Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth (Proverbs 5)

Pro 5:15-20 ESV Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. (16) Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? (17) Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. (18) Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, (19) a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (20) Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Dear son, my parents read a book to me when I was little about a little boy who was given a dollar. He met a friend who said he’d give the boy two quarters for the dollar. Two is more than one, the boy reasoned and so he made the trade. Another boy offered him three dimes for his two quarters. Three is more than two, the boy reasoned and so he made the trade. Still another boy offered him four nickels for the three dimes. Four is better than three he reasoned, and so he made the trade. Finally a boy offered him five pennies for his four nickels. Five is more than four he reasoned and so he made the trade. He came home to show his father what he had done and it was then that he realized that with every trade he’d lost value. I’m sure the story was intended to teach us the value of a dollar, but there was a deeper lesson as well. We are often tempted to make bad trades in life and we often don’t value some things like we should.

I cannot emphasizes the value of loving one woman all of your life. There will be moments of temptation that come your way all through your life. It is your duty to guard your heart and pursue your wife. When temptation comes your way count the cost and flee. I know men who have traded their entire life for a moment of pleasure. They traded their wife, their children, their income, their respect, their trustworthiness, and some traded their occupation for a few fleeting minutes of pleasure. There is grace for those who have made this costly trade (Psalm 51), but it’s my prayer that you guard your heart.

Let’s focus in on verse 19-20 for a moment. If you are going to truly value your future wife and pursue the wife of your youth above all it means that you will stay away from sexual relationships outside the bond of marriage. You don’t need any competing memories with your marriage bed. You don’t need any old flames to stir up old passions, jealousy or doubt. This means that you will stay away from viewing pornography. You don’t need to peak into someone else’s bedroom. You don’t need the fantasy of sex without commitment. You don’t need your head filled with false expectations or ideas of how to degrade and exploit women.

What do you do when you have natural urges and you aren’t married yet? Use that energy to go to work in building a life for you and the wife of your youth. Too many young men sit around and play video games into their 30s and beyond. Prepare yourself for marriage so when the right woman comes along you already have a job, have a plan, and are able to be married without living off of someone else.

When you are married and temptation comes your way, never despise your wife. Never for a moment imagine her as cruel for not giving you what you want, when you want it. This is a lie from the devil. Committed relationships take some work. The Devil will always offer you two shiny quarters and tell you that he’ll take that dingy dollar off your hands, but you must know that no matter how shiny the coin he offers you, your dollar isn’t dingy and it is worth way more than he is offering. Commit now to have eyes only for your wife. Count yourself blessed everyday. Do the small things in your relationship well. Kiss her on the way out the door in the morning. Open her door. Treat her like your queen. Speak well of her to your children. Speak well of her to your coworkers. Speak well of her often and never run out of good things to say. Pursue the wife of your youth don’t give your energy or attention to any other and you will be blessed. Sometimes work is the mistress the devil offers instead of another woman. Be careful not to pursue so much overtime that you stop pursuing your wife. (And dear daughter too, look for a man like this).

One last word. There are many lies and perversions in our culture. They are given to you by people with an agenda. I’ll be honest, I have an agenda too. I’m your dad, I want the best for you. You are more than a voter to me. You are more than a consumer to buy my goods. You are more than an opinion in a pole to persuade others. You are my son. My interest in you is greater than what this world offers. I’m on your team. I’m your biggest fan. I love you enough that I will not tell you just what you might want to hear. I will tell you what you need to hear. You are more than sexual appetites and animal lusts. Your identity is greater than your sexual urges. You are a man created in the image of God and you have the capacity to withstand sexual temptation (no matter what shape it takes).

Father, Thank you for my precious children. I ask for your blessing on their lives. I pray for their present and future relationships. I ask you to watch over them in their singleness and in their relationships. I pray that they would seek after you and your blessings. I ask Lord that they would live following your wisdom even when that runs counter to the culture. I pray that my wife and I are examples for them to follow. I ask for your grace to be multiplied to my family as we seek after you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Join us in reading a Proverb A Day through the Month of May (or any month you want)

Read A Chapter Of Proverbs A Day In MAY

The goal is simple. Read a chapter of PROVERBS a day in the month of MAY! Will you join us?

