A Rule that’s NOT of this World

Monday

Matthew 4 17

Proverbs. You probably wouldn’t think that Proverbs would have anything to do with the topic for our devotion this week, the gospel. However, there’s a small nugget of wisdom in the 13th chapter of Proverbs in verse 12a:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

A heart void of hope makes the heart sick and sad. So many people go through life with no hope or if they do have a hope it’s wrongly placed and are disappointed when it doesn’t satisfy their deepest longings. Hope is crucial to a life of joy and contentedness and with our look at the second component of the gospel, God has provided a hope to all who want to follow him. This hope is the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. If you don’t understand the kingdom, you won’t understand Jesus. Now there are two aspects to the kingdom of God, a present reality and the future hope (or the eschatological kingdom for the technical term). Today, we look at the future hope. But in order to understand the future, we have to first understand the past. Let’s start in Genesis.

God created the cosmos and everything in it, including a tiny blue marble we call earth. God intended humans to be his vice-regents on the earth, humans were to reign and rule over all that he had created on earth:

“Then God said, ‘let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the cattle over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’…God blessed them and said to them ‘be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and the over the birds of the air and the every living thing that moves on the earth” – Gen. 1.26,28

However, the perfect union that God and man had together was short-lived. Sin came into the picture and with it, death, evil, oppression, and injustice have reigned to this day. But God decided he wanted to save his creation, humans and the world, thus began God plan’s on reconciling everything back to himself. We’re going to look at two passages from the Old Testament that provide the pillars to the New Testament and Jesus.

In Genesis 12, God makes a covenant or a faithful promise with Abram:

“Now Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country…to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” – Gen. 12.1-3

God promises three things to Abram:

  1. Land that Abram will possess
  2. He will be made a great nation
  3. The entire earth will be blessed through him

 

Jumping ahead to I Chronicles 17, God makes a covenant with David:

“When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for me a house, and I will establish his throne forever…I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever” – I Chronicles 17.11-14

God promises that there will be one who comes after him, from his line, and his throne will be established forever. Remember God promised Abraham land and during David’s time God’s people had the land, then God promises the king of that land that there will be one after him whose throne will rule forever and ever over that land and kingdom.

Let’s take a look at what Luke 1 says about Jesus:

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end” – Lk. 1.31-33

Jesus is the king over the promised kingdom of God. Thus when Jesus proclaims his inaugural statement in Matt. 4.17 and Mark 1.15, it’s the king announcing the arrival of the kingdom. This kingdom and it’s king reverses the effect that sin has ravaged on the earth, because Jesus himself has overcome the grave.

One day Jesus is coming back to establish the full reality of the kingdom and its influence here on the earth. We have a taste of it now (which we’ll get into tomorrow) but we hope and long for the return of Jesus. Because of his return this ravaged broken down system will be set right, and the true king with a just and righteous rule will govern the earth and we will reign and rule just as it was in the beginning. This was gospel for Jesus and this is gospel and hope to us.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” – Hebrews 10.23

-Jacob Rohrer

 

 

 

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Proverbs 1-5a
SATURDAY Weekly Re-cap with Megan Bryant
This week, we read through the last few chapters of Proverbs.  As I said at the beginning of the week, Proverbs is a collection of timeless wisdom.  We looked at pieces of this wisdom ranging from true friendship to confessing our transgressions to being satisfied with our daily bread.  And since these posts didn’t focus on every verse, I would encourage everyone to read back over Proverbs as a whole and analyze the verses not discussed on this blog.  Every time we read the Bible, we have the opportunity to grow in a new way.  We may see a verse in a new light or notice something that we may have missed before.
Let’s continue to learn and grow as we continue to read through the Bible, but also look back over what has already been read to gain new insights.
-Megan Bryant

A Godly Woman

PROVERBS 31

Proverbs 31-10

Proverbs 31 comprises a collection of teachings from King Lemuel taught to him by his mother.  In Hebrew, Lemuel means “devoted to God.”  The first nine verses of the chapter offer 3 main lessons:

1-    Be careful not to partner with destructive people, whether in marriage or social/ business circumstances.

2-    Be careful with alcohol, lest it clouds our judgment.

3-    Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Do any of these bits of wisdom apply to your life or current circumstances?

Verses 10-31 are verses that I hear and read a lot as a woman.  These verses are crocheted onto pillows and painted on plaques that women like to keep in view.  This section of Proverbs tells us that a virtuous woman is one of strong character, an able and compassionate woman.  She is trustworthy and brings good to other people.  Her family relies on and blesses her.  This Godly woman is an outstanding wife, mother, and businesswoman.  The passage doesn’t mention the woman’s outward appearance; only her actions and her character define her.  Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

The description of the woman who fears the Lord can be overwhelming.  However, we are encouraged to be more and more virtuous in our walks with God every day.  What can we all (men and women) change or improve to be more like the woman described in the later section of the chapter?

Megan Bryant

Still Seeking the Next Big Thing?

PROVERBS 30

Proverbs 30-8

Before writing this post, I did some research about other commentaries and devotionals from Proverbs 30.  Many writers have speculated about the author of this passage, whether Agur is a pseudonym for a known author or what wisdom this author may possess.  Most of the devotionals focus on verses 5-6: “Every word of God is flawless, he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”  These verses tell us that we can confidently put our faith in the Lord and warn against tampering with His Word, the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, Numbers 23:19, Deuteronomy 12:32, and Revelation 22: 18-19 all reinforce these 2 verses in Proverbs 30.

