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Showing posts from June, 2019

(546) 1 July : Proverbs 25v24 / James 2:1-3v12 / Psalm 112v6-10

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 25:24

Understanding to grow in We're forgiven and accepted by grace. But what we do really matters. It is the proof of whether we've truly believed. As James puts it: "Faith without deeds is dead" (2v26). And so he urges his hearers to act without favouritism by treating rich and poor alike, and caring for the needy. He then moves to speech, stressing that we can't praise God one moment only to curse those made in his image the next. Such things imply that we are not wholly the Lord's. It all resonates with Jesus' example as the one who drew alongside the downtrodden, and his teaching that out of the heart the mouth speaks. As you read note the reasons James gives for what he says.
James 2…

(543) 28 June : Proverbs 25v23 / James 1 / Psalm 112v4-5

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 25:23

Understanding to grow in The James who wrote this letter around 40-50 AD was probably Jesus' brother. It deals with practicalities of the Christian life, beginning with the reality of hostility from others. James encourages the believers to see how suffering can mature their faith, and to ask God for wisdom in how to respond. The church he is writing to clearly has a social mix, so he then notes how the poor can take pride in their high position - presumably because of not being enticed away by things, whilst the rich can take pride in their lower position - in having a particular appreciation of the transience of what they might be tempted to rely on. As for relationships: they are to be free of anger and e…

(542) 27 June : Proverbs 25v21-22 / Hebrews 12:4-13:25 / Psalm 112v1-3

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 25:21-22

Understanding to grow in Some final instructions for keeping on keeping on. We are to see hardship as the training of loving discipline from our heavenly Father. We are to therefore strengthen our resolve knowing it will result in our being righteous and knowing peace with God. We are also to seek after godliness and ensure no "bitter root" of ungodly dissent grows in the church to cause trouble or lead others to sin. We are to host and care for one-another, be sexually pure, and content with what we have knowing the Lord will help us where we lack. All this so that we will not be tempted to sin and so come under judgment. We are also to emulate and submit to our leaders and not be led astray by str…

(541) 26 June : Proverbs 25v18-20 / Hebrews 11:1-12:3 / Psalm 111v10

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 25:18-20

Understanding to grow in What is it that can keep us going even through hardship? Faith. That's what dominates this chapter. It is to trust in something that can't be seen, and most especially in God's promises - of the heavenly country and city that is the reward of all who truly seek God. This, we're told, is what enabled God's people to suffer in all sorts of ways. They could do so because they knew what was to come if they remained steadfast. And Christ is the supreme example. "For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame" (12v2). And so we fix our eyes on him and continue in faith no matter what opposition from others and suffering in service…

(540) 25 June : Proverbs 25v16-17 / Hebrews 10:19-39 / Psalm 111v6-9

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 25:16-17

Understanding to grow in The point of all we've learnt in Hebrews, is to underline just how important it is to persevere with Christ. And here we see three things to reflect on so that we do: First, is the access to God we have for help. Just as the temple was God's house with a High Priest overseeing it, so the church is now his house (where he dwells) with Christ over it. And his blood has enabled full forgiveness - outward and inner cleansing from all uncleanliness and guilt because of sin. So we can approach God with full assurance, seeking his "mercy and grace" in our time of need (4v16). Second, is the encouragement of one-another. Those who give up meeting together usually give up on …

(539) 24 June : Proverbs 25v15 / Hebrews 9:1-10:18 / Psalm 111v2-5

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 25:15

Understanding to grow in There are many ways life in Christ is better than life under the Old Testament. Then, animals were sacrificed, only effecting an external cleansing that enabled the people to remain in the vicinity of God's presence in the tabernacle (later temple) without his wrath breaking out at them (9v13). Moreover, the sacrifices had to be given repeatedly, showing that they were insufficient to properly deal with sin as it is continually committed (10v1-2). And even the priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves, showing that the way to the ultimate "Most Holy Place" was not yet revealed, presumably because it could never be entered by priests who lacked full and final atonement …

(536) 21 June : Proverbs 25v14 / Hebrews 8 / Psalm 111v1

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 25:14

Understanding to grow in A shorter passage but a detailed point. Christians are not under the Mosaic covenant agreement that God made with Israel and that is recorded from Exodus to Deuteronomy. That was always to be temporary, as a "shadow" that gave an outline of what was to come in the gospel. So the priests offering gifts in the tabernacle (later the temple) patterned how Jesus would one day offer himself in heaven. And what proves Jesus' priestly ministry superior is not just that it is done in heaven itself, but that it is established on better priomises. The Hebrew people could not remain faithful to God on the basis of the first covenant, because although its laws were good their hearts wer…