The book of Proverbs stands out as a great source of wisdom to be passed down from parent to child. Solomon write and compiled Proverbs as wisdom to give to his son and in it he addresses issues such as choosing the right kind of friends, staying away from the wrong crowd, working hard, managing money, being respectful, choosing the right marriage partner, avoiding the dangers of alcohol, and so much more.  This wisdom is practical not just for parents and children but for all of us! 

https://pixabay.com/photos/bible-proverbs-heart-purple-pink-102684/

I’ve been reading my way through the book of Proverbs (a chapter a day) through most months as part of my devotional time. It’s a book filled with godly wisdom, broken down into short sayings. It is just 31 chapters long so it’s easy to read one chapter a day. And most days it seems like something I read in Proverbs applies directly to something I’m going through.  I’ll be reading through Proverbs, a chapter a day, through the month of May and reflect in writing about something from the chapter I’ve read.

I’ll be thinking in particular about parenting and my kids. Following the format of wisdom being passed down from father to son, I’ll be reflecting about wisdom I want my kids to see. Something else may jump out at you so feel free to comment in the comment section of each post. For some of you this is a place to start developing the habit of reading God’s Word each day, for others this may be supplemental to whatever you are already doing. Either way, I pray you are blessed in reading along with us a chapter of PROVERBS a day in the month of MAY (or any other month where this blog finds you!)

If you haven’t already, make sure your subscribed to this blog so you get fresh email posts each day in May. If you are on a desk top the email sign-up is to the right. If you are viewing this on a smart phone, make sure you click on the blog post and scroll down to the bottom. Just past the comment section is an area where you can sign up with your email!

Every few days I’ll come back and add links to the days we have already posted in May.

I Know Your Works (Revelation 1-3)

“I know your works”

Jesus Christ in Revelation 2:2, 2:9, 2:13, 2:19, 3:1, 3:8, & 3:15

This phrase, “I know your works,” is repeated by Jesus through the second and third chapters of Revelation. In context they come as part of a larger charge that Jesus gives each church of the churches mentioned in individually (by location). I was struck with awe at the simplicity of these words and the implications for us today. How incredible are these words in the mouth of Jesus Christ to His church!

First, we dwell on who Jesus is and what he has done for the church. Before he ever shares about knowing our works, he reminds us who He is in each passage. These are the words of the one who, “loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). He is genuinely for us! He isn’t hoping we’ll fail. He isn’t an enemy there to mock us. He isn’t even just a friend to pick us up when we’ve fallen. He is our Lord and Savior! The one who went to the cross for us so that we might be free from sin! These words on his lips are filled with the wonder of salvation.

Second, we notice that Jesus is God and is omniscient. When He says that He “knows our works, we must admit that He knows our works better than we do ourselves. There isn’t any shading or coloring the lines one way or the other. He looks and he sees them for what they are. If our works are made of particle board hidden beneath a thin veneer and are trying to be passed off as solid wood, He knows that! If they are the real deal he knows that!

Third, we notice that Jesus sees all of our works. The good ones, the bad ones, and the incomplete ones. I appreciate how Jesus addresses each church first with affirming the positive. We see him acknowledging what obstacles each church is facing and how they have responded. We all need this affirmation from our Lord and Savior and we all need to give it to others when we see them walking in righteousness.

Yet, Jesus doesn’t just address the positive. Most of the churches also had areas of concern. In love, He speaks to them and acknowledges what they need to do in those areas. How well must they have received these words of correction following his affirmation.

Today I am reminded that Jesus sees our works. He knows what we’ve been through. He knows the trials that we have faced. He knows the private moments of faithfulness where we chose to trust Him. He affirms us in those works. He also knows where we need to correct course and today we should be all the more energized to honor the Lord in area’s of our life where we have been slack.

On another level I am encouraged to day to disciple and care for others the way our Lord has cared for his Church. Were possible, we should be quick to affirm the good in others before we address them in correction.

Father, thank you for Christ who died for me and washed me from my sins. Thank you that I am a new creation in Jesus Christ and that it is possible to do good works in your name, though your Spirit. Thank you for the affirmation we receive from You when we walk in righteousness. May we be so affirming to others. Thank you for the correction you provide in our lives. May we be eager to address the areas that need correction so that we might glorify you all the more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post or Revelation 1-3

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Don’t Just Stand There, Use Your Gifts (1 Peter 4-5)

1Peter 4:10 ESV As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

In my few years of ministry I have noticed that sometimes folks get discontented with others in the areas of their gifting. Those gifted in organization tend to wonder why the Sunday School Class, Children’s ministry, etc. isn’t more organized. Those gifted in hospitality wonder why they haven’t been invited over more often to others houses. The list goes on. We see the needs most clearly in the areas that we are able to help. We need to be careful and observant that our discontent moves us to healthy action rather than undue criticism.

