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Showing posts from November, 2019

TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE

Jesus taught that all scripture testifies about him so that in him we might have life (John 5v39-40). King David taught that it is only by living according to God's word that we're kept on the right path (Psalm 119v9). What then could be better than reading the entire Bible? Click the menu to read about the program, choose a month or Bible book - or just work through the blog posts day by day.

(697) 29 November : Proverbs 31v1-3 / Nehemiah 3-4 / Psalm 141v9-10

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 31:1-3
Understanding to grow in
Everyone plays their part in building the church, just as they did Jerusalem. Each has a different role. Some have authority over others. All accept the role assigned for them and give themselves eagerly to it. We should ask: "What role can I best play?" Whatever role it is, however, it will not always be easy. We may be opposed and mocked in our Christian service. As with those opposing Nehemiah, people may stir up trouble for us - even threaten us. But, our passage teaches us to do three things at such times. First, turn to the Lord in prayer. Second, take practical measure for protection - not arming ourselves with swords, but certainly keeping an eye on any th…

(696) 28 November : Proverbs 30v32-33 / Nehemiah 1-2 / Psalm 141v5-8

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:32-33
Understanding to grow in
It's possible to remain faithful to God whilst at the centre of a pagan nation. Nehemiah is serving the Persian king in Susa, the capital of his empire. But his heart is for the Lord and pining for Jerusalem. It's 445BC, and hearing that the city remains in ruins, Nehemiah mourns and confesses the sins of Israel that brought this on them. But he also remembers God's promise to restore them if they repent. And so he prays for God to grant him success before the king he serves. With another arrow prayer just as he is about to speak (2v4-5), God moves Artaxerxes to permit Nehemiah to return and rebuild. Like Ezra, after a three day rest he sets to work by surveying what ne…

(695) 27 November : Proverbs 30v29-31 / Ezra 9-10 / Psalm 141v3-4

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:29-31
Understanding to grow in
The joy of the returnees doesn't last. It's important to realise that although God had fulfilled his promise to bring his people to his place to enjoy his presence, his promise to renew their hearts so that they submit to his rule is still to come. It looks to the work of Jesus. And so, Ezra despairs to hear how the people have married outside the people of God. This displays a lack of concern for maintaining holiness for themselves and the next generation. And it leads Ezra to confess the sins of the people, very aware that, having just experienced God's mercy in bringing the exiles back, it could provoke God to totally destroy them this time. We must be very cle…

(694) 26 November : Proverbs 30v24-28 / Ezra 8 / Psalm 141v1-2

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:21-23
Understanding to grow in
As the people prepare to return, the gospel Ezra shared with Artaxerxes was that God’s gracious hand is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger against those who forsake him. Because it might suggest he didn’t actually trust this to be true, he was therefore ashamed to ask for protection for the journey and so proclaimed a fast to pray for safety (just as Esther did). God answered. So they return. And after only a three day rest (a shadow maybe of the three days before the resurrection), the work on the temple begins as the various articles were passed to those at the site, the returnees offered burnt offerings in devotion to God, and Artaxerxes’ orders were delivered to …

(693) 25 November : Proverbs 30v21-23 / Ezra 7 / Psalm 140v9-13

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:21-23
Understanding to grow in Ezra is marked out by his list of anscestors and the refrain that "the gracious hand of his God was on him" (v6, 9). But we should note the context to that refrain. Verse 6 tell us he was "well versed" in God's law, and verse 10 that he had "devoted itself to its study." This was why God was so with him. Ezra displayed his love of God by his love for what God had to say. So the Lord "put it into the king's heart" to give Ezra charge over worship at the new temple and the administration of God's law in the area around Israel. It's an astonishing thing. It rightly moved the people to praise. It foreshadows Christ as the word mad…

(690) 22 November : Proverbs 30v20 / Ezra 5-6 / Psalm 140v4-8

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:20
Understanding to grow in When tempted to give up, we need a word from God. And so his prophets encouraged the people to continue their building, just as preachers today keep us to the task of evangelism and discipleship. There is therefore irony when the Jews' enemies ask "who authorised you to rebuild?" God did. And we need no other authorisation. As Peter himself said when charged no longer to preach by the authorities in his day: "Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him?" (Acts 4v19). And so, because "the eye of their God" was on the people, the letter to the current Persian king gained favour, the temple was completed in 516BC, the people rejoiced, and w…

