Friday, June 29, 2012

Prov. 23:4-5 Like chasing seagulls

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
    do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
    for they will surely sprout wings
    and fly off to the sky like an eagle. 

It always made me smile to see kids at the beach when they first see a flock of gulls. Toddlers generally think that these are really nice birds and they want to get closer to them - maybe even pet them. After all, Fido is a nice dog, and he likes it when we pet him, right? The birds must be aching to be patted.
So they scamper up to the flock, only to see them rise and fly a few feet, then settle down again, further away.  Toddler pauses, surveys the situation, and takes off again. Over and over the scenario is repeated, and the only thing that is really happening is that the child is getting tired - wearing himself or herself out.

Solomon is cautioning his son about riches -- or rather, about the pursuit of them.  He's saying that you'll wear yourself out working to get rich . . . and the more you have, the more you will want. It will be as if the riches were birds, and they flew away, leaving you wanting more.

He's also saying that riches are temporary. In these days of unsettling economic news, you can be rich one moment, and lose it in the next moment. Just like those seagulls, your wealth can be a fleeting thing.

Is Solomon saying that we should not be wealthy? No. Is he saying that we should avoid making the getting of wealth our primary focus, and avoid wearing ourselves out striving for more? Yes!

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."  (Matt 6:33)
Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Proverbs 23: 1-3, 6-8 Watching what you eat - not what they eat

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,

2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

3 Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.

6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
do not crave his delicacies;

7 for he is the kind of person
who is always thinking about the cost.
"Eat and drink," he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.

8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten
and will have wasted your compliments.

Sometimes we need to start with the context of a verse or section of verses. At first glance we see that as a king in ancient times, Solomon was advising his son on good behavior, or etiquette, when dining. We'll see later that it was more than just an etiquette lesson, but first let's look at the surface of these verses.

Anyone besides me remember the classic movie, Ben Hur? (I liked the book better, just sayin'!) Do you recall the scene where Judah is in the tent of the rich Bedouin, enjoying a sumptuous feast? My kiddos always rolled with laughter when Judah was expected to belch AGAIN. After all, one belch meant the meal was absolutely no good, and he didn't enjoy it - and his host would have been so insulted! (For those of you who haven't seen the movie, he was able to get out one more and avoid embarrassment.)
I think we can agree that some of the customs of that day seem strange to us, and there were probably other "rules" that were to be followed when dining with a king or an important man. So, on the surface, Solomon is reminding his son to "mind his P's and Q's" at dinner.

Since he is encouraging moderation and temperance in the sight of "dainties" I think that we can safely apply this to our lives as well . . . it's best for us to refrain from eating to excess, and it's also good to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies --- we're told that they are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and we need to keep them in good working order!

The second group of verses tells us about a host who is ungracious; perhaps he is a miser, and so to entertain others will use up his precious monies, and he, thinking only of the cost, begrudges them the dainties.  Solomon has already told us that it's better to have a simple meal of herbs -- than to dine where there is no true welcome, no loving companionship.

That brings me to my last point for today --- as Christians, perhaps we should give good attention to our own attitude: are we hospitable? Are we gracious and generous, when we invite others to partake of the blessings on our table?
I was talking to a friend about their church, and they told me of a conflict over this very issue.  Many of their members were whole-heartedly supporting  (with time and money) an effort to provide food and meals to families and individuals "within the shadow of the steeple." One or two members, however, were very vocal about their concern: that the meals might have been taken to someone who actually had money to purchase food, but may have squandered it on other things; even for illegal things.  I found myself agreeing with my friend, who remarked that the food did give them a chance to speak to, and witness to, these people --- they might not have any other way of reaching out to them, so why begrudge them the food?  It would seem to be a better choice to be gracious in giving, and to witness to them about our Father.
After all, Jesus told us that if we offered food or drink in His name, it is as if we did it for Him. (Matthew 25)

I think I will try to watch what I eat -- but not watch (keep track of) what "they" eat!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prayer is so vital

I just really felt like the Lord was telling me to devote this day's study to prayer.  Here in the South, Wednesdays are often "prayer meeting" days for many of the churches. Folks meet and sing some hymns, and then there is a time that they can voice their requests for prayer.

