Category Archives: Daily Meditations

January 4 / Proverbs 4 / Matthew 4

guard your heart

Proverbs 4:1-9

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.

Embrace wisdom, and wisdom will embrace you. Pursue a life of goodness, and the goodness of life will be yours to enjoy.

Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

This is our center [spoken of profoundly in Rise of the Guardians] from which our life flows. Therefore it is what God really looks at. This is what Scripture tells us. This is what Jesus Himself tells us. Guard this center, feed this center with YHWH, and you will live from the inside out. You will spend little to no energy on externals for they will be automatically determined by your center flow. You’ll cease striving to look good to people because you will just look however your center dictates, and you will be at peace with that, no matter what others may think, say or even do about it.

Matthew 4:1-11

“The Bible says,” replied Jesus, “that it takes more than bread to keep you alive. You actually live on every word that comes out of God’s mouth.” [KNT]

The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

You have testing and you have temptation.

There is a difference.

God tests, intending to strengthen the believer’s moral character, and the devil tempts, intending to destroy that selfsame character. God prunes us to to make us more fit, but the devil is out to steal, kill, and destroy. (Paradoxically, the same set of circumstances can be taken as either a test or temptation, depending on your response. Jesus responds rightly–relying on Scripture.)

Jesus faced the very real temptations to misuse His God-given power in various selfish and self-protective ways. It is the same for all of us. We have all been gifted in some unique manner for God’s kingdom, to do our purposeful part in “making” it a larger and larger reality here on earth now. But often times we misuse or even neglect our gifts. We use them for ourselves only, for some sort of personal, selfish gain. Or we sleepwalk through life not recognizing our potential to change the world for the better, for God.

What has God given you for the world? It could be anything. Maybe you’re great at puzzles, and you could do puzzles with dying people to bring the joy of Christ to them in their final hours. I don’t know. But you have something. This I do know.

But if Jesus had turned stones into bread, thrown himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, or worshipped the devil, in order to feed himself, prove himself to the crowds, or gain his kingdom with dying for it, he would no longer have been the obedient Son of God worthy of emulation. Jesus is portrayed here as not taking shortcuts to glory, but rather following the hard and long path of obedience, living by God’s word, and resisting temptation by relying on that word. Notice that the devil can cite Scripture, but only Jesus fleshes it out and obeys it. Wisdom amounts not just to knowing the truth, but obeying it.

-from The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible

If you’re relying on anything but God’s live and active word to fight temptation, then you’re bringing a knife to a gunfight. No, you’re bringing a paperclip to a nuclear bomb fight. Let me know how that goes for you.

If you’re wondering about the use of any Scripture, by anyone, go to Jesus about it. Only He has interpreted Scripture as God intended. The Holy Spirit of Jesus will teach you everything you need to know.

January 3 / Proverbs 3 / Matthew 3

tatoo

Proverbs 3:7

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Keep it simple. Keep it consistent.

Proverbs 3:21-26

do not let these escape from your sight…the Lord will be your confidence

The Lord must be our confidence, for only in Him does true power dwell. So how do we do this? By not letting “these” escape from our sight. What are “these”? His wisdom, His prudence, His ways. We do not let them escape our sight by intentionally keeping them before us at all times.

If you don’t program your mind, the world will gladly do it for you. The volume of this world is  turned up very, very loud (to eleven!). All the more reason we must purposefully keep God and His commands right in front of our eyes, mostly through time spent with Him. Maybe we have Scriptures and prayers posted in our car. A tattoo. Whatever it takes to keep the Lord before you always, to foster a long obedience in the same direction. Oh the power of habit. Form good habits and become their slave.

I keep the Lord before me always. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. -Psalm 16:8

Matthew 3:8

“You’d better prove your repentance by bearing the right sort of fruit!” -John the Baptizer

Repentance is a changing of the way one thinks and therefore a changing of the way one lives. It is not merely believing the correct doctrine or a keeping of the proper rules, though it may include that.

It is internal and done for God by allowing Him to work in our hearts through surrender to Him. This surrender is done by laying ourselves bare to Him through our seeking of Him.

