Friday, January 28, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 4-6

Chapter 4 - This chapter is beautiful...Isaiah casts a future vision of hope before the prophecy of judgment that comes over the next few chapters.

5:2 - This is a picture of God's relationship with the Israelites. He chose them out specially...built them up...blessed them...He made them into His chosen people - His priest nation. Yet after all of this, the people chose to run wild.

5:5-6 - God worked everything to set the nation of Israel apart as His holy people, and they turned away. So now God is going to allow everything good to be removed so that they will return to Him. Unfortunately, the human condition of turning away from God when things in life are running smoothly continues on today...sometimes we need to experience tough circumstances in this life to understand how much we need God. Hopefully as we mature as believers, we will be able to stay faithful in any circumstances good or bad (See: Philippians).

5:8 - People grasp for more and more - more material goods - bigger houses - more land - the increasing consumption never ends. Yet the more ad more they gather around themselves, the more they find themselves truly alone. This sounds like a commentary on the suburban American way of life. We gather more wealth ad comfort to ourselves and no less and less about the people around us.

5:11-12 - Some people spend all of their time seeking pleasure and serving themselves and never take the time to consider what God is doing in the world. This is one of the aspects of comfort and success that lead us away from God. We allow ourselves to get distracted by a life so focused on self that we are blinded to God's work in the world. Not good.

5:20 - This is a dangerous game to play. There are people that lie to themselves and others...trying to ignore the guilt of their actions and convince everyone that their sinfulness is actually a positive thing. This is an especially twisted form of rebellion against God...trying to lead others to join you in your sin. (See: Romans Chapter 1)

5:22 - Sometimes we make heroes of people who do meaningless things. In this example it is people that can drink alot of alcohol, but it can be any number of things. We make heroes of people who can play sports at a high level, make money, argue well, etc. Hero status should be reserved for things with actual meaning...heroes are people who serve others, bring peace, create, build, stand firm in the faith, etc.

5:26 - After His people turned away, God removed the hedge of protection He had placed around them as referenced in chapter 4 and invited the kingdoms of the world to enter into the promised land and wreak judgment upon His people. Even when the armies of pagan rulers destroyed the Israelite people God was in control.

6:1 - The "hem" of God's robe filled the temple. The hem in an insignificant part of a robe...the place where two pieces of cloth are stitched together. The hem is usually unnoticeable, which speaks to the power of God. Just the hem of God's robe fills the temple to overflowing in Isaiah's vision...God's power is infinite and truly unknowable.

6:5 - When we are in the presence of God, we have total clarity to see the breadth of our flawed selves. This is why people who grow in maturity spiritually are usually full of humility, because the closer they get to God the more they understand how far below God they are.

6:11 - God will allow the judgment to pour out on the Israelite nation until it lies totally in ruins. (V.13) Yet as always in God's eternal plan , a stump will be left...a remnant people who will make future hope possible.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Isaiah Chapters 1-3

The book of Isaiah was written during a tumultuous time in the ancient near east. The Assyrian Empire was the most powerful and aggressive nation in the area and they terrorized and conquered smaller kingdoms around them. Yet beginning in 782BC three kings ruled the Assyrians who had less aggressive ruling styles. The split kingdoms of Israel and Judah were given a respite of about 40 years of peace, which brought a great deal of financial success and comfort to the people. As the people became more wealthy and comfortable, they turned away from God and began worshipping wealth and pagan near eastern idols. Isaiah challenged the people of Judah to turn away from their idolatry, see the sovereignty of God and turn back to authentic worship. Unfortunately, his warning fell on mostly deaf ears. Here in the United States we are in a similar situation. We have experienced almost a hundred years of continental peace, prosperity and comfort...we as a nation have far more interest in wealth and success than we do on worshipping God. Hopefully the warnings of Isaiah will not fall on deaf ears when Christians read this book today.

1:11-13 - God wants nothing to do with religious ceremonies and sacrifices offered out of selfishness. People would give their sacrifices for show, or offer them up in an attempt to magically get God to do what they wanted Him to do. God wants nothing but authentic worship. Christians today must remember that church services, serving opportunities, worship events are not items to be checked off a list to keep God happy. Authentic worship is approaching the throne of God with humility, no matter what you are doing, and offering yourself to Him.

