Rally Right – Proverbs 16

Part 1

Prov 16-3
I was watching the news this morning.  How depressing, so I switched to Facebook.  Not much better.  If you are like me you don’t need negativity in your life, you want something positive to cling to.  I choose to not find my joy in the news of today but in the wisdom of God.  Proverbs 16 really spoke to me today because of a few verses that really caught my eye.
Proverbs 16:1-4
The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
 
What really spoke to me about these verses is
1.  In verse 1 it says “the plans of the heart belong to man but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD”  What this tells me is human responsibility is always subject to God’s absolute sovereignty
2.  Verse 2-While man can be self deceived God determines his true motives.
3.  Verse 3-In the sense of both total trust and submission to the will of God, He will fulfill a person’s righteous plans.
4.  Verse 4-The wicked will bring glory to God in the day of their judgment and punishment.
 
Do you see a pattern here?  The pattern is that you have a responsibility to find the right path and walk in it.  God will direct you to it.  If you choose to ignore it you will be corrected.
 
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.
 
Are you making a choice?  Don’t let someone make it for you.  Rally right! 
God bless!
I am praying for you.
Pastor Andy Cisneros

Just Start – Proverbs 15

Proverbs_15-3

Today’s devotion is on Proverbs 15.  When I look through all of these verses I think wow this chapter has a lot of verses (33 to be exact).  Sometimes our ‘want to’ apply wisdom is met with an overwhelming fear of where do I start?  What do I do?  If you are reading this devotion you have started in a good place.  its always good to start with the word of God.  You can’t go wrong with Proverbs (the book of wisdom). 

But do these verses apply to you today?  They do.  Here’s how you can get the most out of Proverbs.

1.  There is the setting in which they were spoken; this is largely the context of the young men in the royal court of the king.

2.  There is the setting of the book as a whole and how its teachings are to be understood in light of the rest of Scripture. For example, there is much to be gained by comparing the wisdom Solomon taught with the wisdom Christ personified.

3.  There is the historical context in which the principles and truths draw on illustrations from their own day.

A final area of challenge comes in understanding that proverbs are divine guidelines and wise observations, i.e., teaching underlying principles (15:27) which are not always inflexible laws or absolute promises. These expressions of general truth (15:22) generally do have “exceptions,” due to the uncertainty of life and unpredictable behavior of fallen men. God does not guarantee uniform outcome or application for each proverb, but in studying them and applying them, one comes to contemplate the mind of God, His character, His attributes, His works, and His blessings. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge expressed in Proverbs are hidden in Christ (Col.2:3).

When you study the proverbs in this way it really helps you understand just what God is trying to say to you.  But more than that which verses resonate with you?  Where are you lacking?  Remember a timely word is delightful (15:23).  I hope these verses meet you where you are at this week.  God bless and I am praying for you.

Pastor Andy

Recognizing Wisdom – Proverbs 14

Prov 14-12 corrected
Have you ever found it easier to see the right thing for someone else to do than for yourself?  There is a reason for that.  We often times can tell someone what to do but can’t seem to do it for ourselves.
For example:
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
But he who utters lies is treacherous
 
In this proverb we see that lying only brings destruction.  We ourselves hate being lied to.  We hate seeing people live a lie. We know how much damage it can do.  We know this but I bet if I asked if you have ever lied or lived a lie you would probably say yes.  I bet if I asked you if you knew how to correct that in someone else’s life you would have an answer almost immediately.  It is so easy to see the foolishness in someone else.  Its easy to know what to do to correct their wrong behavior.  But I bet it is harder to correct in yourself.  Why can we see the answer to foolishness in others easily but have such a difficult time correcting it in our own lives? 
   The answer is we have no emotional ties to their sin.  We won’t have to deal with the consequences of trying to correct our behavior.  I can tell you how to correct your behavior all day long because I don’t have to do it.  I don’t have to deal with the mess.  But if I have to correct a sin I know what that will take, and often times I don’t want to deal with the pain and hurt that comes with going back and fixing issues like lying bring about.
Read Proverbs 14 and see if you can see any foolishness in your life that you need to correct.  Are their verses in this chapter that really resonate with you?  Can you see the foolishness in those verses?  Can you recognize the wisdom it takes to realize that some of these verses apply to you.  Are you willing to recognize the wise thing to do and apply it to your life?  Your foolish ways become harder and harder to stop the longer you wait. 
The very first verse illustrates this perfectly:
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
 
Are you tearing your life apart by not recognizing wisdom?
I’m praying for you.
Andy Cisneros

Scripture: Our Corrective Lens – Proverbs 12

reading-glasses-in-use

Today brings our weeks study of Proverbs 6-12 to a close.  Chapter 12 is a continuation of the antithetical Proverbs and there are some real beauties in here and they range through quite a spectrum of wise and unwise behaviors.

