Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Proverbs 18:3-5

Yesterday we discussed self-centeredness. Today we are going to look at how a person gets to the point of being self-centered. I don't think any of us wake up and say, "I am going to be self-centered today".  But over time, foolish habits can lead to a foolish way of life.

When someone is wicked, what is their agenda? Self-promotion. Self this. Self that. Anything to make themselves feel better. Verses 3-5 points to these selfish roots of wickedness but the clue is in verse 4. Do you see it? It's the heart. When our hearts are full of God's love it gushes out in an ever-flowing stream. We become uplifting to others. Our attention is brought away from ourselves and our focus is on others.

A couple of warnings here: Just because someone is actively involved in serving, it doesn't mean that they are not self-serving. There are plenty of modern day Pharisees. Also, some people are self-absorbed without meaning to be. Perhaps a past hurt has made them this way. They need time to heal and time to be lovingly shown how to move on so they can become active members of the body again. (Kind of reminds me of having a broken arm.) Of course, once the arm is healed, it is time to use it again. No wallowing around in self-pity.

Final thoughts for self examination:
1) Does God's love flow---no, rather does it gush out of you?
2) Do you have Pharisee-like tendencies at times? Do you serve for YOU or for Others?
3) If you need to be healed, seek out what you need. If you are healed, then are you hanging onto that self pity instead of being an active member of the body?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Proverbs 18:1-2

Yesterday's post seemed to hit home with more than just me. I guess I'm not the only one to sneak a chocolate treat on occasion, huh? Who invented chocolate anyway? Oh, yeah. God. Man just devised a way to take something good and make it bad for us. Why do we do that? Anyway...moving on.

Self-centered people. I like to think that I am not a self-centered person. But I know that every person reading this, myself included, has times when we want SELF to come first. The problem with being self-centered is that it is a waste of time. Nothing about spending a life working for oneself ends in happiness; but rather leads to being miserable and eventually self-destruction. (Which can even sadly lead to suicide.)

vs 1-- God gave us many talents. And He gave us a church. (How often in the New Testament does He say 'one another'?) Being a recluse, not using the talents God gave us to further His kingdom or help other believers is not only sinful, but self destructive as well.

vs 2-- This verse talks about a different type of self centered person. This person is involved in the community, but is only bent on himself. His feelings, desires, opinions. He doesn't take the time to listen to others. It's all about him.

We are all part of the body of Christ. It is up to us to first use be part of that community. Then use our talents in that community. And finally, put others first.

Have you ever examined your heart and listed the talents that God has given you? Are you actively finding ways to put them to good use? Perhaps today is a good day to begin.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Proverbs 17: 23-28

23 The wicked accept bribes in secret 
   to pervert the course of justice.
 24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, 
   but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
 25 A foolish son brings grief to his father 
   and bitterness to the mother who bore him.
 26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, 
   surely to flog honest officials is not right.
 27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, 
   and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
 28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, 
   and discerning if they hold their tongues.

Usually I run several days ahead when studying for these Bible study posts. But I had complete hang up for today's study. I spent from last Wed through last Saturday just mulling it over in my mind. We've visited the subject of fools many times in our study of Proverbs and as usual, I wanted to do something that either blessed us or stepped on our toes. Because that's kind of how I like these studies to go, you know? 

Then it happened. I had a fool's moment. 
(Kind of like a Proverbial blonde moment?)

Saturday afternoon my kids and husband were all home. Yes, that is nice, and I do love it. But a moment alone for is a rare, sweet occasion. Suddenly Saturday I found that moment. Actually 16 of them. Because I timed it. 16 minutes of completely alone-ness bliss. Husband and one child were gone to the store.
Other two kids decided to run to the gas station to buy some pop. (I don't buy it or keep it here--they want it--they have to get it themselves.)

16 minutes. It started out great! I grabbed a load of sorted dirty laundry, raced down the basement stairs, switched laundry from washer to dryer and hamper to washer in record time. Then I started to head back upstairs, calculating in my head what else I could get done in my few minutes of bliss.

Then it happened. I was a fool.
I committed the following sins over the next five minutes.
1) Lust of the flesh
2) Covetousness
4) Dishonesty

You see, I knew that Seth had some of these stashed in his room (because I bought them for him the day before):

And I coveted them. Then I stole one. Then I ate it, savoring that sugary goodness. Which is where I lied to myself because there was nothing good for me about it. And the next thing you know...the family is home. 