1:16-17 - Isaiah tells the people what they need to do to turn things end their corrupt worship practices. Don't pretend like everything is fine with your heart and life and put on a show for other people to real and raw...confess your sins before God and man...repent...clean out your insides before you approach God. You know what kind of sacrifices really matter to God? Make sacrifices of your good deeds...bring justice to the world in any way that you can. The sacrifice that God cares about is you offering yourself to Him every day as a living sacrifice.

1:23 - This is a recurring theme that we will see throughout the book of Isaiah. We cannot truly call ourselves the people of God if we fail to see and meet the needs of those around us.

2:2-3 - Confirmation on what you hopefully already know - God has always been a missionary God...His plan has always been for all the people of the world to be drawn to Him. And He draws people into His kingdom through His priest nation, which thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ now includes all those who have faith in the Savior. Never forget that you are part of a priest nation and that we want to live our lives in such a way that people are drawn to God.

2:4 - I love this future prophesy and hope I can see it one day in my lifespan (Though this one may have to wait until after God's final judgment, because humans are so dang flawed and selfish) - where the weapons of war are destroyed and used to create tools with which to build, create and grow...where people actually forget how to make war. That is a beautiful future picture!

2:20 - When the people begin to gather wealth and live comfortable lives, they reject God. They say to themselves, "Who needs God, I'm doing alright on my own." Absurdly, what they begin to do is worship things that human beings have created (From materials spoken into existence by God oddly enough). It is insane! It is not until God allows them to experience trouble and hardship that they begin to see the meaninglessness of the things they are worshipping. I wonder if there is anything in that passage for Americans to learn from...naw, couldn't be - this scripture is so old and outdated...oh, wait...

3:10-11 - God's math has always been pretty simple. You reap what you sow. When people choose to live out the righteousness of God...choose to try to reflect the characteristics of God in this world, they will be fruitful (Not necessarily rich or successful by the standards of the world, but fruitful). Those who sow selfishness, pride, destruction, greed...they will get what they deserve in the end - often times in this world, but definitely in the end.

3:24-26 - Here the nation of Judah is described as an arrogant, rich woman (Though there were probably women walking around Judah like this, that this passage would also directly apply to). The woman cares only for outer beauty and outward appearance. She likes to flaunt her wealth and status to those around her. The nation of Judah had begun to worship wealth and proudly flaunted themselves before the world, but they were rotten to the core. Christians must be careful not to allow this twisted love of status, worth, wealth, success to creep into our lives and churches as it has crept into our nation.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Song of Solomon Chapters 4-8

4:9 - I know when you first look at it, it seems a little weird, but I love that he refers to her as "sister and bride." To me this denotes the deep level of love and respect that Solomon has for his wife. He understands that she is more than just a person to have sex with. His statement speaks to an understanding that he and his beloved are both the children of God - they are a part of a worldwide family of people created in the image of God and worthy of respect. She is not only his wife, but his spiritual sister and his friend. This is what a marriage relationship should look should be a union of respect and honor (as well as desire and pleasure as we see over the next few chapters).

5:1ff - The imagery here is unmistakable - they are enjoying one anothers' bodies in the midst of a married love relationship. Solomon and his beloved are delighting in their marriage union. We must never forget that sex is a beautiful, God-given act that is too often ignored and made negative by the Church. Sex in the midst of a loving, committed, spiritually driven marriage is absolutely amazing...and when you have experienced it in such an environment of trust and respect, you know how shallow and unsatisfying the meaningless, lust-driven non-committed sex of the world is.

5:14 - Here is some great advice for the all the ladies out there. Solomon's beloved knows what he wants to hear. She says that his arms are like rods of gold, embedded with jewels - she tells him that he is ripped. She praises his strength. You may not know this because of all the bravado that gets thrown around by men, but we are generally very self-conscious creatures. Most try to act tough as a means of overcompensating for their fear of the weaknesses they see in themselves. A wife who is willing to build up her husband and confirm his strength is a wife who is making serious investments in the love bank. We are sensitive people! I remember when we were first married...I had been working out and I came home all excited because I had been working out with reps of over 300lbs. on bench press. I told my wife about it and she said something to the effect of - "I didn't marry you because your strong" or "I would love you no matter what." Sure, she said those words to be nice and emphasize her unwavering commitment to me, but I was hurt. My sensitive little ego needed confirmation that I was a strong guy. Over the years she has learned how fragile I really am and does a great job of making me feel strong - and it has nothing really to do with physical fitness or strength as much as it has to do with building me up. Wives, if you want your husbands to be leaders in your family (Not "the boss" but God-honoring leaders), probably not a good idea to emasculate him.

