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Showing posts from January, 2019

(396) 1 February : Proverbs 20v19 / Matthew 5:17-6:18 / Psalm 88v1-5

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 20:19

Understanding to grow in It's a standard, unattainable in this age, but one we must aspire to nevertheless: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (5v48). It's in this sense that the righteousness of those who enter Christ's kingdom must surpass that of the Pharisees. It is a true righteousness, not a mere adherence to external laws. It takes the principles of Old Testament law to a greater depth, height, extensiveness and motivation. So those of the kingdom are to turn from inner attitudes of hate and lust, rather than simply the outer actions of murder and adultery. They are to accept a higher standard for marriage and oaths. They will seek to do more in love than what is requir…

(395) 31 January : Proverbs 20v18 / Matthew 4v1-5v16 / Psalm 87

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 20:18

Understanding to grow in The gospel in a nutshell? "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (4v17). Here we see what that means. Just as God led Israel into the desert where the people gave into temptation, the Spirit leads Jesus. But he resists, relying on the very Old Testament book Israel failed to obey. In other words, he properly obeys the reign of God, displaying what the kingdom should look like in himself. The quote from Isaiah 9 (4v15-16) shows the significance. Isaiah goes on to speak of one born as wonderful counsellor and mighty God, to rule forever in all righteousness. Jesus is that king, ruler of God's kingdom of light. And this means that he is to be followed and obeyed li…

(394) 30 January : Proverbs 20v17 / Matthew 2-3 / Psalm 86v14-17

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 20:17

Understanding to grow in People have always responded to Jesus in differing ways. The wise men show that even now Jews are to give him all they have in tribute. By contrast, the Jewish king Herod wants to put him to death because he threatens his rule. The question is whether we will be wise or wicked? Will we bow down in our lives to Jesus as king, or stand against him because he unsettles our way of life? John the Baptist teaches that the only right response when one realises that Jesus is the Lord himself, is to repent and believe, bearing the fruit of godly living. And it is in this context that God the Father himself affirms that Jesus is indeed his Son, implying both king of Israel and the second person of…

(393) 29 January : Proverbs 20v16 / Matthew 1 / Psalm 86v11-13

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 20:16

Understanding to grow in Names matter. Writing around 60AD, Matthew had in mind a Jewish audience. And he immediately shows Jesus fulfils all their hopes. The number 7 in Hebrew thought represented completion. So the structure of 14 generations shows Israel's history was, in a sense, being brought to completion with Jesus' birth. He is descended from David, to whom was promised an everlasting kingdom (1 Chr 17v14), from Abraham, who was promised an offspring who would inherit Canaan and bring blessing to the world (Gen 12v2-3, 7), from Judah, who was promised one who would receive the obedience of the nations (Gen 49v10), and those stemming from the exile, who had longed for 500 years for a final deliver…

(392) 28 January : Proverbs 20v15 / Zephaniah 3 / Psalm 86v8-10

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 20:15

Understanding to grow in Judgment begins with the household of God (1 Pet 4v17). So Zephaniah now turns from the nations to Jerusalem, condemning her rulers and people for failure to fear God. It's all to easy for us to look to the speck in another's, without seeing the plank in our own! God's word then turns to one of encouragement for Jerusalem. What the people failed to do he will do, removing the arrogant, and drawing those from the nations as worshippers to join with the meek and humble from amongst Israel who "trust in the name of the LORD" (3v12). This looks to Gentiles being included with Jews through common faith in Christ, and finds fulfilment in the new Jerusalem of the church th…

(389) 25 January : Proverbs 20v14 / Zephaniah 1-2 / Psalm 86v5-7

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 20:14

Understanding to grow in Towards the end of the seventh century BC, Zephaniah speaks of the "day of the LORD" when the entire earth will be judged and devastated, all idolaters destroyed, and those who assume they are secure brought down. A focus is on this punishing the nations for how they have treated God's people. The encouragement is that those who "seek the LORD" may find shelter, and that they will inherit the lands of these nations. As Jesus said: "The meek will inherit the earth." It reminds all who are abused or oppressed for belonging to the Lord, that justice will be done and so they can wait patiently, not seeking vengeance themselves. Moreover, they can do that kno…

(388) 24 January : Proverbs 20v13 / Habakkuk / Psalm 86v1-4

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 20:13

Understanding to grow in Even prophets stuggle to understand God's ways. Habakkuk cries out to God over the destruction and violence he sees amongst God's people, only for the LORD to reveal that he is raising up the Babylonian empire to destroy the Assyrians and bring down his justice upon Judah. In short, God is going to use evil to judge evil. This raises another question: Habakkuk asks how God can tolerate such a thing, when the wicked swallow up those more righteous. The LORD now responds that he will in turn judge Babylon for the very actions from them that he has used. And he affirms that in all this "the righteous will live by faith (or faithfulness)" (2v4). The point is that God's …

