July 31 / Proverbs 31 / Mark 3

withered hand2

Proverbs 31:8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
    ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
    and see that they get justice.

Do you speak up when others are put down? Or do you just stand there and listen in sinful silence as the blast of gossip and slander hits you in the face? God says, “Open your mouth.” With every unkind word that goes unconfronted, a reputation dies.

So much is at stake in our words. They matter not just to us but even more, far more, to God. We are always speaking before the face of God.

-Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand. Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.”  Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored!  At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus.

Jesus always kept the big picture in mind. He was always thinking of “the point of it all.” And His actions always were in line with the point of it all since He was ceaselessly focused on it.

The main thing is to keep the Main Thing the main thing.

I see the point of it all for Jesus as being and staying connected to His heavenly Father in the manner of the two greatest commandments as given by Him–Loving God and loving others.

The point was not keeping all the rules, because the rules were only given as guidelines for loving God and all people. They all point back to healthy relationship with God and others. The point of bowling is not to keep your ball from going in the gutter, it is to knock the pins down. These are two very different focuses.

If your rules, religion, or tradition keep you from justice, mercy, or kindness, then your rules, religion, and tradition are worthless. Everything we do should take us in the direction of loving God and others more and more, to better relationships, to shalom.

I believe love and relationship transcend the letter of the law. This is what I get from studying Jesus. The “weightier matters” are justice, mercy, and kindness.

At the end of the day, we ascribe value to the person and seek their flourishing.

I was discussing with a friend the other nite the story of a seminary class on this very thing where the final exam was a staged person in great need on the pathway to the class for the final exam. If the student bypassed helping the person in need in order to be on time to class for the exam, they failed because the person in need and their response to him or her WAS the exam!

July 30 / Proverbs 30 / Mark 2

new wineskins

Proverbs 30:13

Some people have such a proud look! They look down on others. [NCV]

Never look down on anyone.

This is contempt.

This is hierarchical.

This is evil.

Rather, let us esteem others as better than ourselves.

That other person is just as precious to the Father as I am.

Mark 2:21-22

“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

New life calls for a new heart.

Jesus is not merely someone to be added on to your life.

He is someone to replace your life.

The Christ-centered life is not one in which we tag on some self-improvement or new beliefs or ritualistic church-going. It is a new life pervading every aspect of it. It is a new way to look at life and people. Jesus’ ways and teachings become our go-to, our new default thinking system. He replaces our old thinking and worldview.

July 29 / Proverbs 29 / Mark 1


Proverbs 29:5

To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.

I must say that many times I have found praise to be merely the magician’s trick to point your attention away from what he is doing. It’s as if the flatterer is saying, “Whatever you do, don’t look deeply into me or challenge me. It’s much too painful. Let’s just keep talking about how awesome you are!”

Proverbs 29:6

Evil people are trapped by sin, but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.

It’s crazy how sin imprisons us, never delivering on its promises of more freedom, lasting relief, or peace of any kind.

Sin demands slavish worship.

Jesus gently invites us to freely love Him.

Mark 1:45

But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

Jesus could not go publicly into towns. He stayed out in the countryside where people from all over came to Him.


Because He lived at a level that was beyond human power and wisdom. He stayed directly connected to His heavenly father and out flowed supernatural love, power, wisdom, and healing.

And that kind of life is now available to anyone who desires it.

But only through direct connection to the Father.

It will manifest itself differently, as God has made us all to be different parts of the whole body, with different gifts, talents, personalities, and ways to fill in the gaps of the hurting world. You have a unique role to fill in this world.

What is your role in the healing of the nations?

July 28 / Proverbs 28 / Matthew 28


Proverbs 28:9

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. [NLT]

Seek God first and work hard.

Some things are conditional. They just are. This may not be the most popular thing to say, but I have found it to be true in Scripture as well as in the day to day reality of life.

God’s love is unconditional, no doubt.

But what about His specific blessings and His assistance? Don’t we at least have to ask for it? Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. There’s nothing passive about asking, seeking, or knocking.

