Monthly Archives: June 2021

Proverbs 24-25; Psalm 41; 1 Thessolonian 2

Proverbs 24
Solomon at some point was the wisest man on earth because He asked God for wisdom to rule His people the Israelites.

Most if not all of Proverbs were part of Solomon’s wisdom that was recorded in scriptures.

Proverbs 24-25 is full of so many wise sayings, divine wisdom given to Solomon by God…Where does one even start from? I am going to highlight a few of my favourite verses from both chapters.

Proverbs 24:1 warns against admiring the wicked (the bible calls those who live in sin ‘the wicked”). The temptation is always there to admire the life of those who live in sin..This is easily noticable when people boast about “the bad things they did in the past” and people laugh about it or admire it. The bible here also talks about not desiring their company because they have a different mindset, their priorities are different and they can be bad influence on a believer.

Wisdom and knowledge are highlighted in Proverbs 24:3-4 as very essential for building a home and for filling it with rear treasures. The ultimate source of wisdom and knowledge is God and His word. God covers every aspect of life in the bible and the more we study it the more insight we get into building our homes and marriages on a solid foundation. We also need to research other sources of knowledge so that we are well equipped in other areas of life to be able to make well informed decisions. Eg Investment, Health and Fitness just to name a few. The bible here makes it clear that we will have an edge in life over those who do not prioritise getting wisdom and knowledge.

Proverbs 24:16 talks about the importance of rising again as believers. Shaking off the dust and picking ourselves up, refusing to stay down when we fall..for it is in rising up that we have our victory.

Prov24:30-34 emphasises the end result of laziness which will tend to lack and self inflicted poverty.

Proverbs 25

The importance of forgiveness and acting in love is stressed here in Prov25:21-22 were we are encouraged to be a blessing to someone who could be termed as “our enemy” eg someone who does evil to us or who wrongs us. Doing good to those who do bad to us will make them feel guilty and God will reward us.

Psalm 41

In the first verse of this chapter I want to emphasise how God repays us when we look after the weak, the down throdden and the forgotten. The bible says God will personally deliver such people from trouble because they have been a blessing to the weak

1 Thessalonians 2

What stands out for me in this chapter is the love of God that was evident between paul and the church, the desire to see the Brethren and the demonstration of the love of Christ..there was also the setting a good example by Paul and the other Apostles who rather than depending on the church worked hard to support themselves.

In Christ
BM

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Proverbs 22-23; Psalm 117; 1 Thessalonians 1

As you probably know, iPhones have this (pesky) built-in app that tracks screen time.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I usually keep it turned off, but recently I slid that toggle switch to “on” in an effort to get a better idea of exactly how much time my phone was sucking away.  Needless to say, I was shocked!  And as I read through 1 Thessalonians 1 in preparation for sharing today, I was reminded of and convicted about not only that little “idol” that I literally hold in my hand but many others that I figuratively hold tightly.

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1:9-10, ESV)

The order of Paul’s wording in verse 9 is very interesting to me.  The new Thessalonian believers didn’t turn to God from idols but from idols to God.  They had experienced new life in Christ, seen the glory and beauty of God, and realized their “idols” were lacking.  They didn’t leave their idols in search of something more meaningful.  Once they became children of God, they realized the worthlessness of the things they thought would satisfy them. 

As a modern believer, it’s easy for me to envision idols/gods as lifeless gold or bronze statues and to dismiss “idolatry” as something that would never consume me simply because I don’t worship literal idols.  But as Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior.” 

This past year revealed many “idols” in my life that looked nothing like statues or graven images.  Locked in my home without friends or family or restaurants or Target (!), I realized those things were very important to me, usually more important than time in God’s Word or simply being still and listening to Him.  And, for me, idols aren’t just “things” like my iPhone or a Netflix series.  They’re also people and places and even my dreams.  They aren’t, in and of themselves, inherently bad but, too often, I choose them over God.  And, when it comes right down to it, Netflix and Target and people and dreams aren’t the idols.  Really, the idol is ME.  I turn to each of these things seeking my own comfort, my own pleasure, relief from my own sadness or boredom, which puts ME front and center.  Yet, when my selfishness demands satisfaction and happiness from them—when I look to them as my “functional savior”— the result is always emptiness and loneliness.  Someone once said, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.”  And when my idols take precedence over God in my life, my sensitivity to Him is gradually dulled, and delayed obedience (disobedience) becomes easier and easier.  

The new Thessalonian believers didn’t have this problem.  They didn’t passively turn from idols in word only.  They weren’t interested in delayed obedience.  Their faith was active. They turned, they served, and they waited.  And they did it all with JOY.  So much so that earlier in the chapter, Paul writes:

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere (1:7-8, ESV)

Their newfound faith—in spite of much trial and persecution—was well-known and served as an example for believers everywhere.   They were willing to put aside their idols and joyfully endure hardship in order to be obedient and faithful to their Savior.

Father, open my eyes to the “idols” that keep my heart far from You and can never provide true happiness and satisfaction.  Help me, like the Thessalonian believers, to turn, serve, and wait with joy in You alone.

Jen

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Proverbs 19-21; Psalm 40; Romans 16

Photo by Mandy Baldwin

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”

Psalms‬ ‭40:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do you ever wonder how you would grieve?

I do all the time. I have had the honor of walking with people as they have faced their own mortality and death and I’ve walked with families as they have faced the death of a loved one. Every single person has faced that time differently.

The words from Psalm 40 above were written by King David. He knew grief!! He knew the grief of death, of injustice, of sin, and of unmet desires and dreams. He intimately knew grief AND he penned the words of so many Psalms. He continued to rejoice in the midst of grief.

