Archive | November, 2011

Matthew 5:3 – The Poor in Spirit

November 29, 2011

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Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3 ESV

Obeying the gospel takes a special disposition. One has to recognize that they are so spiritually destitute as to need to approach the Father for all the necessities and blessings of life. The poor in spirit are not proud or arrogant. Those who don’t recognize this within themselves will never see their spiritual poverty or the need to obey until it is too late.

Heaven belongs to those that put their faith in our Lord and not themselves.

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Psalm 119:8-16 – Observe and Rejoice

November 28, 2011

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9 How can a young person live a pure life?
By obeying your word.
10 With all my heart I try to obey you.
Don’t let me break your commands.
11 I have taken your words to heart
so I would not sin against you.
12 Lord, you should be praised.
Teach me your demands.
13 My lips will tell about
all the laws you have spoken.
14 I enjoy living by your rules
as people enjoy great riches.
15 I think about your orders
and study your ways.
16 I enjoy obeying your demands,
and I will not forget your word.
 – Psalm 119:8-16 NCV

How often do you hear this?

“I’m glad I’m not a teenager today!”

Or this?

“I’m glad I don’t have to rear children in today’s environment!”

It does seem like it would be tougher to rear children or to be a young adult with the new temptations that appear every day. The fact is that the same has been true for every generation. If you currently have children or are a young person needing encouragement, you can take heart! While there may be plenty of new mediums for temptation to find us, we can be assured that “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”(Ecclesiastes 1:9)

The Lord has laid out his complete set of instructions that are sufficient to survive anything. (2 Timothy 3:16) Becoming familiar with the Scriptures is the prescribed method to finding our way in these or any other tough times. (2 Timothy 2:15) Imagine having the wealth of of everything God needs us to know right at your fingertips! That is one benefit we have now that no other generation has ever had before.

Psalm 119 is a love song to God’s word. Develop a love like this for it and living in a way pleasing to God will become easy, even in the face of worldly distractions.

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Matthew 6:25-26 – More Thanksgiving

November 25, 2011

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 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:25-26 ESV

Edward Winslow wrote the following in his book Mourt’s Relation the following account of the event where we trace the modern Thanksgiving:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

We know the original settlers did not have an easy time. They needed help from the local natives, who “coincidentally” had an English speaker among them. People died from exposure and starvation, but the first thing they remembered was to be thankful. This is exactly what Paul meant in Philippians 4:6 when he said “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

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Thanksgiving Proclamation – October 3, 1863

November 24, 2011

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LincolnThe year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.”

– Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863.

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1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Thanksgiving

November 23, 2011

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18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

The world will slow down a bit in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. For most it will be the observance of the day off – or even the whole weekend for some – rather than the act of returning thanks to our Lord. Thanks giving is an act that should be a part of our daily routine. Maybe it doesn’t seem like it, but there is always a reason to be thankful. Matthew Henry, the well-known Bible scholar and commentator recorded some remarkable words in his journal one night after he was mugged:

“Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Can you use the last thing that went wrong, or that you didn’t like, and make a list of four things about it that you can be thankful for?

With Thanksgiving on our minds, it is an excellent time to begin a new habit to return heartfelt thanks on a daily basis. Paul had much to say on the subject: Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:15; 1 Timothy 5:5.

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Proverbs 22:9 – Cheerful Giving

November 22, 2011

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 9 Generous people will be blessed,
because they share their food with the poor
. – Proverbs 22:9

Last Post, I posed this question: “Will Your Giving Count?” and The last of the suggested readings was 2 Samuel 24:24 where David has been sent to build an altar on someone else’s property. Araunah, the owner, offers to give David the property and the Oxen to make the sacrifice, but he refuses and insists on paying for it. He says, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.”

I hope that jarred you into thinking about your giving.

We are entering the season where we will have opportunities through raffles, formal dinners, parties, payroll deduction and more from well-meaning people to try and fulfill a lot of worthy needs. My thought is this: Does enjoying a $100 formal dinner with wine and waiters equal handing $5 to the next homeless person you see? Is your payroll deduction to United Way equal to keeping the heat on for a family that you know has fallen on hard times?

