November 10 / Proverbs 10 / Mark 13

Proverbs 10:17

Those who guard discipline are on the way to life, but those who abandon correction wander aimlessly.

Guard discipline.

Whatever you do everyday is what you are heading toward.  Those practices you protect and make habit lead to a life characterized by said practices.

What do you do everyday?

Who do you want to be?

What do you need to be doing everyday to become that person?

Who is someone you admire?  What do you think they do everyday?  What is their rhythm of life?

Mark 13:11

And when they put you on trial and hand you over, don’t work out beforehand what you are going to say, but say whatever is given you at that moment.  It won’t be you speaking, you see, but the Holy Spirit.

We have also found this to be true for us here today.  As we trust the Holy Spirit for the words to say in the moment, we find that then the best and most life-giving words come out, because they flow from the Holy Spirit and not our own finite minds.  We are not to be the nervous salesperson desperately needing to say the exact right words in the right combination, but rather the calm, dependent apprentice who relies on our Teacher’s words and life to give life to others.

Working out all your words before speaking with someone, or even a group of someones is limiting and can take you away from the present moment and from actually listening.  It can fuel agenda instead of a listening presence which is what Christ offers us each moment.  And which is more healing–set words, or Spirit-inspired words appropriate to the moment?

Sure, there is preparation, but could it be that all the preparation we need is done in our daily bonding with Jesus?  Like proverbs tells us, The horse is made ready for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.  Make yourself ready.  Yourself.  Not your necessarily your presentation.  Then, when called upon, you will be ready since the Spirit is flowing thru you.  You will be so attuned to the moment and the needs right before you.

Reliance.

God desires our reliance on Him.  For He is all-wise and gracious, wanting to help us in time of need, wanting to give us words of healing and power for the moment.  As we consciously grow in our dependence on him each moment, let go, and trust Him to come thru. We will be amazed and encouraged at what He will do in our life and others we commune with.

Trust.

Only trust Him.

Only trust Him.

Only trust Him now.

November 9 / Proverbs 9 / Mark 12

sage

 

Proverbs 9:13

Woman Folly is boisterous; she is simpleminded but does not even know it.

To be ignorant of your ignorance.

What a horrible state to be in.

How do you know you’re there?

Many times we don’t know of our ignorance because of the chaotic call of Folly that drowns out the voice of Wisdom.  And we are always talking ourselves, unable to hear, always staying near the surface, not even aware of the greater depth that is underneath everything we experience.  This ocean of Life is far from shallow, yet we may remain at the surface for its duration, never experiencing the awe-inspiring grandeur of what lies beneath.

Folly is boisterous.

Jesus is calm.  Still.

It is in the quiet, calm stillness of our soul where we  find what matters most.

Pay attention to what you’re thinking.

Pay attention to what you’re feeling.

Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Pay attention to what Jesus Wisdom is saying to you right now.

And also now.

And now….

Mark 12:18-27

Resurrection.

Jesus clearly affirmed the resurrection of the dead.  And He was the first-fruits of this resurrection in which we will partake.  Early Christianity taught that there will be a bodily resurrection of the dead.  This was the emphasis for quite some time, yet later took somewhat of a backseat to the crucifixion with its passionate meaning and call to devotion.

Have we Christians lost a little hope over the centuries due to this change of emphasis?  Are we morbidly focused more than hopefully focused?

Remembering where we come from is vital, but it should not overshadow or suppress where we are going.  The Gospel is a story about hope, not just pain.  And our joyful hope flows from the promised outcome of all there is–the redemption of the cosmos.

Resurrection is about the Creator God reclaiming, judging, and renewing the created world.  The Christian who believes in resurrection should also believe that working for God’s kingdom in the present is therefore “not in vain.”  -N.T. Wright

So, my dear family, be firmly fixed, unshakeable, always full to overflowing with the Lord’s work.  In the Lord, as you know, the work you’re doing will not be worthless.  I Corinthians 15:58

Maybe we need to counter balance all the crosses and crucifixes with some empty tombs, or road to Emmaus, or Jesus cooking fish on the shore pictures.  Just a thought.

November 8 / Proverbs 8 / Mark 11

emptycup-large

Proverbs 8:1-11

We believe Jesus is calling to all people from every nook and cranny of life everyday.

It is we who do not look for Him in everything around us.

It is we who are not listening to Him and what He might be saying to us in everyone and everything.

We see what we want to see.

We hear only what we’re trained to hear.

What if we opened ourselves up to genuinely listen–listen in the sense of laying aside all preconceived notions so that we may actually hear something we’ve not heard before..?  To hear the voice of YHWH.

If we only listen to humans and seek their wisdom, how will we recognize God’s voice directly, for it is always filtered?

While following someone, that someone is our ceiling.

Why not follow the Holy Spirit directly who has no ceiling?

Key to this listening is emptying yourself first so that you may be able to actually receive.