This is where my questioning comes in. Will I be able to worship and trust my God in the face of grief? Will I be able to see God and His character and trust Him? Will I allow Him to comfort me in my grief? Will I blame Him? Will I be faithful?

In all my questions…what I see is a desire for an intimate connection with God. King David had that kind of relationship with God. He was bold in telling God what he felt and believed no matter how heavy and full of doubts. David asked God A LOT of questions. The questions themselves are not wrong. The actions taken coming out of the questions can be helpful or hurtful.

David made both helpful and hurtful decisions. Let’s learn from David on how to hold space for both the grief and joy; sorrow and contentment; confusion and hope. Ultimately, it is our God that empowers us and moves in us to turn sorrow into rejoicing. I do not have the will power to do that on my own. I can, however, walk boldly knowing that God will give me what I need, when I need it to continue growing into the woman He created me to be.

Dear God, may we rest in the knowledge that it is You and Your work in us that allows us to live in the dual space of Grief and Joy. There is no perfect way to grieve. What you ask is for is us to come to you and receive comfort and peace and joy. Help us, God, to trust that you will do your work. Prepare my heat, lord. Amen

Mandy

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Proverbs 16-18; Romans 15

Prov 16:24 (The Message):
Gracious speech is like clover honey—good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.
Prov 16: 27-29 (The Message):
Mean people spread mean gossip; their words smart and burn.
Trouble makers start fights; gossips break up friendships.
Calloused climbers betray their very own friends; they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.
Proverbs 17: 4 (The Message):
Evil people relish malicious conversation; the ears of liar’s itch for dirty gossip.
Proverbs 17:14 (The Message):
The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam, so stop it before it bursts.
Proverbs 17:17 (The Message):
Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
Proverbs 17:27 (The Message):
One who knows much says little; an understanding person remains calm.
Proverbs 18:4 (The Message):
Many words rush along like rivers in flood, but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.
Proverbs 18: 7 -8 (The Message):

Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words.
Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?
Proverbs 18:13 (The Message):
Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.
Proverbs 18: 15 (The Message):
Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights.
Proverbs 18:20-21 (The Message):
Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.
Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.

All my life I have struggled with the things that come out of my mouth. My family liked to jest at someone else’s expense. But I found that in the real world, other people didn’t understand this type of behavior, and took it differently than what I intended. I hurt people’s feelings, or I offended them which resulted in misunderstandings, on both sides actually. This was not at all what I intended to accomplish, because mostly the people I jested with, were people I cared about and wanted near me. But my words actually did the opposite and pushed them away. It is not how I intended the person to receive my words that counted, it was their perception of the words that they heard.

But as I got older, I began to read and meditate on the Word. And because of my life experiences, I realized why it is better to leave some things unsaid. My mother always used to say “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I just thought it was a dumb saying. She had lots of those , but what she had was a lot of wisdom.

I don’t want to be poisonous, I don’t want to gossip or listen to gossip, I don’t want to quarrel, especially over things that won’t matter five minutes from now, and I certainly don’t want to kill anyone, even if it is only with my words. So, there are things I must practice to achieve those things. First, I have to pray every day about the words that come out of my mouth and off my fingertips (and I do this!), I need to listen more and speak less, and I need to walk away from some conversations even if I desperately want to hear all about it. I’d rather be a friend in every sense of the word. Life is hard enough without damaging relationships over unnecessary words.

How I treat and what I say to other people matters. It matters to me, and it surely matters to GOD!
Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can I learn to form a lifetime of good habits. I cannot change the poison I already spewed, but I can surely change tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.

Romans 15:1-5 (The Message):
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us , asking ourselves, ” How can I help?”
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next. May your dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir–not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

What if each of us thought of how our words and actions affect the kingdom of God? What if all Christians united as a choir and sang in harmony, not only in song, but also in how we treat those around us? What if we were warm, calming and personal to all we came in contact with, at all times? God can give us the strength to do this and the result is so much more than what we think about down here on earth. The result is all believers lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

Do you think this world would be different if we did this? I can only imagine!

Father God, you are our source of hope, Fill us completely with joy and peace as we trust in you. Help us to overflow with goodness, confidence, and boldness to help those around us every day. Help us to tap into the power and energy of the Holy Spirit every minute of every day! Help us to affect the kingdom of God. In Jesus’s name, Amen!

Carol (carolvorwe)

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Proverbs 14-15; Romans 14

Honoring God requires loving and living in unity with believers. I have frequently heard Christians summarize the greatest commands given by God as love God and love people. This command is presented with so much simplicity, yet the more you read the Bible the more depth is added to the command to love. As I read Romans 14, I was confronted by the motive of love and obedience presented in this passage. The author called believers not to judge since they are the Lord’s and commended them not to cause others to stumble because Christ died for them. Believers should walk in love.

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

Romans 14:8 ESV

“For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”

Romans 14:15 ESV

In verse fifteen, the author commands believers not to grieve others by what they eat; however, this does not just apply to food but more broadly to every conviction that is not foundational to salvation. The church is called to unity as we read in verse 19:

“So then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding”

Sadly, when I look at the church and believers, I usually find divisions, judgement, and comparison. This is not what the church is meant to be. The church should be unified in love and believers should be pursuing to build each other up. The trinity provides a beauty example of unity and God desires his church to display that unity, which is why we find the commands in Romans 14 not to judge or cause others to stumble.

Ultimately, I was struck by the weight of verse 15 when the author said, “. . . do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” This is such a powerful statement. When I am tempted to judge my brothers and sisters in Christ, I must remember that Christ died for them too. If there is anything I have learned from this passage, it is to not forget the price that Christ paid for other believers and the weight of his love for them because that reality humbles me and reminds me to love them.

~ Faith

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