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Showing posts from September, 2018

(274) 1 October : Proverbs 17v6 / 1 Samuel 13v1-14v52 / Psalm 65v9-13

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 17:6
Understanding to grow in It was a test of faith. The pressure was on. The enemy assembled. Would Saul hold is his nerve and obey God's word through Samuel by waiting for him to come and make the sacrifice? It's the crisis we all face when disobeying God might help get us out of a tricky situation. Saul's failure cost him and his family the monarchy. And that was particularly tragic because his son Jonathan, who would have followed him as king, was of kingly material - so confident of God that he was prepared to attack an outpost with just an armour bearer and turn the tide of the war (14v6). Again Christ is foreshadowed in so trusting his Father that he took on sin, death and the devil on his own. Sau…

(271) 28 September : Proverbs 17v5 / 1 Samuel 10v17-12v25 / Psalm 65v5-8

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 17:5
Understanding to grow in We are never content. Israel had everything. God was their king, mediating his rule through the righteous Samuel. But still they wanted a human king. We immediately see the problem. Saul looks the part being taller than all others, but lacks faith in God, hiding timidly when called (10v22-24). And it is only by the Spirit of God that he manages to play the part at all (11v6). Yet in grace God does not reject the people despite the fact that their request effectively rejects him. Samuel, who was already God's man for the people prays for them and teaches them what is good and right (12v23-24). They needed no-one else. It's a reminder that in Christ we have all we need. Christ prays…

(270) 27 September : Proverbs 17v4 / 1 Samuel 8v1-10v16 / Psalm 65v1-4

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 17:4
Understanding to grow in Just as was the case with Gideon, Israel again ask for a king for the wrong reasons. They do not want a king to help them obey and honour God, they want one to be like the nations, and to go out before them and fight their battles (8v20). This is a blatant rejection of God. He had called the to be set-apart from the nations, and previously it was he who led them into battle in the ark and fought for them. Likewise we should guard against desiring the sort of celebrity leaders in our churches that are so esteemed in the media or business today, looking to them to give us success. Instead, we should seek out those who will lead us in reliance upon God - looking ultimately to Jesus as just t…

(269) 26 September : Proverbs 17v3 / 1 Samuel 5-7 / Psalm 64v9-10

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 17:3
Understanding to grow in The heart of our reading is 6v20: "Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?" Because he was especially present in the ark, for it to be amongst the Philistines who had no covenant of law and sacrifice to deal with their sin, would inevitably mean that his wrath at sin would break out. Likewise, for the Israelites who looked into the ark and so drew too close to the LORD. This is why we need the full cleansing of Christ if the Lord is to indwell us by his Spirit, and why all who are not cleansed by Christ must one day face his wrath. The incident with Dagon proves the point: He is the one true and living god as opposed to the false idols our minds or hands might …

(268) 25 September : Proverbs 17v2 / 1 Samuel 2v12-4v22 / Psalm 64v1-8

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 17:2
Understanding to grow in Samuel and his parents are being contrasted with Eli and his sons. The sons sin as priests by keeping what was due to God for themselves and engaging in sexual immorality. Although he rebuked them, Eli sinned by not properly discipling them. And this brings down judgment on them and his family. It's a stark reminder to parents, children and church ministers that we cannot presume God's favour. We must turn from sin ourselves, and seek to turn those God gives us responsibility for. By contrast faithful Hannah experiences ongoing blessing and Samuel grows in stature and favour with the LORD and the people. He is going to replace Eli as the leader the people need, and be a foreshadow…

(267) 24 September : Proverbs 17v1 / 1 Samuel 1v1-2v11 / Psalm 63v9-11

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 17:1
Understanding to grow in There is one key aspect of God's promise to Abraham (Gen 17v1-9) still to be fulfilled. He has become a great nation that has inherited the land of Canaan and given God's covenant law to obey. But as yet, kings have only been anticipated. The book of 1 Samuel records the rise of monarchy in Israel, but begins with her most righteous judge - Samuel. His parents are righteous too and his Mum's song on being given the child she prayed for is of such significance that Mary modelled her own on it (Lk 1v46-55). And there is an encouraging note here about prayer itself. God hears and "remembers" those who love him, even when praying over their personal struggles. As you rea…

(264) 21 September : Proverbs 16v33 / Ruth 3-4 / Psalm 63v1-8

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 16:33
Understanding to grow in In seeking to help Ruth and Naomi, Boaz is not prepared to side-step God's law. Although following it could threaten the marriage, he does what's right and trusts God for the outcome. It's never acceptable to do what's wrong on the grounds of greater good. But the bigger lesson here is about how God is at work in even the worst of times and the smallest of incidences. At face value this is a story or romance and  the reversal of fortunes. But there is more. Ruth and Boaz's son becomes king David's grandad and a direct ancestor of Jesus. Through this union of a faithful Israelite and pagan convert, Jesus is eventually born. And now too, through all the world's …