(689) 21 November : Proverbs 30v18-19 / Ezra 3-4 / Psalm 140v1-3

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:18-19
Understanding to grow in No-one said it would be easy. For his own reasons, the Lord draws out our faith and determiniation to serve him through the obstacles that sometimes lie in the way. So it was for the returnees. There is understandible rejoicing as they first rebuild the altar so sacrifices can be made, and then the foundation for the new temple around it. Singing that the LORD "is good" and "his love for Israel endures forever" was fitting, for he had not rejected them in exile, but brought them home. But just when all looked good, opposition arose. The Jews wisely reject the offer of help from enemies whose claim to "seek your God" would have probably been that of tho…

(688) 20 November : Proverbs 30v17 / Ezra 1-2 / Psalm 139v23-24

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:17
Understanding to grow in God always keeps his promises. The book of Ezra may have once been linked to Nehemiah. Both books were probably written in the latter part of the fifth century BC, and pick up where 2 Chronicles ends. They record the three returns of those exiled in Babylon, under the leadership of three key individuals: The first is with Zerubbabel (538BC), who oversaw the rebuilding of the temple. The second is with Ezra (458BC), who oversaw the re-establishing of worship. The third is with Nehemiah (445BC), who oversaw the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls. But this book starts showing how all this fulfilled God's promise through Jeremiah. And note how. The Lord caused the king of the Persian…

(687) 19 November : Proverbs 30v15-16 / Esther 9-10 / Psalm 139v19-22

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:15-16
Understanding to grow in And so the “tables were turned” on the enemies of the Jews. It seems some still sought to attack them on the designated day, but “none could stand against them” because people wouldn’t help them for fear of the Jews, and the rulers assisted the Jews out of fear of Mordecai (9v2-3), who became increasingly powerful. So the Jews struck down their enemies, as they had when a kingdom in their land. It is repeatedly stressed that plunder wasn’t taken despite this being permitted. This may have been to emulate Abraham (Gen 14v23) showing utter trust in God and purity of motive. And just as God promised Abraham that those who cursed him would be cursed (Gen 12v3), so it is here. The Jew&#…

(686) 18 November : Proverbs 30v11-14 / Esther 5v9-8v17 / Psalm 139v17-18

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:11-14
Understanding to grow in We don't need God to be named to see him at work here. Just when Haman is boasting, the king finds out how Mordecai served him. Just as the king returns from the garden, Haman seems to be molesting Esther. And just when Haman has built a gallows, the king needs one to execute him! So it is, that by his providential governing of all things, God passes authority to Mordecai to for the salvation of his people. It's quite a story, and should encourage us that no matter how dire our situation may feel as believers in this world, God is able to rectify it. Think on how he blinded and converted Saul, or used an angel to break Peter from prison. But there is a pattern of Christ her…

(683) 15 November : Proverbs 30v10 / Esther 2v19-5v8 / Psalm 139v13-16

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:10
Understanding to grow in The threat of holocaust did not begin with Hitler. Here, we see how godly living can so easily provoke persecution. Mordecai is presented as an example who is not against authority, as he foils the plot of those seeking to assassinate the king. So his refusal to bow to Haman was probably a reflection of his desire to honour God alone. Whatever the case, Haman is a wicked Satan-like individual who persuades the morally complacent king to let him command the extermination of the Jews throughout Persia. The day was decided by casting the "pur" (lot), which is why Jews remember these events at the feast of purim. Something of Haman's irrational hatred is still seen even in t…

(682) 14 November : Proverbs 30v7-9 / Esther 1v1-2v18 / Psalm 139v11-12

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:7-9
Understanding to grow in Esther was queen in around 480BC. The book was written some time later to record God's protection of the Jews exiled within the Persian Empire, that defeated and then superceded Babylon (2v5-7). The greatness of the empire and it's king fills chapter 1, highlighting the daunting nature of Esther being chosen to be queen. A number of things are immediately seen. First, being one of God's people doesn't mean we don't suffer hardship. Her experience shouldn't be read as romantic. It must have been terrifying. Second, surviving amongst those who aren't God's people needs wisdom. She takes constant advice from her cousin Mordecai and from the eunuch in char…

(681) 13 November : Proverbs 30v5-6 / Jude / Psalm 139v7-10

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:5-6
Understanding to grow in Probably writing sometime between 65 and 80AD, Jude may have been Jesus' brother (1v1 with Gal 1v19). His letter is a sort of summary of 2 Peter. It's a call to "contend for the faith" against those promoting error and immorality in the church. He uses the OT and references to religious writings from his day to highight the punishment they will receive, the seriousness of their error, and their spiriritual deadness (v12-13). He ends with a reminder that the apostles always taught such people would arise. Believers are therefore to resist them and keep themselves in God's love by building each other up in faith as they wait for Christ, and helping those who doubt…