6:13 - I like this...the woman who has given herself to her husband is no longer available to other men. She is for Solomon and he is for her. They have chosen to forsake other men and women...chosen to leave their families behind and become one in body and heart. They fulfill each others' desires and no third parties are welcome in that realm.

7:10 - The woman who is giving herself as a wife for a man is the only vessel through which he should be attaining sexual satisfaction. A man's desire should be for his wife and his wife alone (And vice versa). This brings honor to his wife, brings honor to God and twisted perversion out of the marriage bed.

8:6-7 - Seal your heart and seal your body - they are only to be shared with your spouse. A lot of marriages in this world would be a lot more healthy if this is the kind of commitment husbands and wives made to one another.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Song of Solomon Chapters 1-3

1:3 - "Your name is like oil poured out." Solomon's name is his character. She is saying that his reputation, his character is very good. Like a fragrant oil, his name goes before him and people know that he is a good man. Women of purity are drawn to him because they know he can be trusted. This is the kind of man that Christian women (all women for that matter) should be looking for!

1:7 - She wants to be around Solomon...she wants to spend time with him and get to know him, but notice how she wants to do it. She wants to be around him in the middle of the day, out in public, around his friends. She wants built in accountability. If they are hanging out together in broad daylight, there is less chance that they are going to do anything to compromise their purity. She says, "I don't want to be like the prostitutes that hang around your friend and veil themselves - I am a woman of honor and I will make sure there are boundaries for our integrity." Song of Solomon has a lot to teach people who are in relationships - don't put yourself in situations where you are alone for long periods of time...set boundaries!

1:9 - I know this doesn't sound too great...most women would be offended if someone called them a horse, but you have to understand the context. The mare that pulled Pharaoh's chariots would be the most magnificent horse in all of Egypt. Beautiful. Powerful. His most treasured possession. And a mare would lead the armies out, because the other male horses would be drawn after her - they would long to follow. This is an incredibly beautiful compliment. Solomon is saying that she is his most treasured possession...she is beautiful beyond compare...powerful...that any man would follow her every move. Little more romantic when you put it that way, huh?

1:13 - What is it that lies in the middle of the chest? The heart, right? In ancient times (when bathing wasn't really frequent) women would were perfume boxes so that they would only smell beautiful fragrances. She is saying that she keeps Solomon in her heart, and that the love she has for him makes everything better. AWWWWWWWW!

2:1 - This is cool...the love for Solomon has actually made her blossom as a person - she has become more confident. If you go back to chapter 1 verse 6, you see that she doesn't even want Solomon to look at her, because she feels like she is too dark. But he has spoken such confidence into her heart, that she now sees herself as beautiful. Single men and women should look to be in relationships with people who help them to become better...more godly...more confident.

2:2 - "A lily among thorns." Lilies grow on lily pads...roses grow on thorn bushes - what is Solomon talking about. He doesn't think the rose is a good enough comparison to his love. Lilies only grow one single unique flower. Roses grow many identical flowers on the same bush. Solomon is saying that his beloved stands along in her beauty...that no one is like fact the other women look like thorns to him in comparison to his beloved.

2:5-7 - These are absolutely sexual terms. Raisins and apples were thought to be aphrodisiacs in the ancient world. Think about the position of the hands and arms described...that shows two people laying down and embracing. Solomon's beloved desperately wants to sleep with him. She is in love with him...she finds him incredibly attractive and she wants him. It is that plain and simple. Every young engaged couple understands this feel. But look at verse 7...this verse comes out like a subconscious reminder to the young woman - "Do not stir up or awaken love until it pleases." Don't mess with your purity...wait until there is no guilt...wait until there is utter commitment...wait until marriage.

2:9 - This is a two-way street...Solomon is also deeply in love and attracted to his beloved. He is filled with desire for her as well. He is depicted like a stag...stamping at the ground outside of her home.

2:17 - She sees his desire and love for her and actually invites him to enjoy her body...she wants him to run wild over her like a wild stag - their passion continues to increase with each chapter. Again - I think anyone who has been close to marriage understands this fully. Before Mandy and I got married, the desire for sex was almost overwhelming, but like Solomon and his beloved, we were able to wait until it was right before God after marriage. Even if mistakes have been made with regards to purity, couples can make the choice to make the commitment to reclaim the control and do things as God wants them to be done.