(263) 20 September : Proverbs 16v32 / Ruth 1-2 / Psalm 62v9-12

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 16:32
Understanding to grow in In times of ungodliness and spiritual disinterest it can be easy to assume that God is not at work. The book of Ruth proves otherwise. First, it shows that God has always been gathering those from outside Israel. Ruth is a Moabitess, one of the enemy nations (see Judges 3). Yet she displays Christ-like self-sacrifice in commiting to her mother-in-law and to God, shaming the Israelites of her day who were turning to the false gods of Moab (Jud 10v6). Second, the book shows God remembers his people. A few Israelites, like Boaz, remained faithful to God. And with some divine matchmaking, the Lord brings him to Ruth in order to provide for her and her destitute mother-in-law. Our day is not …

(262) 19 September : Proverbs 16v31 / Judges 20-21 / Psalm 62v3-8

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 16:31
Understanding to grow in The final verse of the book highlights that the actions we read of today are not commendable. The wickedness of yesterday leads Israel to rise up against those who tolerated it. But casualties on both sides show that the other tribes were not without sin. All were being punished. And that led to the tribe of Benjamin almost being wiped out. In microcosm, it shows that the danger in Israel failing to love and obey God is that he hands them over to hostile peoples. Here, however, Benjamin is spared. Yet only by terrible means, as the remaining men are given wives left in another war, or women that they steal. The point is that without a king to mediate God's rule, sin leads to more sin…

(261) 18 September : Proverbs 16v30 / Judges 17-19 / Psalm 62v1-2

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 16:30
Understanding to grow in Stealing from parents. Fashioning idols. Self-appointed priests. Raiding peaceful peoples. Plundering your own. Failing to provide hospitality to those in need. Cowardice with respect to protecting a woman. Rape, abuse and murder. It's a catalogue of how things moved from bad to worse in Israel. Indeed, the desire for homosexual sex and offer of women shows they have descended to the depths of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19v1-8). And the refrain throughout explains why: Israel had no king. the book of Judges has shown how eadily the people turn from God when they have no leader. But it is not any king they need. They need a righteous, wise and faithful king who will keep them mindful of …

(260) 17 September : Proverbs 16v27-29 / Judges 16 / Psalm 61v6-8

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 16:27-29
Understanding to grow in This famous story seems intended to prove that Samson's strength really was from the LORD. Without the hair that signified his being set-apart for God's purposes he was no stronger than anyone else. It reminds us that we are able to serve with all the Lord's energy even despite great weakness (Col 1v29). Through him we can achieve what we might never imagine we would be able to. But there is a shadow of Christ here too. Samson's final act is to give his own life to defeat God's enemies. Christ won his greater victory by such a sacrifice, but also by relying on his Father's strength (Lk 22v43). And it is that strength, that rose him from the dead, that is ours t…

(257) 14 September : Proverbs 16v26 / Judges 13-15 / Psalm 61v1-5

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 16:26
Understanding to grow in The barren mother and the angel mark Samson's birth as God intervening to save his people. It foreshadows Jesus' own birth, whilst showing just how much we need a saviour who is actually righteous. Samson displays faith, but is appallingly impetuous and sinful, bringing tragedy on those around him. Yet God still uses him. It makes us thankful that Jesus always gets things right. There is no collateral damage with him. But it clarifies too, that although God may use us despite our sin, it doesn't mean he is unconcerned about it. As you read, note Samson's traits.
Judges 13-15
Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it teaches me about God or…

(256) 13 September : Proverbs 16v25 / Judges 10-12 / Psalm 60v9-12

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 16:25
Understanding to grow in God's grace is seen in acting for a hugely compromised people. Israel consistently turn to idols, yet he is still willing to hear them when they persistently cry out and turn from their practices. It's an encouragement to us that no matter how compromised we or the church become, and no matter how bad things subsequently get, if only we will return to the Lord and cry out for his help, he is ready and willing to hear through Christ. The state of Israel is also seen in the leader they choose and the civil war that results. It warns against accusation and disunity in the church, but also against foolish vows. The text seems to imply Jephthah's led to his sacrificing his own dau…

(255) 12 September : Proverbs 16v24 / Judges 8v22-9v57 / Psalm 60v5-8

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 16:24
Understanding to grow in It's one thing to want a king or ruler, it's quite another to desire the right sort of king and for the right reasons. The Israelites seem to want Gideon to rule for their protection, but are unconcerned about whether he will lead them in God's ways as they follow him into idolatry. And those who crown Abimelek show no concern for his wiping out Gideon's (also called Jerub-Baal) family, only wanting a ruler who will benefit them. This is very short sighted, as God's justice means that evil will not triumph in the end. Moreover, it shows the fickleness and self-centredness in our own decisions. But it also breeds an appreciation for Christ, who truly benefits us, prote…

