Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Slowdown

    The sweet hymn we will listen to today is based on a very fundamental tenet of our faith in Christ. We may not know all of the pathway ahead, and we may not understand why the path has the obstacles that we see, but we move forward confidently, determined to trust Him, and to obey Him.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Proverbs 30:29-31 Quickness

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.

There are differing translations of the second animal in the list we are studying . . . some say a rooster, while others mention a war-horse, or a greyhound.

In any of these cases, I think we can surmise that Agur was talking about a stately and beautiful movement, but that it is characterized by quickness.
The war-horse is quick to obey his rider, and is often trained in special steps and strides to utilize in battle. In the medieval era, the horse was trained to obey pressure from the rider's legs, not just his hands on the reins. They were trained to kick behind them, to trample the enemy, and many more movements that needed to be quick in order to be effective.
The rooster is quick to "strut his stuff" at the least provocation -- whether to impress the hens or to intimidate an opponent. He has a whole vocabulary of movements that are easily "read" by the hen or rooster who views them.
And the greyhound is quick and lithe, able to hunt by speed and pursuit. The greyhound's long legs and compact muscles are combined with keen eyesight -- they can see small animals bounding about a half mile in front of them!

Are we quick to follow the commandments of our Lord? Are we quick to do His will?
I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands. 
Psalm 119:60
And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us...." Exodus 34:8-9a
Let us be quick to learn and to do His will!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Proverbs 30:29-31 Fearless

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.

Most of Agur's proverbs are lists of things. We've studied several lists so far, and I believe there are some good things for us to study in this passage, too.

Agur's list here is of four things that are "comely" or beautiful in their appearance, movements, and conduct. They are each different in the trait they are mentioned for . . .

Let's look first at the lion.
In the translation above, the lion is characterized as mighty and fearless. He has a bold and majestic walk, he fears no creature, and because he is fearless he does not turn aside from any other creature. Since he is the "king of beasts" he is an excellent illustration of boldness, fearlessness and confidence.
Are we bold and fearless like the lion in doing our Christian duties, regardless of opposition or threats?
The wicked flee though no one pursues,
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
Proverbs 28:1
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 13:6
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  II Timothy 1:7
Let's take as our example the Lion of Judah, our Savior!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Favorite Verses

Today I would like to do something a little different, and I hope that there will be some input from the folks who read these posts, and perhaps don't have time to comment very often.

Here is my question:  Do you have a favorite verse that you can share with us?

Some folks have what they call "life verses" that mean so much to them that they've claimed them as their guidance day-to-day.

Or you may have a verse that has meant a great deal to you in recent days or weeks.

Would you share it with us? I think this could be a real blessing to all of us, and I hope you will participate.

As for me, a dear friend pointed me to a passage that has blessed my heart recently, as I deal with struggles and pain in my life.

Isaiah 55:1, 3, 6, 8-12
  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price
Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

I hope that you will take a moment to share a verse or passage with all of us.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28 Little things, Part VII

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Lizards.  Ever been to a pet store and seen all of the lizards and their kin? I don't find them particularly appealing, but we can certainly learn something from them . . .

When to let go!

OK, let me back up a minute . . . lizards are not too hard to catch, are they? Even as kids, we may have stalked and then captured a little lizard, cupping our hands around it and feeling the tiny feet in our palms. (If some of you are freaking out about that, please hang in there!)

Our cat loves to chase the lizards who venture onto our screened porch. They are one of the few things that really challenge him, for he moves quite quickly, even at fourteen years of age. I've noticed that sometimes he will almost catch one, and the lizard will simply let his tail (or a portion of it) detach from his body. Our Creator made them in a special way . . . they can grow another tail!

You see, they know when to let go!

A lizard is willing to "cut its losses" or let a part of his tail go, in order to achieve a larger goal -- staying alive!  We can apply this to our lives by seeing if there is something that we need to let go of, in order to move on to the next stage of our lives . . . for what our Father has planned for us.
Are we hanging on to an unhealthy relationship, that we need to let go of? Are we struggling to hold on to a bad attitude, when we know that God wants us to change?
We need to let God help us in letting the "bad stuff" go!
Why? Because God has plans for each one of us. His plans don't depend on our wisdom or abilities; He says He will supply those when they are needed.  His plans also don't depend on our gifts or talents; remember Moses? He argued with God and said, " I can't speak well." . . . and then God reminded him of Who made Moses' mouth!