We each have at least one gift from the Holy Spirit that we are called to use to bless the body of Christ. How are you serving others with the gifts that God has given you? Your gifting is from God. You may think it’s just personality, your genes, or you are just the way you are, but don’t miss the fact that God has entrusted you with at least one spiritual gift. You were given spiritual gifts for a purpose. Your gifting wasn’t given to you for you to be a judge or a critic but for you to serve one another in his name.

Your gifting is for others. You received it, but it’s not for you to keep to yourself. You don’t exercise spiritual gifts in isolation. They weren’t given to be hidden or never used. Spiritual gifts are to be exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit for the Glory of God.

Father, thank you that you have entrusted us with spiritual gifts that we might serve one another. Help us to discern when and where we need to use our gifts so that we might be good stewards of the gifts you have given us. Thank you again for your grace that empowers us to minister to one another. Let us exercise our gifts to their fullest capacity for your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on 1 Peter 4-5

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Teach What Accords with Sound Doctrine? (Titus)

Titus 2:1 ESV But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Everyone needs a little help and encouragement from time to time. I’m trying to undo years of unhealthy eating habits in my life and start a lifestyle of healthier eating. I’ve known for years about how to eat healthier. My problem was that I wasn’t applying my knowledge to my choices. I was making choice based on other things that what would ultimately be best for me. Since I’ve started changing my lifestyle I’ve enlisted other to help make sure that my actions matched my profession.

What’s at stake with the gospel is infinitely more important than eating habits. Paul charges Titus to teach others not just sound doctrine, but the lifestyle that flows out of sound doctrine. It’s not enough to know the gospel, we must live out the gospel in our daily lives. We need all sorts of folks to help us with that (not just the pastor). We need the body of Christ to help us.

I was so encouraged this week as I heard from one of our members about a time in her life when she was greeted and surrounded with encouragement by several ladies in our church. It was their faithful ministry through dark days that really helped her grow. She learned not only doctrine, but practical application through the loving witness of these ladies.

Father, thank you for your Word that is Truth. Thank you that it has the incredible power to transform our lives. Thank you for the men and women you have put in our lives to help model gospel faithfulness. Give us grace to follow hard after you all of our days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

We Reap What We Sow (Galatians 4-6)

Galatians 6:7-10 NKJV Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Several years ago I set up a small garden in our back yard. I read up on gardening. I built a raised bed, purchased good soil, worked in compost, and even let a few night crawlers go that were left over from a fishing trip. Yet all of that study and preparation didn’t produce any tomatoes. It wasn’t until I planted tomatoes that some time later saw tomatoes growing in my garden. What get’s planted is what get’s harvested. I could have done all that preparation and planted something different. I could have left it to the birds and wind to plant and I’d have a garden bed full of weeds.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that what we sow into our lives is eventually what we will reap. There can be a lot of waiting between sowing and reaping. We are reminded that everything that we intentionally place into our lives or do for the glory of God will produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

This should encourage us in three ways. One is to sow to the Spirit. We should do the things that please and honor God knowing that this will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Second, we should continue to sow to the Spirit with patience. Just as a farmer waits for the crop to germinate, push through the soil, and finally produce fruit, we often reap the greatest fruit long after a seed has been planted. There are verses of scripture that I memorized as a child or teenager that are still being called to mind and producing fruit in my life today. Third, we need to be diligent to take every thought captive, knowing that even small seeds sown to the flesh will produce a harvest and create chaos in the garden of our lives.

Father, thank you for you Word. I rejoice that we have freedom in Christ to take every thought captive and ask that you give me grace to filter can catch anything I would be sowing to my flesh. I also rejoice that what we sow to the Spirit produces real and lasting fruit in our lives. I pray that I would live a Spirit filled and empowered life where the fruit of the spirit is evident in my life. IIn Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

(Acts 16-19)

The diversity of the church in Philippi really jumped out at me this morning. The first church members there were a wealthy woman, her friends/ employees, a slave girl, and a Roman prison guard and his whole family. They didn’t have much in common socially or economically, but the bond of brother-sisterhood through the blood of Jesus was enough to establish a solid church. Paul wrote the encouraging and powerful book of Philippians to these folks.