If you are truly seeking God from the sincerity of your heart, it will show in the way you think and the life you live. Again, this is not simply external. There is no sacred checklist to keep to see if you’re there. It is known only to you and to God.

He wants to crush your old destructive habits of thought. Do you believe this? Do you believe He can? I promise you He will, but only if you allow it. That is the free will He has granted us. Only if you honestly lay it out before Him will He transform you. And this, over much time typically, though some have experienced it acutely. He works in His wisdom and in His timing. Trust the process.

Start by just opening yourself up to the possibility that He can and will transform your mind to a new place of freedom from old twisted habits of thought and action. For transformation begins with doubt–doubt that your old thoughts are true. Just to simply doubt the world’s ways or your selfish habits as being life-giving can begin to topple false narratives and start life for you anew and free. “Maybe castigating, upbraiding, and berating myself constantly is not the way to true happiness and freedom in Christ…hmmm…”

January 2 / Proverbs 2 / Matthew 2

flight-to-egypt

Proverbs 2:1-5

My child, listen to what I say, and remember what I command you. Listen carefully to wisdom; set your mind on understanding. Cry out for wisdom and beg for understanding. Search for it like silver, and hunt for it like hidden treasure. Then you will understand respect for the LORD, and you will find that you know God.

If you truly seek, you will surely find.

To pursue wisdom/insight/understanding results in great reward-gaining the knowledge of God! Is this not worth pursuing? Is this treasure not of a great enough value that it is worth digging and digging and digging for? And remember, whatever something costs us, that’s what it is worth to us.

God and His wisdom are to be eagerly sought after. I believe God desires us to seek hard after Him. Not only is He worth it, but it shows we are serious. It does something to rewire our brains when we devote so much of our energy to the seeking of God. Is this is why He asks this of us? Because He loves us so much and only wants what is good for us…?

Far from taking us away from other things we should be doing, it is the one thing we should be doing at the expense of all others! Not out of a checklist mentality, but because it is designed to give us life, and life abundantly. It is quite literally what we are hard-wired for, to love our loving Creator who designed us to function optimally when loving Him with all our heart.

Matthew 2:13-18

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah…

Your ways are not our ways, O Lord almighty.

The mind of God is incomprehensible to us finite beings. It is good to surrender to this in faith to Him who is infinitely good and who knows what He is doing. It is true that the closer we get to Him, the more we understand, yet there are passages like these that I must just bow to.

I’m not sure why God had Mary & Joseph flee to Egypt instead of just stopping Herod from pursuing them. Yes, it was to fulfill Scripture, but why set it up that way in the first place?  And the horrific killing of all these young boys…I don’t get it, but who am I to ask why? [see Job]

Joseph trusted God wholly when He spoke to him via these dream messages. There’s so much I don’t understand, so all the more important it is to act on what I do know, and that is the fact that God is infinitely good and He knows what He’s doing. I am not infinitely good and ultimately don’t know everything He is doing. So I trust Him, for in the end, all will be well.

January 1 / Proverbs 1 / Matthew 1

IMMANUEL

Proverbs 1:2-7

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise.

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair.

These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.

“The strong motif throughout Proverbs is that God’s ways are superior to ours. Therefore, we must be in close relationship to God in order to live the virtuous life. Moreover, Proverbs insists the virtuous life is practical and will make us more contented and better off in many ways.”  -From The Ronovare Spiritual Formation Bible

I really like this definition of wisdom I found in The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary:

The ability-divinely bestowed and acquired through a lifelong process-that enables one in various situations to make and carry out decisions pleasing to God and ultimately socially and personally beneficial.

Proverbs 1:20-33

Come and listen to my counsel.

I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.

There is a good and right way to live that God, as the founder of life, has set up. And this way of life is not only available to all who would seek after it, but it also calls out to us. We are without excuse and unable to claim ignorance. Especially in this information age we live in. It is not more information we need, but to act on what we know.

And act we must, for as this passage tells us, there may come that time when it is too late to rectify the damage we’ve done in some real sense. Yes, God can and does redeem our ridiculosity all the time. But let’s not be naive to the fact that we are given the freedom to choose damage and a lot of it.

