Who Are You?

Monday –

2 cor 5 17 sunrise

Do you ever feel like who you are is not really who you are?  Or maybe that you know you could be a better/different version of yourself, but aren’t sure how to find that person?

You know, all of us carry labels of some sort.  Maybe you’re the funny guy, or the smart girl, or the troublemaker.  Sometimes we may not feel like we totally deserve our label.  Like, maybe people see you as argumentative, but that’s not how you see yourself.  The fact is, right or wrong, we are all labeled in some way by those around us.

So…what’s your label?

Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.  What is it?  How would people around you describe you?  What are you known for?

Got it in your mind?

  1. Now think this: What’s true about me now, doesn’t have to be true about me forever.

Our goal is not to reinvent ourselves by trying to be some perfect person.  It’s to uncover our true self as God created us.

Have you ever thought about that?  When God created you, he had the BEST version of you in mind.

And that is the version we need to be striving to become.  The best version of ourselves.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

We’re going to be looking this week at how we go about becoming who God says we are, who He had in mind when he created us.  So for today, remind yourself again that what is true about you now, doesn’t have to be true about you forever.  You can be a new creation!

Sneak Peek at tomorrow’s devotion:  Try to find examples in Scripture of times when God gave someone a new name.  Why do you think he did that?

-Susan Landry

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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

A Refreshing Answer

Proverbs 24 – Wednesday

Proverbs 24:23-26 

23     These also are sayings of the wise:
Partiality in judging is not good.
24 Whoever says to the wicked, “You are innocent,”
   will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations;
25 but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
   and a good blessing will come upon them.
26 One who gives an honest answer
   gives a kiss on the lips.

 

I grew up with my father telling me “Honesty is always the best policy.”  As I’ve grown, I have to admit that there have been many times in my life when I have tested the wisdom of that saying.  And I’m apparently not alone.  In a study done by the University of Massachusetts, 60% of American adults cannot have 10 minutes of conversation without stepping into some sort of lie.  I find that number both astounding and unfortunately relatable.

Proverbs 24-24

A blatant lie is easy to spot.  Calling those who are clearly wicked and have done evil “innocent” is something that we can uncover with even the smallest pursuit of truth.  But I don’t think 60% of people are taking their conversations that far within 10 minutes.  Instead, I think it has a lot more to do with our desire/need to want to impress those around us (at least I know that it is for me a lot of the time).  So I don’t make up some story whole-cloth.  I pull at the story here a little or there a bit to make it more grandiose or impressive.


Here’s the kicker though, whenever we start to do that our stories actually become less believable and others start to hold us in lower regard than if we were truthful in the first place.  As humans, we have incredibly intuitive brains that can sense when things don’t quite add up.  This is why an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.  Not romantic, but refreshing and life-giving.

 

See, I’m married and if I’m exhausted or frustrated, my wife can give me a small kiss (even just a peck) and I can start to feel better.  Not because a kiss is magic but because it reminds me of what is most important in life.  We may experience the same thing when we kiss our family goodbye or give our closest friends an earnest hug.  An honest answer is refreshing and shows us what is really going on – we are engaging in relationship with those around us.

-Graysen Pack

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

Commit to Live Wisely

We are all on a journey, a quest.  Somewhere between our quest for truth and facts, and our desire for virtuous character, lies a quality that is rarely considered these days: wisdom. Wisdom is competence with regard to the complex realities of life. It is the ability to know what is the best thing to do in the majority of life situations which the accepted moral rules do not clearly address. The course of our lives is greatly determined by the many daily choices we make, and the Book of Proverbs is a guidebook to help us navigate those choices wisely.

The two major themes which are interwoven and overlapping throughout Proverbs are wisdom and folly. Wisdom, which includes knowledge, understanding, instruction, discretion, and obedience, is built on the fear of the Lord and the Word of God. Folly is everything opposite to wisdom.

I will be taking you through chapters 13-16 and the verse that best encapsulates all of those chapters is Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

What plans are you pursuing and are they on the wise path?  Join us on this path of discovery this week.

~ 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

Two Roads Diverged – Proverbs 10

If you didn’t read yesterday’s devotion you should go do that now.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…..

Ok, Proverbs 9 sets the backdrop for the next several chapters in Proverbs.  Proverbs 9 gives the contrast between the way of wisdom and the way of folly (foolishness).  One way leads to life, the other leads to death.  With that in mind, chapter 10 begins a lengthy section of Proverbs which give a very clear contrast between the way of wisdom and the way of foolishness.  These Proverbs are technically known as antithetical which is a very common rhetorical device used in ancient literature to hold opposites next to each other.

Chances are, at some point in your educational journey, you became acquainted with the following poem by Robert Frost.

two roads

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

~ Robert Frost

 

That is poetic and filled with all kinds of metaphorical imagery, and it leaves it to each reader to fill it with its content.  What do the two different roads look like and where do they lead?

Proverbs 10 leaves very little to our individual imagination.  It spells things out like Mapquest.

These are my paraphrases of Proverbs 10:

If you are wise, you make your Daddy happy.
If you are foolish you break your momma’s heart.
If you are lazy, you’re broke
if you work hard, you’ll have plenty of money.

 
If you are wise, you’ll take instructions from those in authority
If you are a fool you’re always running your mouth and you’ll ruin your life because you don’t listen.
If you do things the right way, you have little to fear
but if you cut corners and break rules, it will eventually catch up with you.

 
If you go around spreading hate, it leads to more hate, and fights.
If you love others, it puts an end to the hate and helps bring about peace.
If you willingly accept correction your life will improve
if you ignore correction, you’ll not only hurt yourself, you’ll hurt others too.

 
If you live the right way, you have good things to look forward to.
If you spend your life doing evil things, life eventually becomes a dead end.

 

wisdom verses foolishness

That was fun, putting that wisdom into my own words.

You try it.  Take some of the Proverbs which contrast the way of wisdom with the way of foolishness and put it in your own words.  That’s the practical,  analytical, left-brain approach.

If you are more right-brained, creative and artistic, then write a story or poem or paint a picture contrasting the way of wisdom or the way of foolishness.

And if you’re really into it… try doing both the left and right-brained approach- and then you’ll never forget Proverbs 10.

~ Jeff Fletcher