(254) 11 September : Proverbs 16v23 / Judges 6v1-8v21 / Psalm 60v1-4

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 16:23
Understanding to grow in

Even weak faith can be used by God. Gideon shows timidity in breaking down the altar to Baal at night, and doubt in questioning God's commission, needing confirmation with the fleece, and the reassurance of the Midianite's dream. Likewise, Jesus described his disciples as "you of little faith" yet still used them. What encouragement. Of course we are called to a confident faith. But in his kindness, the Lord often gives what our weak faith needs to be bolstered and uses us despite it. This is why we are called to play our part. Serving Christ is not just for the spiritual giants. There are lessons in chapter 8 too about wanting to help rather than hinder those who serve…

(253) 10 September : Proverbs 16v22 / Judges 4-5 / Psalm 59v14-17

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 16:22
Understanding to grow in God often uses the most unlikely candidates. This narrative portrays his use of women (Deborah and Jael) in war as a rebuke to the men. One cannot but think that, except for John, it was the women who stayed with Jesus at the cross when the men fled. Today too, men are often put to shame by the greater commitment and courage for the Lord shown by women. But the greater point is that whoever God raises up and uses, they can be successful because it is the LORD doing the work (4v23) - the point of Deborah's song. His "power is made perfect" in our weakness (2 Cor 12v9), as it was in winning the greatest battle through a bloodied and beaten labourer from Nazareth. As you read …

(250) 7 September : Proverbs 16v20-21 / Judges 1-3 / Psalm 59v9-13

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 16:20-21
Understanding to grow in Warm hearts so easily grow cold. Despite previous commitments, the Israelites fail to drive out the Canaanites completely. God allows this to test each generation to see if they will obey as their anscestors did, and to train them for war. Yet the next generation prove unfaithful, turning to the idols around them. As God promised, he then withdraws his protection, the nations advance, his people cry out, and in mercy he sends a judge as saviour. Yet when the judge dies, the people only return to their idolatry. This is the pattern we will see in this book of "Judges." It shows how much we need a saviour who lives forever, always keeping us in check. But there is a lesson her…

(249) 6 September : Proverbs 16v18-19 / Joshua 23-24 / Psalm 59v5-8

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 16:18-19
Understanding to grow in The word "holy" means to be set apart for God. That's the calling of his people. And so Joshua ends his life urging Israel to be set apart from the Canaanite peoples that remain amongst them. They are not to follow their religion or practices, nor marry them because this will make being drawn to their ways more likely. The principle applies for the Christian too. We are not to "conform to the pattern of this world" (Rom 12v1-2), nor marry non-Christians for the same reason (1 Cor 7v39) - although if we have done so whilst believers, we should confess our wrongdoing and commit to our spouse (1 Cor 7v12-14). The consequences of compromise were severe for Israel. …

(248) 5 September : Proverbs 16v17 / Joshua 20-22 / Psalm 59v1-4

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 16:17
Understanding to grow in At this point things seem so good for Israel. The final details of the allocation of the land are dealt with. Just as Moses had commanded, cities are designated as refuge for those who commit manslaughter, the Levites are given their towns to live in, the three tribes whose request for land east of the Jordan is granted, and in correcting the misunderstanding about the altar, a united concern to honour God is expressed. The main message is found in 21v43-45: Every one of God's promises was fulfilled. What a joy to think on that. It means that every promise about our own inheritance will be fulfilled too. It will be just as God has said it will be - everlasting life in a new and vibra…

(247) 4 September : Proverbs 16v16 / Joshua 16-19 / Psalm 58v9-11

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 16:16
Understanding to grow in It will take effort on our behalf to receive the eternal inheritance we have in Christ. God allotted portions of land to Israel's tribes (except for Levi who were to serve him as priests throughout), and his control of all things is seen in doing that to some extent by directing the casting of lots. But the tribes still needed to be exhorted to "take possession" of what they had been given - in God's strength. So it is that Christ urges us "to make every effort to enter through the narrow door" and Paul encourages us to "press on" and "strain" to "take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of" us (Lk 13v24, Phil 3v12-14). …

(246) 3 September : Proverbs 16v14-15 / Joshua 13-15 / Psalm 58v1-8

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 16:14-15
Understanding to grow in There's encouragement here: God gives what he promises. Just as the tribes all received their inheritance, so we are reassured that we shall receive ours - one that doesn't perish, spoil or fade and is stored up in heaven for us (1 Pet 1v3-5). Yet there is challenge too. Not all the Canaanites were driven out, meaning that those who might lead the people astray were allowed to remain (13v13). We will see the problems that brings. But contrast the devotion of Caleb, who even in old age will not rest until the inhabitants are driven out and Israel properly established (14v11-12). It's a model of the zeal we should have for reaching and discipling the nations, no matter what …