If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
Monthly Archives: May 2014
May 31 / Proverbs 31 / Luke 17
Family. The book of Proverbs concludes with a family scene both impressive and heartwarming. At the center of this ideal family is a strong woman of wide-ranging capabilities, fully involved in the challenges of life. The glowingly positive message here is that “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (v. 30). The word “praise” occurs three times in verses 28–31, setting an overall tone of encouragement in this home. The children rise up in respect and speak well of their mother (v. 28). The husband, never a faultfinder, gently praises her for her outstanding qualities (v. 28). This remarkable woman gives herself diligently to her family and her community (vv. 10–27), and her family communicates how they admire her (vv. 28–31). This wise family sees through the false glories that inevitably disappoint: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain” (v. 30). Their mother, who “has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10), embodies the godly wisdom of her entire family.
Clearly, the life of wisdom is not just for men, but for all. It is not just for Sunday, but for every aspect of life. It is not austere and grim, but attractive with a sincere enjoyment that flows from one human heart to another. Best of all, the life of wisdom will matter forever. When we are with the Lord in heaven above, we will find that our deeds will have followed us, transformed by his grace into eternal blessing (Rev. 14:13).
But “who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16). We are not. Even the “excellent wife” of Proverbs 31 is not sufficient in herself, but she “fears theLord” (v. 30). Her ultimate regard is not for her beauty, goodness, or accomplishment, but for the One who provides for her every need and loved one (cf. the section on 1:7 in the note on1:1–7). We are prepared by such an example to remember that God must make us sufficient for what we face and for what he requires. Ultimately, in Christ, he does so. What he commands, he also gives. Therefore, we may receive his counsels in the book of Proverbswith this wonderful assurance: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).
-From the Gospel Transformation Bible
When you have done everything you are told to do, you should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done the work we should do.”
Whenever I’m starting to feel prideful, I just quote this verse to myself.
Sometimes I quote my own version:
Congratulations, Rob, you did WHAT YOU WERE TOLD TO DO.
You really went above and beyond the call of duty.
Actually, you did just the call of duty, nothing more. Nothing more spectacular than that. As soon as you’re done patting yourself on the back, I have some more work for you to do. But by all means, only when you’re ready…
May 30 / Proverbs 30 / Luke 16
God loves worn out dumb people.
He is a shield to these tired ones like you and me who go to Him humbly for refuge.
Admitting you are totally screwed without YHWH is one of the most liberating acts you can partake in. Total dependence on God allows you to not take yourself so seriously since you can do no good without Him. Anything good you do is because of Him whether you admit or know it or not.
There is no pressure on you to accomplish anything other than the pressure you put on yourself. Try to find a list of accomplishments we are to strive for in the Bible. Let me know when you find that rigid list of to-do’s. Look for Jesus’s commands to do a bunch of things as well as His stressful “requirements for results.”
They’re not there.
All you’re going to find is how to be. The kind of inner person to be. Then guess what. You’ll probably do some pretty great things because of who you are. But you surely don’t have to. You don’t have to do anything.
Listen to God.
Listen to people.
Can you take on the burden of the world, let alone one person’s?
Can you let Him take it?
You make yourselves look good in front of people, but God knows what is really in your hearts. What is important to people is hateful in God’s sight.
All the energy I have wasted trying to look good for people, wondering what they might think of me. Energy that could have been lovingly spent in prayer for others, thinking of them, and then meeting their needs.
The freedom of self-forgetfulness.
Saving face. Screw that. Crucify that rhino excrement.
The freedom I feel as I shed the heavy weight of this monotonous self-preservation is pure ecstasy. Please God from the sincerity of your heart. Love Him from the truthful core of your soul. Then you can love others well. Very well. For then you are filled to overflowing. God’s love overflowing into others’ lives.
The greatest gift you can give humanity is to be in union with YHWH thru Jesus, LOGOS incarnate, so that everyone you come into contact with is touched by His supernatural love flowing thru you.
May 29 / Proverbs 29 / Luke 15
Being afraid of people can get you into trouble, but if you trust in the LORD, you will be safe.
Do you believe this?
What is meant here by “safe”?
Didn’t Stephen, the first Christian martyr, trust in the LORD?
Was he safe? Is he safe?
Living in fear of anyone or anything is crippling. It makes for bad choices, weak choices, godless choices. God alone can deliver us ultimately. There is nothing here that can take us away from Him, that can destroy us in totality. The three dudes that got thrown into the fiery furnace knew YHWH could deliver them, yet they said that even if He chose not to, they still would not bow to the false god. They lived in fearlessness and reality.
Some have been delivered, some have been martyred. But are they not all safe?