To experience God’s activity actually changing the reality in your life, I see little to no evidence of sitting around waiting for it. I see that we are to seek God first and work hard. I see obedience as being key. Not perfection, obviously, or we’re pretty screwed out of enjoying any assistance from YHWH. But obeying God in all sincerity as best we can and relying on His power for what we can’t do.

Here’s one example that impacted me greatly years ago. When I was like seventeen, I was studying for my SAT. I studied hard for about three months, all the while following God with all my heart. So I was working very diligently on my part in thoughtful study, and was also pursuing my relationship with God sincerely. I talked with Him a lot about my studying and taking the test. As the day approached, I had a convo with God, telling Him that I would like to score a 500 on the verbal and a 700 on the math. I felt with the brain He gave me I studied well enough to attain those scores, and would appreciate that blessing if it was His will. Very late the nite before the test, I got a call from my friend Joe saying his car broke down and asked for a ride. Without hesitation, I went to go get him, not telling him my SAT was in the morning. I want to say I was out close to 1am. But I trusted God. So weeks later the scores came in the mail, and I literally had to look twice as I scored a 500 on the verbal and a 700 on the math, exactly the scores I prayed for. I remember such a feeling of joy in that moment.

That may seem trivial to some, but it is not to God. It was not to me. How much does He want to bless us in these and many other ways everyday? Perhaps He is just waiting on us to ask, desiring all the while that we love, trust, and obey Him. (And I want to be clear that I was not viewing God as a genie in a bottle or some cosmic gift-giver to be bribed. I sincerely followed Him and wanted Him from my heart during this time. This was how He chose to answer in this particular case. We don’t always get exactly what we ask for, obviously.)

I’ve also experienced many answers to prayer with regard to people’s hearts. I remember praying for a friend of mine everyday faithfully for three months to follow God because she was in a dark place. I didn’t see her or hear from her the whole time I was praying, but I was praying in faith and belief. Finally I talked with her and she proceeded to tell me how much her life had changed for the better over the course of that summer and how she was getting along with her parents again. Incredible.

There’s so much out there for us to experience from our good God. We just need to focus our energy on where it needs to go–on God, His word, in obedience, in prayer–trusting in faith all the while. He wants to do good things for us. We just don’t ask or comply.

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee. The eleven do go to Galilee, and Jesus appears as promised. Jesus says he has been given all authority, and then he authorizes his disciples to make disciples of all nations, which is said to involve baptizing in the trinitarian name and teaching the converts to obey all that Jesus commanded. But Jesus does far more than just authorize and empower his “learners.” He promises to be with them (Immanuel) as the divine power, presence, and wisdom of God until the close of the age. Never again will they be bereft of him. Thus, the gospel closes with a presentation of Jesus as God’s wisdom, his wise presence who dwells within the people of God and guards and guides them. As God’s people we are called to live and call others to live according to the counterorder wisdom of Jesus the sage. The Gospel for learners is also the Gospel for teachers. Ultimately, there is only one teacher, one sage, one wisdom–Jesus himself.

-from The Spiritual Formation Bible


Disciple making involves two basic tasks: baptizing and teaching. Baptizing includes the proclamation of the gospel of God’s kingdom and the call to repentance from sin and faith in Christ (Matt. 3:6, 11). Water baptism symbolizes the inward cleansing that God effects when people turn from their sins and turn in faith to God for forgiveness of their sins in Christ (3:14–15; see also Luke 3:3Acts 2:38; 22:16;Rom. 6:31 Pet. 3:21). “Teaching” involves instructing people to follow Jesus’ commandments concerning how God wants his people to live, commandments such as he gives in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–7:29; see also Rom. 6:17–18).

The order of these two elements of discipleship is important. People do not become disciples of Jesus by obeying his commandments in order to win his acceptance. They have his acceptance as a free gift, if they come to him in faith (Rom. 3:21–22, 24; 5:1–2). Jesus’ disciples joyfully do what Jesus has commanded them to do as a result of God’s transformation of their hearts through the proclamation of the gospel (Rom. 6:12–14).

