Monthly Archives: May 2013

May 31

Proverbs 14 & 15

Of my 37 years in public education, 25 of them were spent working with middle school children. There is something about that age group I just love. I had a principal who used to say you could tell the difference between a sixth and an eighth grader by the way they go through the halls. Sixth graders want to run everywhere. By the time they get to be eighth graders not only does their pace slow in the hall, it can be a challenge to keep them awake during a fifty minute class.

I loved being a part of the transition from child to the early teens. Their thinking changes. Their goals change. And attitude? Nuf said.

But as much as I enjoyed middle school kids I can honestly say I never won an argument with one. Proverbs 15:1 reminded me of that this morning. If a child was angry and I spoke to him or her in my anger, neither one of us was heard. And neither one of us was able to get to the bottom of the problem

But over the years I learned that if I stayed calm, we had a better chance of working things out. If I allowed myself to be sucked in to their anger, if I stooped to their level of frustration, it wasn’t pretty.

Have you found that to be true in your own relationships? Have you ever said something in anger you later regretted? Anger is not a sin. But how we express it can be.

What does Proverbs 15:1 say? “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If you have a screaming match with your child do you think that will calm things down? Do you think they hear you better if you talk louder? If you are sarcastic or demeaning to your child, do you think that’s going to make them want to be better, to please you? Think again.

A gentle answer must be the key or it wouldn’t be written here in Proverbs. My prayer is that we will all learn to be angry and not sin, to keep our mouths closed while we are angry, knowing a harsh word stirs up anger.

Father, I pray for all of us that we will choose to control our tongues no matter how angry we get. Whether we are at the work place, in our home, or sitting on the stands watching our children play baseball. Bring to mind Proverbs 15:1 and help us to remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath. May we be wise, dear Lord, even in our anger.

May 30

Proverbs 11-13

The themes for these three chapters are honesty and success. Each verse contains a proverb that could be put on any sign of any Bible-believing church and would give passers-by something to consider.

The thing is many of these proverbs sound like good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad. Remember that the Old Testament is a physical, material example of the Spiritual truths we live after the cross. If we get caught up with a material interpretation of the proverbs we might find ourselves thinking God lied to Solomon. Because it’s obvious that there are some pretty wealthy and ungodly people around and there are some dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling to make ends meet.

What is God saying to us through these proverbs? 11:4 says “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath but righteousness delivers from death”. We know that speaks of the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise”.

Chapters 12 & 13 speak of success. Is it material success we read about? Some of the principles apply, certainly. But real success stems from a right relationship with God who blesses the obedient. There are wealthy Christians and there are Christians in poverty. There are rich non-Christians and poor people who don’t know Christ. The difference is not the dollar amount. It’s Jesus. It’s peace and hope and love and life and forgiveness. It’s the Presence of God in our lives. 

No earthly success can compare. We are rich indeed.

Father, help your people to recognize that having you in our lives is better than any kind of income. I know it doesn’t pay the bills. But I thank you that you are faithful to provide what we need. It might not always be what we want. But when we offer you ourselves with no strings attached, you provide perfectly. Guide us. Show us what you would have us do to pay those bills that keep coming. Help parents who struggle to feed their children. And put a desire in the hearts of those who have enough, to reach out to someone who needs a helping hand. Let us be the answer to their prayer today.

May 29

Proverbs 8-10

Wisdom is speaking. And in 8:22-36 who do you see described there? Isn’t it Jesus? 

‘Before the oceans or mountains I was given birth. I was there when the heavens were created. I was the craftsman at his side. Whoever finds me finds life.’

Those are things we know about Jesus, aren’t they? So I re-read these chapters and substituted the word “wisdom” with the name of Jesus. It’s Jesus who bids me come to him. It’s Jesus who sets a table and invites me to sit and eat. It’s Jesus who promises to be found when I look for him. It’s Jesus who delights in mankind.

Once again I am reminded that it’s all about Jesus. We were created by and for him. And in the end, nothing else will matter. I can accept him and be blessed or reject him and be rejected by him. That’s a scary thought.

Choosing Jesus is wisdom. Choosing anything else is foolishness.

I paraphrase Proverbs 8:11:

For Jesus is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with him.