For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them… [v 32]

Matthew 1:23

…they shall give Him the name Immanuel- which, in translation, means “God with us.”

This, it seems to me, shows us the greatest gift God gives us- His divine, manifest Presence. All we must do is acknowledge what is already there.

It doesn’t seem to matter what you’re going through as long as you are going through it with the one you most love and who most loves you. We can get through anything together, especially when that person is our perfect, loving Maker.

This is why we remind each other of who is with us, and what He is like. We can not only make it through anything, but come out of it strengthened in Him and for His glory. If we but have eyes to see and ears to hear!

December 31 / Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31:30

A woman should be praised, not for her appearance, but for her spiritual maturity. For this is what will truly last.

A woman’s love for God and for others results in a beauty that can be perceived more through our sixth sense, which is much deeper and far surpasses the other five.

And yet this inner beauty will mysteriously radiate and manifest itself in a physical beauty that is beyond explanation. A “glow” if you will.

May this truer-to-life filter be the one through which we view all women, always looking below the surface  and into the soul, to see the beauty that is there, for that is our true self–that jewel at the core of each and every one of us!

December 30 / Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30:33

Just as sure as punching somebody’s nose makes it bleeds, so stirring up anger causes trouble and leads to accusations.

In any given situation, think through first what you really want to come of it. So often, when approaching something that needs attention, we just say what we feel like saying in the moment without consulting wisdom, and all we succeed in accomplishing is making someone angry or angrier.

If a friend needs correction or admonishment, make sure it is filled with grace and gentleness. Seek first to understand then to be understood via good questions. Going off on people just shuts the part of their brain down that allows them to rationalize and actually hear you. Telling them coldly all that is wrong with them is likely to result in their accusing you of something you’re not stellar at either and then all hell has broken loose.

Did you really want to help, or just air your frustrations?

December 29 / Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29:1

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

Those who think they need no help are the ones in need of the most help.

Proverbs 29:11

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.

There’s quite a difference between venting and seeking wise counsel. Brain studies have shown that mere venting is actually detrimental to dealing with issues. All it does is tell your body to relive a bad experience and add to your anger. But seeking advice or prayer is a different matter. That is the pursuit of healing, not a feeble attempt to feel better for a moment.

December 28 / Proverbs 28 / John 21

Proverbs 28:26

Those who trust in themselves are foolish, but those who walk in wisdom will be kept safe.

What I believe is of the utmost importance in these days of our insanely noisy culture of distraction from what is truly important, are encounters with God in solitude, quiet, and listening.  It is in this place of meditative silence that the many voices competing for our attention are finally able to be turned down. This does not come at once, but with practice.

How can we hear someone except to be quiet and listen for two seconds? The same goes with listening to God. How can we hear Him unless we quiet ourselves and the voices around us so as to actually hear Him who is always speaking to us?

God is spirit, and must be worshipped and communicated with in spirit and in truth.

We don’t expect to see God with our bodily eyes-simply because we can sense only what is spatio-temporally limited. We can’t see God by some sort of intellectual vision, because cognition depends on a sensory infrastructure which cannot contain divinity. It is only at the level of spirit that God is visible. For us to see God we have to leave behind the world of sense, enter the region of unknowing and allow the Holy Spirit to be our guide.”If we have known Christ Jesus according to the flesh, then we know him thus no longer” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

-from Toward God by Michael Casey

This has absolutely, unequivocally been my experience.

John 21:21-22

“Master, what about him?”

“…what’s that got to do with you? Follow me!”

Yet another distraction from where our hearts should be. When you find yourself wondering if mega-churches are on the right path or if other denominations have the correct doctrine and practices, imagine Jesus Himself asking you, “What’s that got to do with you following Me?”