3:1 - With the desire overwhelming both of them, the Beloved goes into Solomon's room to find him, but he is not there. He knows that he cannot trust himself alone with her and has made the choice to do whatever it takes to maintain their purity. How many men in the world are like this today? The woman offers herself to him and it is the man who has the character to wait. That is awesome. So many times in the lives of even Christian couples, it is the women that have to make the boundaries and fight for purity. We need some Christian men in the world who will stand up and be leaders for purity in relationships. That is the kind of men you should be looking for ladies!

3:4-5 - She finds Solomon and she will not let go. So they go to her mother's house. The desire is burning them up...they are in love...they are committed to one another and the time has come to get married.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ecclesiastes Chapters 10-12

11:8 - I have been studying through Philippians with the HS students and Paul's words continue to echo through my mind as I read the hopelessness in the words of Solomon. In Philippians chapter 1 Paul says, "To live is Christ." Solomon tells us to rejoice in the days of our youth. We must rejoice in every day we are given as a gift from God. Paul rejoiced in each new day as an opportunity to live to bring honor to the Kingdom of reflect Christ into the world. Paul says, "To die is gain," while Solomon fears death as an introduction into eternal darkness. Paul understands the whole story...he can see the whole picture which Solomon was not yet able to see - through Christ we are ushered into eternity with God, not eternal darkness. To die is actually to gain a new and better life!

12:1 - This is a great message for all the young Christians of the world. Do not put off getting serious about your faith. Do not say, "I have years to be a hardcore Christian...right now I'm just gonna focus on myself." None of us know how many years we have left - we must take every opportunity to experience the true satisfaction of living out the lives we have been called to live in the way of Jesus.

12:11 - I like that - "The words of the wise are like goads." A Goad was a long stick that was used to keep the cattle moving in the right direction. Wise words are like that...they may sting a little, but they help you to stay on the path you need to be walking.

12:13-14 - In the end, Solomon had experienced everything...and I mean EVERYTHING! He had all the money, wine, women and song any man could ever handle (more than he could handle in fact), and he came away with a clarity of vision about what existence is truly all about. He could look back on his life with conviction and say, "The only thing that truly matters...the only things that truly to fear God and follow His ways." Solomon saved us the trouble of chasing after empty pursuits...we can just choose to learn from his lesson and seek to follow God.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ecclesiastes Chapters 7-9

7:1A - A good character or reputation (a.k.a. "name") is priceless. Sometimes the best way that we can represent Christ in the world, especially at the workplace where the sharing of faith is often prohibited, is through reflecting godly character to those around us.

7:1B - This verse seems to echo Paul's sentiments in Philippians chapter one (When he says death is gain for him). The difference is that Solomon is speaking out of the futility he has seen in life - he believes it is death is better because it brings an end to the sinfulness and fruitless toil of life. Paul on the other hand speaks out of the fullness of his faith. Through Jesus Christ (Who Solomon did not yet have access to) Paul has hope that death is just the beginning of true life.

7:8 - It is human tendency, my tendency, to think always of ourselves first. I base decisions on my I I am I will feel...what my goals are, etc. But this pridefullness which typically drives my behavior is also the root of all my sinfulness. I must strive to live in a spirit of patience, not driven by my selfish needs, but driven by thoughtful consideration of my faith.

7:10 - Absolutely nothing is helped by always thinking about "the good old days." The only days that should matter are the day that we have NOW...the day you are living today is a gift from don't know how many more you have to come and you can't do anything about the past - so what are you doing with the NOW that God has gifted you?

7:20 - This verse is echoed by Paul's, "There is no one righteous, not even one." We are all in the same boat of helpless brokenness and is desperate need of salvation. Praise God that we have the clear picture of Jesus life and sacrifice that Solomon did not yet have.

8:12 - There are times where it can seem like the people who reject God are the ones truly living blessed lives. They seem to live longer, be more successful and basically get what they want. We must never forget that the people who live only for this world - receive only the rewards that they can scrape up from the broken existence. Solomon is this passage does not understand why it seems that evil men are blessed, but he does know that in the end it will go better for those who fear the Lord. Christians must be able to expand their worldview to encompass the reality that we are just passing through this life and heading to something infinitely better. We can't waste out time jealously looking at the lives of non-Christians...we need to spend our time following Christ and trying to encourage as many people as possible to travel with us into eternity.