The second thing that really jumped out at me today was how Paul appealed to and leveraged to his Roman citizenship in Philippi.But Paul said to them, ‘They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out” (Acts 16:37). This was Roman colony that would have had all the respect for Roman law and citizenship as Rome itself so his appeal wasn’t ungrounded.

We live in a moment in American history where many Christians are wondering how they need to posture themselves. Some note that we are citizens of Heaven and to them it indicates that they don’t need to worry so much about the affairs/ politics of this world. Others indicate that God has given us an American citizenship and we are to press that to it’s fullest advantage including voting, campaigning for candidates/ issues, signing petitions, boycotting, etc. Some wondered does citizenship in Heaven mean I forfeit the rights of citizenship of my country?

These concepts were never intended to be held in tension. Paul writes the Philippians, (People who understood all the rights and privileges’ of Roman citizenship and who were present when he first made an appeal to his own Roman citizenship ) and uses the concept of citizenship as a metaphor to teach about the rights and privileges of those who are in Christ. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

It was precisely because Paul was a Roman citizen who appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen that the concept of being citizens of heaven could be clearly understood. This is one of those both and concepts. Christians should rejoice that they are citizens in the kingdom of heaven, but we should also use whatever rights and privilege’s that are afforded to us as citizens of our country to promote and further the gospel. In America this means using our rights such as free speech to present the gospel, advocate for the powerless, address corruption, and let our voices be heard. However, there is a way to do all of those things with tact and compassion for those who see things differently than us. I’ve put a few links in the resources today that include organizations/ individuals that write from a biblical/ Christian perspective on political/ theological issues of interest to Christians. I’ll also link to a few good books on Politics/Christianity that I have read and found helpful.

Father, We thank you for the diversity of individuals you have called together in the church. we rejoice that more than anything we have the saving work of Christ in common. We pray that you would use us to be salt and light into our communities to reach others with the gospel. We thank you for our Nation and the freedoms we have. Give us wisdom on how to use our rights and privileges to spread the gospel. These things we ask in Jesus Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Politics According to the Bible* – Wayne Grudem Book

Why Politics Needs Religion* – Brandon Sweetman Book

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

*- Affiliate Link

There is Room for Conflict in the Church (Acts 13-15)

The major thing that jumped out at me today is that there is room for conflict in the church. We see a few conflicts in the reading today. The biggest issue that took up a bulk of the reading was the conflict over if new converts to Christianity should be circumcised. It was an issue that was ultimately decided by taking the debate to the Apostles and church leaders in Jerusalem. I’d like to say that the conflict was resolved with a well drafted letter from Jerusalem, but the reality is that this became something that plague Paul’s ministry down the line.

It’s worth noting how Paul and his companions handled the conflict. They took it to the Jerusalem council and left it in the hands of those who had been called as Apostles to decide. These men met, prayed, and discussed the matter and finally resolved the issue. Then a letter was drafted affirming the decision they knew honored the LORD. This should have ended the controversy inside the church, but unfortunately there were those who would follow Paul wherever he went trying to teach gentile converts that they had to be circumcised.

Another conflict arose when Barnabas and Paul wanted to visit the churches they had planted. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, but Paul had no confidence in John Mark because he had been abandoned by him before. We are told that this was a sharp contention (15:39) that wasn’t even really resolved, but that ended with Paul and Barnabas going separate ways with separate partners.

Often we picture the early church being conflict free. We imagine that folks prayed about everything and that everything just worked out. The reality is that the early church was filled with drama and issues as good people, called by God, worked through their conflict. Earlier in Acts, deacons were appointed to deal with the drama surrounding feeding widows. Here we see a church council meeting to decide an important theological issue. We also see good friends going separate ways over what seems like a small issue. The early church had just as much conflict as the church does today.

Conflict resolution is part of ministry and a part of God’s church because it’s at the very heart of the gospel. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” We forget we were at enmity with God but that He made peace with us through the cross of Christ Jesus. When we see conflict in the church, we should recognize that we live in a fallen world and seek to resolve our conflict in a ways that honors God.