I spent my 16 minutes in a foolish way. Yes, this was a bit light-hearted. But don't let that stop you from getting the moral of the story. Throughout our day we have moments. Here and there. Little bits of time that we could use for good...or that we can use as a fool would use them. 

Today in your journals, title a page "Sweet 16". 

Then list 16 things that you can do when you have a spare moment here or there. Don't rush through writing this list. Pray over it..take a few days. Then next time you have a free moment, you'll have a go-to list to help you stay on the straight and narrow; and maybe you'll not fall into the same trap has your hillbilly friend and her foolish fudgy pugdy 16 moments.

I've not written all 16 myself yet..but here's a few to get you started. (remember these are short little things you can do in short moments of time):

1. Read a chapter of Psalms
2. Pray for someone that needs salvation
3. dust one room of the house
4. Refresh: brush hair, teeth, change a shirt if needed ( I have a toddler..this is often needed!)
5. Walk around the block
6. Drink a whole glass of water and eat some celery.
7. Write a quick love note to husband or a child and leave it where they will find it sometime later that day

Now, you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with today's passage. Well, it doesn't...directly. In fact, we have mentioned on most occasions that 'fools' in the book of Proverbs means the unsaved. But,sometimes, we do foolish things; and that is what I felt led to talk to you about today. 

Have fun making your sweet 16 list. We can go discuss it on our secret fb page if you like. It will be fun coming up with things and sharing them with each other.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What a Friend

This week one of our studies focused on the best friend that we have -- our Lord Jesus. In closing this week of study, I wanted to share one of my favorite old hymns with you.

I found this prayer in a church newsletter that I receive each week, and I found it inspiring. It is attributed to a Mary Stewart, of Ohio, over one hundred years ago.

Keep us, O God, from all pettiness. Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off all self-seeking. May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self pity and without prejudice. May we never be hasty in judgment, and always be generous. Let us always take time for all things, and make us to grow calm, serene and gentle. Teach us to put into action our better impulses, to be straightforward and unafraid. Grant that we may realize that it is the little things of life that create differences, that in the big things of life, we are as one. And, O Lord God, let us not forget to be kind! Amen.

I know that women of many denominations read and study with us, and for many of them, the season of Lent is beginning. Whether or not you follow any of the varied Lenten traditions is not important; we all can profit from a time of thoughtfulness, of quiet inspection, and of repentance.
Thanks for sharing part of your day with me, each day this week. Blessings and hugs to you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prov. 17 : 18 - 22 There's Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Pro 17:18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend.
Pro 17:19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
Pro 17:20 He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief.
Pro 17:21 He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
Pro 17:22  A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

This is a big chunk of verses here, but I felt like it would be good to look at them all together. It's interesting that the first four verses are different from the majority of the proverbs we have discussed --- usually there are two parts to a proverb, and one will be positive while the other is negative. These four, however, are kinda "downers" in that they are completely negative; I think Solomon had a reason for that. I think that these are things that he thought were really important "don't do this" proverbs. We have had verses similar to them before, so he must have thought they were important enough to repeat them!

Here is the list of don'ts in modern-day language:
  •        Don't become legally liable for the debts of others.
  •        Don't get your kicks stirring up strife and conflict.
  •        Don't be proud of your wealth and fix up your house to "show up" all the neighbors.
  •        Don't be full of resentment and bitterness.
  •        Don't use spiteful and abusive language.
  •        Don't let a wayward child suck all the joy from your life.

Then we get to verse 22, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel! After ending on a low note, with no joy in sight, Solomon cheers us up by reminding us that a cheerful spirit and outlook can make us happier and even impact our health.

You see, "merry" in the verse means "glad, merry, joyful, rejoicing." There it is! A rejoicing heart doeth good like a medicine . . . What do medicines do? My grandma used to say her tonic was "good for what ails you." I think Solomon's prescription is, too.  A heart rejoicing in God, and in His blessings, and serving Him with gladness, will affect our own well-being, and the welfare of others, too! It will put a bounce in your step as you go about your day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prov. 17 : 17 Best of Friends

Pro 17:17  A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

What do you value in a friend? What characteristics do you wish to see, in someone you would call your friend? If you have time, take a moment and jot a few down in your journal. We'll come back to that later . . .

I've not been blessed with all that many friends in my life. I count my hubby as my BFF, and my kids are close in line after him. I guess it is a combination of where I live (way out in the country) and my occupation (that keeps me super-busy) that has made it difficult to nurture friendships.  There are some folks that I've not even met in person, face-to-face, in the same room, and all that. But I feel close to them, and they have showed me that they are good friends, nonetheless.

