave honor to God, who had blessed him so abundantly. Check out the rest of chapter four to see how God humbled him, and then ultimately restored him, when he repented and asked.

I know this has been a lengthy study, but I'd like to encourage you to read these passages on your own, and meditate on them. I think we can learn a lot, and grow in Christ. I'd also like to get you to stretch your study time a little --- find another example in the Bible. I'm going to make it easier on you . . . you can comment on a prideful person you found, or you can choose to comment on an humble one. Let's dig in!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prov. 16 : 16 A Whole Lot Better!

In this world of internet communications, we often find the letters and symbols inadequate to show our feelings --- it's not the same as a face to face conversation, is it?  We find ourselves wanting to give emphasis, to remind our reader that something is humorous, or even to make certain that we are not misunderstood or hurt another person's feelings.

We find ourselves using acronyms (ROFL, OMG, BTW, etc), happy faces, smilies, and exclamation points! We want to be sure that our reader understands just what we mean.

This is actually not a new problem --- Solomon had this issue, too. Want to know how I know this? Let's examine our verse for today:
Pro 16:16  How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
There are two special ways that Solomon used here, to get our attention. First, he is changing how he says this . . . in other verses he has said "it is better to" and then gone on. This time he is speaking with assurance, even amazement: HOW MUCH better it is. He's saying to us, "It's like night and day - the difference here. It really is SO much better!"  And he emphasizes it so much, that there are exclamation points there . . . look familiar?  He's saying that heavenly wisdom is ever so much better than worldly knowledge and wealth.

When we want heavenly wisdom, we have to start at the beginning . . . seeking God and His grace --- that Plan that was put into place long before we were around. Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
      Grace is more valuable than gold. Grace is the gift of God's peculiar favour; gold only of common providence. Grace is for ourselves; gold for others. Grace is for the soul and eternity; gold only for the body and time. Grace will stand us in stead in a dying hour, when gold will do us no good.

I'm so glad that I will have grace, instead of gold, to cling to when I leave this earth! How much better that will be!  How about you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prov 16 : 10 - 15 Great or Small

Pro 16:10  A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
Pro 16:11  A just weight and balance are the LORD's: all the weights of the bag are his work.

Pro 16:12  It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
Pro 16:13  Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.
Pro 16:14  The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.
Pro 16:15  In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain.

Wow! What a great week of study we had last week with Tonya! I hope that this week will continue our progress . . . there's a lot here, so let's get started!

My title is "Great and Small" because these verses focus on those who are in authority -- kings (who ruled the land) and magistrates (who ruled in matters of weights and balances, ensuring against fraud). But these verses have a lot to say to us, even though we may consider ourselves "small" and not having the authority that the kings and magistrates had.

Verse 10 is not all inclusive --- by that I mean that not every king would not have been an example of this verse. Solomon is saying that if the king will be just, and rule in the fear of the Lord, and seek direction from Him, then He can favor them with grace and wisdom above all others, as He did Solomon.  Solomon then notes that public justice is something that God pays attention to. He is not, as some believe, a God who set the universe into motion, and then walked away; He is actively at work, even today.
The next four verses speak about the character of a good king --- he not only "plays fair" and is just, but it is an "abomination" for him to do otherwise. That's a really strong word - he will abhor, despise, oppose it with every fiber of his being.  In verse 14 and 15, Solomon illustrates the absolute power of kings -- if they were happy, others were happy. If they were angry, others were quaking in their sandals.

Can you imagine just how easy it would be, with that kind of power, to become arrogant? To be prideful? But Solomon's advice in other verses has been to seek wisdom, and to remain humble.