(535) 20 June : Proverbs 25v13 / Hebrews 6v13-7v28 / Psalm 110v5-7

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 25:13

Understanding to grow in Our salvation is made certain by the one who stands for us before God - our High Priest. It's slightly complicated, but the writer makes the point that the priesthood descended through Levi with the system of law it was part of, was insufficient for the people. First, this is evident by God introducing Melchizedeck as a type of Christ (see Gen 22). He was both a king and priest, and there was no record of him being born or dying. In that sense he resembles the Son. And the Genesis narrative presents him as greater than Abraham, because he blessed and received thithes from him. The point is that the priesthood that comes through Abraham must therefore be inferior to him and to Jesus t…

(534) 19 June : Proverbs 25v12 / Hebrews 4v14-6v12 / Psalm 110v1-4

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 25:12

Understanding to grow in God understands how hard it can be to live for him. He knows not just beause he knows all things, but because he has experienced its struggle in the person of his Son. So we are told our great high priest can "feel sympathy for our weaknesses" because he too was tempted, and he too had to offer up prayer with fervent cries for help. Yet by standing firm and obeying in all perfection, he achieved a righteousness on our behalf, so that if we stick with him we will receive salvation. More than that, by sending Jesus, God was showing his readiness to grant grace to sinners. And so we can be sure that if we approach his throne seeking mercy to pardon us and grace to strengthen us, h…

(533) 18 June : Proverbs 25v11 / Hebrews 3v7-4v13 / Psalm 109v30-31

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 25:11

Understanding to grow in The Christian life takes effort. There is much to cause us to give up: temptation, hostility, the deires for comfort. The writer is clear however, the joy of everlasting rest in the new creation awaits. But it is only received by those "hold" to their original convictions "firmly to the very end" (3v14). The example of Israel in the desert makes just this point by way of pattern. Just as their unbelief meant they were barred from the promised land, so unbelief within the church will cause the same even if people call themselves Christians. 4v12-13 makes this point. We will all be judged by our response to God's word in the gospel. And nothing is hidden from God…

(532) 17 June : Proverbs 25v9-10 / Hebrews 2v5-3v6 / Psalm 109v26-29

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 25:9-10

Understanding to grow in Why stick with Jesus? Because he alone is able to save. That's the sense here. A reason angels can't save is that they are not human. But Jesus was made human, and so a little lower than angels, so that he could be our representative - tasting death on our behalf in order for us to be glorified and one day reign over all things with him. What a future! The writer therefore affirms Jesus is of the same human family, suffering and being tempted as we are. This means that his death counts for us, and he can be a "merciful and faithful high priest" in offering his body in atonement for our sin. All this makes him as much greater than Moses as a builder is to the house the…

(529) 14 June : Proverbs 25v8 / Hebrews 1v1-2v4 / Psalm 109v21-25

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 25:8

Understanding to grow in The book of Hebrews was probably written in the 60s AD. We're not sure who wrote it, but it's message is clear. It urges Christians in a time of trial to persevere with Christ. It begins affirming his supremacy over angels because Jewish Christians were being tempted back to Judaism. They held that the law was revealed by angels (2v2), so the writer begins affirming that a greater revelation has now come in Christ, who is God's Son, and whose word actually upholds the universe! And because the Son has been given greater acknowledgement by God than any angel, and had his message confirmed by miraculous signs of the Holy Spirit through the apostles, we should stick to his messag…

(528) 13 June : Proverbs 25v6-7 / Lamentations 3-5 / Psalm 109v17-20

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 25:6-7

Understanding to grow in it is very easy for Christians in our culture to despair, to feel things go from bad to worse without hope of change. But with the Lord there is always hope. So the writer of Lamentations (Jeremiah?) details his despair in seeing what the Lord's wrath has brought about, and in being opposed and ridiculed. But he remembers the Lord's great love - his compassion and faithfulness, and so he is able to wait on him, recognizing two very important truths in our own consideration of suffering: First, although the Lord brings affliction, he does not do it willingly. It is an expression of his justice and wisdom, but not his pleasure (3v33). Second, nothing happens except by his decree (…