In what or whom will you trust?
Is God good?
Does He know what He’s doing?
Are you going to put stock in only what is seen? The tiny portion of reality we can sense with only our eyes and ears?
Or will you trust in what is much larger?
We are not to live in fear. This is clear from the NT throughout.
At the same time, I’m not going to allow my daughters around any pit bulls any time soon. That’s just wisdom, like Proverbs speaks of. I don’t live in fear of pit bulls attacking my daughters. Yet I heed seriously the stories I’ve heard from those who work at Riley Children’s Hospital of which there are many. Jesus even told some of the disciples that when you get persecuted in certain towns, to flee that town. We are not here advocating to sit in the middle of a dangerous crowd, not be afraid, and just trust YHWH for deliverance. He has put the fight or flight instinct within us.
Possibly there will come a moment when fight or flight will not be viable options. And you will have but one option, to call on the Lord. This can be the best thing in your life. As the old saying goes, “You don’t know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
Live in the victory that is ours thru Christ alone!!!
The lost coin was of great value, which is why it was diligently sought after.
It was not worthless, just lost.
While lost, it could not fulfill its purpose for which it was made.
There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life.
This joyful celebration is juxtaposed against the grumbling of the religious leaders. They should’ve been joining in the celebration for all those Jesus was reaching out to invite into His fold!
A little cultural background you may find interesting:
It would not be difficult to lose a coin in a Palestinian peasant’s house, and may take quite a while to find it. The Palestinian houses were very dark, for they were lit by one little circular window not much more than about eighteen inches across. The floor was beaten earth covered with dried reeds and rushes; and to look for a coin on a floor like that was very much like looking for a needle in a haystack. The woman swept the floor in the hopes that she might see the coin glint or hear it clink.
There are two reasons why she may have been so eager to find this coin.
(1) Sheer necessity. The coin mentioned here in this parable was worth a little more than a whole days’s wages for a working man in Palestine. These people always lived on the edge of things, and very little stood between them and real hunger and starvation. It could’ve been that her search was diligent out of real concern that her family could not eat.
(2) But there may be a more romantic reason. In Palestine the mark of a married woman was a head-dress made of ten silver coins linked together by a silver chain. For years maybe a girls would scrape and save to amass her ten coins, for the head-dress was almost the equivalent of her wedding ring. When she had it it was so inalienably hers that it could not even be taken from her for debt. It may well be that it was one of these coins that the woman in the parable lost, and she searched for it as any woman would search if she had lost her marriage ring.
In either case, it is easy to imagine the joy of the woman when she at last found her elusive coin. Jesus said that God the Father is like that. The joy of God, and of all the angels, when one sinner comes home is like the joy of a home when a coin which stood between them and starvation was found after being lost; it is like the joy of a woman who has lost her most precious possession, worth far more to her than money, when she finds it again. No Pharisee had ever dreamed of a God like that. A great Jewish scholar has admitted that this is the one absolutely new thing which Jesus taught men about God–that God actually sought and searched for men. The Jew might have agreed that if a man came crawling home to God in self-abasement and knelt before God asking for pity he might find it; but the Jew never would have conceived of a God who went out to search for sinners. It is our glory that we believe in the seeking love of God, because we see that love incarnate in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to seek and to save that which was lost.
May 28 / Proverbs 28 / Luke 14
Those who trust in themselves are foolish, but those who live wisely will be kept safe.
The foundations of wisdom were established by God before the formation of our universe, hence a pretty long time before the formation of you and me. Wisdom is so readily available today, it is a wonder we still search and search for it as if it is confusingly elusive. First off, God is available to be asked for wisdom. And I think He wants to grant it to us. I also think He waits for us to sincerely ask for and seek it, not just lazily wish to be zapped with it by our Lord. Also, how many have gone before us and found wisdom and meaning in this life that we can read of and from? Tho each of us must find truth on our own, for real belief comes thru self-discovery, it is not as if there is different core truth for each and every person, as in moral relativism.
Knowing God is great wisdom. And I like how Brother Lawrence said that we can only really know God thru love, because He is love. We do not get to know Him thru a book, thru teaching, or even thru serving others necessarily, for our serving can merely be a “should” to us. No, it is when we love, from our heart, this God we come to know as the ultimate Source of love. It is when we love others with no expectations (resulting in true service) that we experience God. We get a glimpse of His greatness if ever we spend even a moment unconditionally loving someone.
To know someone or something is to know it on its level. To speak its language. You cannot really know me thru texting alone, for instance. That is not my true level of communication. Tho some may disagree, I don’t believe I could ever really get to know a chipmunk. I don’t see ever being able to enter its level of communication or it really entering mine.
