Thursday, March 29, 2012

Proverbs 19: 24

The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, and will not even bring it back to his mouth.

As I was going about my day yesterday thinking about this verse, my mind could not get off the thought of our Christian walk and Bible study. How often have we been all fired up for God, and then we became sluggish. And the more sluggish we became, the less we did. So that before long, we could not even turn a page in the Bible on our own, or lift up a prayer of thanks to our God and Savior?

It took me quite some time to write this study because I could not figure a way to expand on that. But then I realized...God does not want me to expand on that today. I could get all 'wordy' and 'preachy' and point out other passages but I think today we are to search our hearts.

Are you too sluggish to seek out God on your own? Do you open your Bible anymore at all? Do you worship God at all? Do you lift a song of praise to Him? Do you pray for anything other than selfish reasons?

Comments have been turned off for this post because I really feel that today we need to search our hearts and  communicate between ourselves and God (only) about this. 

Today is a 'getting our knees dirty' kind of day. Have a good prayer time.

Oh...and PS...if you are reading this sometime other than March 29, 2012--then maybe it is because today is the day you need to hear it. Let God speak to you!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. 

We have chatted many times throughout our study about the fear of the Lord; and how by putting our faith and trust in Him we find happiness and contentment. Today we are going to talk about human fear.

So what are you afraid of? Seriously, what scares you to death? I am one of these people that are not afraid of many things. I will hike alone in the woods at all hours of the day and night--but I fear being alone in the city.
I love storms. I don't fear thunder, lightning or even tornadoes even though I've lived in tornado alley all my life. I don't fear rain, but I do fear the ocean.

This verse goes a bit deeper than these silly little 'surface' fears I think. When I see the word 'evil' I immediately think of Satan and his schemes. There are deeper things that sometimes I do fear. Like the path this country is taking. I fear that someday my children will be persecuted for their beliefs. But then I shake myself a bit and remind myself that God is in control. It is my job to teach my children how to put on and use their armor. Then it is my job to place them in God's hands. I think a bit of healthy fear is's good to fear the path our country is taking; because it reminds us to be anxiously watching for Him to return.

Anyway...there are so many things to fear. I remember when there were tough times in my life, at night I would imagine myself cuddled in my Abba Fathers arms. I don't know what it's like to be cuddled and loved by an earthly father, but that's ok because it probably pales in comparison to the warmth and security I feel when I place myself in my Father's care.

In close here is a fun matching game for you. Match the reference that talks about fear to the sentences below:

John 16:33, Proverbs 3: 5-6, Isaiah 41:13, Matthew 6:25-7:29, Psalm 23:1-6

1. God holds our hand and says, "Fear not".

2. Don't trust yourself. Lean on God and what he has shown you. If you do that you will remain on the straight path He has shown you.

3. This world is full of trials and tribulations, but God has overcome the world and we find peace in Him.

4. I will fear no evil...

5. Don't worry about what you will wear or what you will eat...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Proverbs 19 : 22 Best Wishes

Pro 19:22  The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

I have to admit, this verse was a little bit hard for me. I wasn't sure what to make of it - but good ole Matthew Henry bailed me out!
Let me encourage each of you to find a study Bible or commentary that works for you . . . they can be invaluable when you are confused by a verse, or if you just want to know a little more about a concept that you find in the Word.
Let me ask all of us a question, here. And, no, I am not starting down a rabbit trail, just encouraging some thought and discussion.

Why do you want money?