I think that we would all agree that the biggest thing to judge a friend on, is whether or not that relationship is constant. True friendship is a strong bond. If someone is my friend because it is serving some interest of theirs, then that is a shallow and selfish bond. It will easily break when they see that I no longer serve that purpose to them. I like what Matthew Henry said in his commentary:
     . . . their affections turn with the wind and change with the weather. Swallow-friends, that fly to you in summer, but are gone in winter; such friends there is no loss of.
I love my friends no matter if they are rich or poor, popular or in disgrace, close or far. If they are sincere, good, and wise, then I love them, no matter what!
I really like what the second half of the verse says. The word translated "brother" also means "kindred" like in kindred spirits. That kind of friend will be there when you are in adversity. Someone that is so "tuned in" to you that they know what you are experiencing; sometimes you can finish each others sentences, and other times you don't need to speak at all. The best example of this kind of friend is our savior, Jesus. He is a friend that loves at all times. Here are His own words that can comfort our souls:
"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."
What an awesome, inspiring thing --- the Son of God is our friend!  Our Best Friend Forever! 

Climbing down from that mountaintop, let's see if we can tell where the rubber hits the road . . . if you wrote down some things in your journal, or if you just thought of some characteristics of good friends --- ask yourself if you model those in your dealings with others. You see, if we wish to have good friends, we must be good friends.  Oh, and are we good friends with our Lord? Is our friendship constant? Don't worry, I'm asking myself these questions, too . . . If we see some areas that we can improve, let's write those in our journals, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Prov. 17 : 16 What Price Glory?

Pro 17:16  Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
As I was studying this verse, I looked at some commentaries, and was searching for the roots of some of the words . . . sometimes that really helps us to get a handle on the language of Solomon, and then the language of the translators. (In my case, that is the learned men that King James I tasked with translating the Scripture. I use other versions to assist in my studies, but I always fall back on the familiar, and the beauty of the King James Bible.)
Solomon is astonished here, that sometimes there is great blessing or wealth available to those who seem undeserving.  In our mortal lives, there are often times that a foolish person may receive a bounty that would have been much better used by someone with more wisdom, or who needed it more. We can think of an inheritance squandered by a foolish heir, or a true love tossed away by a shallow lover.
My mind turned to the price, or payment, that is placed in the hands of men and women, by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Mortal man has "no heart" for it before the Holy Spirit touches his soul, and draws him to repentance. Our hearts and minds are set on other things; we are either unknowing, or neglectful, of the great mercy that He offers. Our sin blinds us to the glory that can be ours.

It is amazing. Indeed, as Solomon thought, it is astonishing that a holy God would consider us and provide for our salvation. He gives us rational minds, and souls in the likeness of Him who created us.  He gives us time and opportunity, and helpers for understanding (the Scriptures, and those who help us comprehend them).  The payment is there within our grasp - Jesus left the glory of heaven to enable us to experience glory --- here in a small way; later in heaven, in an infinite way.

There is a classic movie entitled "What Price Glory?" and I thought of it as I considered the verse.

What price was God willing to pay for us to achieve glory? The ultimate price: His only Son who was sinless, became the payment of our sin debt, and died on the cross, to rise again and enable us to live forever with Him.
And then, what price am I willing to pay, to give glory back to my Savior?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prov 17 : 15 Snap Judgments

Pro 17:15  He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
Hi everybody . . . Snoodles here, and I'll be with you all this week. When I read this verse, I was reminded of a situation in the New Testament, but we'll get back to that in a minute.

First, I have a question for you; do you make snap judgments? I can hear heads shaking "no" all over the place. Are you sure?

Do you sometimes look at a speaker and judge him or her by the clothes and jewelry they are wearing? Do you wonder about the truth of their ministry if they seem to be showily wealthy?

Have you listened to someone who poured out their heart to you, asking for guidance, and quickly blurted out your opinion of whether or not they were pursuing a godly course of action - without even considering it completely?

Have you thought or said, that a person or ministry was Christ-centered (or not Christ-centered), and then in time discovered that you were wrong?