It leads off with a really good set of contrasts: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”  It doesn’t get much plainer than this:  A wise person willingly accepts discipline, but if you hate to be corrected by another you are stupid.

ted williams

Everybody makes mistakes.  I’m a big baseball fan.  I’ve always enjoyed playing and watching baseball.  The amazing thing about baseball is that the BEST baseball players fail between 60 and 70% of the time.  That’s right!  The best hitters usually have batting averages around .300, sometimes .350 and very rarely (like Ted Williams was the last one who did it and that was more than 70 years ago) someone will bat .400.  But even if you’re the greatest hitter of all time, you still FAIL to hit the ball 6 out of 10 times.  What is it that sets great hitters apart from the rest of us?  They learn from their mistakes.  They study film of their mistakes.  And they listen to their coaches who help them to correct what would appear to us to be very minor mistakes.  You get to be a great hitter by accepting correction, from learning from your mistakes.  That requires a lot of humility.

The same is true in the rest of our lives.  We all make mistakes.  Often we catch our own mistakes and take steps to correct them.  But sometimes we don’t even see our own mistakes.  Sometimes someone else sees our mistake and offers a word of correction.  A wise person willingly listens to correction and attempts to change their behavior… a foolish person refuses to receive or learn from the correction of others and so they fail to improve their actions.

The whole foundation of the gospel message in the Bible is a openness to correction and a willingness to change.  Jesus himself began his ministry by calling people to “repent, and believe the good news.”  To repent means to change your direction.

As you read through the Bible, God will use His word to bring to your mind and heart his corrective word.  You will see areas where you need to change.  You’ll see a passage like “Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in forced labor.”  You might read that passage and realize, deep down, that this is an issue in your life.  You might blame other people for some of your problems, you might make excuses for why you do or don’t do certain things, but the fact is, you might actually be lazy.  I’m not saying you are lazy because, well, I don’t even know you.  You might be a diligent, hard working person and that’s great.  But then again, you might be lazy.  Your laziness may cause you to procrastinate and put off doing things that you need to do but don’t enjoy.  Your laziness may be costing you good grades in school, or a promotion at work.  Your laziness may because causing conflict in your marriage as your spouse resents that they have to work harder to make up for your laziness.  Your laziness might be keeping you from going to Church on Sundays or serving in a ministry at your Church where you might be very gifted and very helpful.  I don’t know if you’re lazy or not, but you need to at least take a hard look and ask yourself “does this Proverb apply to me?”  If you’re not sure, ask someone important in your life who really knows you and isn’t afraid to speak truth into your life and ask them “Do you every observe laziness in me?”  And if they say, yes, then you might want to consider that you may be lazy and you might want to become more aware of ways that laziness manifests itself in your daily life.  And you might begin asking God to help you change, understanding that it won’t happen overnight.

all scripture is God-breathed

But know this, no positive change can happen in any area of your life until you are ready to receive correction.  God’s Word, the Bible is powerful.  In one place the Bible refers to itself as a double-edged sword.  It’s able to dig deep inside of you.  It is able to help you change if you allow it to do it’s work in your life.  II Timothy 3:16 says it very well: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (New Living Translation).

Almost exactly a year ago I had surgery to remove cancer from my body.  I let a surgeon cut through my skin and muscle to get to where the cancer was and very carefully cut it out.  Why?  Because I don’t want to die from cancer any sooner than necessary.  As I think about it today,  I gave that surgeon an awesome responsibility.  And to be honest, before the surgery I was afraid.  Who is this man with a knife that I’m entrusting with my body, my life?  I’m glad I did it, because here I am a year later and I’m still alive and I have a whole lot less cancer in my body then I did then and I’ve got a whole lot better chance of living longer now because I trusted him to perform surgery on my life.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. (Proverbs 9:10).  I trust my awesome God to use His word to go to work removing all the bad stuff in my life and bringing me to wholeness and salvation.  God does this through his word and through Jesus Christ, who was pierced for our transgressions.  It takes some cutting and some bleeding to bring us life, and to bring us eternal life.  I trust God my awesome God, do you?