I can hear the tires screeching as you back up and read that again. Well, for crying out loud, you say, I want to be able to buy my family groceries, and pay the heating bill, and purchase the medicines, and, and --- yes, I understand that. Do you want more? Do we all strive to have more? Why?
I don't think that many of us that follow this study blog would be trying to amass a small fortune so that they could buy a yacht, or an island in the South Pacific, or even to take over a small corporation.  Probably we fall into the category that Matthew Henry was talking about, when he said this about this verse:
       The honour of doing good is what we may laudably be ambitious of. It cannot but be the desire of man, if he have any spark of virtue in him, to be kind; one would not covet an estate for any thing so much as thereby to be put into a capacity of relieving the poor and obliging our friends.
I know I'm there. I'd love to be able to gift to those that I know are needing help; to assist in ministries that are God-based and persecuted by Satan; to cheerfully donate to causes that move my heart. I can do so in a small way, but how joyful it would be, if I could give more!
Here is the kernel of truth in this verse . . . it's far better to be a poor person, and offer your best wishes and prayers for blessings to someone, than to be a rich person and make lots of noise and hoopla about how you are going to give, give, give --- and then not come through.
It's much better for a person to desire to be kind and generous (because both God and man will understand that those desires are all she can offer) than to be a rich person, and make people believe that you will do mighty and charitable things --- and then be seen for a liar when nothing happens.
Good will, prayers, best wishes . . . those are special gifts. Gifts of honesty and integrity. And the blessings that come as a result are worth far more than money.
If you have time, let me know what you think!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Proverbs 19 : 19 - 21 The Temporary and the Eternal

(Tonya's internet is out, so I'm filling in for her today and on Tuesday....she'll probably have service restored by then.)

Pro 19:19  A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment: for if thou deliver him, yet thou must do it again.
Pro 19:20  Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.
Pro 19:21  There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
When I read these three verses, what struck me was the contrast here between things that are temporary, and things that are eternal. Let me explain . . .
First, a man of great wrath --- how many people have you known that have a prodigious (I love big've probably noticed that) temper, but that seem to cool down just as fast as the fireworks started? Their fury is only temporary; they apologize, kiss and make up, and all is well. Except, of course, for the hurt feelings that they may have caused, but hopefully they live with sweet, forgiving family, and the temporary hurricane is abated.
Second, Solomon tells us to "hear counsel" . . . listen and receive (pay attention to) instruction, and then increase in wisdom. Many times our chances to hear counsel are limited. Kind of a "opportunity knocking" situation, and if you don't pay attention quickly, your chance to get that instruction has slipped by like a canoe traversing the rapids. Another example of how temporary things can be in this mortal life.  You might wish that you could "go back and do it again" but that just isn't how it works!

Ah, but here we come to the third verse in our trio --- this takes our other verses and makes beautiful harmony.  The counsel of God is eternal; Solomon is exulting here in the power of our God, and saying His counsel is forever!
Okay, let's straighten out something here. In verse 20, "counsel" meant advice, opinion, or instruction. What's different about "counsel" in verse 21?  In verse 21, we are looking at another meaning of that root --- plan or purpose.  How do I know? Well, in the first part of the verse, the devices (schemes and plans) of men are mentioned, and they can be one of these:
          a. against God's counsel
          b. without God's counsel
          c. unlike God's counsel
The plans of men can be against God's counsel when they directly oppose God. (When you get a chance, check out Psalm 2:1-3 for this kind of plan.)  Their plans can be without God's counsel when they devise schemes without regard to His will or providence (see James 4:13 for this one). And lastly, their plans can be unlike God's counsel when they are unjust or unwise --- God is wise and holy, unwavering and faithful.

Now, where does that leave us?  Well, mortal (there's that idea of temporary again) men can have various plans and designs, but the counsel (plan, purpose) of the Lord --- that shall stand, no matter what becomes of the devices of men. Our omnipotent God can change men's plans and baffle their devices, but their devices cannot alter his counsel -- cannot disturb it's progress -- cannot force him into new plans.
Check out this verse in Isaiah:
The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. (Isaiah 14:24)
And this one, also in Isaiah:
 . . . yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. (Isaiah 46:11)
How comforting it is, to realize that God's counsel (His advice, His plans, and His purposes) are right, and good, and shall all be accomplished in His timing! That is an eternal promise from our eternal Lord!

Friday, March 23, 2012

I've been kinda tough on you this week.....

I think today we might need a respite; we could use a time of meditation. You know that I love the old hymns -- the rich theology contained in them helps us grow in Christ.

Take a moment to listen to this version of "Jesus, I my Cross have Taken" and let the words indwell you. I hope it is meaningful to you.  Have a blessed weekend, my friends.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Proverbs 19 : 18 Nip it in the bud!

Got a question for you today -- how many of you have watched the Andy Griffith show? Do you like or dislike his deputy, Barney?