Sometimes a request is shared, that has a name you can hang your hat on. A sickness, some grief, a decision that needs to be made.
Sometimes a request can be so personal - so much a matter between that person and God, that it is voiced simply as an "unspoken" request.

All of us are sisters in Christ, and can help to "bear one another's burdens" by seeking the Lord in prayer, and lifting up the requests that we are aware of. When Tonya started this study blog, she wrote a page called "How to Pray" that can be found on the list on the right-hand side of the main page. Click there and read her thoughts on prayer, and the guidelines that she listed --- the ACTS reminders for our prayer time.

I'd like to offer some verses about prayer. I'm sure they are familiar to you:
Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing. in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.

And as I alluded to earlier, in Galations 6:2, Paul reminds us to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

We can learn from Christ's example: Luke tells us that Jesus went away to the mountain to spend all night in prayer.

I hope you will set aside a few moments today, perhaps now, perhaps later.  Clear your mind of all distractions, and begin by telling the Lord of your adoration of Him. Don't worry if you can't find just the right words --- Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us when we can't say what we want to say to Him.
Continue by confessing your sin -- your prayers can't be effective if you are holding on to some sin that would distance you from Jesus.
Thank Him for His mercy, His grace, and His love for you. Step out in faith, and thank Him for the answers that He will provide for you.
Then ask Him your specific requests. Pour out your heart to God, and let His peace fill you.  Claim the promise of I John 5: 14-15:
And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

Please contact me by email if you have a request that you would like for us to pray for. Or leave me a comment asking me to follow up with you -- I will, and I will post your request on the Prayer page of this blog. Also check the Prayer Request page, and if a request is out of date, please let me know so that I can keep the page up to date for all of us.
Prayer is so vital. We can be prayer warriors, and be blessings to each other. We are most powerful on our knees. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Proverbs 22:29 Do you take God with you to work?

29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.

When I read this verse, some other verses about working and giving glory to God popped into my mind; I began to really study. 
Do you think that God really cares what kind of "workmen" we are?  Is our work really important to Him?  Should we act and react in any certain ways in our workplace, because we are Christians? Is this something that we should view as important, whether we work outside or inside the home?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!  (To all four questions, I mean!)

Today I hope you will join me in opening the Bible and searching for some "proofs." It's important to know what we believe, and it is equally important to know why we believe it! You may want to include some of these in your journal if you keep one (and I hope you do!).

First of all, we are called to be excellent workers. It doesn't matter if we are working in our house raising children or grandchildren, making a home, or running a small business. It also doesn't matter if our work is outside the home, in any vocation. We are called.

Check out these verses:
Proverbs 6:6-11 
II Chronicles 31:20-21
Romans 12:11

Secondly, we are representatives of God and His kingdom. Somewhere, sometime, there is someone watching you --- it's up to you to be a good testimony to what God has done for you!
Here are your verses:
Matthew 5:16
Proverbs 10:26
I Thessalonians 4:11-12
I Corinthians 6:20

Lastly --- who are we working for? For God, not for man. Check these out to confirm this fact:
I Corinthians 10:31
Ephesians 6:7-8
Colossians 3:17-25

I know that digging is hard work, but I think the results are great! You never know when one of these verses will come to mind and help you.
We have an awesome opportunity to elevate what we do, from drudgery or commonplace, to something that will glorify Him! He wants to work with us; He wants to bless the work of our hands; and He wants to allow us to bring glory to His name.
This reminds me to look at my work in a different way -- how about you?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Prov 22: 28 Old Fashioned

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
    set up by your ancestors.

In Solomon's day, boundary stones, or large piles of stones, marked the boundaries of a person's land.  They were a dividing line, or a line that marked something extremely important. 

