Archive | June, 2013

Here For the Taking

June 14, 2013

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Wisdom has built her house;
she has made its seven columns.

She has prepared her food and wine;
she has set her table.

She has sent out her servant girls,
and she calls out from the highest place in the city.

She says to those who are uneducated,
“Come in here, you foolish people!

Come and eat my food
and drink the wine I have prepared.

Stop your foolish ways, and you will live;
take the road of understanding. – Proverbs 9:1-6 NCV

I’ve lived in several excellent places over my lifetime. By excellent, I mean places full of beauty, rich with history and excellent quality of life. I never seemed to take full advantage of them even though they were places where people would save their money and dream of the day they get to visit.

Getting bogged down in life without a plan does that to us.

We could compare the Bible to that. For very little money we can buy a book that took forty men thousands of years to complete. We have access like no one else in history – a history full of war, death, hardship – because of people glad to protect it so that we can have the words that God breathed.

God has made sure that we have access to his wisdom and plan. It is complete. It is compelling. It has never been disproven. The invitation is open and he waits for us to accept.

Make a plan and use it regularly and grow. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Daily Bible reading for June 14

Proverbs 9
Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17
Hosea 14
Philemon 8-22

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Wisdom in Person

June 13, 2013

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I, wisdom, was with the Lord when he began his work,
long before he made anything else.

I was created in the very beginning,
even before the world began.

I was born before there were oceans,
or springs overflowing with water,
before the hills were there,
before the mountains were put in place.

God had not made the earth or fields,
not even the first dust of the earth.

I was there when God put the skies in place,
when he stretched the horizon over the oceans,
when he made the clouds above
and put the deep underground springs in place.

I was there when he ordered the sea
not to go beyond the borders he had set.

I was there when he laid the earth’s foundation.

I was like a child by his side.

I was delighted every day,
enjoying his presence all the time,
enjoying the whole world,
and delighted with all its people. – Proverbs 8:22-31 NCV

Proverbs 8:22-31 is a beautiful personification of wisdom that carries overtones of Christ. It reminds me of John 1:1-5 when I read it. Whether or not the passage is actually a prophesy or is describing Christ, I’ll leave to the experts to argue, but we do know that Christ is the power and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)

To look back at the Old Testament and see indicators pointing to Christ’s coming – to confirm what we believe – is my favorite part of bible study. Throughout the Old Testament we see how God’s perfect plan was conceived from the beginning (Genesis 3:15) and praised (Psalm 90:1-2) and taught (Isaiah 53).

What a privilege to live after Jesus willingly completed that plan by living among us and dying for us in an expression of God’s love! (John 3:16)

Daily Bible reading for June 13

Proverbs 8
Deuteronomy 15:1-18
Hosea 11:12-13:16
Philemon 4-7

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Dark Paths

June 12, 2013

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Now, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
Don’t let yourself be tricked by such a woman;
don’t go where she leads you.
She has ruined many good men,
and many have died because of her.
Her house is on the road to death,
the road that leads down to the grave. – Proverbs 7:24-27 NCV

Both Solomon and David fell to the temptation of adultery and lust and suffered because of it. Is there any wonder that Proverbs is full of warnings about these sins? In the end, neither the victim nor the guilty receives any joy from adultery. The Bible shows us over and over again how far this removes us from God.

In A Mini-Marriage Clinic, I mentioned a few of the basics I have noticed were the core of every long lived marriage. Checking your boundaries is a critical one that deserves daily attention. The “road to the grave” (Proverbs 7:27 NCV) is littered with those that didn’t honor the limits God inferred they would keep when they said their vows.

We spend so much time in the workplace that it becomes an excellent place to find ourselves in tempting situations. The opportunity to do normal business activities unaccompanied with a person that is not our spouse are plentiful and is often the doorway for those who stray. To avoid the temptation, a few simple rules built around the idea of checking our boundaries can go a long way:

  • No unaccompanied lunches with a member of the opposite sex
  • No traveling alone with a member of the opposite sex
  • No flirting, “cute” comments or even overly familiar conversations

The two most important relationships in your life are with God and your spouse. When a marriage is centered on God, the bonds with both become unbreakable. Mentioning both lovingly at every opportunity keeps us off the dark path.