We believe in God -- we must also believe in ourselves. God believes in and loves each one of us. He has chosen us, and given us gifts in times they were needed. He expects us to use those gifts for His glory.  We are to be his ambassadors . . .
“a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so
 that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” 1 Peter 2:9  
Let's determine today to "let go" of those things that are obstacles to being useful for Him!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Slowdown

I thought that the lyrics to this hymn certainly fit our study this week of "little things."

It is called "Little is Much When God is in It" and was written in 1924 by Kittie Suffield.

In the harvest field now ripened
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the voice of God is calling
To the harvest calling you.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown—and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

In the mad rush of the broad way,
In the hurry and the strife,
Tell of Jesus’ love and mercy,
Give to them the Word of Life.

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.

Are you laid aside from service,
Body worn from toil and care?
You can still be in the battle,
In the sacred place of prayer.

When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
“Welcome home, My child—well done!”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28 Little things, Part VI

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Many of God's creations flock together, and they have leaders, too. Elephants, a pride of lions, a swarm of bees . . . they all have a leader that they follow.

Locusts are different. They swarm in huge numbers, but they have no king, no leader. It seems like they know their strength is in numbers!
Locust swarms can vary from one square kilometer to several hundred square kilometers. Wow!  And a large swarm of desert locusts can consume 20,000 tons of vegetation a day. That's hard to imagine.
Many years ago there were swarms of locusts on the plains of the United States. They wreaked havoc in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. They did millions of dollars worth of damage. After their attack every plant – every single plant – was reduced to a barren stalk, stripped of all leaves and buds. Families were bereft of income, and had nowhere to turn, all because of some insects.
Insects who work together and don't care who is "top dog."
Ouch. See where we are headed?
If the church unites we are a great force to be reckoned with; the more united we are as the body of Christ, the more wonderful things we can accomplish in His name!
No wonder Jesus prayed in John 17 that we may be one as He and the Father are one. We should put aside foolish differences for the sake of Jesus Christ. We should not care about who is in the spotlight, but about Who is receiving the glory.
If we concentrate on cooperation, instead of on competition, we will shake the world for our Lord.
Are we team players?
1 Cor. 12:4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all people..

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28 Little things, Part V

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

We've been studying the hyrax from verse 26, and we mentioned that they instinctively know they are not powerful or strong, so they go to the rocks for shelter and safety.
The hyrax is not ashamed to know that he needs a power greater than himself. We, too, should welcome the chance to admit that we need a Power greater than ourselves.
It's very tempting to have an "I can do it myself" attitude . . . but in reality, we need God!

Do we have a hiding place in the Father? What do we do when Satan pursues us? Do we try to go it alone? Oh, that is a recipe for failure! Do we depend on human intelligence and knowledge? Why not turn to the One who knows all?  Why not call to Him, as the psalmist did:
Psalm 61:2 “From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” 
When you may travel to another city and stay in a hotel or inn there, do you look on the door of your own room, to see the fire escape plan? It is always pictured there, with a nice big arrow that shows you where you are. You can tell the evacuation route; it's the route you need to know in case there is a fire. It's not very probable that there will be a fire, but it's awfully important to know, just in case a fire breaks out. The plan needs to be in place.
Whether it is from situations or from Satan, we need to have a plan of escape, too. What is our escape? Is it in a bottle or pill bottle? Is it the television? Our friends?
Or is it our prayer closet?
Matthew 6:6 “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 
I'd like to challenge all of us today in our private time with our Father, to read Psalm 91, and then earnestly pray. I believe we will be changed when we are done. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Prayer Requests

Its' time again today to join each other at God's throne, and share our prayer requests and our praises for answered prayers.
Please take a moment to leave a comment if there is something that we can pray with you about, and look over on the prayer page as well.
It is a privilege to be able to pray together, and our Father is pleased when we care for each other in this way.
Let's pray.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28, Little Things, Part IV

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

The next "little thing" is a bit of a mystery . . . some translations call it a hyrax, some call it a coney.