To move a boundary stone was, in effect, stealing someone else's land. And since God divided up the Promised Land for the children of Israel, it was a pretty big deal to start messing around with boundary lines that He set out.

As the generations were born, lived, and died, there may have been some in the land that thought those "old piles of rock" were not important any more.  Kind of reminds me of the way some folks think about Christian values and principles in our day.

I'm old fashioned. How about you? Do you feel that the old "boundary stones" are out of style? Or not?

How about the boundary stone called the Bible? Do we treasure it as the Word of God, and spend time studying it -- or do we feel it is it not as relevant as it needs to be, in this modern world? Do we utilize it to know right and wrong, and believe earnestly in its truths?

How about the boundary stone of our salvation, and faith in Christ? Are we as happy, and as "jazzed up" about His forgiving our sins as we once were? Do we realize that as Christians, we are to be different from the world? Do we make an effort to live lives that will point others to Him, and do we speak a word for Him when we are afforded an opportunity?  Or do we try to push that boundary stone a little further, so something that we want to do, will appear "OK"?

And how about the boundary stone of the God we serve . . . do we believe that He is, and always will be, here for us? Do we believe that He sees all that we do? There may be times that we emphasize the outward, instead of the inward, but most of the time, are we concerned most about pleasing God, or about pleasing men? 

Lastly, what about the boundary stone that Paul called our "hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:7)  Because our heavenly Father reconciled us to Himself through Jesus, how should we then live? Are we, as Jesus said, "laying up treasure" in heaven?  Are we like Paul, and living in this world, with our eyes "on the prize"?

I'm glad for the old-fashioned landmarks and boundary stones, aren't you?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Prov 22:26-27 Money matters

26  Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
    or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
    your very bed will be snatched from under you. 

I've studied this and other verses that relate to it, and I believe that Solomon is cautioning his son (and us) against unwise financial decisions.  Notice that I didn't say that he is telling us all debt is sin. 

Quite frankly, I think that there are times in our lives when we simply must "sign on the dotted line" --- but that can't happen unless there has been a lot of researching and soul searching first!  

We've talked before about the need for good stewardship; we've discussed how we must first decide if a purchase is a "need" or a "want."  We've also discussed how it is wise to research the purchase, from all angles, and make an informed decision.  Lastly, we have discussed how important prayer is, when making a financial decision.

You see, one thing has been impressed upon me in my studies . . . debt is not the sin. It is allowing ourselves to be slaves to that debt that is sinful. In our world, people agonize over their credit scores, and believe that they must be able to continue to purchase and "get more stuff" to keep up with their neighbors. They've lost sight of the peace that comes from being content with what we have.

I once heard a very old country preacher who told a story about a grocer he knew in a small town. This grocer had customers from all walks of life, and from all occupations. Rich and poor, they all needed what he had, since his was the only mercantile for miles around.  The grocer confided in the preacher one day, saying, "I wish I had more customers like Mr. Finney there."  Since Mr. Finney was a notorious moonshiner, the preacher was surprised, and inquired why the grocer should want more customers like him. "Well, he pays me what I ask, and cheerful-like, too. The customers that talk all day about church, and about being Christians; they don't pay their bill till I ask 'em over and over again, and then they act mad when they pay up."

Paul exhorted the New Testament believers to conduct themselves in ways that would not bring reproach on the Gospel.  In Romans 13:7 he said, "Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

Obviously Christians can make mistakes. In those cases, I think that our Lord expects them to simply do their best to pay their debts.  It makes me sad when I hear Christians talk "down" about someone who is struggling to pay their debts, and to do the right thing.  The first thing that enters my mind is that we all have a huge debt. Every one of us. And you know what? We can never, ever repay this one. You know what I mean . . .
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
That debt of grace. That's the one.  And that is what should bind us together in unity. We're all in this together.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prov 22: 24-25 Choosing Carefully

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared. 
What do you think of, when I say the word "friend"?