Daily Bible reading for June 12

Proverbs 7
Deuteronomy 14
Hosea 11:1-11
Philemon 1-3

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A Mini-Marriage Clinic

June 11, 2013

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Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?

Or can one walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched? – Proverbs 6:27-28

Adultery is one of those sins that cut across several levels. From what I can tell from helping others who have dealt with it, it just isn’t very fun for either the innocent or the guilty party. Solomon says that the one who does it destroys himself, lacks sense and is despised. (Proverbs 6:20-35)

Just from informal observation, I can say that marriages that fail did so because a few basic steps were not followed. I also see people put more maintenance into their wealth, professional networking and hobbies than into their marriages. Interesting that they know that those things need attention to grow but wonder why their marriages aren’t great! (or failed for that matter)

While a 200 word essay and a Bible verse will not save a broken marriage, I offer you these basic building blocks that are common to all of the great, long lived marriages I’ve seen:

  • Invest time in your relationship – Date night, share a hobby, just be together often
  • Check your boundaries – Do not go anywhere unaccompanied with a member of the opposite sex
  • Remember the risks -The one who cheats hurts their spouse, the kids, their parents, the in-laws and more

There is no quick and easy formula for a successful marriage, but working on it every day is the first step in building or rebuilding a strong and godly marriage.

Daily Bible reading for June 11

Proverbs 6:20-35
Deuteronomy 13
Hosea 10
Titus 3:12-15

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Can the Lord Stand You?

June 10, 2013

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There are six things the Lord hates.
There are seven things he cannot stand:

a proud look,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill innocent people,
a mind that thinks up evil plans,
feet that are quick to do evil,
a witness who lies,
and someone who starts arguments among families

– Proverbs 6:16-19 NCV

One thing I really like about the Proverbs is directly they speak to us. These seven actions are involved with just about any sin we could commit – No wonder the Lord can’t stand them!

How then, can we be certain that our actions will lead to a life full of blessings?

Check out a few of these lists of ways:

  • Matthew 5:3-10
  • Philippians 4:4-9
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
  • Galatians 5:22-23

Daily Bible reading for June 10

Proverbs 6:1-19
Deuteronomy 12
Hosea 9
Titus 3:8b-11

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Keep Your Distance

June 9, 2013

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 7 Now, my sons, listen to me,
and don’t ignore what I say.
8 Stay away from such a woman.
Don’t even go near the door of her house,
9 or you will give your riches to others,
and the best years of your life will be given to someone cruel.
10 Strangers will enjoy your wealth,
and what you worked so hard for will go to someone else.
11 You will groan at the end of your life
when your health is gone.
12 Then you will say, “I hated being told what to do!
I would not listen to correction!
13 I would not listen to my teachers
or pay attention to my instructors.
14 I came close to being completely ruined
in front of a whole group of people.” – Proverbs 5:7-14 NCV

What are some things you have difficulty resisting?
Why do you avoid them?
Why does our resistance fail sometimes?

Temptation is a part of life everyone faces. Jesus wrestled with it (Matthew 4:1-11) and showed us how to overcome it.

Some situations need to be avoided at all costs. Solomon says not to even go near the door (Proverbs 5:8) and Paul says to flee from them (2 Timothy 2:22). Obeying this means making some difficult decisions – You may have to change your job, friends, sources of entertainment and maybe even dodge certain family members. Most of us tend to be like the five people we hang around the most.

Solomon’s wisdom is to think about the end result of what we do. What habit do you need to change before it is too late?

Daily Bible reading for June 9

Proverbs 5
Deuteronomy 10:12-11:32
Hosea 8
Titus 3:1-8a

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Little Things Mean a Lot

June 8, 2013

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Little Things Mean a Lot – What a cliché! Do we even really believe that?

Little things add up

Just how important are the little things we do?