8:17 - As hard as Solomon much as he deep as he searched...he could not come close to fully understanding the plan that God is working out in the world. It must have been frustrating because he had such wisdom, but I think we can take heart in the fact that sometimes we don't understand what God is doing. Do we really want a God who's creative and intellectual capacity is on a level with ours? I don't! We can trust that although we may not see clearly the path of God's plan in this world, that He is in control and that He is going to make all the right choices.

9:3-4 and 10 - Solomon seems to be oppressed and depressed by the futility of human life. He sees the good and the bad all end their lives in the same way - death. So for Solomon, the only hope is in the lives of the living. His take-away is to do everything you can while alive, because that is all you have. The pre-Christ understanding of life, death and existence displayed by Solomon is simply heartbreaking. Through the death of Christ, this cycle is broken so that humans can truly experience life in Spirit while on earth and life as it was meant to be lived with God after death.

9:15-16 - This world loves to remember the mighty...the powerful...the "hero." We celebrate the legacy of the life built on victory and conquest (Be that in business, politics or war). The humble-wise, like the man from Solomon's story, are forgotten in the sands of time. Yet in the eyes of God it is the wise and humble who fear Him, that truly conquer and show where actual strength lies.

9:18 - The potential destructive power of one man given to pride and violence is colossal. Think of the devastation that human beings have rained down on one another since the beginning of time - relationally, physically, emotionally, etc. Never let yourself forget the destructive power that lies dormant in your fleshy nature. Seek out humility before God and to create and build and love, instead of pride-centered chaotic destruction.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ecclesiastes Chapters 4-6

Not the most uplifting read I've ever had, but I figure if you try to live opposite of the vain/prideful/selfish/self-indulgent people Solomon writes about (Because of his firsthand experience)...then life would be pretty good.

4:1 - This is interesting...Solomon sees the oppression in the world and it drives him to throw up his hands in defeat - "Why is there no one to stand up for the oppressed?" What is the point of having wisdom and clarity of vision to see what is wrong with the world if it is not going to drive you to do something about it. There are so many people who want to get angry with the way the world works - so many people that want to whine and complain and get angry with God...when are we going to do something about it? We must let the oppression and unfairness of this fallen world drive us to stand up for the weak and do what is right.

4:9 - There are some people that chase after success so intensely that they neglect their relationships with people around them. What is the point of being successful if you have no one to share it with...if you have burned every bridge trying to accomplish your goals? Money-material goods-power...these things do not make good friends. Never forget how important it is to invest in the relationships in your life. How do you think the dad who spent more time with his job than his child feels at the ends of his life when he has no relationship with his son?

4:13 - It is far better to be poor and understand exactly how little you know, then it is to be rich and think you know everything. The wisdom of the young man comes from his willingness to listen tot he advice of people around him. The folly of the king comes from his refusal to listen to anyone. Which camp do you fall into?

5:2 - Let's be clear...God is in heaven...God is in control of everything that exists...God can see everything and is weaving everything into His plan - who are you and I to think that we know what is best? Why are we complaining and arguing with God? Life is better when you speak less and trust God more.

5:15 - Plain and simple: you can't take it with you...why are you so obsessed with it?

6:3 - In ancient times, one of the signs of a God blessed life, was the birth of many offspring. People who had lots of kids where thought to be more favored by God. But Solomon wants us to understand that satisfaction cannot come from getting more and more. He tells about the man who has a hundred children, yet cannot be satisfied...the point is not that you are satisfied with what you have, but that satisfaction comes through a heart attitude. Some people have everything, but cannot be satisfied. Others have nothing and are truly fulfilled. Seek to find your satisfaction in the presence of God and you will never be left feeling empty.

6:8-9 - It is far better to be a poor man who understand what is important and shows respect to people, than it is to be a rich man who is never satisfied. This speaks to the ultimate driving force of our culture in the States - more. We were raised to believe that if you work hard, you will be successful...that the harder you work the more you will get and the happier you will be, but generation after generation of Americans has found out that the American dream does not bring the soul satisfaction that we all crave. What we are all looking for is found in the simple concepts of loving God and loving people.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ecclesiastes Chapters 1-3

1:2 - Verse two says it all - this is gonna be one depressing ride! Isn't this a really uplifting way to start out a book? Solomon has come to the conclusion that all that exists for man is meaningless vanity, and he is going to tell us why he came to that conclusion. There is actually alot that current day Christians can learn from Ecclesiastes because his words about the vanity of selfish human existence are often true for our own lives.