Does your mind go back to a childhood buddy that shared hours of mud-puddle fun with you? To a teen companion that weathered the turbulent years with you? To a person who is a vital part of your life today?
Friends add so much meaning to our lives. They can bring joy to us, share our problems, and add to our experiencing the world around us. What would we do if great things happened in our lives -- a child graduates, we get a new job, we are honored with an award -- and there was no one to share the news with?
In contrast, what can give you more relief in a time of grief or frustration than talking to a friend? Friends can be mirrors; they can be sounding boards, and they can even be guideposts.
Choosing a friend is not an easy task . . . it is vitally important to be careful when we choose the people who we will associate with. The Assyrians were a nation that Solomon was familiar with, and they repeated an old proverb that said, "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are." Later on in Proverbs (27:17) we'll see that just as "iron sharpens iron," so our friends shape who we are.
Sometimes I wonder as I read certain verses if Solomon was speaking from personal experience. Perhaps he knew someone who was "hot-tempered" and easily angered. Perhaps he had needed to take care, so that he, Solomon, was not greatly influenced by that person, and did not become trapped by that type of behavior.
What can happen to a person easily angered? How can they be "ensnared"? Well, one thing that can happen is that they lash out in their anger and say or do something to hurt other people --- even people that they love. In the moment that their anger is white-hot, they may not even realize what they say, or how they say it. When the tempest subsides, they will need to make amends - if they can.  Secondly, a hot-tempered person can damage their own health. Jumping to conclusions and getting angry raises the blood pressure and sets off chemical reactions within the body. It takes time to repair those damages, too.
It's a fine line that we walk, as Christians. We want to help others, and assist them in discovering Christ and living for Him. At the same time, we need to insure that our friends -- the people we spend the most time with, and the people that we bare our hearts to -- are friends that encourage us to reveal the best within us, not ones that influence us to "learn their ways" and become ensnared in sin.  Good advice from an ancient king.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prov. 22 : 22 - 23 Taking Advantage

For today's verses I like the NIV translation:

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
    and will exact life for life. 

Where's your sense of fair play?

Don't kick him when he's down.

These and other sayings have one thing in common: they are another way of saying, "Don't use your knowledge of someone's faults, shortcomings, or current situation in order to take advantage of them."

We can think of other words instead of "taking advantage". . . exploit is one, and impose is one more.
Some people are awfully, awfully kind. They don't seem to know the way to say "no" when they are asked to do something. They just can't get their lips to form the word.
They are so kind, and they want so badly to cooperate, that they can be pushed into doing things that they don't want to do. Sometimes people will think of them as "pushovers" and sometimes people just don't think . . . they just ask them to do just one more thing. Because they know the answer will be yes.
Do you know someone like that? Is there someone like that in your church? Or in your group, or club?
What should our response be?
What does the second verse say the Lord's response is, to those who exploit or oppress the poor?  Solomon says the Lord will take up their case.  He will stand up for them.  He's "got their back."
Next time you see someone being taken advantage of, perhaps you can stand up for them -- graciously, gently.  You can encourage them to be their own person.
Maybe you can even volunteer for the job they were starting to feel like they needed to do.......

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When their eyes glaze over : Proverbs 22: 17- 21

Pro 22:17  Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
Pro 22:18  For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
Pro 22:19  That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
Pro 22:20  Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
Pro 22:21  That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee? 

Every parent knows it: the peculiar look of a child (young or grown) whose attention has strayed from what the parent is saying.  A blank stare, or eyes that have glazed over, instead of an attentive gaze and listening ears. Sigh. It happens to all of us.

We think we are doing such a super job of dispensing some guidance -- some words of wisdom -- some life experience. And then we realize they are not listening. 