President Theodore Roosevelt and a dear friend engaged in a nighttime ritual to keep themselves humble. After an evening of conversation they would go outside on a clear night, and search the skies until one or the other found a faint speck of light-mist in a certain spot in the sky. Then the one who spotted it, would recite: "That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. That speck is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of a hundred billion suns, and each of them is larger than our own sun." Then the speaker would exclaim, "Now that we have our perspective, let's call it a day!" Pride is the constant enemy of the Christian, just as Solomon was noting that it could be the enemy of a good and righteous king. We need to keep alert to the sin or pride, so that we can reject Satan's suggestions of "how important" we are, how much "better" we are than others, and how "great" our achievements are. Whatever we have, and whatever we are, is by God's grace. Let's get in the habit of thanking Him for that!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

P.P. Questions week 7

1) Hopeful now joins Christian and they enter into a 'brotherly covenant'. What do you think this covenant was?

2)By-ends tries to go two ways at once. Which ways, and why is that impossible? Do you know a Bible verse to go with this answer?

3) By-ends says that he differs in two small points in religion from those of the stricter sort. What are the two small points, and how do Christians with this same philosophy act today?

4) How does By-ends reveal his hypocritical character when he tells Christian and Hopeful how he got his nickname?

5) Christian and Hopeful forsake By-ends. Three men are his new companions; they had been schoolfellows. Have you ever met a graduate from the same school?

6) What four types of people does Christian say will believe the argument By-ends and his companions used?

7) Christian summarizes with a 5th point. What is his summary in your own words?

8)Who was Demas in the Bible? What does Demas invite them to do and why does Christian refuse?

9)Who was Demas' great-grandfather and father? What was their fate? (2 Kings 5:20)

10) What do Christian and Hopeful see on the other side of the plain?

11) After a pleasant interlude by the river of God, Christian and Hopeful set out on their pilgrimage again. The river and the Way part. Why do they wish for a better way? How do they illustrate Proverbs 14:12?

12) How do Christian and Hopeful escape the Giant Despair? Have you ever escaped the giant Despair using the same means?

Remember, no need to answer here. These are just to give you something to think about as you reread the assignment this week.

Friday, January 20, 2012

But my plans failed!

Monday- We cleaned house.
Tuesday- We made plans and committed them to God.
Wednesday- We purged.
Thursday- We worked towards our Ultimate Purpose.

Before we begin today's passage take a moment to read back through Proverbs 16: 1-7 and think about each step to having a good, purposeful, committed, well planned day.

So here you are, you planned out your day. You committed it to God. You made sure that sins were confessed so that you could become more intimate with God so that you could work towards the ultimate purpose of pleasing God...but your plans just did not work out.

Perhaps your husband got laid off. You got sick. There was a death of someone very close to you. The car broke down. What happened? You did everything you were supposed to do!

Read Proverbs 16: 8-9 now. Whoa, hold up...what did verse 9 say? Basically it says that even though you made your plans...which is a good thing by the way, nothing wrong with making plans...what ultimately happens is up to God.

Look up James 4:13-17.

These weekend, make your plans. Seek God's will. And when things don't go your way, remember God is in charge. Submit to His authority. And realize that even when something tragic, something so terrible happens that you just can't understand why, that God knows. He knows what is best. It's in His plan. Trust in Him.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Ultimate Purpose

After spending the first half of week cleaning house, today lets do some action. Let's take our cleaned out, purged out, committed  plans and bring some purpose to them today.

So, what is your Ultimate Purpose each day? When you start out, and make those plans..at the end of the day, you sit down, think it over, what would make you say, "Now this was a good day!"

Want a hint? Read Proverbs 16:7. Did you get it? Our Ultimate Purpose--is to Please the Lord.

Flip to the New Testament and read John 8:29. This is Jesus talking about Himself. He says that He was close to God the Father (while living as a man on earth) because He lived a life that was pleasing to God.

We all want intimacy with God. I mean, that is why we are doing this study, correct? And to cultivate that intimacy we need to do what is pleasing to Him.

Let's look at it from another point of view. Consider your spouse. You can do the everyday things. The every day tasks that a wife should do. But how do you really make an intimate relationship? You do extra things to please him. You cook his favorite meal on his birthday. You tuck a love note into his lunch box. You clean the house spotless, hire a sitter, light some candles and get dressed up all pretty for a special intimate date night at home. What are you doing? Things to please your spouse.

