Be Humble and Learn (Proverbs 9)

Pro 9:7-10 NKJV “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked [man only] harms himself. (8) Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise [man], and he will love you. (9) Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be still wiser; Teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning. (10) “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One [is] understanding.

Son, My freshman year of high school we got a new basketball coach. He was hard. He believed in conditioning. I lost 20lbs in just three weeks of practice with the new coach! He also had a different style of coaching. He lead us through a series of drills and plays evert practice. Seldom ever did we just scrimmage like we had in the 8th grade. Some of the guys didn’t like him. They thought practice should be more fun and more like a game. They whined and complained about the new coach. Some never even bothered to learn the new offense or techniques that the coach was teaching us. Those who really listened to the coach and put in the extra effort earned key spots on the team. The guys who critiqued everything and put forth minimal effort either quit or were cut. The difference was in the attitude. Those who became key players were willing to humble themselves and learn, those who got cut, failed to learn from the expertise of the new coach.

Life is a lot like that. I pray that you are one who seeks out correction, learns from others, and is wise. I pray that you won’t be a prideful fool who just criticizes others. Anyone can criticize, but it takes a real man or woman to humble themselves and learn.

You will come across all sorts of folks in life. You may even be in a position to lead people one day. Learn the caliber of the people you lead. Those who are scoffers and criticize aren’t worth much of an investment. They will criticize you, but the problems is with them. Don’t let them get in your head and don’t imagine that you will fix them. Until they humble themselves to learn, they will never change and you’ll be wasting your investment in them.

On the other hand when you find folks who are willing to submit to authority and learn. Invest heavily in them. Their attitude will take your organization far. I’d rather have a teachable team of novices than a well versed team of malcontents any day. Jesus said it like this in Mathew chapter 7:

Mat 7:2-6 NKJV “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (3) “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (4) “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank [is] in your own eye? (5) “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (6) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Father, thank you for my children and the blessing it is to parent them. I ask that they would be humble enough to learn. I pray that you keep them from pride and malcontent. I pray that they would be quick to examine their own lives and be ready for change. I pray that you give them wisdom in leading themselves and others. I pray that you guard their attitude from becoming someone who scoffs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Trust In The LORD With All Your Heart (Proverbs 3)

Proverbs 3:5-10 ESV Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (6) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (7) Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (8) It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (9) Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; (10) then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Son, There are things that I wish I knew at your age. If I knew them then, how differently I might have behaved and how differently my life might have been. In our yard we have a tree that has grown up with the vine around it. If someone had the foresight to cut the vine early, the tree would have grown up to be straight and flawless. As it is, the vine was cut and pulled down years later than it should have and now the tree has the scar of where the vine cut into its bark. The tree will forever carry the mark of negligence because we didn’t cut the vine when it was young. There are habits/ thoughts in my life that I didn’t unlearn early in life and have warped me and as a consequence will take years to change.

Your life in a lot of ways is also like that tree when it was younger before the vine took hold. You are young and there are a lot of thoughts and voices that will try and steer you in all sorts of directions. You have the capacity to develop detrimental lifelong habits and thoughts that will hurt you. But you also have the opportunity to cut ties with those thoughts/ voices and pursue the things that will help you grow into godly womanhood.

The one thing you can do is commit to trusting in the Lord with everything. Commit to following Him. This will be displayed in a lot of different ways in you life. Do you trust God with your time? If you really do, you will form the habit of being gathered together with a fellowship of believers to worship Him on a weekly basis. You will spend time in His Word often. Do you trust God with your finances? If you do, you will habitually seek to be generous. You will set aside a regular tithe and offering to be budgeted before you pay your bills. To really trust the Lord is to follow Him and His Word above your own thoughts and desires.

Father, I pray for my children today. I pray that they would trust in you and lean not in their own understanding. I ask LORD for your grace to be multiplied to their lives. I pray that they learn quickly and easily from their parents about what it is to trust you in every area of LIFE. 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.

Sincere Demonic Wisdom(James)

James 3:13-18 ESV Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. (15) This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (18) And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I had a friend who was so puffed up with pride that it was annoying. What was worse, is that like me, this man had been called to gospel ministry. It drove me crazy that someone so prideful could attempt gospel ministry. Didn’t he know that he should be humble? Another lowly friend and I wanted to help my prideful friend off his high horse and bring him back to his senses. We met and discussed how to bring our prideful friend down to earth.