Ya, I know, this is a strange way to start off our study for today . . . let me show you where I'm going!

Barney had a phrase that he loved to use: "Nip it in the bud!"  Quite often he was trying to convince his laid back boss to stop a problem while it was very small -- before it had developed into something larger.  Often his misgivings turned out to be hilariously wrong, but occasionally he was right.

Wonder if his grandma or mom used our verse today if they had to discipline him . . . Hmmmm, did anyone use it for you?
Pro 19:18  Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Now, I don't know if you "believe" in spanking or punishments, but it seems that Solomon was well-acquainted with child rearing. I guess with so many wives, there had to be a lot of kids running around in that palace!

Quite frankly, the chastening that results most in crying has to be spanking - you know, spare the rod and spoil the child? But in our home, that was the Last Resort. You used all other methods before you used the Last Resort. And it had to be a Large Infraction. Or a Large Transgression. I mean, there are many other ways to get the point across, right?
Just the same, I can probably count on the fingers of one hand, the times that my Mr. or I had to administer the Last Resort.  And that is distributed over three kiddos. And I know that each of those times, the spanker was crying almost as much as the spankee.  So I guess if Solomon was standing in my kitchen, he'd be shaking his head and murmuring this verse, but I think it would have come out, "let not thy soul spare for your own crying, either!"
Today, by God's grace, the three kiddos that He loaned to us are happy, healthy, productive Christians. Two of them have indicated to us that they appreciate our efforts in raising the three of them.
I guess I'm glad that we nipped some problems in the bud!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Proverbs 19 : 15-16 Lending to the Lord

Pro 19:15  Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.
Pro 19:16  He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die.
Pro 19:17  He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Remember the old film short that showed a lazy grasshopper, lolling about in the summer, while the ants busily laid up stores for the winter? Later in the short, you saw the grasshopper shivering in the cold, knocking on the ant's door, and asking for something to eat! Somehow I think that even a busy king like Solomon probably remembered being a child and watching those busy ants. This (verse 15) is one of several verses where he warns us about slothfulness.
In verse 16, Solomon cautions us to keep the commandments, and not to "despise" our ways. The study Bible I have notes that in this verse, despise is a synonym for scorn. Perhaps he is also cautioning us to value the good ways, the right paths, and the commandments.
The last verse reminds me of my grandma: she was always doing nice things for others, and when I was really small, she began teaching me that I should "cast my bread upon the waters" . . . in today's language I guess this would be "what goes around comes around" or even "paying it forward."
This is indeed yet another way of phrasing this "law" or concept that can bring blessings. Many people embody this in their lives. They are generous to those less fortunate -- they are team players -- they don't seek credit, but are happy for all to be enriched.
There is definitely a time to sow, and a time to reap. Many people think that you can do both at the same time. However, you can't be sure when or from where you will reap --- but it will happen. More than likely, the same person to whom you give, will not be the person who will repay your kindness. But God takes what we sow, and multiplies it into abundance. So, cheerfully do all that's in your power to lift, to build, to serve and help others from morning until night. You never know when or how your blessings will return, but you know it's a promise from Him.          

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Proverbs 19 : 13 - 14 I am a Nag

OK, ladies, today we have a survey for you to take. The results of this survey will not be published; you will be the only ones who know your own results.


Question #1: Have you ever asked your husband to do something  --- repeatedly? Like, shall we say, several times daily?
Question #2: Have you ever made a list of things that you would like for your husband to do, and posted it prominently -- in a place in your home where he can't possibly fail to see it? Several times daily?
Question #3: Have you ever asked him to do something, and then when he doesn't complete the task in the time you feel it should be done in, have you sighed (loudly) and done it yourself? And made a fair amount of noise doing it, so he will be sure to note that YOU are doing it, when you asked HIM to do it?

I must confess, that in the thirty-four years that I have been married to my Mr., I have indeed used all of these tactics on him at least once. My hand was raised, ladies. I am a nag.

Now, that's not to say that I still use these strategies. I would like to think that in those years, I have grown up a little, but hey! I'm human, and I am still tempted to do those (and worse) in order to get my way!!