The best I can tell from studying this, is that the early English translators knew about conies, which are also called rock rabbits. They probably thought they had it correct, since the verse mentions that they make their home in the "crags" which are rocky places. Hyraxes are tiny hoofed mammals -- they have short bodies and plump heads, and they live in groups among the rocks. They are active during the day  (except for their cousins the tree hyraxes, which are nocturnal in habit) and are vegetarians in their diet. 
They are not very powerful; they are not very strong. They survive by knowing where to take refuge -- they live among the rocks and burrow into them when a predator comes looking for them. In order to get at them, you need to knock down a mountain of rocks!
You can see from the picture that the hyrax is a cute, soft, cuddly-looking animal. But what makes them so attractive, also makes them vulnerable. There's that issue of them not being powerful or strong, right?
We Christians are sometimes weakest at our strong points, too. Let's look at some examples:
You can speak well in groups. Now, that is indeed a gift, but it can be a problem, too, if your mouth gets you into trouble! Perhaps promising more than you can deliver is your Achilles heel. Or perhaps talking more than you are listening to others is your downfall.
Our best attribute can be our biggest liability.
Let's look at another example:
Do you have the gift of a wonderful memory? Super! Nice thing to have . . . except when it makes you unable to forget your shortcomings and sins -- or maybe those of someone else.
Do you have an outgoing personality? Wonderful! It's nice to be able to make others feel comfortable and valued, and to reach out to others in friendship . . . except when you get hurt easily, when someone rejects you.
Since the hyrax realizes its own weaknesses, it has an advantage. It knows instinctively that it must depend on something greater, larger than itself for safety and security. It goes to the rock!
Are we aware of our own weaknesses, as well as our strengths? What sins trouble us most often? What things get us off the path, and sidetracked from God's will? We need to depend on something greater, larger than ourselves for our safety and security . . . we need to go to the Rock!
Ps 62:6-7 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Slowdown

For today's Slowdown, I hope that you receive a blessing from this song. It has meant a great deal to me in situations in my life right now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28, Little things, Part III

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

I thought we should close this study of verse 25 with some facts about ants that might inspire us.

In the ant hill, and outside of the colony, too, ants work with what they've been given. They don't stand around the entrance to the mound, carping and complaining about how bad they have it. Remember Joseph, after he'd been sold into captivity by his brothers? He could have sat and moped about how badly they'd treated him. Instead, he worked with what he'd been given: he was second in command to Potiphar, to the prison supervisor, and then to Pharaoh, but each time he worked hard, was an exemplary employee, and God blessed his faithfulness. 
Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."  Accept what you've been given and roll with it! What we are doing today is our training ground for what He has in mind for us tomorrow!

Here's another thought -- ants don't wear out easily. They keep on going just like the Energizer Bunny. We must not lose heart if the going gets hard. We must keep on, for His glory. (I'm preaching to myself here.) - Paul says in Galatians 6:9, "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." If we stir up those gifts that God gave us, we can model the same endurance that the ants do . . . Paul also wrote: “Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you.”  We have each been given gifts that we can use in working for the kingdom; we must keep on keeping on.

It's an interesting thought, that we are reaping today what we sowed yesterday. That sure makes me want to be careful what I'm sowing, how about you? Let's work with what we've been given, and don't lose heart - keep on going!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28, Little things, Part II

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Yesterday we talked a little about the ant, and today we want to continue with thoughts of preparation. How should we as Christians use our time management skills? What should we be prepared for?
One thing we should be prepared for is temptations.  If we don't prepare ourselves for temptations, we will easily fall into Satan's traps. But He has promised strength and wisdom for these situations:
John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 
James 1:5 "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
 Another thing that we need to be prepared for is trials. We know from the Bible that we will encounter trials and persecution as we live in this world.
James 1:14 "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed."
James 1:2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
We also must be prepared for the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28
1 Peter 1:13  Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
And we must be prepared to tell others about Him.
1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Wow, I think the ants have it right . . . we do need to prepare!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Proverbs 30:24-28, Little things, Part I

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

When I was small, I thought the very best Christmas and birthday presents were the huge ones. Not the medium-sized, not the large ones, but the ginormous ones. My parents would always tell me that "good things come in small packages" but I didn't think much of that adage at the time.

But we do grow up, and I think so, now. (Grin)

One 90 year old man is the beginning of an entire race of people.  Remember Abraham?
One small shepherd boy becomes the king that is a "man after God's own heart."  David, right? 
Even the church of today began as a small band of twelve disciples who followed Christ.

Our Father has a way of putting immense value in something small, and of teaching us important truths from small things, too.

The first creature in this passage is the ant -- we may not think he is very strong, since we are so much larger and can smoosh him with our shoe. But he is universally touted as very wise, because he prepares for the future, for the unknown. Remember the old cartoon short about the ant and the grasshopper? (Grin)
In other words, he plans ahead!
The ant has about 250,000 brain cells in his tiny head. That's a quarter of a million, and it sounds like a lot. 
Consider this, tho, the human brain contains about 10,000 million! A colony of 40,000 ants have about the same brain power as a human being!
But the ant does something with his little brain that we can learn from -- time management! Yep, I know, the ant doesn't call it that. In fact, he doesn't think about it much at all. He just works hard to prepare for harder seasons . . . just because it is spring or summer now, doesn't mean that winter is not coming.
We humans talk a lot about time management. But we also make some mistakes on managing one of our most precious resources: time.
We obsess about what happened yesterday.
We worry about tomorrow.
Or, we simply live for the moment, not acting wisely about the past or the future.