We thought we knew what to do, but as pious as we were, we wanted to check all the boxes on what we should do. We realized in our frenzied discussion of our friends pride that we hadn’t prayed for him. So we prayed for him and his pride. Then we realized that we hadn’t stopped to pray for ourselves and confess our own sins. So we began to confess our sins and somewhere in the confession something broke lose (James 5:16). Our prayers for our own sins became more fervent as our eyes were open to more and more sin issues in our lives. We soon came to the issue of pride and the Holy Spirit made it clear that the issue of pride we had seen in our brother was actually an issue of jealousy and pride in our own hearts. We came to tears and eventually came to our brother to confess our wrong.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that sometimes bitterness, jealousy, and pride in my own heart can cause me color how I see the motives of others. If I’m not careful, I’ll think I’m on a righteous crusade to set a brother straight, when what is really at work in my heart is sinful, disgusting, and demonic. I can be sincere, thinking I’m doing the Lord’s work, but actually be working against Him.

James reminds us today that there are two types of wisdom. They produce two different fruits. We should examine our hearts to see if we genuinely want to build others up in the faith or tear them down. The one so jealous for the “truth” that he wants to tear others down might be fighting for the wrong team.

Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for brothers and sisters to whom we can confess our sins and who will pray for us. Thank you for direction on checking our hearts. It is so easy to operate in the world as the world operates. We need your accountability and grace every day. Let us be peacemakers filled with godly wisdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on James

Expositional Devotions through James

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

He is Able to Help (Hebrews 1-2)

Hebrews 2:18 ESV ) For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Pastoring is a difficult calling. It has a tremendously high burnout rate in America. There are many who begin in ministry, but few who end there. There are so many aspects of what a pastor does that are difficult to convey to those who have never done it. It helps to speak to other men who are currently serving or who have served as a pastor before because they can help shed light on some of the challenges you face. Fellow pastors can sympathize and pray with insight because they know the difficulty of the calling.

When it comes to dealing with temptation we have the advantage of being able to talk with Jesus. It’s not as though Jesus doesn’t know the struggle of temptation. When he stepped into humanity he faced temptation, yet was able to resist (Matthew 4). He can intercede for us with insight. He knows what temptation is like. He can also give us grace to prevail as one who has succeed in overcoming temptation.

That’s the point here. Jesus isn’t just a perfect sacrifice for our sins. He also is a perfect priest who offers the sacrifice and stands between us and the Father. We can pray with confidence in Jesus’ name because he has walked in a sinful world and experienced first hand what temptation is like.

In context, the larger point here is that Jesus is better than the angels. He didn’t come as an angel to intercede for fallen angels. He doesn’t need to intercede for those who haven’t fallen. He has come for fallen humanity who trusts in him with simple faith like Abraham. Accept no substitute for the one true mediator between God and man, that is Christ Jesus. No one else has both the divine and human nature. No one else knows both temptation and the victory of a sinless life. There is no other way to God but through Jesus.

Father, thank you that Jesus is my mediator. Thank you that he knows my weakness in temptation but has also overcome temptation. There is salvation in no other name. I’m provoked to praise today when I consider that your love for us is greater than I can imagine as I see a glimpse of just how much Jesus took on that I might come to you in Faith. I rejoice to be able to pray In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

2020 Post on Hebrews 1-2

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

Motives Matter (Philemon)

Philemon 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

Motives matter. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon about Onesimus, a slave (indentured servant) that had stolen from Philemon and ran away to Rome. While in Rome Onesimus meets Paul and becomes a Christian. He then begins to help Paul and is being discipled. It’s a great working relationship, Onesimus is growing in the Lord and Paul has an assistant. But there is a problem, Onesimus’ past can’t be left in the past. He is still unreconciled to his former boss and he legally owes him for everything he had stolen. What to do?

Paul had a choice on what to do. He could have sent a letter presuming that it was okay for Onesimus to serve as Paul’s helper in Rome. He was an apostle, the polite thing to do would be to let the matter go. If he did that, Philemon might feel like his hand was forced in the matter and be a little bitter. Onesimus also wouldn’t have an opportunity to really address his past sins and how they affected others. He wouldn’t really be reconciled to Philemon. And Philemon wouldn’t really be given an opportunity to forgive Onesimus and demonstrate grace.

