January 31 / Proverbs 31 / Mark 3

charm & beauty

Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Our society seems to elevate charm and beauty to levels of divinity. At least that’s the impression I get from every magazine I see on the rack at Peak Performance Fitness Center. I have yet to see a cover with “Kim Kardashian Candidly Discusses Her Fear of the Lord!” Though it’s quite possible I missed that issue.

But the “magazine” of Proverbs tells us that what is worthy of praise in people is much deeper than a charming personality or physical beauty, though those two could be included in the total package I guess. You know, a triple-threat person.

Listen to Chales Bridges’ no-nonsense words in his 19th century study of Proverbs:

A graceful form and manner often end in disappointment, more bitter than words can tell, because they are often just a cover-up for the vilest corruptions. And then outward beauty–what a fading vanity it is! One siege of sickness sweeps it away. Sorrow and care wither its charms. And even while it remains, it contributes little to our happiness. It proves a frequent occasion of trouble and the source of many harmful temptations and snares; and, without honor and uprightness, it becomes to a well-judging mind, an object of disgust rather than attraction.

Mark 3:28-30

In case you have any anxiety over whether or not you have committed the unpardonable sin, well, you haven’t. For this anxiety shows that you still have a heart condition capable of repentance.

In the historical context of this passage, these scribes were so against God as revealed by Jesus, that they ascribed God’s very Spirit the power of demonic activity. They were calling what is good evil. When we do not see the difference between good and evil, we are in serious trouble. More and more I see the danger of blurring the lines to the point of proclaiming that evil does not exist.

There can come a point in which one is so entrenched in pride and self-righteousness, that one sees no need for forgiveness of anything. If good is evil and evil is good, then what needs forgiving? If you cannot distinguish light from dark and dark from light, you are, in this state, beyond the pale of repentance, for you see nothing to turn from.

You might say that the only sin that is unforgivable is the sin of thinking that you do not need forgiveness.

It is in this place where you deny the Holy Spirit’s power, indeed, you blaspheme it.

 

Public Speaker vs. Communicator

Public speaker

1 seeks to be understood and liked
2 asks: what do I have
3 focus on techniques
4 is self conscious
5 wants to complete the speech
6 is content oriented

Communicator

1 seeks to understand and connect
2 asks: what do they need
3 focuses on atmosphere
4 is audience oriented
5 wants to complete the people
6 change oriented

-From The Maxwell Leadership Bible

January 30 / Proverbs 30 / Mark 2

acorn to oak

Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.

Because of who He is and what He is, those who trust Him don’t have to worry. God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in time of trouble [Ps.46:1]. One of God’s compassionate ministries to us is divine guidance. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a promise God’s people have been claiming for centuries, and it has never failed.

Mark 2:21-22

“No one sews unshrunk cloth onto an old cloak. If they do, the new patch will tear the old cloth, and they’ll end up with a worse hole.

Nor does anyone put new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the wine will burst the skins, and they’ll lose the wine and the skins together. New wine needs new skins.”

Salvation is not a partial patching up of one’s life; it is a whole new robe of righteousness (Is.61:10;2 Cor.5:21). The Christian life is not a mixing of the old and the new; rather, it is a fulfillment of the old in the new. There are two ways to destroy a thing: you can smash it or you can permit it to fulfill itself. An acorn, for example, can be smashed with a hammer, or it can be planted and allowed to grow into an oak. In both instances, the destruction of the acorn is accomplished, but in the second instance, the acorn is destroyed by being fulfilled.

Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, types, and demands of the law of Moses. The law was ended at Calvary when the perfect sacrifice was once offered for the sins of the world (Heb.8-10). When you trust Jesus Christ, you become part of a new creation (2 Cor.5:17), and there are always new experiences of grace and glory. How tragic when people hold on to dead religious tradition when they could lay hold of living spiritual truth. Why cherish the shadows when the reality has come (Heb.10:1ff)? In Jesus Christ we have the fulfillment of all that God promised (2 Cor.1:20).

-Warren Wiersbe

January 29 / Proverbs 29 / Mark 1

Jesus in solitude

Proverbs 29:1

Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.