(387) 23 January : Proverbs 20v12 / Nahum / Psalm 85v10-13

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 20:12

Understanding to grow in When nations or peoples continue to act in a brutal manner, it does not mean that God is unconcerned, nor that he will not act. Nahum's prophecy is of judgment and destruction for the violent and oppressive Assyrian Empire - an end that came at the hand of the Babylonians in 612BC, over a hundred years after the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. The LORD is "slow to anger" but he ensures justice is eventually done. And when we see nations or peoples acting brutally today, we should take comfort in that. In his perfect and wise timing, God will bring them down in history, and will judge each individual on the last day. There is comfort too, for those suffer…

(386) 22 January : Proverbs 20v11 / Micah 6-7 / Psalm 85v8-9

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 20:11

Understanding to grow in Because of our sin, hope lies only in the LORD. He alone can guarantee our future. In today's reading he makes his case against the people, reminding them that he delivered them from Egypt, but they have still sinned against him. And he cares about this, having no pleasure in mere offerings where there is no justice, mercy or humility. It's a rebuke to all who attend worship whilst showing no real repentance. This was why Israel faced judgment in the form of exile by Assyria. However, beyond this, God's promises to Abraham and Jacob still stood. So Micah proclaimed that a remnant from Israel would be restored, some from Assyria and Egypt would come and share in that, whilst t…

(385) 21 January : Proverbs 20v10 / Micah 3-5 / Psalm 85v4-7

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 20:10

Understanding to grow in Now the leaders are condemned. Rulers, priests and prophets do not act according to what is right and true, but according to what benefits them materially (3v9-11). It's a firm word that applies today to those who lead in society, the workplace or the church. And for Israel it meant judgment. But the declaration of judgment is immediately followed by hope: The last days will bring a time of restoration, when God himself will rule according to what is right and true, so that those of the nations will come seeking these things from him, and experience peace and prosperity with Israelites. This context implies that the king from Bethlehem predicted in chapter 5v2-4 will be the LORD hims…

(382) 18 January : Proverbs 20v9 / Micah 1-2 / Psalm 85v1-3

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 20:9

Understanding to grow in In the latter half of the eight century BC, Micah prophesies about both the northern and southern kingdoms. Through him, God warns of judgment for the way the people have prospered through oppressing the poor (2v1-2). It's a word to consider in our own prosperous day, when it's all too easy to benefit at the expense of those forced to work in the most appalling conditions. The LORD declares that the land will be lost, as it was for the north in 722BC and the south in 586BC (and almost in 701BC). But there is promise too: The LORD himself will be a shepherd-king, gathering a remnant of survivors and leading them out of the gate of their sheepfold to find good pasture (2v12-13). Pre…

(381) 17 January : Proverbs 20v8 / Jonah / Psalm 84v10-12

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 20:8

Understanding to grow in "Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them" (2v8). This is the theme of
Jonah's book. He lived in the early eighth century BC (2 Kgs 14v25) and was called to proclaim God's word in the capital city of Israel's greatest enemy of that time - the Assyrian empire. Knowing God is ready to show love even to idolaters, Jonah ran away rather than give Assyria the chance of escaping destruction (3v10-4v3). But they did escape, because they repented - as did the sailors Jonah journeyed with. And in doing so they put Jonah to shame, for he knew the Lord but was not prepared to obey his word until having called on him in distress and experienced h…

(380) 16 January : Proverbs 20v7 / Obadiah / Psalm 84v8-9

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 20:7

Understanding to grow in It's evident on reading that God's word through Obadiah came soon after Babylon conquered Judah in 586BC, and took its people into exile. God condemns Edom (south of Israel and descended from Esau, Jacob's brother) for taking advantage of Judah's misfortune by handing escapees over to Babylon, occupying her towns, and taking her wealth. This foreshadows those drawing lots for Jesus' garments at the cross. We are told that it will mean destruction for Edom, and that God's people will one day occupy their land and that nearby. The principle, as so often with God's justice, is that as people do to others so it will done to them. And it reminds us that those who se…

(379) 15 January : Proverbs 20v6 / Amos 6-9 / Psalm 84v5-7

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 20:6

Understanding to grow in God's declarations of impending judgment on Israel continue. It is stressed that he will not relent, and that it will be severe. Two key things are worth noting however. First, alongside the sins of idolatry and oppression, complacency with respect to worship is now mentioned. There is no desire to make much of the Sabbath for worship and rest, but only to get through it and get back to dishonest money making (8v5). The desire to take time out with the Lord has always been a measure of faith. Second, the coming conquest by Assyria (that occurred in 722BC) is described with language of the sun being darknened at noon (8v9). This is metaphorical: It would feel like the world ending for …

(378) 14 January : Proverbs 20v5 / Amos 3-5 / Psalm 84v1-4

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 20:5

Understanding to grow in Israel are going about their religious activities and talking up the day when God would come to his people. But the LORD is clear that his presence will mean judgment on the people for the injustice they do to the poor and needy. Indeed, they have already been under judgment as he has witheld blessing from their land as he promised in Deuteronomy. However, the people have not responded with repentance. Amos therefore declares that they will be destroyed and exiled by a foreign army, with only a few surviving. It's sobering for those of us who assume the return of Christ will be good news. It will only be if we are repentant. And if not, we should respond to the evidence around us that…