Don't just try to get by in your relationship with God. Work on pleasing Him so that you can become more intimate with Him!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Deeper Clean

I will admit it. I have 'rushed' cleaned my house on more than one occasion. You know what I mean--that kind of cleaning where you make it look all good and sparkly on the surface, but you've got dirty dishes crammed in the oven (you can always order out pizza if they get hungry), piles of laundry stuffed onto the closet floor and you pray that your guests don't sneak a peek under your bed.

Often in our Christian walk we do that very thing as well. We surface clean, but then we take all the extra stuff and we hide it away, thinking that if no one sees, then no one knows. When we all know good and well that God knows. So, let's do some deeper cleaning today.

Read Proverbs 16:4-6.
We are really going to use verse 6 as our focus verse.

When you use a skillet to fry up some eggs, you have to clean that skillet, don't you? It has to be cleaned before it can be used again for it's purpose...to cook up the next meal. The same with you. When you sin, then you have to be cleaned up again before God can use you for His plans and Purposes. (and we recall from yesterday that we certainly want to commit to following His purpose.)

Verse 6 gives two things are required for your sins to be atoned for.
!) Truth--admit it. Confess it. (Now might be a good time to review 1 John 1:9) This is what is required of you.
2) Mercy or lovingkindness. If we confess, God forgives us.

Most of us know and believe and have confessed our sins to God and the Blood of Christ has purified us. But continual, purposeful sin still can stand between you and God. Daily purging of that sin is required. The end of verse 6 discusses how to keep from getting ourselves all filthy again. We've discussed it before. What do we need to do?

Please don't answer here. I'd like people to be curious to look it up on their own.

Today, BEFORE you plan your day, BEFORE you commit it to God...then spend some time deep cleaning. Purge yourself of those hidden sins. And I bet--you'll have a better day than you even did yesterday. Let me know!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plan and Commit

Yesterday was a day of fresh starts. But wait a minute... hop over and read Lamentations 3:23. This is a good verse to make into a sign and post in your bathroom. In fact, I might just make it into a May for Me project for those of you that are quilters (over on that other blog)..how about that?

Anyway, you are starting over again. Right here. Right now. So...before you begin anything, whether it be a new day, or a project, or a new task what do you do? PLAN it. Well, at least it works out best when you do. And then when you PLAN your day (project, task), you usually COMMIT to get done what you planned. Everyone agree?

Today's Proverbs passage is Proverbs 16:1-3. Take a moment to read that.

If we really take the time to commit the things that we do to God, then we will be letting Him be at work through our thoughts and plans. And if He as it work in them, then we will be secure that we are going in the right direction.

Let's look at a Biblical example. Flip in your Bibles to Ezra 8 and read verses 21-23. What did Ezra do? He just dropped down on the ground right there and prayed not only for his direction but for who else? And how did it turn out for Ezra? You can find the answer in vs 31 of the same chapter.

Spend some time planning your day; and then Commit it to God. I am sure that you will have a good day if you do. Come back late tonight and tell us how your day went.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fresh Start Monday

I like Mondays. I really do. It is kind of a day for new beginnings, freshening things up and starting the week off right. I like to clean house on Mondays. It's a day for airing out your laundry and cleaning things up.

So, let's do just that. 
Has your Bible study time become mundane?
Are you just reading a devotional--and figure that's your time with God?
If so...I bet you have wondered away without barely a look in this direction every day.

Let's get a fresh start. Let's STUDY our Bibles again. 
Not just read a verse and move on. 

Please, set some serious God time aside today. Even if it doesn't fit into your schedule.
I am sure that you will find it blesses you more than sewing a few stitches or reading a dozen blogs.

Dig out your journal...or if you need to get excited about Bible study again...buy/make a new one!
(even a new spiral notebook is nice. and cheap.)

Consider adding the following sections to your notebook/journal:

1) Prayer. ACTS. (See the page up at the top right that says "How to Pray" for suggestions.)

