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Showing posts from December, 2018

(365) 1 January : Proverbs 19v25 / Colossians 1-2 / Psalm 81v1-2

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 19:25

Understanding to grow in It's very easy to be made to feel spiritually lacking as a Christian. Even within the church, people can imply we lack some key insight from outside scripture, that we could gain a greater level of assurance or of victory over sin if we only follow certain rules, or that a deeper experience of God can be ours if we only worship a certain way. This was the case for those Paul wrote this letter to, around AD60. And this draw to something more was leading his hearers away from Jesus himself. Throughout Paul therefore stresses that we have all things in Christ: We "have" been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to that of light. We need nothing but Christ as he is head ove…

(364) 31 December : Proverbs 19v24 / Philippians 3-4 / Psalm 80v16-19

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 19:24

Understanding to grow in Today we come across two gems for understanding the Christian life: The first is to consider everything loss because of the "surpassing worth of knowing Christ" (3v7). This describes our priority. Paul won't consider anything that might keep him from relying on Christ alone for salvation, or keep him from perseverance. So he refuses to place any confidence of acceptance before God in his moral or religious works, so that he will trust Christ for the righteous standing he gives as a gift. Moreover, Paul is ready to suffer rather than give up on the faith, so that he will know deep fellowship with Christ and, in the end, resurrection. The second gem is to "live up to wha…

(361) 28 December : Proverbs 19v23 / Philippians 1-2 / Psalm 80v8-15

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 19:23

Understanding to grow in Phillipians tells us what matters for a church under pressure. Paul writes around AD60, thanking them for a gift, but mindful they are being called to suffer for Christ (4v18, 1v29). First, we learn the importance of prayer as Paul thanks God for their partnership in the gospel and prays they would be blameless. Second, we see the importance of evangelism. Speaking of his own desire to honour Christ whilst in prison and how it has encouraged others to boldly share the gospel, Paul urges his hearers to the same even though it may mean hardship for them. Third, he stresses the importance of prioritising others. The  famous "hymn" of Christ being exalted because of his readiness t…

(360) 27 December : Proverbs 19v22 / Ephesians 4-6 / Psalm 80v4-7

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 19:22

Understanding to grow in What is God's will for us? In short, it is to display "fullness in Christ," which is to imitate him (4v13, 4v32-5v2). Paul begins with the church: It is to be united in the Spirit. And through those with word gifts, and the speaking truth in love by every member, the church is to grow in that unity towards a maturity of faith and life in Christ, just as the human body grows to adulthood. That involves every member putting off the ways of their old sinful self in Adam, and putting on the ways of Christ, in all holiness, righteousness and purity. What follows are instructions on what this life "in" Christ looks like in marriage, parenting, and work, before a final e…

(359) 26 December : Proverbs 19v21 / Ephesians 1-3 / Psalm 80v1-3

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 19:21

Understanding to grow in Paul's letter, written from prison around AD60 to a church in Ephesus, begins with the great goal of all history: Christ over all (1v10). Around this idea it details what it is to be "in him" - that is, united to him through faith. This faith is a gift from God to those he has chosen, enabling then to receive every spiritual blessing Christ has achieved (1v3-5, 2v8). Believers are therefore adopted by his Father, redeemed through his blood, and maked out by his Spirit. And they know the Spirit's power, not just in giving understanding of God, but filling them with his presence as a new creation, now alive to God and re-created to do good. The "mystery" is that…

(358) 25 December : Proverbs 19v18-20 / Galatians 5-6 / Psalm 79v10-13

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 19:18-20

Understanding to grow in A non-Christian once asked me: "If God forgives you and you don't have to obey to gain his favour, why not just sin anyway?" That's what Paul now addresses. He stresses the Christian is "free" from having to obey in order to be saved. But he adds that those of faith will, nevertheless, use their freedom to live in love. They do this by following the desires of the Spirit within them (recognizing them because they are consistent with scripture). This is to no longer be "under law" in the sense of having to obey all the Old Testament customs and commands. But it is to "fulfil the law of Christ," as it is to abide by the principles of love …

(357) 24 December : Proverbs 19v17 / Galatians 3-4 / Psalm 79v8-9

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 19:17

Understanding to grow in The reason it is so serious to be drawn away from the true gospel, is that no other gospel can save. Paul stresses that Christ bore the curse we deserve for failure to obey God's law, so that we need not face it. All who have faith in him are therefore counted as right with God and given the Holy Spirit, which proves they are his. He adds that is fully consistent with what is taught about Abraham, the father of Judaism. By contrast, those who stop relying on Christ for acceptance before God and seek to rely on their obedience to the law, are required to obey it all, making them subject to God's curse for their failure to do so. And this leaves them in slavery, controlled by the b…