  • Solomon wrote of four creatures that we view as being small and insignificant; yet, in God’s sight, they are considered exceedingly wise (Proverbs 30:24-28)
  • Jesus was born in of the smallest and most insignificant towns in Israel (Micah 5:2)
  • Jesus once compared the kingdom of God to the large tree that would give shelter to the birds of the air, yet it had its beginnings as a tiny mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
  • Tabitha did all sorts of good works, and by some, her activities may have been considered small matters (Acts 9:36-42)
  • Jesus took special notice of a poor widow who cast two mites into the treasury while many were casting in of their abundance (Luke 21:1-4)
The little things can carry a lot of weight

The little things can carry a lot of weight

Paul ran down a list of ways just about every class of person is supposed to “adorn the doctrine” in Titus 2. These are lots of small and easy to do things that, when they are all compiled, make God look good.

Ants can carry many times their weight to prepare for Winter Proverbs 30:25

Ants can carry many times their weight to prepare for Winter Proverbs 30:25

There are so many little gestures that we as Christians can do make encourage someone or brighten their day:

  • A smile for someone in the grocery store,
  • A card to someone who is sick or in need of encouragement
  • A phone call to let someone know that you were thinking of him or her
  • A visit to a shut-in
  • A meal to a family who has lost a loved one
  • A word of encouragement to a fellow brother or sister in Christ

The list goes on and the actions are small, but just a few minutes can really make a difference to someone! As a parting thought, we are reminded in Matthew 25:34-40 of how when we do these things, we are actually doing them to our Lord.

Daily Bible reading for May 8

Proverbs 4
Deuteronomy 9:6-10:11
Hosea 6-7
Titus 2

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How to Love Your Neighbor

June 7, 2013

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Loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39) might be the second greatest command, but it is also one of the toughest to follow. Between gossip, competition and jealousy there are plenty of temptations for people to work against us and each other.

It turns out that there is a way to rise above that, to gain the respect of others, to not be one that gets hurt:

First, don’t participate.

Second, practice Solomon’s basic wisdom for how to treat others:

Whenever you are able,
do good to people who need help.
If you have what your neighbor asks for,
don’t say, “Come back later.
I will give it to you tomorrow.”
Don’t make plans to hurt your neighbor
who lives nearby and trusts you.
Don’t accuse a person for no good reason;
don’t accuse someone who has not harmed you. – Proverbs 3:27-30 NCV

The Bible is full of instruction on getting along with people. If we’re not following it, it makes it difficult to save their soul!

Daily Bible reading for May 7

Proverbs 3:21-35
Deuteronomy 8:1-9:5
Hosea 4-5
Titus 1:5-16

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Lean on Me

June 6, 2013

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Trust the Lord with all your heart,
and don’t depend on your own understanding.
Remember the Lord in all you do,
and he will give you success. – Proverbs 3:5-6 NCV

God is glad to have you remember him when you are troubled, but here’s a little reminder to invite him into your life even when there is nothing you specifically need.

Did you ever ask him to guide you in a choice but forget to follow up when everything turned out well? Paul reminds us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) and to offer our prayers with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).

One of the reasons I like to include the King James Version for Bible study is for verses like Matthew 7:8:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Asketh. Seeketh. Knocketh. That “eth” on the end of those verbs makes it a continuous action. Jesus told us to ask, seek and find (Matthew 7:7) but God wants to be your first resource all the time.

Daily Bible reading for May 6

Proverbs 3:13-20
Deuteronomy 7
Hosea 3
Titus 1:1-4

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The Woodshed

June 5, 2013

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My child, do not reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t get angry when he corrects you.
The Lord corrects those he loves,
just as parents correct the child they delight in. – Proverbs 3:11-12 NCV

God’s discipline might be one of the most under taught subjects today. Why would God discipline his children? Because he loves them!

The Hebrew writer quotes directly from these verses in Hebrews 12:5-6. He shows us that chastisement comes completely from the love of God. Through Hebrews 5:3-11 we see that God cares enough to:

  • Help us correct our faults
  • Strengthen our faith
  • Promote our welfare

We also see how we should respond:

  • We are not to despise God for it
  • We must submit to it
  • We must be exercised by the purpose of it

Sometimes we get a little too self-dependent and it takes a little shakeup to get right with God again. When we are challenged, we can be joyful for the Christian strength we will gain rather than feel sorry for ourselves. (James 1:2-4) In the end, God simply wants continual growth and service dedicated to him.