I can’t give you those answers as it ultimately depends on what is in your heart. What I will do is point out some of God’s guidance on how our giving should be:

  • We should give Liberally – Luke 6:38
  • Our giving should be Sacrificial – Hebrews 13:16
  • Giving should be on purpose and cheerful – 2 Corinthians 9:7
  • Give in secret – Matthew 6:3-4

God loves a cheerful giver and rewards those who are. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 2:6-13

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Proverbs 19:11 – Anger is the Second Choice

November 19, 2011

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 11 The wise are patient;
they will be honored if they ignore insults.
 – Proverbs 19:11

Godly people will not “have a chip on their shoulder” nor do they take insults and injustices to heart.

James gives us the New Testament pattern (James 1:19-20).  …let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

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Proverbs 14:30 – Ways to Find Peace

November 14, 2011

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 30 Peace of mind means a healthy body,
but jealousy will rot your bones.
– Proverbs 14:30 NCV

Peace and quiet within the soul is foundational to God’s plan (1 Timothy 2:1-4) (Matthew 5:9). He told us to seek the Kingdom first and he’ll take care of the rest (Matthew 6:33). Jealousy then, is wasteful, as it destroys us faster than it motivates us.

Go ahead, set goals, be productive and work hard, but enjoy the rewards of contentment (1 Timothy 6:6)

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Challenges For Growth

November 13, 2011

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  1 Anyone who loves learning accepts correction,
but a person who hates being corrected is stupid. – Proverbs 12:1 NCV

1 Wise children take their parents’ advice,
but whoever makes fun of wisdom won’t listen to correction. – Proverbs 13:1 NCV

18 A person who refuses correction will end up poor and disgraced,
but the one who accepts correction will be honored.  – Proverbs 13:18 NCV

Disturb Us, Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

– Sir Francis Drake  – 16th century English sailor

Our Bible study leads us to think a lot about gracefully facing our daily challenges. Our text leads us down a slightly different path. How can we benefit when we seek correction, or seek to be challenged, or seek to learn more? The selected Proverbs hint at some of the benefits, but look at what the Hebrew writer says:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? – Hebrews 12:5-7 ESV (Note that he is quoting Proverbs 3:11-12)

Doesn’t a healthy loving household result from the discipline of a godly father? Do the members love each other less because of the discipline?

The poem/prayer attributed to Francis Drake is a very bold request to force us out of our comfort zone. Like Romans 5:3-5 it recognizes that in order to grow, to build patience and hope, we need to be tested. We don’t need to wait on life to bring these challenges to us. It would be much better to dream a little bigger, sail out a little further and be a little less satisfied.

How much more honorable is the Lord’s correction when we ask for it?

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Proverbs 11:5 – Plant Good Seed

November 11, 2011

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 5 The goodness of the innocent makes life easier,
but the wicked will be destroyed by their wickedness.
 – Proverbs 11:5 NCV

The import result of practicing good habits is the momentum we get as a reward. The body gets stronger, the mind gets stronger and the spirit gets stronger. It becomes easier and easier to maintain all three of these parts of ourselves as they improve.

Isn’t this a major teaching point all of the major New Testament players were trying to make? (Galatians 6:7)

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Proverbs 10:22 – God Didn’t Do It

November 10, 2011

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 22 The Lord’s blessing brings wealth,
and no sorrow comes with it
.  – Proverbs 10:22 NCV

Solomon asked for wisdom rather than wealth and the Lord blessed him with both.

He learned that sorrow comes from sources other than the Lord, and probably from our own actions. For more information, see the book of Ecclesiastes.