(354) 21 December : Proverbs 19v16 / Galatians 1-2 / Psalm 79v5-7

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 19:16

Understanding to grow in Nothing could be more serious than turning people away from the true saving gospel. This letter was written to a church in a region of modern day Turkey around 50AD. And it was written to counter just that. People were teaching that in addition to faith in Christ, Christians needed to observe Jewish customs like circumcision if they were to be "justifed" - which is to be declared righteous and so acceptable to God and one of his people (see 2v3, 4v10). In contrast, Paul taught that through faith in Christ, a righteous standing is given as a gift. Although true Christians will seek to live for God, their status before him is not therefore dependent on works of the law, whether c…

(353) 20 December : Proverbs 19v15 / 2 Kings 23:31-24v30 / Psalm 79v1-4

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 19:15

Understanding to grow in In faithfulness to his promise to Abraham, God had established his kingdom within Israel, patterned on that of Eden: His people (Israel and those who joined them), in his place (Canaan), under his rule (the law), enjoying the blessing of his presence (in the temple). He gave them rulers to help, and bore with them for century after century. But as in Eden, they sinned, persistently. And so, in 722BC he gave the northern kingdom over to Assyria, and they were taken into exile and lost. Now, in 586BC, the same happens to the southern kingdom of Judah, under Babylon. As in Eden, he "thrust them from his presence" (24v20), with Jerusalem, and the temple, which signified God's p…

(352) 19 December : Proverbs 19v14 / 2 Kings 22:1-23:30 / Psalm 78v70-72

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 19:14

Understanding to grow in True spiritual revival, whether personal or national always centres on the Bible as the word of God. "The book of the law" found in today's reading was most likely the book of Deuteronomy or the first five Bible books - the book of Moses. On reading it, Josiah realises what the rest of the people had ignored: the seriousness of their unfaithfulness to the Lord and his covenant meant that they were subject to his covenant curse. This would mean not only trials in the land, but ultimately removal from it (see Deut 28). And so Josiah leads the nation in repentance, taking every step he could to conform them to the word of God. Josiah therefore foreshadows Christ who zeleously …

(351) 18 December : Proverbs 19v13 / 2 Kings 20-21 / Psalm 78v65-69

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 19:13

Understanding to grow in Even the most faithful can fall into selfishness and sin. Hezekiah again proves himself a man of prayer and faith. But perhaps from pride, he foolishly shows off his wealth to the Babylonia envoy. When told they will one day take his kingdom into exile, he is then happy that it will not be in his lifetime. Thankfully Jesus shows not even a hint of being so self serving. He gives everything to ensure our everlasting security, and encourages us by example to deal with the more subtle sins of pride and self concern, alongside the more obvious ones. But there is nothing subtle about the sins of Mannasseh (and Amon) that follow. And it is because Israel. Follow him into these that we learn Je…

(350) 17 December : Proverbs 19v12 / 2 Kings 18-19 / Psalm 78v57-64

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 19:12

Understanding to grow in The northern kingdom were taken into exile in punishment for turning from the true God. Rather than worship and trust him, they worshipped idols, trusting them and various alliances for protection. Yet at the very time they are exiled, the southern kingdom has a king that couldn't be more different (18v5). Assyria seeks to attack Jerusalem, and their commander speaks in a way that undermines confidence in God, offering what he offered in the Moasic law (18v31-32, see Deut 30v16, 19). But Hezekiah trusts the LORD, appealing to him in prayer. And the LORD proves he is the true God, miraculously delivering Jersualem in a way he could have delivered Samaria if the northern kingdom had on…

(347) 14 December : Proverbs 19v11 / 2 Kings 17 / Psalm 78v53-56

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 19:11

Understanding to grow in It's 722BC, and the Assyrian empire conquers the northern kingdom of Israel, shipping its inhabitants into exile in Assyria and replacing them with peoples from elsewhere. The amount of space given to explain the reasons for this mark it's importance. After almost 700 years of God's patience with the people's idolatry and sin, and persistent warning of what it would lead to, his judgment finally comes. Yet his grace is never extinguished. Even the foreigners who replace the Israelites are given a chance to worship him and benefit. But they only do as Israel did. This all explains why the Jews living in the south during the time of Jesus so despised the Samaritans living i…

(346) 13 December : Proverbs 19v10 / 2 Kings 15-16 / Psalm 78v44-52

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 19:10

Understanding to grow in Another mixed group of kings reminding us of the mixed response there has always been to the Lord, from all stratas of society. The question, we are continually asked by the book is what our response will be. Two things to note: First, even those who did right could have done better (15v3-4). Allowing people to continue to offer sacrifices to God at high places, disobeyed his instructions in the law about there being one place of worship, and made the people susceptible to idolatry as the high places were often used to make offerings to false gods. The point for us is that we should not be content with a minimal standard of godliness, but seek continually to remove the high places from o…

(345) 12 December : Proverbs 19v9 / 2 Kings 13-14 / Psalm 78v40-43

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 19:9

Understanding to grow in In changeable times, one key truth sustains us: the Lord's grace and compassion. It is seen here in his delivering Israel from Aram (13v22-23) and rekeystraining his anger towards them (14v26-27). But that doesn't mean life was easy. They continued to face hostility, as did the southern kingdom under a relatively good king. Perhaps the point is that, in good times and bad, the thing we can be sure of is God's love towards his people and his commitment to fulfil his promises for them. Whatever we face in life, we can be sure that God sees our concern for him and will grant us a share in the inheritance to come. As you read note God's attitude to his people.
2 Kings 13-14