Why not change our attitude and adjust our thinking – and put things in place for the future?

We'll talk more about this tomorrow!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Proverbs 30:21-23 These can rock our world

21 For three things the earth is perturbed,
Yes, for four it cannot bear up:
22 For a servant when he reigns,
A fool when he is filled with food,
23 A hateful woman when she is married,
And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.

Are you ever perturbed with someone? What is perturbed? In the Hebrew, this root pictures an earthquake, a shaking of the world. And "bear up" seems to mean that we have a situation like Humpty Dumpty..... our world will get shaken up and not be able to be put back together. 
These things can rock our world.

The first one on the list is a servant who reigns: someone powerless who has become powerful. Someone who has been given more power than they can handle. We all know what happens then . . .chaos! The person unaccustomed to power suddenly has more than they can handle, and they don't handle it wisely. Bad decisions and choices are made, and they surely have consequences. One application of this would be that we need to be careful who we allow to have power over us. Make certain that we are giving obedience to the One who created us, not someone who does not have the wisdom to guide us correctly.

The next thing on our list is a fool who becomes full. What? Well, think about it for a minute. Many times the word "fool" in our studies has meant a stiff-necked, harsh bully. If someone like that becomes "full" it would usually mean full of food, satisfied with the good things on life -- in other words, wealthy. Not needing anything from anyone, and treating them pretty shabbily. (If you would like a study on the word, check out the story of Nabal in I Samuel 25. His name means what he was.) How do we treat the people who need us more than we need them? Are we harsh and mean-spirited like Nabal, or are we compassionate, following the example of our Lord?

What about the hateful woman in verse 23? I think that the writer must have been thinking about a woman who would disguise her rough edges or her real feelings, until she "hooked" her husband. Then after they were married, she didn't need to be so nice any more . . . she could let her real self show. Hmmm, how many of us treat our spouses in ways that we NEVER would have, before we were actually married? Do we speak to them in ways that we would not have spoken while we were courting or dating?

The last one on the list reminded me of Sara, Abraham's wife. The verse mentions "a maidservant who displaces her mistress." Remember what Sara did? She jumped ahead of God, trying to provide Abraham with an heir. Since she was struggling (for years) to become pregnant, she told Abraham to take her maidservant, Hagar, and Hagar did conceive and Ishmael was born. Along the way we see the relationship between the servant and mistress sorely strained -- lots of resentfulness and lots of looking down noses, too! There was strife and fighting, and even a dramatic story of being thrown out of the camp into the desert. Why did all this happen? Because Sara became impatient for God's promise to come to fulfillment.  Ouch!  I have to be honest, here, I have done that, too. Impatience is one of my problems, that is for sure. Do you share that problem? We need to rest in His promises, not be restless in them! He will deliver and be faithful -- that is His character, just as He is holy. He cannot go against that.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4

These four things can rock our world -- we need to be careful that we don't cause an earthquake ourselves!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Slowdown

I want to thank my good friend Carolyn who first told me about this singing group -- I have enjoyed their music since then, and I wanted to share with all of you.

I hope this meditation will be a blessing to you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yes, Christians can be sexy

An adulterous woman consumes a man, then wipes her mouth and says, "What's wrong with that?"

"This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'
Proverbs 30:20

The Bible is full of sex. Good sex. Bad sex, like is portrayed above. Many Christians feel it is a subject (and feelings) that must be avoided at all costs. I'm here to say they are wrong.
Now, I hear some of you gasping in disbelief, so let me explain, OK?
Biblical wisdom is good counsel, and at times is earthy. In fact, in the first nine chapters of the book of Proverbs, there is an awful lot of fatherly advice on the subjects of love, romance, and sex.
I think it is very interesting and important that this material is a mixture of realism, understanding – even sympathy – and a flinty, no-nonsense demand and warning. Perhaps that is because Proverbs is written for the young in the first place, though that sort of mixture of attitude and approach should always be ours. We should be unwilling to excuse bad conduct in this area of life; we should leave no one – especially our children – in the dark as to the tragic consequences that await those who fail to honor the Lord in their romantic and sexual life -- but we have all lived in the world and tried to maintain a pure heart. We can sympathize with those who have fallen or who are struggling to submit this area of their lives to Christ.