 

When I read this chapter, however, I did not latch onto those 2 verses like most of the commentaries and devotionals I read.  I was drawn to verse 8.  “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”  As a whole, our society is never satisfied.  We are always seeking something more.  I remember talking about marriage in a psychology class, and the professor was explaining how studies have shown that one reason marriages tend to fail more often now than they used to is often because one of the spouses is seeking something more, whether that be a more attractive partner or a partner who makes more money or whatever qualifications are deemed important, rather than being content and wholly loving the current husband/wife.  We are never satisfied, always looking for the next-best thing.  Verse 8 asks the Lord for neither poverty nor riches, only what is needed for the day.  The writer isn’t seeking more.  He’s seeking to be satisfied in the Lord.  We’ve all read that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:25), and verse 9 reinforces that someone who is “full” is quick to deny the Lord.

Proverbs 30-9a

Though society tells us that we always need the newest and next-best thing, the newest iPhone, the bigger tv, the prettier woman or more handsome man—the Bible teaches us to be content with what we are given.  Our daily bread is enough.

-Megan Bryant

Three Deep Breaths

PROVERBS 29

Proverbs 29-11

When reading Proverbs 29, I caught onto a theme of how to handle anger and frustration.  Verse 8 says that the wise turn away anger.  Verse 11 reads that the wise bring calm whereas the fool vents his rage.  Verse 20 instructs us not to speak in haste, verse 22 tells us that angry and hot-tempered people stir up conflict and commit many sins, and verse 23 warns against pride, which is often a precursor to anger and argument.

We all encounter trying situations.  We all have tense moments in which we want to scream into a pillow or go for a run or do whatever helps us to cool off.  Proverbs 29 instructs us to keep a cool head and turn away from anger.  I remember a scene from a movie or television show (although for the life of me, I can’t remember the source) in which a character is stressing out.  Another character instructs her to take 3 deep breaths, saying that in the time it takes to complete those 3 breaths, she will stop herself from doing or saying anything she may later regret.

At some point or another, we all get angry.  In these times, it is important to know how God instructs us to handle ourselves.  I had a classmate in college who would pray for the class before every exam.  She always ended her prayers by asking the Lord to keep us calm, cool, and collected during the stress of the exam.  Three deep breaths.  Calm, cool, and collected.  When on the verge of having an outburst, remember to be the wise man and bring calm.  Be wise and turn away anger.  Don’t speak in haste.  Lean on the Lord and His teachings, even in tense moments.  Three deep breaths allows for enough time to reflect back on these verses.

-Megan Bryant

Confession Time

PROVERBS 28

Proverbs 28-18

Verses 13-28 examine the fates of the wicked compared to the righteous.  Verse 13 reads, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  In which camp would you routinely place yourself?  Are there certain parts of our lives that we are quick to share if we sin or fall short, but others that we conceal for the sake of reputation or fear of conflict or avoidance of the consequences?  This verse doesn’t specify between transgressions; whoever conceals his sins will not prosper.  Confessing before the Lord and all other necessary parties brings mercy and an opportunity for growth.  Are there specific wrongs in your life that need to come into the light?  We all have room for growth, and we should ask the Lord to reveal to us our shortcomings.  John 15:2 reads, “Every branch that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  Even our fruitful endeavors need pruning.

 

I would encourage you to pray about your transgressions.  Admit to yourself and the Lord that you have sins, not that you just make mistakes or have oversights.  Ask for help in renouncing and repenting of these shortcomings, and actually try to follow through in walking away from whatever you have been keeping in the dark.  Don’t just make a quick promise, but deliberately seek righteousness.

 

-Megan Bryant

A True Friend

PROVERBS 27 – Monday

Prov 27 17

Verse 6 reads “faithful are the wounds of a friend…”  In this context, the wounds of a friend appear to be necessary.  Friends who love us enough to be honest with us, even when it hurts, are the best kinds of friends.  I can remember multiple times in my life in which I didn’t enjoy the truth that I was told, but my friends and family loved me enough to tell me anyway.  We often think that allowing people their momentary happiness is a kindness, but if someone is in sin, it is our duty to tell loved ones the painful truth.  Just as iron sharpens iron (verse17) by chipping away the outer bits of metal, honest friends sharpen each other by helping each other to turn away from sin and helping to recognize the things that are keeping us spiritually dull.

 

Finding a friend or a group of friends who can be open enough with each other to share this kind of love is invaluable.  Someone told me that a friendship that lasts 7 years is a lifelong friendship—if you can make it 7 years, you can make it forever.  I don’t particularly like the idea that a length of time is necessary to determine true friendship; I think that real friendship is proven by friends who can be brutally honest in love.  I was close to a girl in college for 4 years, but I could never tell her hard truths.  It weighed on me when I saw things that needed attention, but I was too scared of upsetting her to be a forthright friend.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Don’t be afraid to confront your people when you see them in or approaching sin.  We need each other to keep us accountable.

-Megan Bryant