2) Personal study notes.

3) Sunday Sermon notes--you'll listen better if you take notes.

4) Verses to commit to memory/ special verses.

5) Accountability page--(The page where you keep track of your boo boo's. This is a good page to update at night before prayer and bed.)

6) Prayer to God (unlike keeping a tally of things in number 1, this is a personal letter to God.)

7) Pilgrim's Progress. (or any other book/study you are in.) 

Today's Passage? Finish up Proverbs 15. (We left off on verse 31 I believe, but I would just read all of 15 again if it were me.)

And have a fresh Monday!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

P.P. Discussion Week 6

Sometimes I ask questions to spur your memory, and just give you food for thought. When the answers are quite obvious (such as number 1) I will not answer them here. Here are the answers to last weeks questions:

2) Evangelists instruction reminds us that we are not to find satisfaction and rest in this world. Rather we are to be steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, watchful over our hearts, and abound in the work of the Lord.

3 and 4) My study guide spends 4 pages on these questions alone!  There is no way that I could list all the sins and discuss each one. So, rather I will quote from Spurgeon...

 "The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is most heat nearest to the sun, to there is the most happiness nearest to Christ. No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on vanity. I do not blame ungodly men for rushing to their pleasures. Let them have their fill. That is all they have to enjoy, but Christians must seek their delights in a higher sphere than the insipid frivolities of the world. Vain pursuits are dangerous to renewed souls." 

5) There are several reasons Christian and Faithful caused the town to be in a hubbub. They were wearing Christ's robes of righteousness--so they looked different. The used spiritual conversation--so they spoke differently. And they could care less about the wares of the fair. They sought truth.

6 & 7) Bunyan knew persecution.(Remember he wrote this book while in prison.) Though Christian and Faithful were beaten and despised, they did not lose heart. Quoting Luther, "Joy in the Lord is more injurious to Satan's empire than anything. Come, let us sing a psalm and spite the devil."

9) I want to comment a bit about each witness. "Envy" is the very disposition of the Devil and very much a part of our own fallen nature. Witness 2, "Superstition" is one who rests in rituals but does not worship God in spirit and truth. "Pickthank" is a man who has no religious principles but will assume the garb of whatever party best suits his interests.

10) " By the death of Faithful, many were affected by that testimony, whose hearts might otherwise have remained hardened to the end of life." --Cheever.

As my guide says, "Oh that we would also be convicted of the same crimes as those Faithful committed and receive a verdict such is as worthy of true pilgrims."


Next week's reading assignment:
Moody in Today's English: pp 99-118
Revel Spire: 90-110

Friday, January 13, 2012

A pause that refreshes . . .

Today I thought it might be nice to just pause for a moment, and ponder some verses that might refresh our minds and souls . . .

I hope that these verses have provided comfort and cheer to those who needed it, and for those who are happy, I hope the verses helped you put words to your rejoicing!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Proverbs 15 : 30 - 31 Eyes and Ears

Pro 15:30  The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
Pro 15:31  The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.

Matthew Henry's commentary says that consideration of this verse (30) should make us appreciate our eyesight. I know that is what I thought of when I read it.  But that might be since for the last two weeks we've been concerned about the eyesight of one in our family. At her age you would expect to have less than perfect vision, but the prospect of a more sudden (and complete) loss is really pretty frightening. (We are grateful to God that the MRI was completely normal, and all is well.)

Truly, it is a blessing for us to see and enjoy the creative works of God, and all of the beauty that surrounds us. But I was really captivated by one of the meanings of "light" in the verse --- it also means cheerfulness! Go figure: the wealthiest man in the world, King Solomon, was commenting that a bright and cheerful look in the eyes or countenance could rejoice the heart! And I bet he knew what he was talking about --- he was probably surrounded by dour faces all day long, full of anxiety and "doom and gloom" conversations. Put that together with the second half of the verse, and I think he was saying that a good report, or positive words, can . . . oh, wait a minute. What was that he said? Make the bones fat? Hmmm. Now I know that I'm chubbier than I'd like, but that is not my bones -- those are hidden. Back to the study notes . . . ah, here it is! It gives a hidden, or private pleasure, and it strengthens, as well. Now that makes sense. A positive comment (a good report) can give pleasure - not the laughing, slap on the back kind, but the quiet smile and inner contentment kind -- and can strengthen the one who hears.