I’ve noticed this Christmas season, for whatever reason, that we humans have quite an intense affinity for talking about others and their shortcomings. Why? Well, when we’re discussing that topic, the pressure is off of us, isn’t it? We don’t have to think or talk about our own shortcomings or areas of needed growth. Unless of course we have no need for growth. Then I guess we can talk about people all day long…

But seriously, what if we, as Christ followers, made an agreement with ourselves that we will not speak negatively of others, at all. If nothing else, we will remain silent, not giving in to fueling the fires of gossip. I’ve tried this a couple times this week, and it went well, tho feeling slightly awkward at first-just not responding at all-but the convo stopped. It had nowhere to go due to the cut-off of supply line.

If nothing else, before responding, imagine Jesus asking you, “What does that have to do with you following Me?”

December 27 / Proverbs 27 / John 20

Proverbs 27:6

The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.

We can totally trust the constructive criticism from someone who genuinely cares about us and sees us accurately. It is ego and pride that get in our way from benefitting from this good thing. Think of how much more quickly we could improve or learn life lessons if we just set our pride and our fear of not being seen well aside. We don’t need more flattery, we need honest assessments if we really want to go to the next level of living life well.

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other.

You do not gain wisdom in isolation. This is why we must meet together. This is why it is imperative to stay in close contact with one another. It is to improve each other. The more contact, the more we grow. Even Arnold had a workout partner.

John 20:30-31

Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which aren’t written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that the Messiah, the Son of God, is none other than Jesus; and that, with this faith, you may have life in His name.

Here John writes for us the why of His gospel account. He wrote what he wrote so that we can see that Jesus really was the Messiah and therefore believe it. But not only that. He wrote all this so that by believing it, we would have the eternal kind of life available to us in His name.

It’s not enough to just believe, but not act upon or follow. I can believe that eating natural foods will improve the health and well being of my body, but still eat fast food everyday.

The point is more participation. Absorption of this truth into our heart and brain so that it permeates everything we do, say, and think. Every moment of our life passing through the filter that says Jesus is the source of Life that really is Life. It replaces our old filter of the world’s weak and stupid philosophies of pleasing self, of scarcity thinking, of fear.

As Christ followers, we operate out of the abundance from His Life flowing into ours to overflowing. That overflow touches the world, and all those who come into contact with us are blessed by Him. But only if we are taking the time to fill up from Him. Otherwise we are on our own. When operating on my own power, I imagine God saying to me, “Well, good luck. Let me know how that turns out for you. I’m always here if you need me (and hint: YOU DO NEED ME!!!).”

December 25-26 / Proverbs 25-26 / John 18-19

Proverbs 25:12

The combination of a wise correction and a listening ear is pure gold.

Proverbs 26:7

Wisdom spoken by someone who is not living or acting on what they say, generally falls useless on its listeners’ ears, even if it is truth. The fat personal trainer giving nutritional and exercise counsel, even if scientifically accurate, is laughed at.  May this challenge us to first live God’s ways before advising others to do so. This does not mean we have to be perfect, of course, but words spoken from a heart taking them seriously and acting upon them, will be well received, even if not agreed with. Don’t be that guy who becomes known as the dude who is always telling everybody what they should do. As has been said, “Don’t should all over people.”

John 18:4

Jesus knew everything that was going to happen to Him. He went out to meet them.

He knew He was going to be abandoned, mocked, tortured, and killed, and we went voluntarily to meet His betrayer anyway. What a man! What a man of love. Always looking at the greater good and glory ahead rather than narrowly focused on the pain of the moment, yet still doubtlessly feeling it in His humanity.

Oh how often I hold back, fearing some rejection or just the possibility of love or sacrifice not being returned. It’s passages such as this that gently remind me of how far off the mark of Christ I am, yet inspire me press onward, to grow in the likeness of Him. That is the voice of our Holy Spirit, gently reminding us, pressing us onward.

I pray that I will meet people where they are, even if I know they will reject or even hurt me. For this is the cosmic power of the universe in Logos.

John 19:30

Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies, and accomplished all He set out and was suppose to do. At the moment of His death He gave His Spirit which was to replace His physical body on earth. Through a work impossible for any other human, He gave over what is to fill us and be Him in the world. May we appreciate this sacrificial and powerful accomplishment.

The more open we are to Him, the more surrendered and submitted, the more Jesus is here on earth.

What do you need to remove in order for Jesus to more fully reign on earth through you?