Father, thank you that we get an honest understanding of historical events when we read your word. Thank you that it isn’t dressed up or sugar coated, but that you are straight forward and honest with us about very real conflict that took place in the early church. Thank you that you have made us ambassadors and peacemakers to a lost and fallen world and we get to bring the message of hope to those who have yet to be reconciled to you. We pray that you give us opportunity and wisdom to be peacemakers today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Clean Hands or Clean Heart? (Matthew 13-15)

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:11

Today, everyone is talking about washing hands. We all know the drill; wear a mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands, avoid large crowds, etc… We are all certainly more aware and concience of germs than we used to be. Most of us (I would like to think), practiced generally good hygene before all this but with Covid-19 there is a new hyper awareness. So culturally when Jesus doesn’t seem to think its a big deal if his disciples wash their hands or not, it really jumps off the page.

The modern reader might be worried about if Jesus knew or cared about germs. While there might be plenty of helpful hygene information in scripture (there is more than you might suspect), the primary concern of those complaining was a tradition handed down like it was a law. The Jewish folks had a ritual practice of washing hands before they ate. It symbolized being clean before God and only taking in what is right, pure and wholesome. It wasn’t really a law but it was a symbol. Therefore in the eyes of those watching, when the disciples didn’t conform to the rutual practice, they appeared to be hypocrites.

Jesus used this opportunity to expose the hearts of those who were quick to condemn his disciples. God wasn’t nearly as concerned about if someone had ritually clean hands as much as we was about if they had a spiritually clean heart. He charged the Pharisees and scribes of holding on to the forms (appearance) of God’s law, but completely ignoring the substance (the actual Law of God). He quoted Isaiah in saying that they honored God with their lips but, there hearts were far from God.

We might give the Pharisees and scribes a hard time because they should know better, but some times we can be guilty of the same thing. There are many who try to hold on to some sort of appearance of godliness rather than actually seeking to honor and obey God from the heart. We shold be careful of putting on a “show” and more intent on allowing God to conform us into the image of Chirst.

Father, I pray that I would never obscure the substance of your word with a mere form or practice. I thank you that Jesus is the only one who can make us truly righteous from the inside out. I pray that we would all be found righteous in him. I pray that we would all be surenedered and sensative to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that He might conform us more and more into the image of Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.

Touch (Matthew 8-10)

I miss hugs, handshakes, and high fives. We are physical creatures and we were meant for physical touch. There is something reassuring about holding the hand of your spouse, hugging your friends, and even greeting folks you have never met before with a hand shake. It means even more to hold the hand of a friend in prayer as you face some of life’s scary moments like surgery, illness, or in a room waiting to hear news about a loved one.

Physical touch outside of family has been kept to the bare minimum this last year due to the virus. The fact that Jesus touches so many people in Matthew 8-10 jumped out at me as I read it today because touch has taken on a whole new meaning in our culture. I’ve read all of these verses before, but I saw this aspect of more clearly because of what we are going through (social distancing, lock-downs, changed plans, etc.). That’s the way it works with reading through God’s word. It never changes, but you do, and as you come back again and again you see new insights you have never seen before. Today I saw that Jesus definately takes a hands on approach.

It’s not like he wasn’t dealing with illness either. He touched a leper at the beginning of Matthew chapter eight! Even in those days folks knew not to touch people with Leperosy. Jesus wasn’t afraid because he brough healing with his touch.

Throughout centuries he has used touch to heal people. Where the gospel went, hospitals were established. One of the key ways the gospel still goes out today is through medical missions. Some of our Christian organizations are still serving on the frontlines of the epedemic offering sites for testing and now some are opening up places to recieve the vaccine.

Jesus touched people because he cared for people. Those who have placed their faith in Christ are called to care for one another. In the midst of a pandemic our care sometimes that means we are withhodling physical touch but withholding physical touch should never mean withholding care. I’m grateful many have found old and new ways to bless and encourage one another. I look forward to the day when touching won’t have such a stigma and we can shake hands, hug, and highfive again. Until then, I am grateful for a God who cares for us.

Father, thank you for the gift of touch. Jesus could touch because he was fully human. He could heal because he was fully God. Thank you for the way you have used your church to be the physical hands and feet of Christ ministering in my life this week. Thank you for how you use me to minister to others. I pray for healing from this virus and I pray your Gospel goes out with boldness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Join us in reading though the New Testament in 90 Days! You can find the plan and previous posts here.