So rather than opting for the practical, ends-justify-the-means, pragmatic logic, Paul goes for the uncomfortable, but right approach. He sends Onesimus back, giving Philemon an opportunity to forgive him and send him of his own free will. It gives Onesimus an opportunity to look his former employer and man he stole from, in the eye and ask for forgiveness. It gives Paul an opportunity to honestly ask for assistance in the form of a helper from Philemon’s estate known as Onesimus.

Motives really matter. Sometimes to grow in our relationship with Christ we need to embrace the difficult steps of doing the less pragmatic, but right thing. We may need to address sin in our lives that has affected others. We may need to ask help and assistance in non-manipulative ways. We may need to simply offer forgiveness and entertain the pleas of those who have hurts us. We don’t really know how the rest of this drama unfolded, but we do know that because Paul didn’t cut corners that He, Philemon and Onesimus all had an opportunity to grow in Christ because of it.

Father, thank you for the grace to address one another. Show us how to handle our past sins and seek repentance and reconciliation. Give us grace to forgive those who have sinned against us. Show us how we can honor you in how we deal with others. Thank you for how the gospel transforms every area of our live. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Previous Post on Philemon

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

Train Yourself for Godliness (1 Timothy 4-6)

1Timothy 4:7-8 ESV Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; (8) for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

I heard a motivational speaker share one time that, “Everyone carries a weight. They will either carry the weight of discipline or regret.” What he meant was that those who got up and jogged every morning would have to carry the weight of the self-discipline of getting out of bed and jogging but they would experience the freedom that fitness afforded them. Those who chose not be self-disciplined in getting up early to jog would carry around a different weight, perhaps even a literal weight of not having the freedom and fitness afforded to someone who runs every day.

In these few verses, Paul reminds us that the self-disciple of regular exercise provides a benefit, especially in the context of getting ready for a contest such as a race. You exercise now to run farther and faster on the day of the race. Yet, the self-discipline of training yourself for godliness provides an infinitely greater benefit considering Eternal Life with Christ.

Certainly part of exercising or training for godliness involves spiritual disciplines such as reading your bible, scripture memorization, regular prayer, serving, giving, etc. These are all means which God helps us to grow closer to Him and to be more like Him (godly). The exercise or reading scripture everyday to read through the New Testament or the whole Bible helps you to become familiar with God’s Word and what He expects/ commands His followers to do. The exercise of journaling (as you see me modeling here) helps to digest/ understand and apply the Word to our lives. Then as we pray along the lines of God’s word, our hearts are stirred and we see ourselves putting it more into practice.

Now that Spring is in the air, I’m getting out and exercising more. I’m not as fit as I hope to be by the end of summer, but every day that I discipline myself to jog, the more fit I’ll be. Every time we put into practice the truths we glean from the scripture, we see ourselves getting in spiritual shape and becoming a little more like Jesus.

How is your spiritual training/ exercising going? If you aren’t already, read through the rest of the New Testament with me. Write about what sticks out to you each day. If you have questions ask a trusted bible teacher, or look at a few commentaries etc.

Father, thank you for giving us your Word. I pray that we would be exercising and training ourselves in godliness that we might honor and glorify you. Give us wisdom in where to grow. Give us encouragers and coaches along the way who will help us to discipline ourselves for Godliness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RESOURCES:

Last Year’s Post

Books (Disclosure*)

e-sword.net – Free Downloadable Bible Study Software

BlueLetterBible.com – Free Online Bible Study Resources

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

Praying for the Church (Colossians)

Colossians 1:9-12 ESV And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

We read a short family devotion after dinner when we eat together. Lately we’ve been reading through the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The other night we read the account of Anna seeing Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:36-38). There was a prayer prompt at the end of the devotional encouraging us to pray to be like Anna who was devoted to seeking after the Lord. I was leading our youngest to pray and so simply restated the prayer prompt for her to repeat after me. So I said, “Lord help us to be like Anna.” and my youngest who has a name that sounds very similar but is different repeated, “Lord, help everyone to be like me.” The other kids started smirking and couldn’t contain their laughter. It was a good fun, family moment over a simple mistake.

As I ponder back and chuckle, I wonder how often we are guilty of praying like that. We hear of someone’s situation and we wouldn’t want to go through what they are facing and so we ask the Lord to simply remove the obstacle, hurt or pain, because that is what we’d want. While I think we ought to pray on this level to some degree, after all we are encouraged to love our neighbor as ourselves, prayer is intended to also go deeper than that.