~ Jeff Fletcher

The Way of Wisdom – Prov. 1-5


Good morning everyone! First I want to start off today, by saying that I am so glad you decided to read along with us this week, and I hope you have gained something from it. Today, I am going to give you a quick summary of the week, and a challenge for you, as you go forward. 

Monday, we read through Proverbs chapter 1, and I talked about where wisdom comes from and why we NEED wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge comes from the fear of the LORD. We are also given wisdom by our parents and our elders, those that have lived before us. 

On Tuesday we read through Proverbs 2, and I again talked about where wisdom comes from, and why it is beneficial to us. Wisdom is a two way street, and requires work on our part. God will give wisdom to those who ask for it, but they have to ask for insight. If you hold wisdom in the highest regard, like hidden treasure, and ask for it, crying aloud for God, he will give it to you, that you may live. The benefits of having wisdom in our lives and in our hearts, is that are guarded and protected, and we listen to those who have gone before us. 

Wednesday we read through Proverbs 3, and I talked about quite a few different pieces of advice written in this chapter. My favorite verse from this chapter is verse 3, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”. We are called to love, love the LORD, love our neighbors, love our enemies, love. Besides the memory verse this week, which also comes from this chapter, (Proverbs 3:5-6) I encourage you to remember; let love and faithfulness be your guide, and your comfort. Keep them close to you, and wear them proudly.

Thursday we read through Proverbs 4 and I talked about a few specific pieces of advice that Chapter 3 gives us. There were quite a few, but in this summary I want to remind you of that last verses in Chapter 4, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” We need to be careful of what we say, and we need to guard our hearts, because everything that we are comes from it.

Finally, on Friday we read Proverbs 5, which was a warning about adultery, but I want you all to realize that this chapter applies to all temptations. We need not focus on what other people have, because we need to be open to seeing and noticing the great things that God has already given to us, or that he is in the process of blessing us with. Our God is amazing, and he knows all that we need and want, and he will take care of us in whatever way follows his will. 

Today I want to leave you with a challenge. Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6, but also ask your grandparent, or great-aunt/great-uncle for some advice this week, about almost anything. Try to recognize the wisdom they are trying to give you. I am certain that you will make their day a little brighter, and you just might learn something new and important. 

Thank you for reading with me this week. Have a great weekend, and God Bless 

~Jana

Pursuing Wisdom – Prov. 1

If you have not yet seen the video for the beginning of this week’s readings, I encourage you to go ahead and watch it. As a reminder, this week’s memory verse is Proverbs 3:5-6.
This week I am going to be talking mostly about wisdom.
Today I will be specifically talking about what wisdom is, where it comes from, and why we need it and need to respect it. Proverbs 1 tells us that wisdom comes from knowledge, and knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD. 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” This chapter also says that we need to listen to our father’s and mother’s because their teachings have knowledge and wisdom in them. Verse 9 says, “They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Where are most tiaras or crowns held? A box, or a glass case- this means that those physical items are taken care of very well, and protected. We should treat teachings from our parents the same way, as they are just as valuable as tangible objects that we hide away, or protect fiercely.
The rest of the chapter talks about why we NEED to have wisdom. The Bible says that there will be people who are stuck in their wicked ways and will try to entice you into going along with them. They will say things like, “we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot” (verses 13-14) Now obviously in this passage, these people sound like they are up to no good, but there are people in our daily lives that will try to lead us astray, and they will be better at covering up their true intentions. Have you ever had a friend say, “Oh they changed their mind, they don’t want to play with us today.” but deep down you know that your other friend was really excited to spend time with you? Have you ever heard someone say, “One little sip can’t hurt anyone?” even though you know that your parents don’t allow you to drink pop, or you aren’t old enough to have wine. These are the exact same as what Proverbs is warning us against. When these things are said to you, you probably have a weird feeling in your stomach, and this is wisdom. Wisdom helps you to discern when someone is trying to lead you away from the path you are called to. This passage tells us that those who ignore what wisdom is telling us will kill them. “For the waywardness of the simple will kill them and the complacency of fools will destroy them” (verse 32).
However, the very end of Proverbs 1 gives hope to those who gain knowledge, and work to learn and understand wisdom. Proverbs 1:33, “but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm.” If we trust in the knowledge and the wisdom taught to us by our parents, and ultimately from fear of the LORD, we will have safety and should not be afraid of harm.