To know God is to know Him on His level which, from what I understand, is spirit and love. To know God at all is to at least know Him on these levels. Intellectually knowing Him is only half knowing Him at best, if at all really, employing only the left hemisphere of the brain. Enjoying Him via joyful friendship is the other half. And this thru love. Perhaps this is some partial explanation of those we read about in the Bible who cry, “Lord, Lord we did all these things for you!”and yet God says, “I never knew you.” I don’t know, gives me something to think about.
One beautiful way to enjoy friendship with God that I have found is exercising twentieth century mystic Frank Laubach’s idea of turning all your inner thoughts into conversations with God.
Try it today.
All who make themselves great will be made humble, but those who make themselves humble will be made great.
Humble people think of others first.
For example, they perhaps do not always take the front parking space when available because they think of pregnant women or people with bad knees who could use that space much more than themselves. And then they enjoy the walk to the front door using the legs God gave them and health they have from His goodness, thanking Him all the way.
They hold others as more important than themselves, not in a self-deprecating manner, but in a humble, loving way. C.S. Lewis said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. You think, “I have been given the gift of life just like everybody else. Who am I to deserve more than anyone else?”
If grace is true, then how can I be more important than anybody else?
Here’s a couple quotes of awesomeness from Martin Laird out of his incredibly insightful book Into the Silent Land:
In order for humility to mature it must blossom into self-forgetfulness.
We have to let go of everything, even our sense of being a miserable failure.
Side note: I think a funny name would be “Saint Maximus the Humble.”
May 27 / Proverbs 27 / Luke 13
The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you…The sweet smell of perfume and oils is pleasant, and so is good advice from a friend. Don’t forget your friend, or your parent’s friend. Don’t always go to your family for help when trouble comes. A neighbor close by is better than a family far away.
There is something quite sweet about a close spiritual friendship (anamchara). It is through them that we can grow immensely in our being conformed to the image of Christ. If you don’t have a close spiritual partnership, I would urge you strongly to seek one now. Seek someone to walk along you in life, who will admonish you, saying the hard things that you know you can trust. Someone who will sharpen you and be strong for you on the days you are weak.
If you’ve got it all together already and need no help, and need not improve in anyway in life, then my advice is to do nothing and stay perfect. Well, do one thing. Call me and tell me how you did it.
We need not always depend on family, especially if they are distant physically or emotionally or spiritually.
We should reckon that the most pleasant spiritual conversation which is about spiritual things, and promotes the prosperity of the soul.
Enter through the narrow gate.
Like the two gates we can enter spoken of here, I see two main ways of going through that narrow gate to the kingdom of life:
Suffering. Or spiritual formation/discipline.
What do these two have in common?
When in pain, whether physical or emotional, where is your focus? What is it like? Nonchalant? Um, not really. It’s pretty lasered in.
We can la la la through life until some inevitable suffering comes to test us and hone us, or we can choose “on our own” to dial in to YHWH through the liberating discipline of cultivating our relationship with Him. Then when suffering comes, we will be at the ready since we have been employing our off-the-spot training all along.
**We want to be clear here that God has already reconciled us to Himself through Jesus. There’s nothing we have to crawl through to earn a place in Him. We are talking about the partaking of Life He has offered.
May 26 / Proverbs 26 / Luke 12
It is like binding a stone in a sling to give honor to a fool.
It is utter foolishness to put a fool in a place of honor and authority. Like tying a stone to a sling, it is not only ineffective, it is downright dangerous. To put fools in a position where people will look to them for guidance, will be a catalyst for the people to be led astray to places where they will experience life being robbed of them instead of life being given to them.
And who is a fool according to Proverbs? Let us remind ourselves. Three qualities make up the essential nature of a fool:
1) The fool is unwilling to learn by means of discipline, or formal instruction, or a word of advice, or personal experience. They are unteachable and uncoachable.
2) The fool lacks self-control. Both the speech and the behavior of fools demonstrate a lack of restraint. They are in a morally deprived state.
3) The fool is the one who rejects the fear of the Lord. Fools are not even at the starting point of true wisdom.
Putting people who are in this state in authority to shepherd others is the ultimate in foolishness. Yet we do this when we admire people of great education or accomplishments even though they may lack a real relationship and connection with God Himself.
One cannot effectively lead others without being connected to the Source of power and wisdom themselves. You can only lead as far as you’ve journeyed.
“So let me tell you this,” He said to the disciples, “Don’t be anxious about your life-what you should eat; your body-what you should wear….This is what you should search for: God’s kingdom! Then all the rest will be given you as well. Don’t be afraid, little flock. Your Father is delighted to give you the kingdom.”