Let's look at Acts 5, now, and see where I'm going with this. I hope that you will take the time to read it, but I'll give you a short version here. Peter and some of the apostles had been placed in jail for preaching the risen Christ. They were miraculously released from the prison, and returned to the temple to preach and teach. The Council sent officers to bring them from the temple to the council chambers, and were discussing how to make them stop - even considering violence. Verse 33 states they wanted "to slay them." A very wise man, named Gamaliel, stood up and offered the scribes and Pharisees his advice. Check out verses 38 and 39 . . .
Act 5:38  And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39  But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Now, refresh your memory of this verse in Proverbs, right at the top of this post. I'm always open to correction, but I believe Solomon was cautioning us to be very careful not to point fingers and condemn the just and righteous. He also said we needed to be careful not to look at something and say it was good, when it could be wicked. It's another case of needing that wisdom that comes from above. I'm so glad that we have Jesus, "the way, the truth, and the life" to consult when we need to make a judgment. We are, after all, to "try the spirits"
1Jo 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
and we are also to "judge righteous judgments."
Joh 7:24  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
I'm thinking that I need to pray for wisdom, and search my Bible, and then make my decisions, or form my opinions. Then I will be able to avoid snap judgments, and I won't call good "evil" or evil "good."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Proverbs 17: 12-14


Oh, mercy, I do not like conflict! Not at all. I don't even like debates. I don't like political news shows. (That might be off topic...focusing back on strife now...)

vs..14--When you pour water out on the ground, what happens? That's right, it runs every which way and you can't get it back.

Yet sometimes, we do have to choose to battle. We are humans. Strife and conflict are going to happen. So what can we do about it?

Flip over and read 1 Peter 3: 15-16.

As I type this (Tuesday evening around 6:45 p.m.); my heart is heavy. There is someone that used to communicate to me very kindly, and has shown me much kindness. But suddenly, as in just the last week, this person won't comment on my blog, won't reply to comments that I've left on her blog, nor answer direct emails from me to her. I have no explanation as to why. I've been saddened over it, I've combed emails to see if I can find the reason...and I can't. Most of you know this person--but please do not start trying to guess who. I bring this up only to say that when I was looking up verses about strife, and stumbled upon this one, it gave me courage. I certainly don't want this person 'put to shame' but, I also know, in good conscience that I've done nothing wrong. So--right here, right now--I give her and the entire situation to God.

Is there anyone or any situation that you need to give to God today? Really...things are much better in His hands. We just have a habit of making a mess out of them when we try to handle it on our own!

I am afraid I spent this study time 'preaching' to myself...sometimes that is the best way, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proverbs 17: 10-11

Today's passage visits the subject of discipline. We have visited this subject several times in our study..but really we have not studied it very deeply.

Begin by reading today's passage, then flip over to the New Testament and read Hebrews 12: 5-11.

None of us really like to be disciplined, and often, even though we've drilled it into our children, we forget that discipline is for our own good. It's not like God really wants to discipline us. Again, same as we are with our children, He would rather us not need the discipline. But to help us not make mistakes again, or to make us wake up and take notice and repent, He will use deep conviction through Scriptures or sermons or even through the rebuke of friends.

There are SO MANY passages on rebuke/discipline! I thought I would give you a fill in the blank today. Because most of you use NIV I will use that translation for these questions.  Enjoy spending time with God today and let Him speak to you.

1. Job 5:17-18  "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not ______________ the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal."

2. Rev 3:19  "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and _______________."

3. Heb 10:31 It is a _____________ thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

4. Num 32:23  ... "Be sure _________ will find you out."

5.  Prov 28:23  He who ____________ a man will in the end gain more ________________ than he who has a flattering tongue.

6. Prov 15:31 He who listens to a ________________ rebuke will be at home among the wise.

7. Ps 23:4  ... your ________and your __________, they comfort me. 

8. Prov 1:28-31  "Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they _________ knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my __________________, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the ______________ of their schemes."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Corinthians 13: 1-13

When I sat down to write this study for today I realized that I could spend an entire week on this chapter. But I think we can at least touch base on it and if you want to expand your study in your quiet time, then of course I encourage you to do so!

Before we begin, I ask you...if you could have ANY spiritual gift, what would it be? Now, open your Bible, and read I Corinthians 13:1-3.

What does God say these gifts by themselves mean? NOTHING.

Now read verses 4-7 and make two lists in your journal. A what "Love Is" list and a what "Love Isn't". Now, take a good look at your list and decide..Does this list make me feel good about myself..or Bad? How am I doing? (Rhetorical here!)

Next read verses 8-12. Ok, so these verses say some things fail us..but love doesn't. So why do people 'fall out of love?" (Hint: Discussion starter! )

Now read verse 13..and if you haven't, it would be a great verse to memorize today!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Proverbs 17: 7-9

Hello Ladies! Just to minimize confusion to our newcomers, this is Tonya and I will be your leader this week. 