 

Wisdom is an important tool that every Christian should practice, and learn. Wisdom will help us find our way on our path with God, wisdom will help us to trust in the plans he has for us, and wisdom will protect us, in many ways.
Thank you for reading today. Tomorrow, we will delve even more into where wisdom comes from, and what it can do, and why it is important for us in our daily lives. May you have a wonderful day, and God Bless.
~Jana

Bible Study Crash Course: Part 2 – Psalm 1

bible

This week, we’ve been focusing on the importance of God’s word for our lives. Yesterday, we focused on the nitty gritty aspects of Bible Study. Today, we’re going to look at the bigger picture as we wrap up the week!

So, when we think about Bible Study, we should have four phrases in the back of our minds:

Read it

Meditate on it

Memorize it

Live it

Yesterday, we talked about our daily quiet time that normally involves reading the scripture. It’s important to remember that we can study the Bible in different ways! Last year, we looked at the Big Picture of the Bible. We read through it quickly and tried to see how each part of the Bible related to God’s epic plan. We can also study the Bible by studying specific books of the Bible, which we will do beginning this Sunday as we study the book of Proverbs. Another type of study that we can do is a topical study, where we look at specific topics like love or marriage and study what the Bible says about it whenever that topic comes up. Each of these ways of studying the Bible really helps us to have a complete picture of what we’re studying, and so we should try to do them at some point in our study of the Bible.

Once we read the Bible, we should meditate on it. If we look at verse 1-3 of Psalm 1, our key passage for today, we see that the man who meditates on the law of the LORD day and night is blessed! What is the law of the LORD? The Bible! But, what does meditating mean? Generally, it means to “think deeply or carefully about something” or to “consider.” It can be tempting to treat our daily reading of God’s word as a chore that we have to check off our to-do lists. We skim through a chapter or two a day and then close our Bibles without ever thinking about it again. The danger in this is that we never let God’s word sink into our hearts! That’s why it’s so important to meditate on it, to think carefully and deeply about what the Bible says. Yesterday, I mentioned that you could journal after reading to help you think. This is a great option! Prayer also helps us to do this. If you’re artsy, Bible Journaling Art can be a great way to meditate on scripture as you make artwork that relates to what you’ve read.

Another aspect of Bible study that’s important and can help us to meditate on the scripture is memorization. Growing up, I never really saw the value in memorizing scripture. My family is Christian so we had about 15 Bibles to choose from if I really wanted to look up a verse. On top of this, my brothers and I got a laptop to share when I was about 7 or 8 years old. By the time I really cared to look up verses, I always had Google or Bible Gateway at my fingertips. This is even truer now when I constantly carry around my phone. All this being said, even when I know that I have the capability of looking up scripture to help me work through a situation or strengthen my faith, I, unfortunately, don’t choose to do this first thing. A worrier by nature, I immediately start analyzing my situation from my viewpoint, and if it’s a problem that stresses me out too much, I’ll enlist the help up my friends to sort it out. If I don’t have scripture ready at the forefront of my mind that I’ve thought about and hidden in my heart (Ps. 119:11), I’m afraid I won’t turn to it until I’ve already done something that I probably shouldn’t have.

For instance, if I am worried about a situation that’s making me anxious and keeping me up at night, I can (1) journal about it, maybe cry about it, and maybe even call a friend if I’m real upset. OR I can remember Philippians 4:6, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” That’s a pretty profound truth that totally changes the way that I think about how to handle the problems that I face!

Memorization is important. It can help you in situations like this. (Because we both know that even if you have a smartphone AND a Bible sitting at your bedside table if scripture isn’t the first thing on your mind, you’ll probably be picking option one in the scenario above.) And, it can help you as you defend your faith (1 Peter 3:15). Look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert in Matthew 4 if you need some more evidence for the importance and benefits of memorizing scripture. This year, you’ll have some great verses picked out for you to help you memorize Scripture each week with these devotions!

Lastly, we should remember our fundamental purpose for why we study the Bible. We want it to change our hearts. We want to know and live for God. If you do the first three phrases consistently in your life, this, in addition to the power of the Holy Spirit, will really begin to make a big change in your life. And, if we check ourselves with this purpose each day, it will be harder to fall into the trap of viewing the reading of God’s word as a stale chore to be tackled each day.

Let’s dedicate ourselves to reading, meditating on, memorizing, and living out the truths we find in God’s word!