Here’s an excerpt from the book Fierce Conversations I’m reading right now:

I am reminded of the story of the man who visits the Zen master.  The man asks, “What truths can you teach me?”  The master replies, “Do you like tea?”  The man nods his head, and the master pours him a cup of tea.  The cup fills and the tea spills.  Still the master pours.  The man, of course, protests, and the master responds, “Return to me when you are empty.”  The lesson here is that we need to empty ourselves of our preconceived beliefs in order to be open to a broader, more complex reality.

During fierce conversations we are more likely to get all our answers questioned than the other way around.  Before we can learn, we must unlearn.  Empty the cup!

zen-master-pouring-tea

Before reading Scripture, empty the cup.  Then you can listen to the Ruach Elohim and hear Her beautiful voice.

Mark 11:25

If you have something against someone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

We must forgive always if we are to have any peace in this life.

This is yet another law of the universe set in place by YHWH.

You cannot succeed against it.  You cannot fight it and win.

Forgive.

November 7 / Proverbs 7 / Mark 10

christ-and-rich-young-man-with-hot-car

Proverbs 7:4,5,23

Without wisdom and understanding, you will be like a bird caught in a trap, not knowing the moves you made would end up killing you.

Jesus said to watch and pray so that you do not enter into temptation. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Your pants will get you killed.

Mark 10:17-22

It’s interesting that this rich young dude got down on his knees before Jesus. He was sincere, to some degree, at least. Yet he was unwilling to relinquish all, to go the whole distance. He held back and, therefore, it held him back from the kingdom of God.

We think we’re willing to do anything, then Jesus shows us what we love more than Him. And it’s proven true when we refuse to release it. We tighten our grip on what we feel will give us more life than Jesus.

How many times do I do this?

I have that area or two that I hold on to and won’t give up. Yet I am sincere in wanting to follow Jesus wholly.

Wanting…not willing?

Your quality of life is directly proportional to your level of surrender.

And remember, the reward outweighs the cost by a hundred times. That’s a promise. We either believe that and act upon it, or we don’t act on it because we simply don’t believe that it’s true, or perhaps do not fully grasp it.

When you really believe something, you act on it as if it is true, whether your mechanic’s advice or a minister’s words…

 

November 6 / Proverbs 6 / Mark 9

listen-to-god

Mark 9:5-6

Sometimes we need to stop thinking of what we can DO for God, and just sit and BE with God.

Sit with Him and soak up His presence.

Listen to Him.

Really listen.

It’s so much better than anything you can do for Him.  For out of that will flow whatever it is He would call on you to fulfill.  Doing without listening is just senseless.  It’s like going out and buying clothes for your kids just because you want to do something special for them, yet you do so without having ever listened to them or paying attention to what they prefer to wear.  Sure, it’s a nice gesture, and maybe they’re “really nice clothes” (in your mind), but you bought something they would never dream of wearing, in fact what they would be embarrassed to wear.  Great job, Parent of the Year!

How can you know what God wants from you without listening to Him?  In Scripture–thru others–in the quiet stillness of your heart?

And the task of listening to God is so not burdensome.

Sitting with and listening to God is easily the best part of my week.

He speaks.

He loves.

Proverbs 6:19

YHWH hates those who cause conflict among brothers.

November 5 / Proverbs 5 / Mark 8

sin-tombstone

Proverbs 5:8

Stay as far away as possible from whatever causes you to stumble.
Do not even go near your triggers for sin.
You know what they are.
If you don’t, start paying attention to them. There’s typically a pattern.
Proverbs 5:21
The Lord sees everything you do and He watches where you go.
Hopefully this is more comforting than frightening.
But perhaps a little frightening form our good Father is what is needed, because being a little scared of Him I believe leads to loving Him, & actually away from fear, if it’s really fear of HIM & not some religious false narrative.

Mark 8:8
They ate…they were satisfied.
Eating from YHWH’s banquet table will never leave you unsatisfied.
Eating anywhere else will have you wanting to stop for a burger on the way home.
Mark 8:33
“Get behind me, Accuser! You’re thinking human thoughts, not God’s thoughts.”
Mark 8:34-35
The only way to really follow Jesus, is the way of the cross.
The cross kills all of its victims. Totally dead.
That’s what Jesus offers us, death of self.
What we don’t always emphasize enough is the great freedom the cross actually brings to our lives.
Death to anger
Death to addiction
Death to lust
Death to pride
Death to having to have your way
Death to the need to control
 What if you were truly free from all of these?
Does that sound terrible? Or terribly liberating?
What if these were not even much of an issue?
How freeing it would be to go through the day focusing our attention on where it really needs to be, on Christ, on people, on the world & its needs.
“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” -John Owen
“We insist that the great lack today is a mighty liberation through an inner crucifixion…” -L.E. Maxwell

 

November 4 / Proverbs 4 / Mark 7

hug-kiss-mom

Proverbs 4:18

The road the righteous travel is like the sunrise, getting brighter and brighter until daylight has come.

