July 1-3 / Proverbs 1-3 / Matthew 1-3


Proverbs 1

Heed good advice, counsel, and wisdom before things go really south, before it’s too late, before you paint yourself into a corner where the choice is made for you.

Is there something you’ve been hearing for a while that you’ve put off acting upon? Has someone, or multiple someones, been warning you about anything? Is there a theme that keeps recurring in your life that you need to pay attention to? Something you’ve heard many times that you ignore?

Choose wisdom while you have a choice!

Proverbs 2:7

He stores up resourcefulness for those with integrity–a shield for those who walk in innocence…

Though none of us are without sin, there are those people whose lives are marked largely by ethical rightness and legal obedience. These are the “innocent” spoken of in Proverbs who are closely related to “the wise.”

For these people, God provides resourcefulness. I like this definition for resourcefulness: “An inner power that helps one escape a fix.” Now we can see why it may be compared to a shield in this verse. It protects one from the vicissitudes in life. If (when) problems arise, the recipient of God’s wisdom will have the wherewithal to deal with it. This resourcefulness indeed shields and protects those who possess it.

Proverbs 3:11-12

Don’t get angry when God corrects you. This is a sign that He delights in you! He cares!
Be thankful for His corrections. Seriously, actually tell Him thank You. See what happens inside of you.

Matthew 1:1

Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who fulfilled Israel’s prophecies, completing her story.

He is the Son of David [Israel’s greatest king] and Son of Abraham [father of the Jewish nation].

So Matthew is clear that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah since the Messiah was to come through the line of David. That Jesus was a Son of David is all over the NT. It is not ambiguous about who Jesus is.

Also of note, in Genesis genealogies were named for the first person cited, but Matthew names his genealogy for the person in whom it climaxes, Jesus Christ. In Genesis, descendants were dependent on their ancestors for their historical significance. In Matthew, Jesus’ ancestors are dependent on Him for their historical significance.

Matthew 2:1-12

It is interesting that pagan stargazers were more in tune with what God was doing through Jesus than Jewish insiders who were anticipating His coming.

Matthew 2:23

Out of the stump of the line of Jesse will grow shoot–yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

Our Savior was called a Nazarene…He was from the tiny (about 60 acres, just 200-500 people) hick town of Nazareth. Hick (John 1:46) because it’s thought that Nazarenes were rather unrefined and disrespected due to their unpolished dialect, a lack of culture, and quite possibly a measure of irreligion and moral laxity. This is where Jesus grew up. How perfect is that?

Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Old Testament, by the historian Josephus, or in Rabbinic literature (Talmud), so it was doubted that it even really existed until an archaeological discovery in 1962.

Also of interest, many scholars believe that Matthew was referring to Isaiah 11:1 as far as prophecy being fulfilled; Nazarene being a play on the Hebrew word netzer meaning “branch” or “shoot” from Jesse–King David’s dad.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of its roots.

Matthew 3:1-3

The way to prepare your heart for the Lord is to change your thinking. Think about your thinking. Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Receiving Jesus goes with a turning away from all that competes with Him.

Metanoia is the word we translate as “repent.” It means to go the opposite way from your old thinking.
This is not necessarily quick and easy, but then again, nothing great comes without great effort. Do you think it’s worth it to have new thinking? Abundance thinking? Hopeful, positive thinking as opposed to pointless self-loathing and recycling of your old excrement?
The answer is yes. Yes it is much better. Therefore, yes, it is very worth the effort to train your mind (renew your mind) to think in the ways of the kingdom of God, the ways of agape. If you’d like to know how to literally renew your mind, I suggest Switch On Your Brain by Caroline Leaf.
We must not only forsake old, destructive ways of thinking, but run towards new, life-giving thinking which includes real hope in YHWH, that He is active in our daily lives, that He is FOR US, that He delights in us, likes us, and will always help us when we ask.
The tricky thing is, is that God is not to be manipulated like our genie in a bottle (or genie in a ba-ba, as I prefer). We think he should have everything the WAY we ask. This I have found not to be the case, tho there are times He answers just the way we ask because (perhaps) our request is so tuned in to His will. Instead of our Americanized Christianity way of thinking of we should get everything we want, the way of Christ for us is more RECOGNIZING what God is doing
rather than working toward getting Him to do what we want in our way. He is very much at work in your life everyday bringing you to Him. Do you recognize it? Are you looking? Are you listening?
Are you awake?
God is weird, as my soul blood brother Miguel Mesa tells us, and He seems to enjoy surprising us with something transcendent to our tiny requests.
I have found it much better, more shalom-giving, to ask Him for help, and stay totally open to how that help will come.
I am not disappointed.
For example, I start with what I know, and go from there. Or work from the lesser to the greater, you might say. Before and during conversations I pray for openings to share what is needed for the person. I don’t stress, just trust in the goodness of God, and that He wishes none to perish. I know He wants good for everyone, He wants everyone to come to Him. Then I listen carefully. God always opens up something in the conversation. Or He takes it a way I did not anticipate, yet in a way obviously from Him because of the peace it gives.
Pray with this confident openness in everything.
Trust in His goodness and care for you.
You will not be disappointed.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter.

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