Well, one very quickly gets the idea when reading what this father in Proverbs says on the sexual life that the man knows what he talking about from first-hand experience. He’s felt the terrific power of temptations and knows what it takes to resist them. His counsel, his wisdom is iron cloaked in velvet!

There is something wonderful, and even amazing about the sexual life. How all of it works, how function and feeling, reproduction and romance are combined into one highly charged, significant something. It is heavenly; it can be celebrated; it can be enjoyed; and God can be thanked for it as long as it is pure and faithful sex. It cannot be celebrated if it is the selfish behavior of the person in verse 20! That is the example of a person who does not believe that sex is the expression of a life-long commitment, and a celebration of true and selfless love in marriage.

Sex is a mysterious wonder, a great gift of God, and something he has invested with mighty power. It is ours to enjoy to the fullest extent but it is also ours to steward, to protect, and to use as God intended, like all his other great gifts to us. When it is so used, as in marital sex that is loving and romantic and selfless, men and women find what a wonderful mystery it is! When it is misused it destroys individual lives, marriages, families, and eventually whole societies.

So, back to my title. Yes, Christians can be sexy. In fact, as Christians we have a great advantage in this department! You see it works as it should when it becomes one more way of putting the interests of others before your own and loving someone else as Christ loved you! Wow! Think about that for a minute....

If you go back to chapter 7 of Proverbs, you will find a description of the ways that a woman "lays a trap" for a youth, someone who is not as wise as the father giving the warnings. It speaks of tactile sensations, aromas, soft lighting and fabrics . . . okay, let's just be straight here. We are talking about aphrodisiacs -- things that pave the way for a lovely experience. Now, I hope I haven't lost you here . . . I'm still the same old Snoodles that you know. 

If you look over at the Song of Solomon, where a bride and bridegroom are speaking, you find many of the same things.  In the Song, the bridegroom and the bride take turns saying wonderful things about each other. Have we forgotten the power of an affectionate word? Taking the time to give evidence during each day that we love one another . . . have we forgotten how fun it is to surprise each other with a chore done, or a favorite small gift given? And yes, taking from our modern culture whatever the new-fangled options are for myrrh, cinnamon, and other smells and tastes ...

Are we somehow less spiritual because we cultivate the pleasure we find with our spouse? Far from it! Make it as pleasurable as you can, for the Bible encourages us to live holy lives and be "intoxicated" with the love of our mate!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Proverbs 30:18-19 Mysteries

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
    four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a young woman.

Ah, the mysteries of life! In addition to inspiring songs, they should also provide amazement, and then, in a Christian, should motivate praise to God the Father!

In other words, these are mysteries of our Creator; these are things that amaze us because they "shouldn't" work or function as easily as we might think . . . and so they are proof positive of the Divine Design that is in our world.

The first wonderful thing is the way of the eagle in the sky: that is, the soaring, seeming effortlessness with which the great bird defies gravity. Eagles are very large birds, very heavy. If you could ever lift one up it would amaze you that so much weight can navigate the sky with such seeming ease. The condor, for example, when it is aloft, flaps its wings on average once per hour! And the condor is even bigger than the eagle! Wonderful indeed.
            The second is the movement of a serpent on a smooth rock. It has no legs and the rock has nothing to grab onto, but a snake moves lickety-split across the rock and even as you watch it is not easy to see precisely how it manages to move as quickly and easily as it does. The zoologists would tell us that is because of their well-developed muscles and their ventral scales! This is wonderful, too.
            The third is a ship on the high seas. The marvelous thing is the way it defies the hidden depths of the sea and is untroubled even by great waves. In those days ships were smaller than our large ships today but even the mighty ocean with its terrible power couldn’t drag them under. They would disappear in the trough between two waves and seem certain to be buried, but then would pop up on the crest of the next wave, safe and sound. Again, a wonderful thing, how the ship is able to float and navigate on the top of the water.
             The fourth thing is the "way" of a man with a young maiden. The Bible is not prudish when it comes to our sexuality, as we will see in our study tomorrow. (Have I gotten your attention?) We all have seen the mysterious and wonderful attraction of love, romance, and sexuality between men and women. It is indeed wonderful, and it is something to be celebrated!

Aren't you glad, like I am, that our Father created a wonderful world for us to live in? So many things point to His authorship, and cause us to praise Him!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prayer Requests

Every other week on our study blog, we offer the opportunity to share requests and praises for answered prayers here.