Daily Bible reading for May 5

Proverbs 3:1-12
Deuteronomy 6
Hosea 2:2-23
2 Timothy 4:9-22

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The Fruit of Wisdom

June 4, 2013

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Paul tells us that the scriptures were given to us by inspired writers (literally, God-breathed into them.) It has everything we need to carry out the great commission. (2 Timothy 3:16) With the scriptures we can:

  • Teach others how to find salvation (Teach)
  • Challenge our fellow Christians to improve (Reprove)
  • Show ourselves and others where we see sin (Correct)
  • Make progress toward righteousness (Train)

Solomon knew this too. In Proverbs 2 he lists the five fruits of Wisdom. Through listening and trying to understand (Proverbs 2:2) God’s words, these things begin to happen:

  • We find God (Proverbs 2:1-8)
  • We are rewarded with the love of knowledge (Proverbs 2:9-11)
  • We are delivered from evil (Proverbs 2:12-15)
  • We have safety from harlotry (Proverbs 2:16-19)
  • We will receive a special inheritance (Proverbs 2:20-22)

The next step beyond a daily devotional reading, once it is a well rooted habit, is taking time to really try to understand what God has told us. A momentum begins to build and we become a reflection of his wisdom.

Daily Bible reading for June 4

Proverbs 2
Deuteronomy 5
Hosea 1:1-2:1
2 Timothy 3:10-4:8

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Wisdom Calls for God’s Followers

June 3, 2013

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God has laid out his complete plan. He made sure it was sufficient to make us people of God. It equips us for good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). He then sent out his people to teach and prepare others so they can have salvation too.

He pleads. He persuades. He promises. (Proverbs 1:20-33)

We see Paul customarily going to Scripture to reason with those he taught (Acts 17:2-3). No opinion. No feelings. Just God’s word.

Still, there are some that ignore parts of it. Some teach opinions based on their feelings. Some leave out parts that are “inconvenient.” Some justify their sins with flawed reasoning. These sinners are in the same danger as the five virgins – at some point the door will close on the ones who are not ready. (Matthew 25:10).

For the complete parable of the ten virgins, read Matthew 25:1-13

Daily Bible reading for May 3

Proverbs 1:20-33
Deuteronomy 4
Jonah 4
2 Timothy 3:1-9

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Stay Off the Wrong Path

June 2, 2013

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Contrast the birds’ ability to avoid an obvious trap with someone that enters willingly into sinful adventures – The easy score … The fast buck … “One upping” someone…

Even a bird has more sense than people that follow the temptations the world offers. (Proverbs 1:17-19)

History is littered with the failure of those who thought they could avoid falling into their own trap. Every year there is some new scandal in the government. Someone thought they could get away with ignoring the rules. Sometimes it seems they do it in spite of knowing they will get caught.

The only safe way is to stay off the path of evil. (Proverbs 1:15-16) For the ultimate example of avoiding temptation, read about Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11.

Daily Bible Reading for June 2

Proverbs 1:8-19
Deuteronomy 3
Jonah 3
2 Timothy 2

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Clean Living with Proverbs

June 1, 2013

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I learned of an old technique for better living, better business and better relationships that I have been trying to develop into a habit. Begin a daily reading plan by selecting the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month.

For the rest of the day, reflect on one or more of the principles in that day’s chapter. You might even try to take action based on something in that reading. Just as the Proverb writer says in Proverbs 1:2-7, these ageless bits of wisdom can be used to make one a more godly person. From long thoughtful passages to short pithy zingers, even the wise have something to gain from the inspired words of Solomon.

Some things you will get from applying Proverbs to your life:

  • Wisdom
  • Instruction
  • Prudence
  • Beneficial Knowledge
  • Discretion
  • The ability to apply information
  • Sound Counsel
  • Understanding
  • The fear of God

Truly the ultimate self-help book!

 Daily Bible reading for June 1

Proverbs 1:1-7
Deuteronomy 2
Jonah 2
2 Timothy 1:8-18

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