Rest in me and the life I gave you, for it is the perfect life to shape you into the person I destined you to be before the foundation of the world.
May 25 / Proverbs 25 / Luke 11
As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue brings anger!
Know that every time you speak negatively about someone behind their back, it will reap anger. No good comes from gossip. You never hear, “Yeah the more I started really talking badly about people, the more healing I felt and the more peace just seemed to surround me.”
What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.
These religious people worked so meticulously to keep the letter of the law and even beyond it, that they sadly missed the entire point of it all. And worse than that, they kept others from entering God’s kingdom. By their detailed interpretations, they actually confused people.
Never let anyone tell you that you cannot hear from or follow God without some expert in Hebrew, Greek, hermeneutics, or whatever. The only expert you need is the author, the Holy Spirit, who is always available to teach you everything you need to know. Just keep asking until you hear an answer. Many stop asking before they hear an answer due to a lack of perseverance.
Spiritual direction from the Holy Spirit is promised in this same chapter in verse 13. YHWH wants a shameless persistence in your asking of Him. Try it, for real, and see what happens.
May 24 / Proverbs 24 / Luke 10
If you give up when trouble comes, it shows that you are weak. Even though good people may be bothered by trouble seven times they get back up every time, but the wicked are overwhelmed by trouble.
The difference between a failure and a successful person is that the successful person gets back up every time after falling. The failure stays down, where it is easy. Where growth of character does not occur. Where maturing cannot happen.
Accept the fact that you will get knocked down often. Everyone does, whether you see it or not. They do. I’ve met many people who everyone thought had it all together. And they sure didn’t. No one has it all together. That hip-looking beauty up there singing Sunday morning has his/her demons, believe me. Take everyone you have on a pedestal down, right now. Once you accept that all of this is part of life, you can have some motivation to keep dusting yourself off and get going again.
Strong people see obstacles as opportunities for growth. They get to the point of welcoming them because their desire is growth, to become better, more effective human beings.
And remember, it is OK to be weak, for that is a good place to be to enter God’s kingdom. But I do not believe YHWH wants you to STAY in that weakened state. You may be a royal wuss entering boot camp, but you won’t be when you leave. You’ve got to get fit for the fight.
“Teacher, what should I do to inherit the life of the coming age?”
“Well,”replied Jesus, “what is written in the law? What’s your interpretation of it?”
“You shall love the Lord your God,” he replied, “with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your understanding; and your neighbor as yourself.”
“Well said!” replied Jesus. “do that and you will live.”
We really complicate things, don’t we?
Do this and you will live.
Jesus said that.
The One we follow.
The One that matters.
The enfleshed LOGOS.
Why do we make it more complex?
Perhaps we don’t believe it or have a real sense of it, that concentrating on these two things will give us life.
Have you ever imagined life if you truly loved God with every ounce of your being? And if you sincerely loved every person you had any contact with? What would that be like?
Do you think you would still worry about stuff? Or get mad at people? Or be impatient? Or be discontent? Or complain?
I genuinely believe that if we work toward these two things only, that all of the rest of our life will fall in line. Everything else will automatically follow along and you will have peace. You will participate in the healing of the world.
It is like a loving God to have the only requirement be something that every single person created is capable of. You can be illiterate, in a wheelchair, mentally ill, whatever, and still love God and others.
You must start there to get anywhere.
The people I know who love God greatly do not complain or whine. They live in His love and trust in His care.
May 23 / Proverbs 23 / Luke 9
Don’t speak in the ears of fools; they will only ignore your wise words.
People will learn more from what you do than what you say.
When people are steeped in their own ridiculosity, they are tuned out and turned off to hearing wise counsel. There are times we just keep quiet so as not to worsen the situation or attitude.
Pray for supernatural opening and keep doing good.
Jesus said, “Anyone who plows a field but keeps looking back is of no use in the kingdom of God.”
Those who half follow Jesus and half follow the world are of no use in the kingdom of God. They are not fit. Those who halfway train for a marathon are not then fit enough to run a marathon.
If you are not single-mindedly focused on following Jesus, then you are doubly minded focused, and a double-minded person is unstable in every way of life. Some say to be focused on many things is to be focused on nothing. This does not mean you do nothing except read your Bible, pray, and witness all day, but rather that your focus on Jesus is behind everything you do, which will of course include these things out of love for Him. Whatever you do in word and deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus. A single-minded focus will inevitably cause many trivial activities to fall away.
In my experience, as well as many people I’ve talked to about this, being double-minded really sucks. For example, following Jesus vigorously while simultaneously trying to make sure everybody likes me. That is double-minded. That is stressful. That is tiring. That is dumb.