With as many wives as Solomon had, I expect that he thought he was an expert:

Pro 19:13  A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.
Pro 19:14  House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.
A continual dropping . . . like a drip from a leaky faucet . . . we all know what Chinese water torture is, right?  Personally, I think that nagging can be one of the most toxic things in a relationship. You know why I know this? Because I am a Type A personality, and I am married to a laid back, mellow kind of Mr.
For years I would be channeling my inner Martha, and bustling around doing the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., and not make much time for him. I allowed it to be very obvious that I thought I was doing the right thing, and that I sure. Would. Appreciate. Some. Help. Did I get it? Yes. Was it cheerfully given? Not so much.
However, when I changed my tactics (this was due to conviction and scripture reading, girls, not a self-help marriage manual) and began to take time to sit down with him and focus more on what he was paying attention to, and genuinely enjoy spending time with him, things changed. He became much more attentive to things that I wanted to focus on, and more cheerful about things that I thought were important!
In the second verse there, "prudent" has several synonyms listed in my study notes: intelligent, wise, skilled. Hmm, I like the sound of that, don't you? And if I model those traits instead of nagging, then my Mr. will have cause to thank God that he has me!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prov. 19 : 10 - 12 Lions Roaring

Pro 19:10  Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.
Pro 19:11  The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
Pro 19:12  The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew upon the grass.
First, I want to thank Tonya for a great week of study last week! She led us in some very thoughtful discussions, and I know I learned a lot -- hope you did, too!
Verses 10 and 11 above are concepts that we've covered before -- how incongruous it is for a servant to rule over princes; how a fool lacks wisdom to know that his delightful blessings are from the hand of God; and how if we are slow to anger and forget a transgression against us, it is to our credit.
Verse 11 is where I would like to linger today. At first, I looked at this in the light of some of the kings that we read about in the Old Testament. The kings of old were true despots, and ruled with absolute power. If you look in an online dictionary, the second definition listed for "despot" is a "tyrannical" ruler.

Several kings in the Bible were compared to lions; lions are ferocious when hungry, and that is the characteristic that is being noted here. Let's look at Jeremiah 50:17.
Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.
The king of Assyria, and the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, are both called lions by the prophet. Their rage was dreadful, and the results were written in the history of Israel. In the New Testament we still have accounts of despotic rulers --- Paul notes that he was delivered out of the hands of one, in II Timothy 4:7:
Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 
Of course, the opposite of the wrath of the king was his favor, and we can imagine what relief a person might feel, if the king were to smile upon him, instead of raging at him!
The reason for my interest in studying this verse was that Jesus, our Savior, is called the Lion of Judah. He is said to cry out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars, in several verses in Revelation. His wrath will be terrible to sinners, and even those who have been earthly kings and rulers . . . but His favor will truly be as dew upon the grass.
What does dew accomplish for the grass it falls upon?  Well, even when there has been no rain, the dew can cause the grass to grow and flourish. The favor and good will of our Father King will water our souls, cause joy and cheerfulness, and delight us as only His love can:
Isa 58:11  And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is it ever ok to tell a lie?

A recap of yesterday....

I asked if it is ever OK to tell a lie, then I gave you a couple of passages to study. Let me review those very quickly.

Joshua 2:1-16. Rahab, the prostitute, hid the spies, but then lied when she was questioned. Rahab and her family were spared because she protected God's people.

In Exodus 1, we find that Pharaoh commanded that the Hebrew midwives murder any male baby at birth. In verse 20 it says that God was good the midwives for doing this.

Let's see...Jacque gave a response yesterday (Thanks for your input Jacque!) that said this , "The Ten Commandments have been mentioned, but remember when the question was asked of Jesus...and He said the "greatest" Law was to "love the Lord your God ...and to love your neighbor..." He said that if we keep these two commandments, we have kept the whole of the Law. In my finite mind, that means that the midwives and Rahab put their love and fear (reverence) of God first. By doing that, they "kept" all of the Law."

Before I give my thoughts, let's look at a few more verses. There are many many many Bible verses about lying. I had to really trim my list to keep it to a manageable size for you all. Here are some that I feel are the most powerful: ( they are in KJV because I used a cheater list. At least I am being honest! Saved me tons of typing!!)