This verse actually makes me want to receive criticism (constructive of course), so could someone please constructively criticize me today? I promise I’ll accept it!

Proverbs 29:25

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.

To be intimidated by someone is to put them on a pedestal. That is very dangerous indeed.

There’s only one person who deserves a pedestal. I suggest you keep it clear and reserved for Him.

Mark 1:35

Jesus made time alone with God a priority.

Do you?

If not, why?

Do you feel that you don’t need as much time alone with God as Jesus needed?

The work of the Son of God is both an inward and an outward work. Jesus cannot extend himself outward in compassion without first attending to the source of his mission and purpose with the father; and, conversely, his oneness with the Father complex him outward in mission. The significance of Jesus’ ministry consists not simply in what he does for humanity, but equally in who he is in relation to the Father, Jesus is, according to Mark’s narrative, neither contemplative ascetic nor social activist. He does not promote an agenda but derives a ministry from a relationship with the Father. He is the Son, one in being with the Father; and the servant, one in purpose with his will.

-James R. Edwards

January 28 / Proverbs 28 / Matthew 28

M51_whirlpool_galaxy_black_hole

 

Matthew 28:18

“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”

This is quite the statement. One must agree with C.S. Lewis that Jesus must be Lord, lunatic, or liar based on claims such as this.

Is Jesus now Chief Executive Officer of the universe? We Christians believe so. We believe there is nothing beyond His reach or control. Sometimes it’s hard to trust because of horrible things we see happen. But I whole-heartily agree with Anslem that “We believe in order to understand” and not the other way around.

It must start with the belief that this is so–that Jesus has been given all authority in the spiritual, as well as the physical, realm. Then, and only then, are you able to see clearly and to trust Him at His word.

Why then do bad things happen to those who believe? I’m not sure, since I’ve not been given the keys to all mysteries yet. But one aspect I do see is that if following Christ guaranteed no more problems, then wouldn’t most people follow Him for that reason and not out of pure love for Him alone?

Like marrying someone for their money or their physical beauty, thinking, hoping, you’ll always be comfortable. Is that what you really want? To be wedded for your physical provision? Or to be forever embraced because of who you are?

One thing following Christ does guarantee, is that He is always with you.

Is that enough?

Or do you need more?


You know how many times the Bible tells us to not fear? 365 I’m told. What an interesting number…

I love what one man observed from reading the New Testament on his own, no commentaries, no preachers>>> 3 themes stood out to him:
1] Interact with God about everything
2] Do nothing from fear
3] Love others deeply

 

Proverbs 28:9

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. If I won’t listen to God’s instruction, why should God listen to my petition?

We are no longer under the law, yet this is just how things work in God’s world. You don’t go to your boss asking for a raise when you don’t complete your work, you’re never on time, and you break rules that have been set in place. Ridiculous.

We are talking about blatant disregard of God’s ways here, not the fightings and failings of the flesh we encounter on a daily basis as imperfect beings. We are talking about ignoring God’s will in some area or areas of your life. You’ve made allowances, and have been deceived into believing it is OK to live with certain sins, and you are no longer fighting them. You’re living with them, allowing them to co-habitate with you. If you’re renting out a room of your house to a known criminal who commits armed robbery every nite, do not be surprised if people don’t want to come over for dinner or help you paint the bathroom.

This, I believe, is a very dangerous place to live–that hard heartedness described in the Bible of many people.

January 27 / Proverbs 27 / Matthew 27

resrrected dead

Matthew 27:52-53

Tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city, and appeared to many people.

Seriously. Why do we never talk about this? That happened!!!

Perhaps this was just to be an appetizer for a massive main course that is to come one day.

The destination is the motivation. Remember where this is all going. Keep before you the end of all things, but without losing appreciation for the present moment. Jesus told us a few times to stay alert.

Proverbs 27:9

The heartfelt counsel from a trusted friend is indeed golden.

Never go at it alone.

Always seek good counsel. Always.

Why would you not?

Because you think you’re awesome on your own and don’t need any help. Well, that is prideful and foolish.