Open your Bibles to Proverbs 17 and let's dig! 

I gave you three verses to read today; so after you have read them to yourselves, I would like to focus on verse 9. Do you know what the verse is talking about? Read it again if not. Uh oh! Gossip and slander. A favorite topic among us women, I know!

I think all of us have been hurt by gossip at one time or another. We probably have even hurt someone. Sometimes entire nations get out of control about their gossip. 

An example: President Lincoln's grave has been re-opened twice...just because of rumors spreading across the nation that he wasn't really dead. The first time was in 1887--twenty two years after he was killed. Fourteen years later...same reason. Rumors spreading the nation that he wasn't really in there. Couldn't even believe it the first time! Of course, Lincoln isn't the only. I mean--Elvis sightings have gone on as long as I can remember practically. And we live in Jesse James territory. Guess what? Yep...he had to be dug up too because people rumored that he wasn't there.

Oh these are just silly little rumors that didn't hurt a soul, but we all know there are rumors that have very badly hurt others. I was trying to think of a rumor that has hurt me; and here is the most recent that I can think of: When my ex husband and I separated, my deacon took it upon himself to write me a very hurtful letter accusing me of having an affair, among other things. He did not check with our Pastor first (who I'd been in counseling with through the entire process). This deacon I had known for years. His wife and I had a quilting group at the church. But he started a rumor weed...and it grew and I had to leave the church. Incidentally, I even showed the letter to my then estranged husband and he was very angry as well. He knew that the things written about me were not true. So, yes, I was deeply, deeply hurt. But God had plans for me, and I found an even better church, so it was all good in the end. For me at least. I don't know about that deacon. We've not spoken since. 

On the subject of gossip, Bill Gothard gives us 5 questions to ask before listening to a negative report from someone. These would be good to jot into your journal to remember.
1. What is your reason for telling me? Widening the circle of gossip only compounds the problem. 
2. Where did you get your information? Refusal to identify the source of information is a sure sign of an evil report. 
3. Have you gone to those directly involved? Spirituality is not measured by how well we expose an offender but by how effectively we restore an offender (Gal. 6:1). Satan will sift you like wheat. 
4. Have you personally checked out all of the facts? Even facts become distorted when not balanced with other facts or when given with negative motives. 
5. Can I quote you if I check this out?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

P.P. Discussion Week 8

Hello my friends, I have missed you this week. I am so thankful it was a light P.P. week so that I could keep up!
Here are your discussions for last weeks questions


2) KNOWLEDGE--a truly great minister will have the highest knowledge, a thorough knowledge of the Bible and thus of himself. From this knowledge he can feed his sheep.
EXPERIENCE--A pastor is able to speak with absolute authority about God's comfort and the strength of his everlasting arms after going through a difficult time in which the existence of these attributes has been proved by experience
WATCHFUL--A pastor's vigilance will be seen as he visits, instructs, and personally deals with his people.
SINCERE--His sincerity towards God is seen in his holy living, and thus he is esteemed by his flock. He is transparent and means what he says.

3) rhetorical, but we can discuss. I had a hard time choosing. I think I would go with sincere. The other traits would show in his sincerity I think.

4) HILL OF ERROR--false truths not backed by Scriptures causes instability and a fall. Oh, there are big name false prophets out there. I WISH people would learn to back what they hear with Scripture. It makes me sad.
MOUNTAIN CALLED CAUTION--if it weren't for God's graciousness and mercy, we would be the same as those stumbling, blind men
DOOR IN A HILL--many are exposed to the truth but reject it.
CLEAR HILL-- a view into heaven. To quote from my book: "Often our unbelief and fear, not to mention our  constant gazing with love in the wrong direction, cause us to be unable to appreciate or to see clearly the beauty of all that awaits us as joint heirs with Christ."


Reading assignment:

Moody pp 123-137
Revel spire pp 114-135

Friday, February 10, 2012

Prov 17 : 6 Family Ties

Pro 17:6  Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

Some of you are aware of the painful situation that exists in our family --- one of our children is estranged from all of us; he has not spoken to us (or to his siblings) for three years now, and has resisted our efforts to reconcile. I first approached this verse with some dread . . . it is difficult to think of grandchildren that I may not see, or be able to hug and love.
It is indeed an honor to parents when their children and their grandchildren walk in the virtues that they have tried to model and teach. It is a blessing to live long enough to see those new families established, and to observe them serving and honoring God.  It crowns a long and full life.

