Scripture: Our Corrective Lens – Proverbs 12

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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

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Don’t give in to Temptation! – Prov. 5

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Hello, Everyone! I hope your week has gone well; can you believe it is Friday already?!

Today’s passage is Proverbs, chapter 5. This chapter is about one topic, and this topic is a piece of wisdom in itself. Again, thank you for joining us today, and I encourage you to go ahead a read this chapter on your own as well.

Proverbs 5, is full of warnings; warnings against disobeying, warnings about temptation, warnings about not realizing the good of what you have already been given.

The beginning of chapter five, tells us to listen and heed the wisdom being given. Verses 1-3 “My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” This specific example speaks about giving in to adultery, however, it can be applied to any temptation we have. At any point in your life, someone might not have your best interest in mind, and they are only seeking to please themselves, and they might drag them down with you if you let them. This is later depicted in verses 11-14: “At the end of your life, you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or turn my ear to my instructors. And I was soon in serious trouble in the assembly of God’s people.” The person who gave in to their temptation later realize their mistake, and they regret that they did not listen to what many were trying to tell them.

The end of this chapter reads, “Why, my son be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline, they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” Proverbs 5:20-23

While these verses specifically talk about adultery, it can be applied to many other temptations in our lives. Why would we envy something someone else has when we have our own house, or our own life, our own family, our own job? God gives us what we need, and sometimes what we want, especially if both align with his will for us. Our God is an awesome God, who loves us so much, that he sent his only son to die for us, that we might live with him, forever. He knows our every need, he knows our every desire, and he likes to give gifts to those who are faithful.

We should not give in to temptations set in front of us because God can and does give us so much more. We should listen to the wisdom our elders, parents, friends, and peers give us because so often God has placed them in our lives to be a part of our journey.

Thank you for reading today, and I hope you have a great rest of your day and a great weekend. Don’t forget to memorize the verse this week, Proverbs 3:5-6. & Check in with us tomorrow for the last post this week.

~ Jana Swanson

Can Love and Wrath be Reconciled?

Nahum

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Wednesday, April 19

The prophet Nahum is incredibly descriptive in his writing concerning the imminent doom of Nineveh. When reading, I thought of war movies like, 300, the Patriot, Saving Private Ryan and others, because of the picture Nahum paints with his words. However, the question arises at one time or another for most people. How can God be a good loving God and yet declare wrath on nations and individuals? It seems mutually exclusive and inconsistent. Maybe you have given thought to this at times?

Currently while I am interning in Texas I have a side job. Well, really a side job that’s full time. I work at the elementary school in town and I work with first through third graders. The kids I work with have behavioral, learning, and psychological diagnoses. I love my kids. But at times they conduct themselves in ways that are totally unacceptable. Because I love them and want the best for them I have to discipline them. I want the best for their lives and that will be hindered greatly if their outbursts go on unchecked. Now I give them plenty of chances to turn things around and correct their behavior before I have to bring the hammer of correction down. And when I do it’s not uncommon to hear “you’re mean Mr. Rohrer!” “I don’t like you!” and even “I can’t wait for you to move back to Ohio!”.

On a much grander scale, God, because he loves must punish and be wrathful. Just as if parents don’t care about their children they won’t disciple them, if God didn’t enact judgement he wouldn’t be caring. And the worst thing is not wrath, but indifference. I read someone that said, if God didn’t judge and enact wrath then peace would never be realized on earth. You see, if God didn’t hold evil accountable, then who else will enact justice? It’ll be up to you and me. But because I know God holds all things accountable, I can endure persecution and wrongdoing knowing one day God will make all right, because he loves. In the meantime, I am to live out the kingdom peace we are called to.

A loving God and a wrathful vengeful God are not incompatible. They go hand in hand and the author of Nahum understood this:

            “A jealous and avenging God is Yahweh

                        Yahweh is avenging and wrathful.

                        Yahweh takes vengeance on his adversaries

                        And reserves wrath for his enemies.

                        Yahweh is slow to anger and great in power

                        And Yahweh will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…

                        Yahweh is good”. (Nahum 1.2-3, 7a)

-Jacob Rohrer

(Photo Credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Nahum-1-7/)

Because He Loves

Amos 4-6

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Friday, April 14

Words I hope I never hear from God:   “…yet you have not returned to me.”

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
    and lack of bread in every town,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I also withheld rain from you
    when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
    but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
    another had none and dried up.

People staggered from town to town for water
    but did not get enough to drink,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
    destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I sent plagues among you
    as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
    along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
    yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.

“I overthrew some of you
    as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
    yet you have not returned to me,”  (Amos 4:6-11)

 

All children are different, you know.  Some are brought to repentance with simply a stern look.  Others, you could beat them with a stick (not that you would, of course) and they would still dig their heels in.

 

I remember a mother in my Women’s Bible Study years ago pray every single week for wisdom for herself and her husband to be able to mold their daughter’s strong spirit into a passion for God instead of a selfish passion.  She prayed for this child to grow to be a force to be reckoned with on behalf of God’s Kingdom.  And you know what, that is exactly what happened.

 

I feel like that’s what we’re seeing in this passage.  Each stanza is a punishment.

I gave you empty stomachs … stern look

I withheld rain … time out

I sent plagues … swat

…you get the picture.

 

Yet time and again, they stubbornly ignore and refuse to return to God and obey.

 

As we learned yesterday, God disciplines us because he loves us.  Keep your eyes open today for God’s discipline in your life.  What is He doing to get our attention and call you back to Him?  Pray that when you see His discipline, that you have the courage to act on it.  And you will become a force to be reckoned with for His Kingdom.