1:6-7 - Solomon speaks of the currents of the wind as if he understands that the earth is round and seems to have knowledge of the evaporative cycle of water...pretty impressive understanding of nature in ancient times. You don't get to be the wisest guy ever without learning some pretty revolutionary stuff I'd wager.

1:18 - Not that I am overly wise, but I understand what Solomon is talking about here. Over the years as I have grown in spiritual maturity and wisdom (Still have a LONG way to go), I have found that what those things really bring me is a better understanding of my own ignorance and brokenness. The closer I get to God, the more clarity I have with regards to how far below God I actually am. To Solomon this is a bad thing, but through the lens of the Gospel, the concept only makes me more thankful of God's grace.

2:13 and 15 - Solomon can see that it is clearly better to seek wisdom than it is to seek folly...I think we can all agree with him there. But he is confused and frustrated because he sees that even if people have wisdom, they still fall prey to the pain and suffering that exists in the world. Solomon is wondering...what is the point of seeking wisdom if all people end up in the same depressing calamities brought on by this world? How is that for a fun thought to start out the day? Fortunately, Christians today have an understanding of the way the world works that Solomon had not been granted...we know that this life is not the end all. Read Philippians chapter one. Paul is indifferent to death and suffering because he knows that he is just passing through this world and Jesus waits on the other side.

2:17 - Solomon is bitter about what his wisdom is bringing him and he choose in his frustration to hate life...yet he is going through exactly what God wanted people to experience - we are broken...we cannot save ourselves...we cannot make life meaningful on our own...there has to be more. It is all about God - all is meaningless vanity outside of him.

3:11 - I love this line - God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. I believe this is part of what it means that we were created in the image of God. We know what we were made for...deep in the core of who we are...we know we were made to be with God eternally. Our souls are crying out for this connection, but the sin of humanity has separated us and we cannot fully experience the fullness of eternity...yet. Thanks be to God for the gift of Jesus Christ!

3:15 - God's plan never changes...He is working to bring all people back into relationship with Him...He seeks out what has been driven away. What does that mean? I think it means that God is working to renew the union with man that existed before sin drove us out of His presence.

3:22 - Solomon determines that man exists only to find joy in the toil of his life...the things he can do. But unfortunately, caring only for your earthly work is sheer means nothing when you are gone. Being totaly caught up in the things of this world and success by the world's standards will only lead to emptiness and meaninglessness in life. Solomon asks - who can bring us to see what comes after life? You know who can? Jesus. He can from eternity to live a life and offer us hope for the future. He came to show us that the things we do for the kingdom of God actually matter in eternity and that we do have a purpose and we do have a future.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Proverbs Chapters 28-31

28:1 - When I read this verse and see that the righteous are "bold as lions," I wonder at the lack of boldness in my own life. How do I so easily convince myself to keep quiet about the faith, "so I don't make anybody uncomfortable (especially myself)" or "step on any toes?" Do I truly accept the righteousness that has come to me through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Do I live that out? Do I really believe what I say I believe? Because if I do, then I should be unashamed and bold with my faith...not annoying, bible-thumping, better-than-you bold - but bold with truth and love.

28:13 - It is beneficial to our lives for us to be truly be willing to understand our own faults and confess those to others. As we confess our sins and failures to people we trust, we lay the groundwork for accountability and assistance in forsaking sin in the future.

28:23 - We have talked alot throughout the book of Proverbs about the importance of being about to accept rebukes out of love, but it is also important for Christians to be bold enough to rebuke the ones they love. If we are truly going to be friends and keep the best interest of our loved ones in mind, we will speak the tough truth when the situation demands it...even if it isn't fun (It almost never is!).

29:1 - Stubbornness does not usually end well...see the problem with holding your ground, stiffening up and pushing back against everything anybody says in the belief that you are the first person on earth to be constantly right about that you will eventually be broken - it is the only way for the stubborn to fall.

29:11 - This verse reminds me of the "dust" man Paul describes in I Corinthians chapter 15. Only fools let their dust/sinful/fallen human nature run wild in their lives. It is wise to seek to subdue the dust man, so that the spirit man within us can thrive.

29:25 - When we spend our lives consumed by fear of what other people could think or say or do...we allow them to ensnare us in a trap. Fears about things we cannot control freeze us in our place and keep us from being about the Lord's business. Don't let other peoples' choices determine who God is calling you to be.