Leviticus 6:1-4, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour…or hath deceived his neighbour…and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty," (How many times lying mentioned just in this passage alone?)

Psalms 101:7, "He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." 

Proverbs 6:16-19, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."(note...lies are mentioned TWICE here!)

Ephesians 4:25, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another."

Colossians 3:9, "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;"

Revelation 21:8, "…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:"


My thoughts? Well, let me ask you a couple of questions.

In the case of Rahab...could not God have blinded the eyes of the soldiers if Rahab had been truthful? Not being a person of God, I am sure that she really never even thought about it one way or another, and God knew that. He blessed her for fearing Him the best she knew how at the time. But I feel if she would have been truthful, God would have taken care of the Israelites in probably a much more powerful way.

In the case of the midwives...what if? What if they stood before Pharaoh and refused to murder the boys? There was Daniel. He was thrown into a den of lions because he displayed a PUBLIC fear of the Lord...and what happened?
How about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Because of their obedience and PUBLIC fear of the Lord, God was able to show His power in a great and mighty way there as well.

So, now what do you think? Now you've got something to ponder over the weekend.

What's the right answer? Well, we each will form our own opinion. Jacque had some good points. If you were to ask me personally, I am sure that you figured out by now that I hold to the opinion that it is NEVER ok to sin against God and his commandments. Scripture is very clear time and time again that lying is wrong. God's will always happens. He'll work through sin if He has to. But when He can work through truth the results are always much more mighty and powerful.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Proverbs 19:1-9


1  Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity
    than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.
2 Desire[a] without knowledge is not good,
    and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
3 When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,
    his heart rages against the Lord.
4  Wealth brings many new friends,
     but a poor man is deserted by his friend.
5  A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will not escape.
6 Many seek the favor of a generous man,
    and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
7  All a poor man's brothers hate him;
     how much more do his friends go far from him!
He pursues them with words, but does not have them.
8  Whoever gets sense loves his own soul;
    he who keeps understanding will discover good.
9  A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will perish.

That is a big bunch of verses that I gave us for today. Can you see the theme? Let's take it apart a bit. You won't find it in every verse, but if you will take the time to study these a bit, you will find an underlying theme about lying and false witnesses.

Lying is a serious thing. It can be the root of so many relationship problems. As soon as you lie to someone, you immediately lose through trust...probably for good. You certainly lose their respect.

A it ever ok to tell a lie? I'd like to just leave that thought hanging with you today. And before you  answer a quick and immediate, "No!", please take the time today to look at the following Bible passages. Neither passage is very long. You might just change your mind after reading them. Or maybe not. What do you think? Was it ok for these women to lie?

The story of Rahab: Joshua 2:1-16

The Midwives: Exodus 1: 15-22

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Proverbs 18: 23-24

23 The poor use entreaties,
    but the rich answer roughly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

We are going to focus on verse 24 today....

Are you a good friend? Are you really? Think about one of your dearest and closest friends. And then please look up the following verses:

Proverbs 17:17--When?
John 15:13--To what extent?

You order to have friends, one must be friendly!

Today think about past friendships. What happened? Why are you not friends anymore? Then think about today friendships. Jot a list of today's friends. Then pray for them. That's a nice start to being a great friend! Your friendship can be just the thing to bring someone to Christ, or closer to Christ.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Proverbs 18:22

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
    and obtains favor from the Lord

I am so happy to see this verse, aren't you? I mean after all, Solomon is kind of hard on us women, always talking about our mouths and then throwing things in like those leaky faucet or corner of the attic verses. 

Husbands--are you listening here? It is a good thing you married us. So there!

Lol, I thought about ending today's post right there, just to see what your reaction would be. But since the whole purpose that I feel God led me to do this study is to study...I guess that we'd better get a bit more deeply involved. 

I guess the obvious question it a good thing? Do you give your husband reasons--on a daily basis--to be thankful that he married you? When he comes home from work is this what he is greeted by?
(June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver for those that don't know. Her character often gets teased as she is the ultimate housewife. Everything is always perfect. Her hair, her dress, her food, her house.)

Or do we greet our husbands like this:

(Rosanne--her tv character was sloppy, disrespectful, etc.)