(375) 11 January : Proverbs 20v4 / Amos 1-2 / Psalm 83v13-18

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 20:4

Understanding to grow in There is no advantage to being one of God's people unless repentance is sincere. Around 750BC Amos declares God's judgment against nations around Israel for their sins against his people and against Edom. It reminds us that he holds all nations to account, especially when persecuting the church - sometimes punishing them in the present by his providence. But the surprise would have been that oracles against Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern) are included too. The point is that God's people are being treated like the nations because of their own sins. In fact, their sins are all the more severe because of the knowledge they had. It is worth noting what so pr…

(374) 10 January : Proverbs 20v3 / Joel 2v18-3v21 / Psalm 83v5-12

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 20:3

Understanding to grow in No matter how bad things may get, the LORD can restore then. And so he promises that the army that will devastate Judah will be driven away and the land restored to a state of prosperity. Moreover, the Spirit of God will be poured out, heralding a coming day of the LORD when the nations will be judged for what they have done and God's people will find him a refuge to them. Peter declared this coming of the Spirit fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, meaning that now is the time to call on the name of the Lord and be saved (Acts 2v17-21). This should unsettle us if we have not yet done so. But it should encourage us if we have. Final justice for all wrongs is close - and with it, the kin…

(373) 9 January : Proverbs 20v2 / Joel 1v1-2v17 / Psalm 83v1-4

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 20:2

Understanding to grow in Now is the day of salvation. That seems to be the message of Joel to the southern kingdom of Judah We don't know the date it was written, but he uses an invasion by locusts that have devastated the land, as an illustration of a coming "day of the LORD" when an army will punish the nations for their sin. Through Joel, the LORD urges his people to "return," with Joel adding that because of God's gracious character he may yet relent (2v12-14). As we've seen throughout the Old Testament, we too must take God's warning very seriously too. In Christ, we are assured that he will forgive those who are truly repentant. As you read note what the people are called…

(372) 8 January : Proverbs 20v1 / Hosea 11-14 / Psalm 82v5-8

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 20:1

Understanding to grow in Our rebelliousness only highights the magnitude of God's love. We see that here. A catalogue of Israel's sins is interspersed with a description of the many blessings God had given. And although God warns of the judgment that fell with the exile of the northern and southern kingdoms, he also promises that in the end, because of his great love, those who return to him will be forgiven, redeemed from death itself, and brought to enjoy a life of abundance. What encouragement, when we sin, that with repentance comes grace unending. As you read note the many blessings God gives or promises.
Hosea 11-14

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it teaches m…

(371) 7 January : Proverbs 19v29 / Hosea 8-10 / Psalm 82v1-4

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 19:29

Understanding to grow in Human nature doesn't change. Two sins are highighted in the northern kingdom that can be just as present today. The first, is that of nominal religion. They went through the motions of rituals and festivals (9v4-5) that should have honoured the LORD, whilst dishonouring him by their idolatry and opposition to his spokesmen (9v7-10). Similarly, people can attend church and call themselves Christians, whilst opposing those who teach God's word because they don't like it, and choosing instead their own self-made beliefs. The second sin, is that of self-reliance. Rather than seek and trust God when faced with oppressive empires, they assumed their military might would be sufficie…

(368) 4 January : Proverbs 19v28 / Hosea 4-7 / Psalm 81v13-16

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 19:28

Understanding to grow in The unfaithfulness of the northern kingdom of "Israel" also called "Ephraim" after its largest tribe, is now detailed. Her priests, princes and people, are all engaged in the spiritual prostitution of idolatry; but it seems in literal prostitution too, whether as part of their pagan practices or simple adultery. The southern kingdom of "Judah" is being drawn into this as well. Throughout the land, the people go about their sacrifices, whilst defiling them with immorality. God therefore calls them to return to him, stressing he desires mercy and acknowledgment over mere offerings, and warning of judgment, highlighting that their false gods cannot protect or p…

(367) 3 January : Proverbs 19v27 / Hosea 1-3 / Psalm 81v8-12

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 19:27

Understanding to grow in Although we are so often faithfulness, praise be that the Lord remains faithful. Hosea writes in the southern kingdom of Judah towards the end of the 7th century BC, when the northern kingdom, titled by then "Israel," was conquered by the Assyrians. Like other prophets, Hosea acts out his message, but in rather an extreme way! He marries a promiscuous woman to illustrate how Israel had been unfaithful to God, by turning to false gods like Baal as alternate "husbands." The LORD declares that unless she (Israel) repents, he will shame her, remove his love and provision, and no longer count her as his people (his wife). But he also promises, that she will realise she was…

(366) 2 January : Proverbs 19v26 / Colossians 3-4 / Psalm 81v3-7

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 19:26

Understanding to grow in To believe in Christ is to be in Christ, which means we are spiritually alive in Christ, seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, and awaiting Christ's return in glory (3v1-4). It is no surprise then, that doing everything for Christ defines the Christian life (3v17). After all, this is the very essence of the coming kingdom. Negatively this is to put to death all that is not of him, and positively to clothe ourselves with everything that is. It is to speak his message, serve him in the family and workplace, and pray that he might be made known. As you read note the challenges to your life.
Colossians 3-4

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it te…