-from The Gospel Transformation Bible

July 27 / Proverbs 27 / Matthew 27

down from cross

Proverbs 27:9

Perfume and incense make the heart glad, the sweetness of a friend is better than one’s own counsel. [NRSV]

When one is too close to a situation, comradely advice is welcome. This is the sweetness of a friend. When one will tell you what is true even if it stings a little, because he cares so much about you, because she is a true friend.

To have a close friend always willing to show you what the reality of a situation is, and to always point you to truth, God’s truth, this is sweetness indeed.

Listening to yourself all the time is maddening, as probably most of us know. God knows our brains, and that we need each other, we need partnerships and community counsel. the mastermind principle: getting two or three minds working on something is exponentially better than a single mind. This is a very good thing, provided we are pointing each other to God, to His word, to True North.

Proverbs 27:19

Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another. [NRSV]

In this translation verse 19, I see that the quieter the water, the more calm, the more accurate the reflection. It is when we are still and listening to one from our heart, that we most accurately show them their own heart. And the heart-thoughts, affections, intentions-is who we really are.

There’s what we do, and there’s who we are. It is possible to help someone with something, whether it be moving, giving a ride, listening to them lament, while simultaneously having contempt for them in your heart. So at the end of the day, are you a helpful person or a contemptuous person? Or both?

If you want to really counsel someone well, it is not done best when you’re busy, moving fast, and telling them what to do. It is best done when you are calm, quiet, reflective, listening to them and the Holy Spirit, because then you can best show them what is true of themselves and a situation in a way that they can see it for themselves.

Seth Godin says in his book Tribes, that people don’t believe what you tell them, but they ALWAYS believe what they tell themselves. It may be subtle, but we help people best not when we just tell them what to believe, but when we show them what to tell themselves to believe.

Matthew 27:57-61

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.

I just love that it was a rich guy who took the body of the dead Jesus, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and put it in his own tomb. After Jesus saying how hard it is for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven (yet possible with God and His power) we see a rich man who was a disciple of Jesus given special mention in the Bible.

Isn’t it like our God to keep us guessing with his mysterious goodness? Jesus talked so much about money, yet here we are affirmed that it surely does not keep you out of His kingdom, of His use. What an incredible honor, to be the one who took care of Jesus Christ’s body after His death! And it was a rich dude!

I’m gaining more love and compassion for rich people as I write this. Of course, all of us in America are super rich in global terms, but I’m talking about those filthy rich Christians that I find so easy to look at with contempt. Perhaps they are true disciples of Jesus, created for a very special task in the Kingdom.

July 26 / Proverbs 26 / Matthew 26


Gethsemane 5

Proverbs 26:2

Curses will not harm someone who is innocent; they are like sparrows or swallows that fly around and never land. [NCV]

This verse speaks to our becoming “unoffendable.”

The closer we get to Christ, the more unoffendable we become because we are so sure of our identity and life hidden in Him.

We think of what He thinks of us more than what others think of us and more and more stuff begins to roll off and lose power over us.

If you’re following God from your heart, so what if someone thinks you’re a jack-hole? When you know, truly, who you are in Christ, what defines you is that. It’s like when you know the people closest to you and mean the most to you love you no matter what-they think you’re the greatest despite all your flaws. You know that confident, I-can-take-on-the-world feeling that emanates from that?

It’s like that.

How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.

-Sigmund Freud

Matthew 26:36-46

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” [NLT]

No matter what you want or think you need, and no matter what what you don’t want or think you don’t need, our Father knows better.

He knows supremely.


His will is ALWAYS superior to ours.

He made us. He gave us our very life.

Blessed union with Him sees our will becoming His will, wanting exactly what He wants.

He is infinitely good and He knows what He is doing, as Brother Lawrence said.

This is my prayer, to surrender to His will in everything, trusting in His goodness, care, and will for me as perfect.

Surrender to self and selfish desires is no real surrender at all, is it? It takes no strength, no pain, no agony to serve the self. The agony of the garden led Jesus to the ecstasy and glory of heaven.

July 25 / Proverbs 25 / Matthew 25


Proverbs 25:9

If you have an argument with your neighbor, don’t tell other people what was said.