My illustrations may seem silly. But really, think about the verse, and think about it. Which would your husband rather be greeted by? 

Your husband chose you. Above every other woman in the world..he wanted you.
Tonight when he comes home...give him a reason to be thankful once again that he did choose you.

Oh, and p.s.--the greatest thing that you can do for your husband is to serve the Lord and put God first in your life. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Proverbs 18: 20-21

Good morning! I am looking forward to a good week of Bible study. We had a busy weekend with church revival. That always is uplifting, so I hope I can spill some of what I learned over onto you.This is an answer to prayer for us; as it has taken sometime to find a church home. We knew about this one for a while but were hesitant because it is 30 miles from home; but then were convicted that many Christians in other countries sacrifice so much more than a short drive to worship with other believers. Enjoy your week. --Tonya

20  From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied;
    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Oh dear, here we go again with the lip/mouth/speech passages. Why do you think Solomon chose to speak about this so often. Ha! I think we all know why. We have often talked about the negative harm we can cause my opening our mouths, so today let's talk about the positive ones. Here are a couple of quotations for us:

"I could live for a whole month on one good compliment." --Mark Twain

It may seem insignificant
To say a word or two,
But when it is encouragement,
What wonders it can do! -- K. De Haan

Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.” --John C Maxwell

“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”--unknown

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.”--William Arthur Ward

We as Christians have an obligation to one another. Our encouragement to one another should be so much more than just a pat on the back and an "At-a-boy!".  It is our responsibility to go above and beyond when one is down. Or continue to encourage one to use their God given talents in a way that is pleasing to Him.

I have a little exercise for us today. Pick five people that could use some encouragement. And I am going to make it a step harder. Pick 5 people that are not in your inner circle of friends/family that you talk to everyday via internet, phone, person. Jot them in your journal, then each day this week pick one of those people. Start out by praying for them. Next send them a card. Not an email. A real live card! A note card is just need for fancy. If you could include something small, that would be nice too. If they live local perhaps instead of a card drop a random gift at their door.

Oh, I just thought of my first person....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Proverbs 18 : 16 - 19 Like the Bars of a Castle

Pro 18:16  A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
Pro 18:17  He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.
Pro 18:18  The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
Pro 18:19  A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

There's a lot here . . . let's jump in! Verse 16 speaks of bribery, and what that bribe can accomplish. In the previous chapter, Solomon noted that a bribe could "pervert the ways of judgment" and here he says that it can place him in the company of men of power.  Verse 17 speaks of a person presenting his case, and reminds us that we must hear both sides of a story before passing judgment or making a decision.  Next, verse 18 notes that endless arguments and struggles between powerful people were settled in ancient times by lot. We have many examples of this in the Old Testament, in the division of the land of Canaan, to settle doubtful questions, and directly determine a decision. Solomon is noting here that after the lot is cast, the wrangling will cease (at least if both parties agree to accept that decision!).

Verse 19 is our focus verse today . . . remember when we had a verse that talked about a strong city -- a fortified city, perhaps with a tower? The castle inside may have bars on the doors and windows, to make it even harder to conquer.  We mentioned then that this was a very secure position to be in: safe and strong. That city is exceedingly hard to conquer or overcome.
Solomon is drawing a parallel between that hard-to-conquer city, and the hard-to-win offended brother or sister. We must take great care not to offend or hurt those we are related to, either in our earthly families, or in our heavenly ones (those who are our Christian brothers and sisters).  Resentments can be carried too far or too long, and the longer they are carried, the harder it is to overcome them. Remember Esau? He had been offended (actually he was treated pretty shabbily) by his brother, and it took a work of God's grace to change his heart.  He was won, in answer to Jacob's prayer.
It may be that we have offended a brother or sister in Christ. Let us always be open to self-inspection, and ready to make amends, before they become as hard to win as a fortified city, with bars on the castle!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Proverbs 18 : 14 - 15 A Wounded Spirit

Pro 18:14  The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Pro 18:15  The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.

Heartache comes in many forms, at many times in our lives. It is always painful, sometimes crippling --- physically and spiritually.  It's easy for us to get caught up in our despair, grief, discouragement, and even shut out others in our misery.   Some of us handle our particular heartache by talking about it, trying desperately to find reasons and solutions.  Some of us retreat; we are fearful of reaching out again, only to be rejected.