(527) 12 June : Proverbs 25v4-5 / Lamentations 2 / Psalm 109v6-16

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 25:4-5

Understanding to grow in The destruction is now recounted: God has acted like Judah's enemy rather than her friend. He has destroyed her great buildings, brought down her strongholds and sanctuary, and laid low her kings, prophets, priests and elders. The point is that all the people might have relied on for security has gone. And the poverty that remains is of such seriousness that Jeremiah weeps to see children crying out to their mothers for food and drink, whilst mothers engage in cannibalism! We  might struggle in reading such an account as our daily Bible reading. But not every word from God is to lift us up. The fact is that the only note of joy in the passage is that of Judah's enemies, delighti…

(526) 11 June : Proverbs 25v1-3 / Lamentations 1 / Psalm 109v1-5

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 25:1-3

Understanding to grow in Tradition subscribes the authorship of Lamentations to Jeremiah. It's certainly possible as it laments the destruction of Jerusalem. What we are immediately reminded of is that this was because of Judah's sins. And the tragedy is that the greatness and prosperity that once marked the people and Jersualem, has all been lost. So "the daughter Zion" (Jersualem and its surrounds) is pictured as a woman who has lost everything, and who is in deep suffering and torment without a comforter. We cannot be complacent about sin despite the luxury and comfort we enjoy. Without repentance, it will all oneday be lost. Consider the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16v19-31). As you read note…

(525) 10 June : Proverbs 24v30-34 / Jeremiah 52 / Psalm 108v10-13

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 24:30-34

Understanding to grow in Today's is a record of the Jews finally being taken into exile in fulfilment of God's word through Jeremiah. And the book is clear. It was because of "the LORD's anger" (52v3). It meant seige, famine, a fleeing army, and the capture of the king, whose sons were executed and whose eyes were put out. It also meant the looting and burning of the temple, and the destruction of the palace and city. It shows just how serious human sin is to warrant such horrors, foreshadowing hell itself. But once again, there is mercy. The book ends with Judah's king being favoured even in Babylon. God hasn't forgotten his promise to David, to have a kingdom that will endure f…

(522) 7 June : Proverbs 24v28-29 / Jeremiah 51 / Psalm 108v6-9

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 24:28-29

Understanding to grow in A longer message for a most significant judgment. The reason is particularly because of Babylon's treatment of God'e temple and people, but also of the nations (51v11, 34-36, 49). And the destruction will come because the Lord is not an idol like those of Babylon. Therefore he can overcome them (51v17-19). After all, this is the God who had previously used Babylon as his war club in judging the nations (51v20-23). As with previous prophecies, we are reminded of the certainity of the final judgment. Many would scoff at the very idea of it. Some who might accept it, might also presume on the safety we all experience today, thinking God would never bring it about. But his destric…

(521) 6 June : Proverbs 24v27 / Jeremiah 50 / Psalm 108v3-5

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 24:27

Understanding to grow in Salvation comes through judgment. Finally, a declaration that Babylon will be destroyed (as she was in 539BC by Persia). It will mean complete destruction in vengeance for her treatment of God's people and temple. And with her destruction, God will enable the exiled Jews to return to their land, where he promises they will enjoy his forgiveness of their sins - and a flourishing life. This became a paradigm of God's promise to destroy all ungodly society in its opposition to his people, describing it as "Babylon" in the book of Revelation. Through that judgment too, we are told he will save his people - the "new Jerusalem," by establishing them on the earth the…

(520) 5 June : Proverbs 24v26 / Jeremiah 49 / Psalm 108v1-2

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 24:26

Understanding to grow in With wrath comes mercy. So, as with Moab, these prophecies against various nations, promise a degree of restoration too: God will "restore the fortunes" of the Ammonites and Elam (49v6, 39). Although given to address specific circumstances in Jeremiah's day, what these oracles also give us, not least because they come amongst so many others, is an awareness that every nation is accountable to God for its sins. None are not seen. None are forgotten. And although the Lord is supremely patient, judgment will inevitably come. And no human ingenuity or confidence can stop it. It is sobering. Likewise, although Jesus taught that now is the day of salvation, he stressed that judgm…

(518) 3 June : Proverbs 24v21-22 / Jeremiah 46-47 / Psalm 107v33-38

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 24:21-22

Understanding to grow in Judgment is now declared against Egypt, where some Jews had taken refuge rather than obey the Lord by staying in Judea; and against the Philistines, who lived next to Judea. A number of things can be noted. First, is that God's judgments are severe. Second, is that he uses the evil deeds of nations in them. So he uses Egypt to destroy the Philistines and Babylon nto destroy Egypt. Third, is that he never forgets mercy. He promises that Egypt will be reinhabited (46v26) and the Jews protected (46v27-28). It reminds us that God can destroy a wayward nation with ease if he so chooses. But that his people will always be protected, and escape will ultimately be found in Christ. As you …