Please let us know if there is something that we can pray with you about. The Bible tells us these encouraging words:
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16
Please be sure to also check our Prayer Request Page to refresh your memory about needs that have been shown to us, and pray with us today in your time with the Lord.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Proverbs 30:17 Stones or prayers

“The eye that mocks a father,
that scorns an aged mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
will be eaten by the vultures.

Many of us are shocked at the verses here and at the ones in Deuteronomy, which state:
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
These were written to the Hebrews, who were under the law of Moses, and serve as an extreme warning to young people. God meant business when He told children to respect their parents.
This seems truly harsh to us in our era, but there were important reasons why this was necessary:
                  1. First, it was to demonstrate the exacting requirements of the Law, a perfect and unforgiving standard.
                  2. Second, it demonstrates the need for grace that would eventually be made known on the cross.
                  3. Third, should rebellion take root, the very heart of the gospel would be at risk since the prophecies of the Messiah coming to and through Israel could be undermined should rebellion become rampant and society could fall apart -- causing the prophecies to fail.
There are also safeguards built into this law:
     1. It refers to a son, not to a daughter.
     2. He is stubborn, rebellious, gluttonous and a drunkard.
     3. Only the parents can do this, and they must agree on the issue.
     4. He is brought before the elders, and investigation is held.
     5. There is no case on record where this law was used and upheld.
     6. This law (by its mere existence) would have discouraged youth from these vices.
(Courtesy of John Haley's book, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1992, p. 288.)
Under God's grace, instead of His law, we find these instructions for children:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.  Ephesians 6:1-3
And we find these instructions for us, as parents:
And you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4
 If we are Christians and we want to live as Christian parents, then we should start by having daily devotions with our family -- daily reading the Word and praying. Take the children's concerns and prayers to heart, and show them by example that we should rely on God.

Have we prayed with our children (or grandchildren) today? Have we read the Bible to them or with them? 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Slowdown

Thank you for sticking with us this week, in our studies.

I hope that you have received some small thought that will help you in your daily walk. I know that God will bless us as we study His word and strive to live for Him.

We studied people and things that are not satisfied. And we closed with notes on how He can satisfy our longings. I thought this song was appropriate for our meditation today.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I can't get "no" satisfaction, Conclusion

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

It's hard to stop a wildfire.  We've all seen reports on television showing firefighters struggling to contain fires that threaten woodlands and homes. The flames are forcing them back to safety while the helicopters drop many thousands of gallons of water in attempts to quench the fires. Each year millions of acres are devastated by fires.
This verse is talking not just about those types of fires, but also about the fires of hell. That is not a topic that many people are comfortable talking about, but it is a fact that hell exists. Some people will insist that hell is not real, but personally, I will take Christ's word for it:
 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41
And in the ninth chapter of Mark, Jesus says that "the fire is not quenched." It never burns out, and is never satisfied. Hell will never end.
No one has to go to hell, though many will:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."  Matthew 7:13
But God has provided a way of escape:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:!6
And we can be confident that He will hear our prayer, asking for deliverance:
And this is the confidence that we have with regard to him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we had asked from him. I John 5:14-15
Yes, Jesus does save us and He satisfies us!
for he satisfies the longing soul
    and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail. 
Isaiah 58:11
I CAN get satisfaction! Amen!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I can't get "no" satisfaction, Part III

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

You don't have to have lived in the desert to have seen parched earth, do you? Many of us who enjoy gardening have experienced the frustration of coaxing plants along, only to have them succumb to drought conditions!
Some of us have seen the way that dry earth can form large cracks on the surface, for lack of moisture. I remember when I was a child I poured water into one of those cracks and it never seemed to fill up with water.
In much the same way, we can never be satisfied until the Holy Spirit pours Himself into us -- and we need a fresh infilling each and every day!
Isaiah 44:3 tells us:
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.

And David tells us in Psalm 42: 1-2:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

Jesus told His disciples, and we need to hear it too . . . the absence of the Holy Spirit will bring dissatisfaction, discouragement, and defeat. The Spirit will instruct us, and will guide us in all things. How miserable we are when we don't have Him in our lives!  But I received the Spirit when I was saved, you say . . .yes, but it is clear from the Word that we can grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30), and we can quench Him (I Thess. 5:19). We must repent of our sins each day and ask Him to work freely through us. Then we can have the satisfaction He gives. We can have His presence afresh each day.

Is the Spirit free to work in us today?