(680) 12 November : Proverbs 30v4 / 2 & 3 John / Psalm 139v4-6

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:4
Understanding to grow in Both letters were written towards the end of the first century. 2 John reiterates 1 John. Believers are to continue in the truth, acknowledging Jesus as truly God and truly man - and they are to continue in love too. But, contrary, to modern ideas of love, that doesn't mean welcoming all without exception. False teachers are not to be welcomed. In fact, to do so is to share in their "wicked work," probably because the welcome would be read as affirming them and their teaching to others. It's a challenge to those in historic denominations who are expected to share fellowship with ministers who may be publicly denying the gospel or its implications. What 3 John adds is …

(679) 11 November : Proverbs 30v2-3 / 1 John 1v1-3v9 / Psalm 139v1-3

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:2-3
Understanding to grow in Love matters. When we love fellow believers in particular, it is a sign we are born of God rather the devil, for by the Spirit we act in his likeness. So the model of love the cross. It is to so cherish another that we sacrifice ourselves for their good. When we love in this way - with actions rather than words, it settles our hearts in showing we genuinely belong to the Lord who therefore hears our prayers, and we can be confident on the day of judgment. But faith matters too. If we are the Lord's we will listen to the apostle's message and acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh - rejecting those who teach otherwise. We will accept him as fully God and fully man. As…

(676) 8 November : Proverbs 30v1 / 1 John 1v1-3v9 / Psalm 138v6-8

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 30:1
Understanding to grow in Late in the first century, John proclaims a message he has seen and touched - that is the truth that is Jesus. And the message is that if someone walks in his light, they are forgiven and purified from their sin, and enjoy not just fellowship with God's people but with God himself. Such a person is not perfect (1v8), but they can be said to no longer keep on sinning (3v6) in the sense that they no longer desire it or are dominated by it. So the obedience that stems from faith really matters. But this is an inner as well as outer obedience, and so is seen in love for fellow Christians - the great theme of the letter. Such love and living overcomes the evil one and is possible becaus…

(675) 7 November : Proverbs 29v27 / 2 Peter 3 / Psalm 138v4-5

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 29:27
Understanding to grow in Many things can shake our faith. One is the sceptic scoffing at the idea of Christ's return in judgment. But Peter strengthens us. First, he reaffirms our faith is to respond not to false teachers and scoffers, but the words of the prophets in the Old Testament and the command to repent and believe given by Christ and his apostles. Second, he recalls how the world was previously destroyed in the flood - a pattern of what is to come. Third, he notes that God's sense of time is different to ours, and he is being patient in waiting until all who are to repent have done so. Fourth, he is nevertheless adamant that "the day of the Lord" will come unexpectedly, will mean th…

(674) 6 November : Proverbs 29v26 / 2 Peter 2 / Psalm 138v1-3

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 29:26
Understanding to grow in One of the skills Christians most need is discernment. But it's not just about sifting the truth from the error in what they hear from the world, but what they might hear even within the church. Peter therefore warns that false teachers will arise in the church. And this is serious, as the error they will introduce can destroy people's salvation by denying Christ or his work, and leading people into immorality on the promise that this is "freedom" (2v19). One cannot but think of those today who imply the idea of Jesus paying the penalty for sin in his death is outrageous, or his resurrection myth, and who state God is for all expressions of sexual love, without bound…

(673) 5 November : Proverbs 29v25 / 2 Peter 1 / Psalm 137:7-9

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 29:25
Understanding to grow in 2 Peter was written around 67-68AD. Peter tackles some false teachers and their teachings, whilst reaffirming the trustworthiness of what he has taught. But he begins with a most astonishing truth: Our faith is as precious as his - Jesus' closest friend! The reason is that we have al he has. Like him we have been personally called to know God and the Lord Jesus, and given his divine power so that we can be godly. For this reason Peter tells us we must seek to prove that we are those who have been called by seeking to increase in godliness by that power within us, knowing the welcome we will then receive into the kingdom of God. And if we had any doubt that this is worth while, Pet…

(672) 4 November : Proverbs 29v24 / 1 Peter 4-5 / Psalm 137:4-6

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on
Proverbs 29:24
Understanding to grow in Peter's message is that Christians should expect to suffer. Like the Jewish "exiles" who once had to survive in Babylon, they too are living in a hostile and ungodly Babylon-like society (5v13). In order to do so they should maintain the attitude of Christ who was prepared to suffer because of his rejection of sin. In the same way, Christians can expect to be abused because they don't embrace the lifestyle of those around them. But they can be helped in knowing that everyone will be judged. And they should therefore give themselves to prayer, love for each-other, hospitality and service. Moreover, they should rejoice in being called to participate in the sufferings o…