When I read these verses, I wondered if that had happened to Solomon! Verse 17 is almost the equivalent of his reaching out and giving a nudge to his son, his hearer, or even to us. "Pay attention!" he says.  "Don't just hear my words of wisdom, but apply them in your heart.  They will be of benefit to you if you remember them...."
But Solomon isn't conceited: he doesn't say to keep these words because he, the earthly king, is so smart and wonderful. He notes in verse 19 that the result of these words of wisdom should be a deepening of the trust we have in the Lord; we will achieve a closer communion, and we will acquire greater confidence in Him. 
Matthew Henry's commentary says that these words are not like the commands of a master to his servant (those benefit the master) but they are like the commands of a master teacher to his student (intended to benefit the student).
I imagine that before he wrote or spoke verse 20, Solomon may have been thinking about how worthy, weighty, even princely, were the things discussed in the previous writings and proverbs. They were not trivial --- not meant for amusement. They were important, just as we consider our words to our children as being important.
Why? Because we want our children to know of a certainty, that the words we speak to them so earnestly, are the truth (verse 21).  We wish so hard for better things for our children; we wish that we could share the truths that we know, and they might avoid some pitfalls and heartaches....
Just like Solomon wished....
Just like our heavenly Father wishes......

Monday, June 18, 2012

God used a quilt block

I hesitated before using that title --- I suppose I might hear from some of you that think I'm being a little bit sacrilegious....thinking that I'm using a trivial illustration for a mighty God.

I hope not.

I truly believe that God can use the mundane things of life to speak to us; He is all-powerful and all-knowing, and He can choose to use anything He wishes to use, to nudge us when we need it!

Let me tell you what I mean . . .

Some of you may know that I have another blog, and that my "pen name" on that blog is Snoodles, just as it is here.  The story of that name is for another day.  Recently I was preparing a post tailored for rookie quilters; I was hoping to help them avoid some of the pitfalls that I experienced when I got started. I got out several of the blocks that were first on my list -- from when I was a rookie.

It was very obvious that I had a real problem when I first began --- the very first block not only had issues with wrinkles and non-matching corners, but it was also a good bit larger than the next three blocks.  As I looked it over, I remembered what had caused the problem . . . in my excitement to be quilting, I had not read the instructions completely! I had missed a very important note on measuring the little blocks that made up the whole star block. "I scooted ahead without paying attention to the directions," I told myself.

And then it hit me.  Or rather, then God nudged me. "Aren't you about to make the same mistake?" he gently said.  In a rush to make a recent decision, I had not consulted Him. I hadn't even glanced at the instruction book (my Bible) to make sure of His directions.  I assumed that I knew enough to forge ahead.
I took care of that right away.  I remembered two verses that I should have thought of before:
 “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:6)
 “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel; that  will stand” (Prov. 19:21).
The Lord promises to give direction and guidance in our lives. He can use something as simple as a quilt block to remind us.  Is there something that you need to consult him about today? If you have time, leave a comment about something that God used to get your attention.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday's post - A rest upon the way

This has been a pretty intense week of study . . . I feel like I should finish bandaging my own toes and then pass the box along.
I've received instruction this week, and blessings, too. I hope that somehow you have been blessed as well.
In the coming weeks and months there may be times when I will be unable to post every day -- I ask in advance for your understanding and prayers. I will do my best to be with you each day.

I'm not a stick in the mud when it comes to music -- I can appreciate and be moved by the contemporary songs as well as the older ones. I do have special favorites among the old hymns, and I thought I would share this one with you. If you would like to hear a new adaptation of this hymn, I have embedded it below the lyrics.

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Proverbs 22: 12 Am I Faithful?

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

Today we are looking at the final "do" in this group of verses. I believe we should call this one "be faithful."