30:4 - Agur asks rhetorically - "Who has done these things? Who has gone into heaven and come down to show us how the world works?" Well, Jesus did that. Jesus literally came to earth as God made flesh. He lived out the wisdom of the Lord in human form and showed us exactly what humanity is supposed to look like. He showed us the path to walk and gave us hope for the future.

30:8 - We are given some great steps for living a godly life: be honest (with yourself and others), live moderately and take only what you need. Too often lies and selfishness drive us away from the way of God and turn us into ungracious jerks.

30:18-20 - What are the weird animal references all about? Well, the eagle is at home in the air...the snake is at home on the rock and the ship is at home on the sea. The snake doesn't try to fly in the air...the eagle cannot survive in the sea...the ship isn't too effective on land. Each of these things has its natural place, just as sex belongs only in the union of marriage. Allowing it to take place outside of marriage (a.k.a. adultery) is unnatural.

30:24-28 - How about these weird example - what do they mean? Ants are so tiny and insignificant, but they plan for the future...badgers may not be the most powerful creature, but they build their dens where predators cannot get them...locusts have no leader but they work together to wreak havoc on crops...lizards can be picked up by hand they are so tiny, but they live in the palaces of kings. Interestingly enough the book of Proverbs primarily written by a king, comes to a close with an encouragement to people that you don't need a king to prosper if you seek out wisdom as a community.

31:10-31 - What else needs to be said? I love this passage. Every time I read it I am reminded of my sweet, hard-working, patient, awesome wife. Thank you God for bringing a goober like me, a wife who is worth more than any amount of precious gems. For those of you not yet married - Guys: seek out a woman of noble character - she will be the treasure of your life. Gals: seek to be women of noble character and remember, as daughters of the most high God you should not settle for anything less than a man who is truly a selfless servant and a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Proverbs Chapters 25-27

25:2 - I know we don't always have the highest opinion of kings today, but int he time this was written...kings were considered the best of men. This passage is telling us that men of character and honor find delight in the search for God's truth. The journey...the pursuit of the incredible adventure we should seek out every day.

25:12 - Having a person in your life who you trust and will listen to, who will speak uncomfortable truths to you and call you on the carpet in love - is priceless (And hard to find).

25:21-22 - Your enemies expect hatred and revenge from you, but you show them what true power and strength is when you choose instead to treat them with undeserved mercy. We were once the enemies of God and He was willing to die for us. We honor and emulate the character of God when we treat our enemies kindly.

25:26 - A righteous man who gives in to temptation and falls into sin brings corruption into his life. Why do we so often choose to bring filth into the clear, clean waters of righteousness that Jesus brings us?

26:4 - Don't argue with idiots - it only drags you into the idiocy of your opponent...nothing good comes of it and you end up looking foolish in the end.

26:7 - All the scripture and knowledge in the world is meaningless if we do not actually take it to heart.

26:11 - Over and over the fool returns to the folly that has brought disaster upon his life - why do I remain so foolish? Why do you? Why do we dine on the disgusting corruption that has brought nothing but vileness to our lives in the past...why do we keep return to eat the vomit of sin?

26:15 - I love this verse! This is hilarious! The lazy person digs his hand so deeply into the food dish, that he does not have the strength to actually bring it up to his mouth! Is that not the ultimate picture of laziness! This rings so true in our culture...we want as much as we can have with as little effort as possible.

26:18-19 - This is a good reminder for me because I love to joke around like this with people - but it is a dangerous game to "joke" with the truth (Joking like that is also called "lying" in some circles).

26:22 - The gossip whispered in corners and behind backs sounds so intriguing, but it seeps into the soul and brings nothing but corruption.

27:1 - Never forget that every day is a gift from God...nothing is guaranteed...we must live each day humbly before our creator and offer ourselves fully to Him.

27:7 - Interesting verse...if you have found satisfaction and fulfillment in God, then you will not long constantly for more and more, but the spiritually empty crave everything and will fill themselves with poison to fill the void even temporarily.

27:17 - We must have sword brothers (or sisters for you ladies out there) - men and women who will hold us accountable...push us...challenge us and help us to keep that spiritual edge.

27:20 - Just as death and the destroyer are never satisfied...they always want more destruction and more death...human beings wallow in their selfishness and allow it to corrupt their lives. Selfishness is the seed of every sinful thing I is the sickness that I go to war with every is the anti-Christ.