Who is God in Your Life?

Monday

By Rebecca Dauksas

Today North America will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse, which happens when the Moon completely covers the Sun. In the U.S., the path of the total eclipse will extend from Oregon to South Carolina.  The scriptures are filled with illustrations of the contrast between darkness and light. Proverbs chapter 4 verses 18 & 19 states, “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”

How blessed we are to have God’s scriptures to train us in righteousness! They light our way by giving us insight and understanding. For instance, Proverbs 17 is filled with advice on how our conduct can help us manage healthy relationships.  Notice that verse one states, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” We might say, “We would rather enjoy a dry piece of toast with peace and quiet than a delicious 7-course meal with anger, arguments and conflict.”  This statement made me think about how good it is when we can enjoy being a part of a peaceful household.  It might also help us consider how we treat our family members. Do we try to get along with our family? Do we stir up conflict and start arguments?  Making our relationship with God our first priority can help us see God’s wisdom in every relationship.

prov 17 9

Proverbs 17:9 states, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” When we apply this verse to existing healthy relationships, we see that if we want to foster love, when we are sometimes offended, we should forgive and move on. Which agrees with what we are told about love in the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter.  “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”  Of course, there are offenses that have to be brought into the open and dealt with, but in this case imagine that a friend or loved one says something that is unkind.  Our tendency may be to tell others, “You won’t believe what she said to me!”  Instead, we can choose to foster love by not gossiping about those unkind words. We can decide that we will not continue to bring it up when our tempers flare. We can choose to overlook it and let it go.

Notice the relationships mentioned in Chapter 17-parent, child, friend, brother, etc.

The way we relate to others gives us the opportunity to show who God is in our lives.

The Right Path – Proverbs 16

Prov 16-22

Part 2

How do you find the right path?  According to the Proverbs its the word.  Whose word?  God’s word. 
 
20 He who gives attention to the word will find good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
Okay, great!  You now recognize God’s word as wisdom.  What now?
Applying God’s wisdom.  It does not help you to know where the source of wisdom is from if you don’t apply it.  Chapter 16 seems to be pointing us to application of God’s word.  Look at a few of these verses:
18 Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
    and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
    and gracious words promote instruction.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.

 

I picked a few verses from chapter 16 to show you that these verses only work if you apply them.  If you put it into practice.  That’s why I like what the writer put in verse 31. 

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
    it is attained in the way of righteousness.

I like this verse because 1.  I have a lot of grey hair 🙂 but more than that I think what he is saying is that when you continue to apply wisdom consistently (day after day, year after year) you can look back at your path and see the pitfalls that you missed because you chose wisdom over folly.  What a joy it is to have walked the right path, to have rallied right and to be able to look back and say thank you God for protecting me.  I have been married 19 years to an amazing woman.  I love her more today than I did when we first got married because we have stacked together great accomplishments in those years.  We have a bond through good times and bad times and have trust and love that only comes through time.  That’s what I want for you.  Apply wisdom.  See it work in your life.  be consistent and see that God’s way is better than man’s.  God bless and I am praying for you.

Pastor Andy

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

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

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

Trust in God! – Prov. 3:5-6

Thanks so much to Jana Swanson for writing this upcoming week’s devotions. Check out the video below to learn more about our next devotional writer:

 

I hope you join us throughout the week as we learn more about what godly wisdom is. Like we talked about last week, memorization is so important! Let’s tuck this week’s memory verse in our hearts:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.     

~Proverbs 3:5-6

Bible Study Crash Course: Part 1

 

Bible-Reading-2-3-John
Shar’s Bible Journal from http://www.womenlivingwell.org 

 

This week, we’ve been talking a lot about the Bible and its importance in our lives. Even if we know how big a difference daily reading the Bible can make in our lives and we desire to know God’s word more, it can seem a bit overwhelming to actually dive into reading the Bible daily. Luckily, these devotions, regardless of whether you have spent the past year with us, have helped to give you some direction as to how to study the Bible. Still, it can be daunting to really dive in to creating this habit that can literally change your life. So, today, we’re going to be talking a little bit about how to study the Bible. For some of you, this will be old stuff that you already know. For others, some of this might be a little new. But, that’s okay! Wherever you are at in your walk with Christ, it’s always important to be intentional about your time with God. So, let’s dive in!

 

Today, we will talk about one aspect of studying the Bible: What should our daily time with God look like? Before we begin studying the Bible each day, it’s a great idea to pray. Why? During this time, we want to make sure we are coming to our studies with the right attitude to get the most out of it, and we should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit while we are studying. Prayer helps us to keep those things in mind.

SOAP-Method-of-Bible-study-1

Then, we dive into our actual studies. If this is your first time reading the Bible, it may be helpful to you to just mark some interesting passages with a pen or highlighter as you read. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you may ‘code’ your Bible, marking topics that are similar across texts. Even if you don’t do this every time you read the Bible, once you begin reading regularly, you’ll start to see the ways that the different books of the Bible interact with one another. If you see something, it’s a great idea to write it down in your Bible! This is called cross-referencing and can be a great way to go deeper in your Bible study. Plus, think of all the notes and ideas that your Bible can hold if you keep doing this over a long amount of time! Another way to go deeper in your study is to look up the meaning of words using a dictionary. If you are unsure why an author used a certain word, look it up! You may find something really cool about the original Hebrew or Greek words.

After this, it’s a great idea to write down some of what you found in your study in a journal. Writing things down (1) helps you to work through problems in your mind and (2) will help you remember it later on. If you skim through something, it will be hard for you to really write about it. Or if you read something, but are confused with what the author is trying to say, you may be able to work it out in a journal. Then, like you did in the beginning of your study, it’s great to pray again. Remember, you don’t read your Bible just to know more of what it says. That’s important. But, the main reason why we do it is to get closer to God! Bible study without real heart-changing conversations with God can lead us down the same road as the Pharisees.

Whew! That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Once you’ve done all this, it’s awesome if you can find a group of friends or a mentor to help you work through what you are studying. Have questions? You can ask them about it! Sometimes, it may be hard to find times to sit down and read for 30 minutes, or you may be thinking that you would never journal your insights and prayers. That’s okay too! Listening to your Bible in the car or online can be a great way to learn more about what God is trying to say even if you don’t enjoy reading.

 

Tomorrow, we are going to look at another aspect of studying the Bible. In the mean time, take a moment to put some of these Bible study tips into practice as we read the context around a verse (2 Tim. 3:16) I mentioned yesterday in 2 Timothy. Read through 2 Timothy 2-4. While you do this, think about the importance of learning what God’s word has to say. Like 2 Tim. 3:15 says, the Bible is “able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Let’s get in the Word! And, if you still feel a little overwhelmed, you can be reminded of what Richard J. Foster writes in his book Celebration of Discipline:

“Study produces joy. Like any novice, we will find it hard work in the beginning. But the greater our proficiency, the greater our joy. Study [of the Bible] is well worth our most serious effort.”

 

Does your Bible study look different than this? Do you have any other Bible study tips you would like to share? You can share them in the comments below!

 

(Check out more about Shar’s Bible Journal at http://womenlivingwell.org/2014/09/good-morning-girls-bible-study-journal-amazing/)