Solomon tells us that the Lord guards and protects knowledge, and wisdom. Matthew Henry's commentary says that He keeps watch over  the knowledge of Himself and of good and evil, because man is sinful and Satan is scheming.  Henry says that God protects men and women of knowledge, and also those who are faithful witnesses.
II Chronicles 16:9a tells us: " For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him." 
There are many verses in the Bible that encourage us to be faithful. Even in the final book of the Bible, Revelation, we are exhorted to "be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
These studies are not about what I think. I try to make certain that they are about what the Bible says. The Bible instructs us to be faithful in small things as well as "big" things.  Where to start? Well, we need to be faithful in our marriages; we should be faithful in our stewardship; we should try to show faithfulness in our relationships with other Christians and unbelievers alike; and most importantly, we must be faithful in our relationship with God.
How to practice this?
Well, we must start by being faithful when no one is looking.  Make up your mind to be faithful, before the situation arises. And don't forget to ask the Lord to help you!
If you have time, leave a comment that might encourage others, as they try to be faithful Christians.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Proverbs 22: 11 The next of the "do's" for us to consider

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

Today's "do," or something to strive for, is a very tall order. Very tall. There are two things here for us to try to achieve: a pure heart, and speaking with grace.

Let's look at our heart first. How can we have pure hearts? You know the answer here, just as well as I do . . . 
Psalm 51:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Mending it won't work. It has to be created; the sin has to be removed so that the Holy Spirit can dwell with us.  And you and I cannot do it ourselves. Oh, no.  It can only be done by our Father, through salvation, "and that through faith in Christ Jesus" as Paul tells Timothy in II Timothy 3:15.

Here's where the problem comes in --- we all know that our hearts don't stay pure automatically. We can't just set the cruise control, can we? Nope. Psalm 119: 9-16 tells us three things we should do:
                              1. Seek God with all our hearts
                              2. Hide God's word in our hearts 
                              3. Meditate on his Word
See? I told you it was a tall order!
Now let's consider "speaking with grace."
"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Col. 4:6
To speak with grace, we need to have grace in our hearts. And, if we are going to follow Colossians 3:17, we are going to "do all in the name of Jesus," aren't we? Hmmmm, I don't think we can yell at our mate in the name of Jesus.....or fuss at the other driver in the name of Jesus....or be peevish waiting in the grocery store line in the name of Jesus. Maybe we should apply some tests to our speech, to see if we are speaking with grace:
             1. Is it true?
             2. Is it complete, or half the story?
             3. Is it necessary?
             4. Is it kind?
What is the result of fulfilling this tall order? Look at the verse --- it's a promise! The king will be our friend. What king? Which king? The Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings will be our Friend.
What an honor, and what a privilege!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proverbs 22: 8-16 The first of the "do's"

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

We're still visiting a portion of Proverbs chapter 22, and this time we are in a "do" mode, instead of a "don't" one. 

Let's look at verse 9 first: How many, many times did your grandmother or your mother tell you when you were small....."the Lord loves a cheerful giver."  Mine told me a lot. I guess it was because before I was saved, it was difficult to pry those pennies out of my grubby cleaned little hand! Do you know adults that behave that way? 
This isn't just about the financial generosity you might think of at first . . . it's also about the generosity with time, with wisdom, and with talents. Everything that we have, is given to us by our Father, and it is up to us to share with others. Take a peek at Deuteronomy 15:10.  Go ahead --- I'll wait right here.
Hmmmm, "your heart shall not be grieved when you give..."  Sometimes that has been a tough one for me, for even though I strive to show loving-kindness, there has been a time or two when I just chafed at the time it took to help someone. I know that's a huge black eye on my testimony, and I've asked for forgiveness. I really watch for that now.  Give this verse some thought, and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Proverbs 22: 8-16 Some Don'ts and Some Do's

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.
The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.
10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended.
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.
13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
    I’ll be killed in the public square!”
14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
    a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