January 26 / Proverbs 26 / Matthew 26

waych & pray

Proverbs 26:4-5

Have discernment to know when to just keep quiet with foolish, kingdom-of-this-world-talking people so as not to become part of the problem and add to the cacophony. Yet also be attuned to the Spirit to recognize the right time to speak truth and silence the foolish talk.

Matthew 26:41

Keep watch and pray so that you don’t give in to temptation.

This is the best, simplest advice ever, when you think about it.

While you are praying, you are alert.

While you are praying, you are awake to God.

While you are praying, you are aware of yourself…and temptation.

Jesus’ admonitions to Christian life can almost always find their first fulfillment in the simple loyalty of prayer. -Frederick Dale Bruner

January 25 / Proverbs 25 / Matthew 25

mlk

Proverbs 25:21-22

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.

Scholars believe the phrase “heap coals of fire on their heads” refers to an ancient Egyptian custom whereby a person publicly demonstrated contrition for wrongdoing by carrying on his head a pan of burning coals to represent the burning pain of his shame and guilt. The point of the illustration is that when we love our enemy, we become the burning pan of coals on his head. Our love and good works toward our enemy is a painful reminder to him of his evil deeds and (hopefully) shames him into wanting to correct his ways.

The apostle Paul quotes this Proverb in Romans 12:20 to illustrate the “Principle of Replacement.” This principle says that it’s not enough just to passively receive your enemy’s actions, or even to receive them with a view toward God’s intervention and justice. Instead, we are to do the opposite of what our enemy is doing.

God’s plan is for you to replace your enemy’s evil with good; to replace his hatred with love; to replace his unkindness with kindness. Only in doing so will we keep the total reservoir of evil in this world from getting bigger and bigger, which is what happens if we repay evil for evil. To think in accounting terms, the only way we can cancel out the evil done to us is to pay it back with good, thereby keeping the “books” balanced. To add evil to evil just puts us further and further into a deficit of good in the world. If we take vengeance into our own hands, we become the one who suffers. But when we love our enemy, we become a reminder to him of what he has done.

-from The Jeremiah Study Bible

Like Sam’s question yesterday in regards to when he’s feeling anger toward someone, “Who’s the one really losing here?”

This also reminded me of a gripping story about Martin Luther King I read this week:

Once, in Birmingham, when King was giving a speech, a two-hundred-pound white man charged the stage and began pummeling King with his fists. As King’s aides rushed to defend him, McWhorter writes:

They were astounded to watch King become his assailant’s protector. He held him solicitously and, as the audience began singing Movement songs, told him that their cause was just, that violence was self-demeaning, that “we’re going to win.” Then King introduced him to the crowd, as though he were a surprise guest. Roy James, a twenty-four year old native New Yorker who lived in an American Nazi Party dormitory in Arlington, Virginia, began to weep in King’s embrace.

Matthew 25:13

“So keep awake! You don’t know the day or the hour.”

Jesus tells us in multiple places to stay awake, keep alert, be prepared. Keep current. He IS returning. That is a reality, whether we talk about it much or not. And being prepared was a stern and clear part of His teachings.

I believe it’s the Delta Force who are required to always be within one hour of readiness to go anywhere in the world for any mission. They never have more than two alcoholic beverages in a day & always have a bag packed. Now that is prepared. They can’t be resting on training from a couple years ago, or even a couple months ago. “Well, I hope my aim is still pretty good from that college marksmanship class I took 12 years ago!” Yeah right.

Same with us, if we’re serious about being an apprentice of Jesus, then we keep current with Him. We don’t depend on a decision made years ago, or a time when we were close to Him back in the day when we had more time. The five silly girls in this parable weren’t really serious, plain and simple. Perhaps they thought they were.

When we say we don’t have time for something, what we’re really saying is that we value something else more.

A friend of mine has been thinking a lot lately about being prepared [not fearfully, mind you, but wisely] for when this country takes the serious nosedive. This is another good picture. Prepare for the inevitable. Abundance leads to complacency. Complacency leads to apathy. Apathy leads to defeat and collapse. It is a matter of time.

We cannot afford to be complacent spiritually, or even physically. This is life. This is reality.

Are you awake?