Dear Father, I thank you for Jesus. He is more precious than rubies and when he comes into a heart nothing can compare. I thank you for your Word that never ceases to speak to me. I pray that today I will be aware of how important Jesus is in my life and how important I am to him. Give me wisdom. Give me Jesus.

May 28

Proverbs 5-7

Solomon talks a lot about the adulteress. His warnings against her are urgent and strong. But if we look at this section of Scripture as simply talking about sex between people who are not married to each other we miss some urgent and strong warnings directed at all of us.

God is our bridegroom. Remember Solomon’s Song? The relationship between God and those who accept his grace is as intimate, as personal, and as exclusive as a marriage relationship is designed to be.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is one of God’s top ten commandments.

So when I read these verses in the book of Proverbs I need to remind myself that anything that compromises my relationship with Christ is to be taken seriously. Anything. 

The “adulteress” in my life could be another person. But it could also be my career. It could be a prideful heart. It might be gossip, fun or fantasy, lying or lust. 

Solomon is warning us to flee anything or anyone that would lead us astray. If you haven’t read today’s chapters in Proverbs I hope you do. And if you have, I challenge you to reread them and ask God to put a face on your “adulteress”. Identify that person or thing that is actively seeking to compromise your relationship with your bridegroom.

Then, my prayer is that you will commit that adulteress to the Lord, asking him to help you resist, to flee, to have victory over the temptation to be unfaithful to Jesus. God wants to give you victory today.

May 27

Proverbs 2-4

Solomon is talking about wisdom and the benefit of godly wisdom. It’s wise to follow God, to turn from evil. Sound judgement and discernment are life to you, he says. Listen to your parents and don’t step foot on the path of the wicked. Trust in God and he will straighten you out. 

Then Solomon says in 2:23, “Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Is that a little anatomy lesson from Dr Solomon about exercise and watching your cholesterol? Those things are wise. But he goes on to say don’t swear or tell dirty jokes, keep your eyes from wandering, stay on the straight and narrow and keep your foot from evil.

I’ve heard married people say, “There’s no harm in looking” when they notice an attractive person of the opposite sex. Solomon begs to differ. 

What we read, watch on TV, listen to in our music, laugh at during break time at work are feeding our hearts. Don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t effect you. That’s foolishness to think.

I imagine very few people wake up one day and say – I think I’ll have an affair today. Or I think I’ll become an alcoholic today. Or I want to lose all my money on a card game today. But affairs happen, alcoholism is a reality, and families suffer because of gambling. Those and other sins begin one choice at a time.

Sure you don’t become an alcoholic by having that first drink. But that first drink can lead to another and another. One look at an attractive person isn’t an affair. But that look can lead to longing, imagining, desire. What starts out as innocent, as harmless fun or recreation too often leads to full blown sin and heartache.

So Solomon warns us to guard our hearts. Pay attention to what you feed it. Control your impulses while you can. Don’t be foolish enough to think you are different than anyone else, that you can control yourself when others can’t. That’s putting your toe on the road to destruction. And that’s the first step to real trouble.

There’s going to be a lot of wisdom thrown at us in the next few days as we read Proverbs. May God find our hearts eager to be nourished by his word.

May 26

I Kings 10:1-13, 4:1-19, 29-34; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12; Proverbs 1

I think Solomon just might be the very first science professor. People came from all around to learn about God’s creation from Dr. Solomon. And he could answer all their questions. Solomon’s wisdom and his love for God were very well known.

The Queen of Sheba said something that stood out to me this morning. After spending time with Solomon she said… how happy your men must be.

The Queen acknowledged God’s power and his love for the nation of Israel. She recognized God’s blessing on Solomon. And she realized those around Solomon were blessed because of him.

So the question is – what do people say about your family because you are in it? Are you a husband, wife, dad or mom? Are you a grandparent, aunt, uncle, son or daughter? And are you representing God in such a way that people recognize it and say – how happy his family must be?

Do your children recognize Christ in you in the home you share with them? Are they blessed because Christ lives in you?

Solomon’s proverbs begin with “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Let’s put God first in our lives and receive his wisdom. And let that wisdom spill over into our every day lives.

May others look at our example and be able to say about our family, our church, our workplace – how happy they must be to have him (her) with them.