I know that this will seem like a large portion of Scripture to consider all in one "chunk" but as I studied, they just seemed to really go together. There is a natural break before the next verse, so I concentrated on these verses.
Six of these are things that we should stay away from -- the "don'ts" that I referred to.  Let's look at those first . . . (I'd rather deal with 'em and get 'em out of the about you?)
Verse eight -- Don't be careless with the seed you sow. No matter how hard or how furiously you try to change things, or to repair damages, your repair work will come to naught.  We see this thought in other Scriptures that mention sowing and reaping. What kind of seed are you and I sowing today? What will we harvest?
Verse 10 -- Don't be a mocker, a quarreler, or toss about insults, causing strife.  Do you know the kind of woman that walks into a room and the air fairly crackles with tension?  Are you and I the kind of Christian women "that give grace to them that hear" when we speak? (Eph. 4:29)

Verse 13 -- Don't make excuses for why you can't do something.  (Ouch! I got my own toes on that one . . .)  Solomon gives an almost humorous example here; the slothful man needs to go out into the fields or the market, or to the "gates" where public business was conducted. Instead of getting his work done, he imagines there could be a lion awaiting him, and he'll be killed in the public square! I'll admit that although I usually attack jobs head-on, I sometimes give in to imagining how difficult it might be, or how I might fail at it.
Verse 14 -- Don't give the appearance of wanting the greener grass on the other side of the fence. I found this verse ironic, seeing that Solomon had a real problem with women and their desires for him to worship their idols!  But to bring it home to our day, are we women that talk about how cute the latest movie star looks, or are we women that compliment our husbands, and point out his good traits when we can?  
Verse 15 -- Don't resent discipline from our Father. It is meant to guide and teach us, so that we are not full of "folly" but are fit instruments to do His work.
Verse 16 -- Don't be foolish with what God gives to us.  Solomon's example is of someone who neglects (or even oppresses) the poor, but gives gifts to those who are already rich. Are we women who look carefully at where our gifts to God are going? Do we know that our offerings are being used correctly, to do His work?

Did His Spirit nudge you on any of these verses? Do you need to spend some time with the Lord and ask Him to help you with any of these "don'ts"? I know I found some things I need to work on.
Don't worry --- tomorrow will be more positive . . .  we'll have some do's!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Working behind the scenes

Hi everyone! Snoodles here, and I just wanted to assure you that all is well . . . I'm hoping that you have read Tonya's post and that you'll be joining me in praying for her and for her family.  I know that we will all miss her here at the Study blog, and I think I'll miss her most of all!
I've learned a lot from Tonya, and I am hoping that one day things will smooth out a bit in their lives and she will have time and energy to post here.
I want to ask all of you a very large favor . . . please pray for me as I study and get ready to post more often. With a full time job (hubby and I are self-employed) I am sure that Satan will be "going to and fro" as he told God in the book of Job, and that he'll try his hardest to put obstacles in my way.
I'll be starting back into the book of Proverbs on Monday, so please join me then.
Prayerful hugs,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Warm showers clear thoughts...

Last night it was after 9 p.m. when I finally was able to step foot in the shower. I was uptight and needed the moments of solitude to clear my thoughts and have time alone with my Lord. (Hey a shower is as good as a closet, isn't it? )

I was stressing as normal. Stressing is something that has become routine with me lately. I normally am a very laid back-go-with-the-flow kind of person. But in the last few months things have spiraled out of control--at least it feels that way to me. So, as I started whining a prayer out that I didn't know how I was going to keep going, I hear That Voice. Yes, you know the One. He said, "It's time." My reply...I'm committed for now. His reply, "It's been handled, you know that." My reply, "But what about for me? I do this for me." He said, "What about for them". "Oh, yeah, for them. That would be a very good idea. Ok, Lord. It's time."

Do you do that? Struggle with letting go of things when God says it's time to let go?

If you haven't figured it out, the "It's time to let go" is this study. I emailed Snoodles a couple of weeks ago and let her know that I am giving it up to her after Proverbs; but about an hour ago God told me that the time to let go is now. Starting next week, Snoodles will have full control and I will be removing myself from the blog. I just have to. I was tempted to do some Saturday ponders...because there are so many things that I like to share as I study. But I think that I've decided against that as well.