Now, about those ears. I know we have covered this idea before, of hearing reproof, and loving the reprover; and of being wise enough to listen to the reproof and change our ways. I think this one line from Henry's commentary on this verse said it all for me:

"Those that learn well, and obey well, are likely in time to teach well and rule well."

'Nuff said? I thought so, too.  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Proverbs 15:28-29 . . . So, who moved?

Pro 15:28  The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Pro 15:29  The LORD is far from the wicked:,  but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Our first verse reminds us of the fact that if we govern our tongues, we prove ourselves to be wise. When we are convinced that we will give an accounting of our thoughts and our words, then we will surely be careful to speak the truth, and to speak in such a way as to help, and not harm, others. So, in our heart we will study, or ponder, before we answer. Remember Nehemiah? He served King Artaxerxes, and when the king asked him why he looked sad, and what he would request, he didn't just blurt out the first thing that he thought of . . . he prayed before he answered the king. (You can check it out in the second chapter of Nehemiah.) I guess that's a pretty good example of a wise way to answer!

Verse 29 tells us that the "Lord is far from the wicked."  Hmmm, do you remember this old saying --- If you are not as close to God as you used to be, who moved?

The wicked will find all kinds of ways to shove God out of their lives . . . it's just as if they looked Him in the face and said, "Go away! Depart!" People who find a relationship with God a nuisance, or an embarrassment, will shut Him out of their lives entirely. Don't mention Him around them; don't talk about His blessings, or an answer to prayer. Don't pray around them, either. When a person is that defiant, God will distance Himself from them. Their wickedness and sin will cause a great divide between them, and holy God. But what a gift -- His mercy provides for them to be restored, through repentance, and faith in Christ!
The second half of verse 29 is a precious promise for those of us who are Christians: He hears our prayers. This is one of many times that we are assured of this. If our heart is pure, and we are seeking Him, He will hear our prayers and be delighted by them. We can cling to this fact, and wait on His answer, in His time. I know that I sometimes have trouble with the waiting -- with the answer coming in His time. I want it to come in my timing! Anybody else struggle with that?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Proverbs 15:27 Let's make a distinction here . . .

Pro 15:27  He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

What? Did that set you back on your heels for a minute?  "Hateth gifts"??

OK, let's make a distinction here . . . "hateth gifts" is NOT talking about rejecting all those nice presents that you received at Christmas-time!

In fact, the words here are very different, and have to do with bribery, and being greedy of gain --- so greedy that one is willing to do very dishonest things to get it!

Let's look at the meaning of some of the words. I think that "greedy of gain" is pretty self-explanatory; this person will become a slave to the desire to "get ahead" and will fret and scheme to accumulate more and more of the material things of this world. Always in pursuit mode, this person will cause vexation and quarrels even with his (or her) own family, and will resort to dishonest means of getting wealth.

The word in this verse that is translated "gifts" is sometimes used to mean a sacrificial offering (that's good) and other times to mean a bribe (that's bad). So a person who "hateth gifts" (bribes) is the opposite of the greedy person - this person will be willing to use his material blessings to do good. This is the person who will "live" --- not troubling his house, but enjoying the comfort of the necessary things, and possibly the blessings of additional wealth, the comfort of a happy family, and always the security of a close walk with God.

Now that we've made the distinction, and ferreted out the meaning of the verse, shall we make an application to all of our lives? Do we want to have more than enough? Why should we want to have more than enough? It is very easy to fall into the trap of always wanting more...for Christians, there is one very good reason to have more than just enough to live: when God grants us more than we need, He's giving us the opportunity to help others. It's a gift --- a chance to put His love into action through our stewardship of His blessings! That's not to say that we should give every penny away, after we pay our bills and make a trip to the grocery store. Wise stewardship means that we do put some away for the future, but if God lays it on our heart to help someone, we need to listen, and we need to cheerfully give.