As I studied, however, and as my weekend (last) unfolded, I looked at this verse with fresh understanding. Let me explain. Late on Saturday night, my husband and daughter had just dropped his mom at her house, making sure she was snug and safe, and then they headed toward home (thirty miles away). Minutes after they left, she called in a panic and said her cat had knicked her hand with one tooth (whether it was accidental or he was irritated, we'll never know) and she could not stop the bleeding. Hubby turned around and went back when called, and doctored her hand for the night. (It was pretty large, and looked like it might need stitches if it wasn't handled correctly.) Concerned that it would be difficult for her to change the bandage with one hand and poor eyesight, I made the trip on Sunday, to clean and re-dress her wound. I took her to a local cafeteria for some prepared foods to stock her fridge, and washed up the dishes I found, so that her injured hand would not need to get wet. After I opened her Bible for her and set out her plate of lunch, I started for home.

As I drove away, I was glad that I could help her. I felt contentment because I had been able to minister to her in my own limited way. I had to stop myself from thinking about her other children who live far less than thirty miles from her, but who show less concern for her --- well, there is less action coupled with the compassion. (Remember earlier this week?!)  I stopped, though, and asked for Him to forgive me for those thoughts, since that is their concern, not mine. Mine is to do what Scripture and my heart tells me is right, and "do it as unto the Lord."

I'm not saying all of this to get a pat on the head. Please don't take that away from this post. This is the point I am trying to make, but that Matthew Henry said, far better than I can say:
It is an honour to children to have wise and godly parents, and to have them continued to them even after they have themselves grown up and settled in the world. Those are unnatural children who reckon their aged parents a burden to them, and think they live too long; whereas, if the children be wise and good, it is as much their honour as can be, that thereby they are comforts to their parents in the unpleasant days of their old age.
I believe this is what the second half of the verse means. And I am so grateful that He has blessed me with the opportunity to serve, to comfort, and to honor her.

Lord, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve others in some small way.  I take as my example the way You ministered, when You were here on earth. Help me to show Your love and be Your hands and feet, right here where I live.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Prov 17 : 4 - 5 Tongue double, brings trouble

Pro 17:4  A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
Pro 17:5  Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

The title today is a saying by one of our sage, colonial men-about-town, Benjamin Franklin. He was noting, as so many have, that a "double" or deceitful tongue can cause a world of trouble. Lies and innuendos and mockery and taunts . . . none of those are positives!

I thought we'd focus today on "mocking the poor" and on being "glad at calamities."  Oh, my goodness, none of us are guilty of those, are we? Or are we?
We've discussed this once before: when we see a poor person, do we think, "well, he should get cleaned up and get some nicer clothes and get a job...then he wouldn't have to panhandle." Or, "the mission is just down the street - why doesn't she go there and get some help?"  Or even, "well, I know she is a Christian, but we have a committee that handles that - she can get help there."

1 Jo 3:17  But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
I think we can all agree that compassion is not complete until there is action  --- one example would be the parable of the good Samaritan; another would be the work of Mother Teresa.

If y'all will give me just a minute or two, I want to massage my toes kinda gently for just a bit . . .

"Glad at calamities" surely doesn't apply to us, right?  . . . We don't laugh at people who lose their homes in disasters, or act smug, or anything like that.  But how 'bout, "Well, I knew that would happen. That boy is always running around with the wrong crowd."  Or, "She is just getting what she deserves, I just know it."  Or even, "See, I TOLD her she shouldn't (insert sage advice here)."
Hmmm, I think I know a verse that would suggest an alternative attitude:
2Pe 1:5  . . . giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2Pe 1:6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2Pe 1:7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (Emphasis is mine.)
I believe I have found some very wise advice that I am going to try to follow after I bandage up my toes:
Col 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

I figure if I keep busy that way, I can't get in trouble with my tongue!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Prov. 17 : 3 Out of the Frying Pan . . .

Pro 17:3  The refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

Ever heard the old saying, "Out of the frying pan, into the fire"?  Usually we take it to mean that we got out of one mess and then got into a bigger one. Does it ever seem like that is what is happening in your life? In your spiritual life?  Are you meeting with obstacles, with troubles, that try your patience and make you wonder why all of this is happening to you?
God has a lot to say in the Bible about how He can use that . . .

The refiner's fire has two uses when it comes to gold and silver: one is to prove it --- to certify that it is pure silver or gold. The other is to improve it --- stray particles of debris and impurities will be separated out by the fire melting the metal; what's left behind is improved and purified.