There’s seeking wise counsel and then there’s venting, which inevitably turns into gossip, which damages relationship, and therefore, shalom.

Take this very seriously and handle with great care. You can save much damage being done in your friendships thru your prudence in this area. Prudence being: taking the time to think thru a situation, the actions available and their likely outcomes, then making the wise choice.

Matthew 25:45

Then the king will answer, “I tell you the truth, whatever you refused to do for even the least of people here, you refused to do for me.”

Don’t ever refuse to do good to someone who is presented to you. No matter who they are or where you’re at, do not refuse people.

Let people in when you’re driving.

Smile at everyone you talk to.

Encourage whoever is on your mind.

Forgive everything done to you.


July 24 / Proverbs 24 / Matthew 24

earth & Bible

Proverbs 24:33-34

You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. Soon you will be as poor as if you had been robbed. You will have as little as if you had been held up.

If you sleep spiritually, you will be spiritually bankrupt.

We reap whatever we sow day in and day out.

What are your habits?

What do you do everyday?

What do you intentionally do every week?

In your roles as husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, boss, employee, do you have good habits formed to become your absolute best in these roles? Maybe just one or two things every week in each role can be a game changer over time.

Matthew 24:35

Earth and sky will pass away, but the words I have said will never pass away.

If you put energy into anything, put energy into what Jesus said.


July 23 / Proverbs 23 / Matthew 23


Proverbs 23:3

Don’t be greedy for his fine foods, because that food might be a trick. [NCV]

This verse made me think of the importance of not being occupied and focused with externals, with people’s words [esp. flattery] or appearances, but to always be looking deeper, at what is behind the “mask.”
As my friend Rex always says, “What is the thing behind the thing?”
What do people mean by what they say?
What do they need that they themselves may not even be aware of?
Matthew 23:8
Titles of significance. Seriously…
Mordecai would not bow down to any man, and neither should we by using these titles of teacher, father, or master. By calling someone master, you immediately put them on that pedestal on which they cannot stay for long. Only One can stand there & only One we should look up to. The rest of us are brothers and sisters who we look across to, not up or down.
The gift of teaching, or any talent, is given by YHWH Himself. Nobody has awesomeness in and of themselves. All they have done is open themselves up to God’s awesomeness, what He is willing and doing at every moment in the Eternal Now, to power that is available to every human being. So if you do anything great- La De Freakin’ Da, so can everyone else through the same power Source.
Therefore, no one is to be called “Teacher” because there is only one and He is in heaven.

July 22 / Proverbs 22 / Matthew 22

thorny path

Proverbs 22:5

There are thorns and snares on the path of the crooked; the one who guards himself stays far from them.

For the person living for self, he will find himself hampered by an imaginary liberty, and tormented by his pleasures. Everything in his day will fret and vex him.
Infinite Love created us to be filled with infinite love. Filling with anything else will cause one to run improperly and well below optimum, like putting Mountain Dew in the fuel tank of your car.
Living with an agenda is stressful and enslaving. You have to do X! And you have to get everybody else to X!
Resting in the care of the Good Shepherd, you just do what He tells you to do and trust in His wisdom and knowledge that is far above human wisdom and knowledge. It’s passively active, I guess you could say. It’s a lot of listening, which I find to be very low stress.

Matthew 22:11-14
But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. “Friend,” he asked, “how is it you are here without wearing proper wedding clothes? But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, “Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.
This is a sobering passage.
Many are invited and given access to everything God has to offer, but few take advantage of it.
Everyone was provided a wedding garment in those days in that culture, so there was no excuse to be dressed poorly. The man had no reply. He had no excuse.
You must take what is lovingly provided to you by YHWH– the sacrificial, atoning death of His Son. Everyone is provided it.
You could say that heart transformation, which is evident in repentance, faith, and obedience to Jesus, is the “wedding garment” that this guy lacked.
You can’t get to Him your own or any other way.
As Christians, we are called to “examine” ourselves to see whether we are “in the faith” (2 Cor.13:5).
Are you a follower of Jesus, dependent on Him?

And for some supplemental reading, how about 2 Peter 1:3-15:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.