I think this sums it up --- this is Paul, writing to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:8 - 11 - But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

Please, Lord, when I see someone who is truly in need, please open my hand --- open both of my hands, and I will give cheerfully in your name, and thank You that I can!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Proverbs 15: 26 How's your thought life?

Pro 15:26  The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.

We've had several occasions, as we have studied in Proverbs, to be reminded of our speech, and attitudes toward others. This verse is pointing out something a little more subtle.

In my studies, I've come to believe that to God, our thoughts and our words are one and the same. I don't believe that we have to speak an insult or a slander aloud --- it is just the same as if we said it to that person, instead of about them.  We have proofs in the Bible that God knows our hearts, and knows our thoughts. He has always been especially concerned with what goes on in our hearts and minds. And He knows what is going on there!
Here is an example . . . In Matthew 9:4 we read:  And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  
Here is another verse . . .  I Sam. 16:7  reads, “For Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.”
Solomon says in the twenty-third chapter of Proverbs (we'll get to this in time) that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7)

Matthew Henry notes that, "The thoughts of wicked men, for the most part, are such as God hates, and are an offence to him, who not only knows the heart and all that passes and repasses there, but requires the innermost and uppermost place in it."  
Solomon's father, David, was a man "after God's own heart." And I think this is why --- in spite of his sins and his shortcomings, David yearned for the righteousness that pleases God. Listen to his words in the Psalms:  "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." (Psa 19:14)

The words of the pure are pleasant words . . . God has purified our hearts when He saves us, and makes us to be born again. We can choose to be honest, sincere, pleasant, and cheerful. Let's ask the Spirit each day, to help our words and our thoughts be pure, and pleasant.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

P.P. Questions week 6

1)Christian now meets up with Evangelist for the 3rd time. Recall what happened the first and second time that he met with him.

2) Evangelist asks Christian and Faithful two questions. What are they and what do you learn about Evangelist from these questions?

3) Bunyan describes the merchandise sold at Vanity Fair by listing many items. What are some of them and what  type of sin do they represent?

4) How are Christians today caught up in these same types of sin?

5) Why were the people in the town of Vanity moved and in a hubbub when Christian and Faithful entered?

6) How did Christian and Faithful respond to their persecution? What were the responses of the men of Vanity Fair to this?

7) When Christian and Faithful were in a cage, how did they comfort each other?

8) What are some comments made by Judge Hate-Good that indicate that his name is appropriate?

9) After reading the names of the jurors, what did you think the verdict would be for Faithful?

10) How is Faithful the real victor in this situation?

There is no need to answer these questions here. They are just for personal reflection. On the other hand, if anything stood out to you that you would like to share, or have a question about feel free to discuss! You have a week to think on these. I'll post the answers next Saturday.


Friday, January 6, 2012

25 The LORD will tear down the house of the proud, 
But He will establish the boundary of the widow. 

"Pride is the ruin of multitudes"--Matthew Henry's commentary.
Boy, isn't that the truth? Multitudes of families, friendships, churches, nations. We have visited the subject of pride so many times, but I think it always deserves a re-visit. We need thumped on the head time after time. 

The pride will fall. We know that. We are also re-assured in this verse that God takes care of the afflicted.

I am keeping my words short this morning because I would like us to do a little exercise. Grab your journal and spend some time in prayer. Then start a mistake page for 2012. Yep, keep track of every time you mess up. Why? Well, I think that when we mess up and keep a tally of it maybe we will notice a trend of things. Patterns to pray over and work on changing. In fact, you could go a step farther and make a little system of symbols to put beside each mistake. For example, maybe a circled "P" would mean that you sinned because of PRIDE, a boxed L could be the sin of lust (there are many several kinds of lust, you may want to be more specific.) Make symbols that work for you in your life.