In Psalm 66:10, David says, "For thou, O God, hast proved us, thou hast tried us, as silver is tried."  The prophet Isaiah told us that God said, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."  Paul tells us in I Corinthians chapter 3, "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."  Not only our hearts, but our lives will be tried. That is a pretty awe-inspiring thought . . .

I think we need some help, here, don't you? I feel a little bit inadequate in the face of that responsibility. Let's look at what another prophet had to tell us. Zechariah is quoting God here (Zech. 13:9), and he says:
"And I will . . .  refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."

He is here with us. He will always be here with us. Till we are there with Him. Thank You, Lord.

Lord, thank You for the promise that You not only know my heart, but that You will hold it, and You will hear me when I call.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prov 17:2 A Servant's Inheritance

Pro 17:2  A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.

In today's world, it may be difficult for us to get our heads around this verse, at first. We are far removed from the world in which this was written. In that era, it was common for wealthy people to have servants - in some nations that would be natives of another land, who were captured in conquests. Other servants were called "bond" servants, and would serve for six years, as set up in the Mosaic law. He would then choose to go free, or to remain a servant, but this time it would be forever. (Check out Exodus 21 for all the details.)

Many servants would then mature, marry, raise a family and grow old, all in the service of that one person that they had chosen for their master. (There is a whole other lesson that we could go into here, but I'll save it.) They became trusted members of that family; they were relied on and beloved. In some cases, their dependability and wisdom brought them nothing but love in return, but Solomon notes that it was possible for them to be rewarded in more tangible ways -- with an inheritance.

Let's see one example of this . . . in the book of Genesis, we find Abraham thinking about his son, Isaac, and anxious to find the "right" girl for him to marry.  He instructed his trusted servant to travel, bearing gifts, and told him what sign to observe, so that he would know the girl that God had chosen.  Abraham's servant is not even named in this passage, but without him, the Hebrew nation's history might have been quite different. The servant followed God's plan and his master's instructions, and all was well.  Because of his devotion and his service to his master, this servant may well have been rewarded with an inheritance when Abraham died.

We can find several stories in the Scripture of sons who caused disappointment to their fathers, and in that era, it was common for wayward or estranged sons to be left out of the inheritance plans of their dads. Solomon is noting here that a wise and trusted servant might well be rewarded for his devotion, while a son might not receive a portion.

Lord, thank you for being my Father, and preparing an eternal inheritance for me. Help me to be a wise and trusted servant.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prov. 17 : 1 A Quiet Place

Pro 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife.

Isn't it interesting that Solomon, the richest guy on earth, is drawing a contrast here in this verse? He says that is is better to have a dry morsel, a small portion of food without honey or broth to moisten it, if it is eaten in unity and love, than to have a house full of "sacrifices." Whoa, now, what does he mean here?
When the children of Israel followed the instructions of the Lord to make their sacrifices, they always brought the best, unblemished animal  that they could afford to bring. There were rules set up for the priests to take a portion -- they were doing their work in the temple all day, so they couldn't exactly go out and make a living, right? So this was the way that God provided for them to eat. Once their portion was chosen, the remainder could be divided up and used by the family that it belonged to.
So, a house "full of sacrifices" is referring back to that, and means a house full of  food and drink - in contrast to that dry morsel. I think that we can agree with Solomon that a house filled with love, peace, and contentment is a much nicer place to be than one filled with contention and strife . . . and such a house would make a dry morsel seem like so much more, even if that was all there was to eat.

There is another track with this verse, that I thought was even more inspiring. I started looking at the verse, and the roots of the words, and I was focused on the word "quietness," and how much better that quiet was . .  I had read recently in my devotions about Christ's retiring to a quiet spot, away from the crowds, and it struck me that this is really something necessary in our modern lives. I hope you won't mind - I'll try not to get too wordy, but let's look at three situations.