Humankind, even those we consider our friends, may not offer comfort, encouragement, or forgiveness. But Jesus stands ready, with open arms, reaching out to us before we even fall on our knees and ask Him. I know. I've been there, and He was there before I looked up.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus made a habit of healing the broken spirit, the lame, the blind, the lepers; He even raised the dead. So often when we read these stories we think of them as having physical ailments, but these can also be heartaches, and deep sorrows.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:  the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”  Matthew 11: 4-5

Look at these groups of people . . . put on your special spiritual "glasses" that allow you to see and understand things figuratively, not just literally . . .
Literally lame people are crippled, unable or barely able to walk.  With our glasses, we can see that this could mean people who have been permanently damaged by their sorrows. Their greatest need is kindness, compassion, and a helping hand.
The literally blind people are unable to see.  With our glasses, we can see that there are people so "blinded" by their sorrow that they are unable to perceive spiritual things. They lack the wisdom that we have studied, so they repeat the same mistakes, over and over again.
Real lepers are outcasts in the literal world.  In the spiritual world, our glasses let us see people whose particular heartache is not being accepted by anyone.  They fear they are misfits.  Friendless and alone, they  look in, wishing for a place.
In our physical world, the deaf cannot hear.  Our glasses let us understand that there are people who need our assistance in order to hear and understand the things of the Spirit. 

This is the miracle of Jesus --- he healed them all. He looked upon them with eyes of compassion and love, something that no one else did. He healed their brokeness and made them whole again.
Dealing with sorrows of the heart takes time, compassion, love, and patience.  Whether we are the ones in pain, or someone else, we can ask Him to heal our hearts, and we can bring others with us to His side.

No one --- absolutely no one --- is a lost cause when Jesus is involved.

This is the hope that keeps me going, as I thank Him for His grace, comfort and strength.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Proverbs 18 : 12 - 13 Two Cousins

Pro 18:12  Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
Pro 18:13  He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Hmmm....where have we heard the first verse before? In slightly different words? I'd like for you to research that, and if you would like to answer in a comment, that will be great. I'll give you a hint: it wasn't too long ago . . . once in chapter 15, and once in chapter 16, too. (There are others, but those are the most recent.)

I'd like to concentrate on verse 13 for today. Two cousins came to my mind when I read it --- one was Mrs. Gotta Interruptya, a person who often thinks she knows exactly what someone is talking about, even before they finish. She has forgotten all about the fact that God gave her two ears, and that she would be wise to listen twice as much as she talks. Convinced of her own wisdom and experience, she is only too willing to cut a speaker off in mid-sentence, and sometimes has to retire in red-faced confusion when she is corrected by further explanations.

Her cousin, however, is Mrs. Jumpinto Conclusions, who will listen eagerly to a speaker, and as soon as they stop to breathe, she will jump in like a paratrooper from a skydive, and tell anyone patient enough to listen to her, that she knows all about the end result. She knows what will happen; she can predict the future just as well as if she had a crystal --- well, you know.

Neither one of these ladies is a very good witness for the Lord. In fact, once they have engaged someone in conversation a few times, it has been observed that the hapless victim will go to great lengths to avoid their company.  This drastically reduces the chances of the cousins' saying an encouraging word or asking if they might pray with someone.

I thought that Matthew Henry summed it up rather well:

It is folly for a man to go about to speak to a thing which he does not understand, or to pass sentence upon a matter which he is not truly and fully informed of, and has not patience to make a strict enquiry into; and, if it be folly, it is and will be shame.
I think I shall be very careful NOT to be like those ladies . . .

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Proverbs 18 : 10 - 11 Safety in His Strength

Pro 18:10  The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.
Pro 18:11  The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit.

Remember when you were very small, and something frightened you? What did you do?

I remember practically climbing up my dad, knowing that his strong arms would hold me safe from whatever was threatening me, even if it was just the neighbors' son, brandishing his water gun. High above my would-be attacker, I could serenely smile, feeling safe and secure.