When Paul shares about how he prays for the Colossians, their health, wealth, and general prosperity don’t make the list. Instead the list of things he prays for these folks is filled with things like knowing God, knowing His will, living up to their calling as believers and fruit or evidence of God’s work in their lives. When he prays for them, he doesn’t ask for their own strength to rally in weakness, but that they would experience God’s power, perhaps because he knows what it is like for God’s grace to be sufficient in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). He prays that they might have endurance, patience, and joy. He thanks the Lord for them. Paul is always thanking God in his prayers.

Certainly there is room for us to pray behind Paul in this way for those we know and love. There are many in the wake of the pandemic who have real physical and spiritual needs. We might be tempted to pray just for health or the ability to attend church, etc. but what we also need to pray is along the lines of presenting everyone complete/mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

Father, thank you for your word that reveals how Paul prayed for the Colossians. My prayers are falling behind his today, as I pray in this way for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I pray that we would all know you, know your will, endure the trials we face and experience joy even in the middle of turbulent times. Thank you for the grace you’ve lavished on us all. Work in us all a fully mature faith. 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.

Every Body Needs Coaching (Ephesians 4-6)

Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Every good team needs coach. The coach is the one who puts all the players into perspective. He/ she evaluates players different skill sets, teaches the fundamentals, keeps the team in shape, and works the team through practicing the plays. Then on game day the coaches determine who plays, when they play, and what plays to run in a given situation. If coaches do there job well, the entire team does well.

The Lord has given us coaches within the body of Christ who are there to help us develop and coordinate our individual gifts for the sake of the whole body. The goal is to bring God’s people to maturity both individually and corporately. Pastors/ teachers are not there to simply educate or inform us, but to equip us for the work of ministry.

Sometimes a congregation can expect one or two individuals to do everything. They imagine that they pay the pastor(s) to do all the work. That would be like paying a coach to play the game while the rest of the team sits on the sidelines and criticizes him/her. That’s not a healthy team and it’s not healthy when a church operates that way. It’s healthy when you and I exercise our gifts in relation to one another for the glory of God. Some encourage, others serve, still others figure out administration, others teach, and others still offer hospitality, etc. and the pastor encourages and equips so that nothing is missing from the people of God. We are all well trained, well loved, well encouraged, and we mature and help others mature in the faith.

Father, thank you for the grace of one another. Thank you that Christianity isn’t an individual event, but that you have called us together and placed us with in the context of one another to form your church. I pray that we would know and exercise our gifts in relationship to one another in such a way that everyone is encouraged, strengthened, and growing in the Lord. 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.

Godly Sorrow (2 Corinthians 7-9)

2Corinthians 7:10 ESV For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

I went to see the doctor for a check up a few weeks ago. We had a great conversation until he told me that I was fat. To be honest, it stung a little to hear. I knew that it was true, but I didn’t like him saying it. He was encouraging me to lose weight and so he told me all the negative side effects of being fat and how it was effecting my health and could effect my health years down the road.

I was grieved coming out of the doctors office. I had a choice to make. I could either be upset that he was so blunt and choose to get angry and tell all my friends what a terrible doctor he is, or I could take his word to heart and start changing my lifestyle. So far I have been consistently choosing the second option. His harsh word that caused me grief produced a positive change and attitude in me.

This is how it should work when we are confronted about sin in our lives. We don’t need to get mad at the messenger. That doesn’t deal with the sin. We need to come to the Lord in confession and repentance. The basis for the verse above is that Paul had grieved the Corinthians by being so direct and pointing out the issues in the church that needed to be addressed. Rather than let that grief fester into bitterness at Paul, they had moved to action and it produced repentance.

We should be asking ourselves how do we handle it when someone addresses sin in our life? Certainly there is grief. No one likes to be told about their sins, even if they are true. We have a choice we can become bitter at the messenger or we can repent and turn to the LORD. Grief about sin can be godly when it produces repentance.

Father, thank you for placing people in our lives that love us enough to point out the obvious. Thank you for the grace of being confronted and warned about sin. Thank you that when we find ourselves grieved over our sin we can repent of our sin and turn to you. I pray that my heart would never allow sorrow over sin to turn to bitterness at a messenger, but that it would always produce repentance. Thank you again so much for your grace. 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.