First, remember Moses. The Bible says he "sojourned" in the wilderness, keeping his father-in-law's flocks. He stayed out there a pretty good while, and became a man of prayer and quiet strength. God prepared him for that trip back to Pharaoh's court, so that he could become the leader of a nation.
Next, do you recall Elijah? He called the wilderness home, too, for a while. He didn't have much to eat or drink (check it out - it will make you treasure what you have in your pantry!) and he didn't have much company. But God kept him secure, and at peace, and quietly prepared him for his showdown with 450 priests of Baal. (He won, by the way . . . you can read all about it in I Kings 18-19.)
Third, look at the life of Paul. At the time he was called Saul, he was introduced to the God whose followers he was persecuting --- in the middle of a highway, headed toward Damascus. He spent several years in the wilderness, being prepared for a life that would shake the established religions of the day to their foundations. He founded churches, wrote letters, and changed lives --- but before he could do that, he needed that quietness.
I wonder if we can learn from this, that quietness is an integral part of our spiritual lives? We can become so busy, so rushed, that we may be ill-prepared for what God has in store for us. Sometimes even church activities can become too "loud" in our lives, and crowd out that still, small voice.

Lord, teach me to linger at my Bible, to pause in the midst of my requests, and to remain quiet. Speak to me as only You can -- I promise I will listen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

P.P. Questions week 8

A light week in reading means a light week in questions. Yay! I do love our reading and questions but I think everyone is relieved about a light week on occasion.

1)  It is up to the reader to decide what the Delectable Mountains represents. One possibility is that they represent the Sabbath. (The Puritans called the Sabbath a 'market day for the soul'). So, if we thought of them this way, how would the Delectable Mountains remind you of a market day for the soul?

2) The names of the four shepherds imply what about the responsibilities of pastors to their flocks?

3) If you were asked to pick on of these shepherds for your pastor, which one would you pick and why?

4) In the morning, the shepherds call Christian and Hopeful to walk and show them four different places. What is the truth that is taught at each place?

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Vision

"Thou and Thou only first in my heart, High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Proverbs 16:32-33

Start by reading todays passage please.

Patience, Patience, Patience. Why do these verses keep popping up? I am sure that I can tell you. They are all for me. Although, I am getting better. I never thought that a patient person should be more decorated than a soldier. Did you?

The second verse talks about 'casting lots'. Casting lots was a way of making decisions in Biblical times. I did some googling to see if I could find a better way to explain it, and I really liked what had to say, so I hope that you don't mind if I copy it here for you:

Casting lots is quite Biblical. The word "lots" appears 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament.

It was used by priests to separate the scapegoat from the one being sacrificed: Lev 16:8 "He is to cast lots for the two goats--one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat." NIV

It was used to divide the promised land among the Israelites: Num 26:55 "Be sure that the land is distributed by lot." NIV

Several functions in the Temple were determined by lots: 1 Chron 24:5 "They divided them impartially by drawing lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar." NIV

The sailors on Jonah's boat determined who was responsible for that terrible storm by casting lots (notice that the guilty party was discovered that way!): Jonah 1:7 "Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah." NIV

When the apostles met after Jesus ascended to heaven they determined who would replace Judas by casting lots: Acts 1:26 "Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles." NIV

None of the Biblical illustrations of casting lots had to do with games of chance. Every time it was used, the Israelites depended on the Lord 100% to reveal to them His will. It was an impartial way to find God's will when choices had to occur. This concept is still applicable today. In all our decisions we should impartially depend on God and search for His decisions.

However, the book of Proverbs indicate some neat things about casting lots:

Prov 18:18 "Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart." NIV

Prov 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." NIV

In close, how about we flip a little coin. Go grab a quarter and flip it. Heads or Tails. Heads you Pray for my patience, Tails you pray for yours. Ha...just being silly. Have a good rest of your day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Proverbs 16: 31

Today, begin by reading today's passage.

So, do you color your hair? Here is quote by Thomas Nelson:

On visits to the Far East, Hugh Downs, the silver-haired co-host of ABC’s 20/20, found one reason to flaunt his age:

Perhaps one day our culture will adopt what I found in Nepal. When meeting strangers, the polite thing to do is ask how old they are. Someone might say apologetically, “I’m only 50.” Whereupon the inquirer might say, “Oh, don’t feel bad. You’re getting there.” To call someone old is a compliment in Nepal. Solomon had it right when he said, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory.”

So, let's talk about it. Is it vain to color your hair? JUST KIDDING. I am going to stay completely away from that one. That one is between you and God.

So, why is gray hair a crown of glory? The verse give the answer. Today we are going to do some Bible page flippin'--what better way to do a Bible study anyway?
Look up the following passages:

1 Kings 3:14
Ps 91:14-16
Proverbs 10:27
Ephesians 6:2-3

These verses are great verses to contemplate next time you have a birthday. And next time you see gray hairs on your head. Or eyebrows. On on your chinny chin chin. Remember that those little hairs are a blessing. (No it won't stop me from plucking them either.)