Fin…

(344) 11 December : Proverbs 19v8 / 2 Kings 11-12 / Psalm 78v34-39

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 19:8

Understanding to grow in The spiritual temperature of God's people can fluctuate rapidly. Because God had promised David an everlasting dynasty, Joash is rescued from Ahaziah so that the line continues. And while Joash is instructed by a faithful priest he "does right in the eyes of the Lord," so that the people flourish under him. It's a reminder of the critical importance of gospel ministers in the renewal of God's people and, through them, the culture they live in. The restoration of the temple is critical in this, for if the people are more devoted in their worship of God, they will be more devoted in obeying him in their lives, to the good of their society. It reminds us that church fel…

(343) 10 December : Proverbs 19v7 / 2 Kings 9-10 / Psalm 78v18-33

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 19:7

Understanding to grow in Jehu called enemy troops to "fall in behind me" and said to enemy officials "if you are on my side." He was the Lord's agent of judgment against all who had aligned with Ahab and his idolatry and wickedness, tied to the false god Baal. After some years God's word of judgment was finally coming to pass. It was a punishment, but also ensured no descendents of Ahab could resurrect his practices. And this was the last chance to choose God by standing with his chosen king. We forget that, despite his great compassion and mercy, Jesus said he had come to wreak final judgment, pictured in the book of Revelation as him on a war horse (Rev 19v11-21). Now is the time to …

(340) 7 December : Proverbs 19v6 / 2 Kings 6v24-8v29 / Psalm 78v9-17

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 19:6

Understanding to grow in It's an appalling seige, intended to show how severe the sin of Israel and its king (Joram) must have been to warrant it in judgment (see Deut 28v52-55). Yet rather than acknowledge his sin, the king blames God and Elisha - the only ones who could save. And the Lord does save the city, through his chariots and horses of fire (7v6). What seemed impossible to man was easy for God. Suffering is rarely a specific punishment on an individual's sin, but all suffering reflects God's judgment on the human race in casting it out of Eden. Yet, like the king, we tend to blame God when we suffer rather than acknowledge what has led to it, and fail to look to him for the salvation given us…

(339) 6 December : Proverbs 19v5 / 2 Kings 5v1-6v23 / Psalm 78v5-8

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 19:5

Understanding to grow in The recent convert so often puts to shame the long term Christian. Namaan is one of an enemy army. An insignificant servant girl tells him to go to God's preacher for healing. He does, and after a degree of humbling, acknowledges Israel's God as the only God. Immediately this has reprocussions for his work as he accompanies his king into the temple of an idol. But he rests in God's grace, knowing he isn't compromised in his own heart. There's challenge here about our own evangelism, and faith in God. It certainly contrasts the lack of faith or concern over idolatry in Israel's king and people, and especially the wealth seeking actions of Gehazi. What follows only c…

(338) 5 December : Proverbs 19v4 / 2 Kings 3-4 / Psalm 78v1-4

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 19:4

Understanding to grow in It was an age of great unfaithfulness amongst God's people. But some remained faithful, and God proved himself faithful to them. We have already seen king Jehoshaphat's refusal to compromise and readiness to speak out for the Lord. Here we see it again, and God acts for him, benefitting unbelievers who are aligned with him. But he remembers the little people too: the prophet's wife suffering poverty, the woman who shows hospitality to his prophet, the company of prophets in need of food, and the town of Baal Shalisha too. In the wider story Elisha is doing the sort of things Elijah did, proving he is of God. Jehoshaphat is showing that the LORD is with his anointed so far as h…

(337) 4 December : Proverbs 19v3 / 2 Kings 1-2 / Psalm 77v15-20

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 19:3

Understanding to grow in As we saw yesterday, it's a foolish things to act against God's spokesmen - whether prophets or today's preachers, for this is to act against God's representatives. Today's reading begins and ends with judgment on those who do. It's a judgment that affirms two things: First, that the God of Elijah and Elisha is the true God. He should therefore be consulted and served, not the false gods of the nations. Second, God is with his prophets. So when Elijah is taken into heaven "a chariot of fire and horses" appears. Most likely the point is that despite Elijah going, Israel is not left helpless, as he was always a representative of God, and it is God who fight…

(336) 3 December : Proverbs 19v2 / 1 Kings 22 / Psalm 77v12-14

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 19:2

Understanding to grow in Ahab is like those the apostle Paul describes, who "gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" (2 Tim 4v3). It makes no sense at all to complain, as he does, that a preacher always challenges and never has a word of encouragement for you. If you are in rebellion against the Lord what else would you expect? Foolish too, to seek out those who will say what you want, and oppose those who won't. Those who speak the word of the Lord represent the Lord. And one's response to them is one's response to God. Ahab's life therefore ends in judgment, just "as the word of the Lord had declared" (22v38). God's word …