-Susan Landry

 

 

Goody-Two-Shoes Gets It, Too

Amos 1-3

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Thursday, April 13

In a couple of days, we’ll dig in to just who Amos was and why he was writing.  But as we start reading his book, I’m wondering if the same thing that stood out to me also stands out to you.

The book begins with God giving Amos a list of places He’s about to bring judgement on.  My Bible labels this section “Judgement on Israel’s Neighbors”.  He goes through Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab..and so on.

This scene reminds me of being in a class where the teacher is scolding some students for misbehavior.  The goody-two-shoes in the class is sitting there watching it unfold with a smug look on her face, watching her classmates get taken down a notch.  That’s Israel.

But then the teacher turns and points at her.  Miss Perfect herself.

Midway through chapter 2 we see God turn to Israel.  And through the end of chapter 3 He is telling her what for.

Interestingly, He says this:

“You only have I chosen
    of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
    for all your sins.”

That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?  I’ve chosen you therefore I will punish you?

It reminds me of Hebrews 12 where we’re told that God disciplines those He loves.  Proverbs 3:12 speaks the same wisdom.

Come back tomorrow to see what else God has to say as he disciplines His chosen Israel.

-Susan Landry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reminded

Jeremiah 5-8

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Tuesday, February 28

In chapters 5-6 we see God punishing His people for their sins.  He continues to have their blessings taken from them.  They never thought God would punish them instead they believed he would do nothing (5:12).

All thru 5-6 they receive punishment but not destruction (5:18).  God has promised He will not leave them but He is a good Father who disciples His children.  Are you in the midst of discipline?  Do you need to recognize the wakeup call God is sending?

Homes lost and fields destroyed in Jeremiah might look like relationships damaged and hurt feelings in your life today.  Take inventory of what God is doing in your life.  You might be neglecting Him and He wants to get your attention.

Jeremiah chapters 7 & 8 begins Jeremiah’s first temple sermon (vs.2) (another is found in chapter 26 that I am sure you will hear about later).  God was fed up and starts to name the sins against him (vs. 6,19), especially at His temple becoming a den of thieves (vs.11).  The whole point of this message is that even if they would repent now God would keep the conquerors from coming (3,7).  They must reject the lies such as the false hope that peace is certain, based on the reasoning that the LORD would never bring destruction on His own temple (vs.4).  They must turn from their sins (3,5,9) and end their hypocrisy.

Is their something you are involved in that if you stopped now you could still be okay?  Do you recognize the dangers in continuing in your sins?  The longer you wait the worse it becomes.  Repent today.

-Andy Cisneros

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/07032016/)

What Are You Dishing Out Today?

Proverbs 17-19

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Thursday, January 26

So, how has your mouth been doing this week?  Today is a great time to make some positive changes.  One of my favorite Proverbs about our mouths is in today’s reading:  “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21).   Life or Death – you can’t get more powerful than that.  Life or Death – what life-giving words will you use today?  Life or Death – which will you be dishing out today?

And, just like your momma always said, “If you can’t find anything . . . to say that brings life . . . then DON’T say anything at all.”  I’m pretty sure she got that from Proverbs.  Maybe from 17:28 – “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.”    So, consider this the next time you open your mouth to speak words with the power of death – if you close your mouth before speaking it just might be a win-win for you and your listener alike.  You might avoid proving yourself foolish, and your intended audience might be spared a deathly blow.  And, if you do spit out those deathly words that are fighting to get out . . . does anyone win?  Other verses also remind us of the importance of listening and how it leads to wisdom:

18:13 – He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.

 

19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise

Today’s chapters also repeatedly speak of the wisdom of overlooking an offense, or on the flip side, the foolishness of quarrelling.  Do you more often find yourself holding onto a grudge or forgiving and moving on?   Do you find your feelings easily hurt and hold it against others?  Are you quick to start a quarrel, or let the moment pass in peace?

17:9 – He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience, it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

17:14 – Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

17:19 – He who loves a quarrel loves sin.

I think we could all benefit by evaluating how well, or poorly, we do with 18:2: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”    Which do you find yourself more interested in – understanding others or speaking your mind?  One little note on covering offenses – I am sure this is not referring to ignoring immoral sins.  We know that unrepentant sin leads to death and it is not loving to ignore that.  Galatians 6:1 has some wise advice in that case, as well as Proverbs 28:23 and Matthew 18.  No doubt, it takes much wisdom to know how to proceed in various situations.  Good thing God gives wisdom (James 1:5) and thank goodness we have the book of Proverbs to help us grow our wisdom.
A few more Proverbs that are just too good to not mention briefly . . .

On Zeal – typically considered a good thing – however . . .  “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (19:2)  Can you think of a project you may have jumped into . . . and then realized you should have done more “homework” first?   What about those facebook posts we have all seen where a very zealous person is on a rampage because of the latest outrage . . . only to have a friend point out the errors in their information (thank you, snopes).  Very zealous, but not very helpful without the true knowledge – and God’s Word is even more reliable than snopes.

On Disciplining Children/Youth – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (19:18).   No one likes to be  disciplined – and the parent doing the discipline isn’t too thrilled either.  However, discipline sure beats death.  As a parent I need to remember that I do NOT make their life better by being their best friend and making things easy for both of us.  I make their life better by firmly and lovingly teaching rules, consequences, boundaries, how to listen and follow directions.  By teaching our children how to obey their parents we are also teaching them how to obey God and that is the most important lesson, that leads to life not death.  So teens out there reading, next time you are disciplined by your parents, surprise them – give them a giant hug and a great big thank you for saving you from death.  Then, watch them faint!

What would our relationships and family look like if we lived out all of these wonderful Proverbs everyday?  Keep praying for wisdom and working at the lessons learned in Proverbs.  They bring life – and who couldn’t use more of that.

Marcia Railton