So what do we do in the face of challenges and hard times? Paul says rejoice in them and be glad for the lessons we learn, and the experience we can pass on! (Romans 5:3-5)


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Proverbs 9:13-18 – Or a Roaring Lion

November 9, 2011

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 13 Foolishness is like a loud woman;
she does not have wisdom or knowledge.
14 She sits at the door of her house
at the highest place in the city.
15 She calls out to those who are passing by,
who are going along, minding their own business.
16 She says to those who are uneducated,
“Come in here, you foolish people!
17 Stolen water is sweeter,
and food eaten in secret tastes better.”
18 But these people don’t know that everyone who goes there dies,
that her guests end up deep in the grave.
– Proverbs 9:13-18 NCV

Living a godly life takes a lot of practice. It is a life lived by surrounding ourselves with good things.

Sinfulness is always present and ready to lead us away from the light. Peter says the devil is a “roaring lion on the prowl” (1 Peter 5:8). Be careful not to trade a lifetime of happiness for a day of fun.

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2 Kings 6:24 – 7:20 – How Does God’s Providence Work?

November 7, 2011

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1 But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” – 2 Kings 7:1-2 ESV

Our Lord has asked us to pray for what we need Matthew 7:7, and Paul tell us God is very generous to those who remember to call upon him (Romans 10:12).

Have you ever felt like he doesn’t hear you? Better yet, have you ever realized a prayer was answered in a way you hadn’t planned?

Here are just a couple of things about prayer we can observe in our Bibles:

  • There are three ways a prayer can be answered. Yes. No. Wait.
  • The answer may not always be a in neat package.
  • God expects us to trust him.

Read how God provided food for his people in an extraordinary way (2 Kings 6:24-7:20) and then meditate today about how God has impacted you when least expected.

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Proverbs 4:10-19 – Hold On To Wisdom

November 4, 2011

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 10 My child, listen and accept what I say.
Then you will have a long life.
11 I am guiding you in the way of wisdom,
and I am leading you on the right path.
12 Nothing will hold you back;
you will not be overwhelmed.
13 Always remember what you have been taught,
and don’t let go of it.
Keep all that you have learned;
it is the most important thing in life.
14 Don’t follow the ways of the wicked;
don’t do what evil people do.
15 Avoid their ways, and don’t follow them.
Stay away from them and keep on going,
16 because they cannot sleep until they do evil.
They cannot rest until they harm someone.
17 They feast on wickedness and cruelty
as if they were eating bread and drinking wine.

18 The way of the good person is like the light of dawn,
growing brighter and brighter until full daylight.
19 But the wicked walk around in the dark;
they can’t even see what makes them stumble. 
– Proverbs 4:10-19 NCV

Chapter 4 begins with the father’s advice to Seek Wisdom and he continues on to advise his son to be diligent to retain it.

Staying on the good and righteous way is contrasted with the pitfalls of being caught out on the dark paths. If you have ever been caught in the trap of one of the “major” sins you will have firsthand knowledge of the difficulty of repenting and putting it out of your life.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus shows us the difficulty God’s word (the seed) has growing in those who are not receptive (rocky, shallow and thorny ground), but how bountiful it grows in those who are (good soil).

The object then, is to tend to the good soil in our heart and soul by seeking wisdom through study and practice.

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Proverbs 2:12-15 – Delivered From Evil

November 2, 2011

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 12 It will keep you from the wicked,
from those whose words are bad,
13 who don’t do what is right
but what is evil.
14 They enjoy doing wrong
and are happy to do what is crooked and evil.
15 What they do is wrong,
and their ways are dishonest.
– Proverbs 2:12-15 NCV

Proverbs 2 lists five fruits of wisdom. This third paragraph is about the evil that God’s word will deliver one from.

Read about the first fruit, Finding God, here.

Read about the second fruit, The Rewards of Wisdom here.

Have you ever noticed that places where sinful things happen are usually in the dark? People have a built in desire to hide when they are doing something wrong. To associate with these things then is to avoid the light and to eventually enjoy them (v14).

Paul reminds us to cast off the darkness (Romans 13:12 – and yes, that means not to associate with it) and gives us a few examples of things that occur in the dark (Romans 13:13)

Christians are expected to avoid being in sinful situations. Those who accept God’s wisdom are insulated from desire to sin (v12).


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