In the coming months I don't expect this little exercise to be fun, because I hoping it steps on our toes. But, I pray that we will all learn from it and that self accountability will help us grow in Christ.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Proverbs 15:24

24 The path of life leads upward for the wise 
That he may keep away from [r]Sheol below. 

When I read this verse I can't help but be reminded of the journey of Christian in the book Pilgrim's Progress. This is a New Year. A time of new beginnings. How about instead of making resolutions...just maybe focus on staying on the path of life without straying to and fro. We are all bound to trip up once in a while but if we keep our focus where it should be then we will find that instead of hard falls we just have little stumbles. 

I did want to point out one thing. Where did that path lead? UPWARD. I used to hike. Alot. Every morning I would get up around 3 or 4 a.m. and go hiking before the kids awoke. (before Stephen came along). Oh how I miss those morning times with my God in His creation--ah but I've let my mind wander. Even though I used to hike all of the time; and I will tell you that I pushed myself, there never was a hill that wasn't hard to climb. On the other hand, I've never climbed a hill/mountain without feeling total joy when reaching the top.

What things can you change spiritually so that your focus will stay on the upward path?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Proverbs 15:21-23

Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.
Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.
A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.

Don't be stupid. That's what these verses say in modern Tonya translation.

Have you ever known someone that just does foolish things, and thinks it is funny? Now sometimes(alot) I do stupid things. And often I just laugh them off. But I don't think verse 21 is talking about the simple day to day things that we do and then we think, "Why did I just do that?!" If you will think back to previous verses about fools and foolishness for a moment you will remember that King Solomon often refers to those that don't follow the path to God as fools. Many many people reject God and his teachings. THAT is just...what's the word I'm looking for....Stupid. 

Ok, since we know that those of us reading this are trying to follow God's teachings, let's look at verse 22. Have you ever full-speed-ahead just did something without thinking? And the result? Or..how about the opposite. Worried and fretted and worried and fretted, then made the wrong decision anyway? There is nothing wrong for asking the opinion of others. Especially others that 'have been there'. 

On the opposite note, that is why we are supposed to be friendly one to another, and lovingly listen and prayerfully give council when asked. God has brought us through many trials and tribulations. Hopefully we have learned from them and can share with others what we have learned. Verse 23 is telling us that giving good counsel to someone spreads joy around. 

What is a recent trial that you learned from? (rhetorical) Today write down some things you have learned and then pray that God will help you to remember what you've learned so that you won't make the same mistakes and can offer counsel to others. Also, if you need help with a decision, pray about who you should go and talk to with help about that decision. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Proverbs 15:20

A wise man makes a father glad; but a foolish man despises his mother.

Am I right in thinking that when most of us read the above passage our mind goes immediately to our children; or do you think about your parents? Many of us have already lost a parent or both and most of us have grown children; so, at least for me, when I read a verse about the relationships between parents and children, my mind always puts myself into the parenting role.

This verse is obviously written to the child (even grown children); but I still think much of it goes back to parenting. My grown children and I have discussed on numerous occasions that I am the stronger disciplinarian. (They do not share the same father as Stephen.) I am more strict on what I allow them to do, the amount of respect that they have to show for me and the amount that I require of them. YET, in spite of that, I am the parent that they are closest to emotionally. I think it is our job as parents to make it so that our children WANT to make us glad. It is our job to make our children NOT despise us. And being 'a cool parent-friend' doesn't do the trick.

Does that mean that our children will always do what they were supposed to do when they grow up? Nope. All of us that are in this group that I talk to on a regular basis have 'way-ward' children. Some more wayward than others right now. When they grow old they just might depart from the correct teaching. That is their choice. But, somehow, deep inside if they were reared correctly, something tells me that they don't despise you. They probably respect you--but are too stubborn to show it.

Today, if your parents are still living, perhaps you could go out of your way to bring a smile to their face. Just do something out of the blue. Then you could do the same for your children. And especially, pray for them. Always. Without ceasing.