The more right decisions you make, the easier it becomes to make the next one.

The more temptation you say no to, the easier it becomes to turn down the next enticing, self-pleasing, life-stealing offer.

Mark 7:1-23

Jesus could not be any clearer on what it is that makes us unclean.

It is obviously not the failure to keep traditions.

“You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.”

So why do we still judge and condemn those who fall short of what we have culturally deemed important?  Even in our “Christian” cultures…?

The only thing that really makes us unclean is our hearts.  Only God can judge the heart, for only He can truly know it.  Stop judging others, if for no other reason, than the fact that it is utterly impossible to do so anyway.

Our message therefore should be simple and repetitive: Cultivate your heart to love Jesus, to pursue Him with your whole being.  Sell everything you have to buy that field with the treasure in it!

ONLY THEN will even the beginnings of evil intentions start to dissipate from your inner thoughts>>>>

Lying to someone will become unthinkable because of your love for Christ.

Using someone will become repulsive because of your love of Christ.

Anger at drivers will disappear because of your love of Christ and them.

Love of money will be stupid because of your love for Christ.

Sex with someone you are not in covenant with, even the thought of it, will lose its appeal because of your love for Christ.

Envy and jealousy will be so dumb because you see you have all you need or could ever want in Christ.

This is not to say that the world, the flesh, and the devil will not tempt us the rest of our lives. But it is to say that the desires of our heart do (supernaturally) change as we turn more and more toward the love of Christ. For as we more deeply experience the love of God, all other things we have found to be pleasing or useful are seen in the new light of the risen Christ, and are rendered silly at best, life-threatening at worst.

November 3 / Proverbs 3 / Mark 6

creation

Proverbs 3:16-18

Wisdom offers you long life, riches, honor, and peace.

SOLD!

As a tree produces fruit, wisdom gives life to those who use it, and everyone who uses it will be happy.

Everyone who uses it.

Not everyone who thinks about it.

Or reads about it.

Everyone who USES it.

USE it.

Mark 6:6

Their unbelief dumbfounded Him.

It’s ridiculously amazing that we can believe in a God who created the universe and humans, yet at the same time in a God who cannot, or will not, help me personally day to day.

November 2 / Proverbs 2 / Mark 5

aphrahat-the-persian

Proverbs 2:5

Only the Lord gives wisdom.

All true wisdom is from God, no matter who delivers it.

Why not just go directly to the Source…?

Mark 5:36

Don’t be afraid, just believe!

So let us draw near then, my beloved, to faith, since its powers are so many.  For faith raised up Enoch to the heavens and conquered the deluge.  Faith causes the barren to sprout forth.  It delivers from the sword.  It raises up from the pit.  It enriches the poor.  It releases the captives.  It delivers the persecuted.  It brings down the fire.  It divides the sea.  It cleaves the rock, and gives to the thirsty water to drink.  It satisfies the hungry.  It raises the dead, and brings them up from Sheol.  It stills the billows.  It heals the sick.  It conquers hosts.  It overthrows walls.  It stops the mouths of lions, and quenches the flames of fire.  It humiliates the proud, and brings the humble to honor.  All these mighty works are wrought by faith.  Now this is faith; when one believes in God the Lord of all, Who made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them.  He made Adam in His image.  He gave the law to Moses.  He sent His Spirit upon the prophets.  Moreover He sent His Christ into the world, that we should believe in the resurrection of the dead; and should also trust in the efficacy of our baptism.  This is the faith of the church of God.

-St. Aphrahat the Persian (270-345)

November 1 / Proverbs 1 / Mark 4

projector

Proverbs 1:3

Freedom is not the absence of rules, but the presence of discipline.

I discipline my body to remain healthy so that I may enjoy the freedom of playing with my daughters and not be confined to the couch in a sickly, immobile fat suit.

Mark 4:22

There is nothing hidden that won’t be brought out into the light.\

It’s funny how you can grow up with certain verses & misunderstanding them for years.  I always took this to mean that all the secret sins I have committed will be viewed on a grand projector in the afterlife before going on to eternity.  How painful this would be! Yet I could never reconcile it with other scriptures telling of God’s complete forgiveness & how He casts our sin into the sea never to think of them again.  He throws it as far as east is from west. So what gives? How contradictory.

Then it was so clear to me as I read from the obvious context that Jesus is referring to the mysteries of God [v.11].  They will be revealed in their right time to us. Much of God is hidden now, but won’t be forever.  How did I miss such an obvious truth? Religious and cultural false narratives perhaps.  

The Kingdom New Testament words verse 22 this way:

No: nothing is secret except what’s meant to be revealed, and nothing is covered up except what’s meant to be uncovered.

I think I will sleep a little better tonite, assured that the “Projector of Secret Sins” does not exist except in my misperceived imagination.