Oh and the "Them" that God was telling me that I need to focus with on Bible study. That would be my boys. Seth needs it so much right now.

I want to thank each and every one of you for joining this journey with me; and I especially want to thank Snoodles for filling in and taking over.

You are all wonderful Sisters in Christ. I'll miss the fellowship, but I will continue to follow and discuss.

Let's let this rest for the week, (I need the rest, I am sorry.) and Snoodles can pick up when and how she desires.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Proverbs 22:7 Solomon, Shakespeare and Ben Franklin

 It's always interesting to me to see how some Biblical concepts are handed down through the years. In this verse, Solomon is giving advice to his son, and we can listen in and learn.
 Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
 Some years later, Shakespeare wrote these words in Hamlet --- again, it's a father giving wise words to his son:
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be."   Polonius, in Hamlet
Then further along the timeline of this world, we see a sage in Philadelphia, glasses perched on his nose, writing in Poor Richard's Almanac:
"Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor."
Then we come to the Depression era, where my grandma learned this:
 "Use it up, wear it out,
Make it do, or do without."
Is Solomon (and thus the Holy Spirit) telling us it's absolutely, positively wrong to borrow? That to go into debt is sinful?  I may get some argument here, but I don't think that is the case.

I believe that the caution here is to be wise when you do borrow . . . there are not many people in this world that can pay cash for a home. Or walk in and buy a set of wheels with the cash in their pocket (or their bank account, for that matter.)  There are some times that we simply have to do the best we can. I think that being a wise steward of the resources that God has given us, means to examine fine print, to shop for rates, and to make certain that the purchase is something we actually need, not just something that caught our eye and our imagination.

Being a wise steward also will mean that we will make an extra payment when we can, and we will budget wisely. That we'll not be averse to taking a second job, or working at tasks that we may not be in love with. (Yep, I've done that before.) 
There are many references in the Scriptures that condemn usury, or heavy-handed lending practices.  Even the Mosaic law set up some guidelines on borrowing, lending, hiring workers and keeping and releasing slaves.  
Should we lend to others who are in dire straits? As Christians, I believe that is one reason why we are sometimes blessed with extra -- so that we can be blessed by the act of giving to others. 
Check out Deuteronomy 28:12:
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
God promised Israel that they would experience abundance, and then explained the reason for it.  While we are being careful not to be "bitten" by the loan "sharks" in this present day, perhaps we can learn from these verses and give freely to those in need.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Proverbs 22 : 6 Children all

Pro 22:6  It is a proverb: A young man according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This is a concept that we have looked at before, but as I studied and thought on it, something else took shape in my mind. This can also be a picture of our Christian life.  When we are new Christians, we are what Paul called "babes in Christ" and need to be trained just a child needs to be trained in the home.  It's interesting that in other places that this particular word for "train" is used, it is translated "to dedicate."

Most people would say that to "dedicate" a child you need to do four things:
     1. Teaching
     2. Training
     3. Setting a proper example
     4. Disciplining for incorrect behavior

We can transpose this to our Christian lives in that we need these four things:

             1. Teaching from the Holy Spirit as we dig into the Word and memorize Scriptures, too.  (Yep, that is an important part of our learning, because the Lord can use those when we need guidance!)
             2. Training from a Spirit-led pastor or leader of a local church, who can assist us when we may have questions we can't answer.
            3.  Choosing a godly person to emulate, making them our example. You can also choose a person from the Scriptures, and study their life, to be your example.
            4. Accepting the discipline that the Lord sends to us with grace and wisdom. Check out what Hebrews 12:7 has to say on that:
                      Heb 12:7  Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons. For what son is there whom the father doth not correct?

Good impressions made on us, and discipline accepted (and acted upon) will abide with us all our days, from when we are "babes" in Christ, to when we are older, more mature Christians. We may stray for a while, but the training and discipline will assist the Spirit in pushing us back to the right path!