In the Old Testament,  a refuge or fortress was a very real need. Un-walled villages snuggled around walled "stronghold" cities, where residents in the region would flee in times of trouble and war. High towers could be defended against an army many times the size of the force inside. If you were a villager and you heard rumors of an army on the march, it would bring you comfort to look over your shoulder and see that high tower that you would run to if necessary.
Our God, His name, and His promises, are a strong tower for us -- He is our safety and our security. Solomon contrasts the rich man, who can be tempted by his conceit and his wealth, to think that his riches and the power he has, will be his security and his safety.
I'm so glad that we can depend on our Lord, and on His promises, and feel the comfort of His arms to hold and shield us --- no matter what threatens us!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Proverbs 18 : 9 Idle Hands . . .

Pro 18:9  He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

Hi y'all, it's Snoodles here, and I'll be with you all of this week. If the thoughts of springtime have you feeling lazy, you might want to come back tomorrow.  I'm just kidding, OK?

You may be wondering what in the world Solomon, the wealthy king, knew of "work" . . .  While it's true that he probably didn't put his gloves on and tend the garden, help build a road, or hammer a few nails in the building of the temple,  I imagine he stayed pretty busy. Think about it: he had both a huge household and a small nation to be responsible for. There were issues of procuring resources, building the temple, maintaining the army, securing the borders and appeasing the occasional angry king next door.  I expect that he stayed involved in these matters, using the wisdom that God had bestowed upon him.

What does that have to do with us? Solomon says that it is just as bad to be wasteful of the blessings and talents that God has gifted us, as it is to be idle -- slothful, in our work. But what is our "work"? For some of us, it is being that Very Important Person: mother (or grandmother). We may also have responsibilities in a job inside or outside the home, to help meet the family's needs.
Digging a little deeper, we all have the responsibility to be a witness for our Lord; we should also be certain to include prayer time and Bible study in our day. That is how we gain the wisdom and the "fuel," so to speak, to keep us going in our service to Him.  Matthew Henry's commentary mentions that if we are "trifling and careless" in our spiritual life, then we are just as guilty as those who are idle or wasteful in their physical lives.

Lord, nudge me to spend time with you, receiving just what you know that I need, to do a good job for you today.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thank you

Thank you for the comments! I completely enjoy our Bible study and I am happy to announce that we have a couple of new people joining us. If any of you are on facebook come find me (Tonya M Owens, Cameron, Missouri) and I'll let you join our secret Bible study page. We post prayer requests, etc.

This week I am starting something new.(I've got something up my sleeve for Saturday's too. This is why I posted a poll--just to be sure there are people joining us.)  Each week I want to give us a verse of the week. The pastor read the following verse in church today and I new it was PERFECT considering the study we just had this past week. So here is your verse of the week. Memorize, sticky note it, live it! Have a good week ladies.

James 1:22

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (NASB)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (NIV)

But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (NLT)

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I added a very simple two question Poll. Please go to the Bible study blog and answer HONESTLY even if you read this by email.

Thank you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

From one Scarred Hand to the Other

All week long we've been doing some self examination. Pretty heavy stuff. Thankfully, no matter what we've done...all we need to do is ask forgiveness. Here's some hope for you this weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Proverbs 18: 6-8

Today we are going to continue on the same path that we've been following and look at some of the results of being self-absorbed. On Tuesday we talked about that selfishness can lead to self-destruction. Today lets look at some of that self-destruction.

Verse 6--who wants to be around a loud mouthed know-it-all? No one. Usually loud mouths find themselves alienated from others..even to the point of being argumentative with others.

Verse 7--Your mouth is a window to your soul. Did you know that? It really is. When you open it up...others have a clear view of what's inside.

Verse 8--Gossip is self-centeredness. It really is. All you do when you gossip is try to say that you are better than the person you are gossiping about. It's really all about you. The words of a gossip may be as yummy as a big piece of chocolate cake--but they are as bad for you as that piece of cake too.

Final thoughts for self-examination:
1) Are you a know it all that people don't like being around?
2) Go through each day realizing that your mouth is a window to your soul. What do others see when you open your mouth?
3) Virtual cake is just as bad for you as physical cake. Don't partake of it.