Father, I find myself wanting to pray for parents again this morning. May they live such godly lives that their children are blessed, that observers recognize your presence in their families, and when it is said … how happy they must be… may it truly be so. May parents fear and honor you, and raise their children with Godly wisdom. Bless Christian households today in such a way that unsaved neighbors and friends will want you in their lives, too.

May 25

I Kings 8:62-66, 9:1-14, 17-19, 24-28, 10:22; 2 Chronicles 7:4-22, 8:1-8, 11-18, 9:21; Psalm 132

There were conditions for God to dwell in the temple Solomon built. And it had nothing to do with how much gold was used. The condition for God to remain with Israel was their obedience. If they followed the Lord there would always be a descendent of David’s on the throne and God would bless the nation. If they disobeyed the opposite would be true.

We know that Israel chose the latter and God was true to his word.

America has been blessed. Was there ever a nation since the Old Testament nation of Israel that was founded on Biblical principles? And in just a couple hundred years of existence God honored obedience until The United States became the riches, most powerful, best nation on earth. But we, like Israel have chosen the latter. And God can’t bless disobedience.

I believe God is saying to us what he said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This is Memorial Day weekend. We set aside a day to honor the men and women who have served our country in the military. I am a proud daughter of a Marine and a proud aunt of a Soldier. I believe in our military and thank each and every one of those who serve. I remember with gratitude those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy the freedoms designed for us by our forefathers.

You know we are losing those freedoms, though, don’t you? God cannot bless a nation or an individual who refuses to obey. Christian, let’s determine to pray for our leaders. Let’s speak out in love. Let’s demand that the constitution be followed for a nation under God. Let’s be careful to vote for and support those who desire to obey God.

God wants to bless his people. But here are the conditions: 1) humble ourselves, 2) pray, 3) seek his face, 4) turn from our wicked way. Then and only then can we be blessed. And God promises to bless us when we take those steps.

I trust you will have a good holiday weekend. And I hope you take some time to ask God what he would have you do. I pray that God will lay on the hearts of Christian young people to get involved in our political system. We need leadership willing to obey him.

Dear God, I thank you for the United States of America, one nation under God. I thank you for the Christians who are in positions of leadership. Give them the courage to stand for what is right according to your Word. Convict those in authority who are not following you. Convict those of us who sit back and allow decisions to be made that don’t glorify you. May we humble ourselves, call on you, seek your face and turn from sin. Thank you for the men and women who have served and are serving this nation in the military. Give wisdom to their leaders, grant safety to the troops. Bless their families. God, I pray that we will be the nation under God that our forefathers expected us to be. May we honor you. 

May 24

2 Chronicles 6:1-7:3; I Kings 8:22-61

Wouldn’t it have been something to have been there? The temple’s dedication ceremony must have been incredible. Trumpets and singing, psalms and prayers. Then God appeared in fire from heaven. It’s too bad no one captured it for YouTube. I would have liked to be a part of it all.

But once again I am reminded that the same God lives in me. When a person accepts Jesus as Savior, the God of Creation takes up residence in the heart of the redeemed.

My salvation as a child was not quite so dramatic. Even when I re-dedicated my life at a later age, confessing sin and allowing Jesus to cleanse me there was no fire from heaven. I’ve heard of dramatic conversions. Paul for one. Accounts shared by missionaries.

But just because there wasn’t a clap of thunder or trumpets sounding doesn’t mean I didn’t go from being on my own to having God Himself enter my heart. I don’t need fanfare to know once I was lost but now I’m found.

Reading this Old Testament account makes me realize what a very big deal it is that God lives in me. I may not have heard it, but the Bible says there is rejoicing in heaven when a person comes to Christ. Trumpets and singing? Prayers and psalms? Heaven knows the magnitude of the reality of Christ living in me.

May I know it, too.

Father, I am humbled by the fact that you are here with me right this minute, that you live in my heart as real as you were the day you entered Solomon’s temple. Help me walk through the day today with that knowledge. Help me to live honoring the privilege of having you so near.

May 23

I Kings 7:13-51, 8:1-21; 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:14

God wants us to know him. He put it all out there in creation – the heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows his handiwork. Throughout his written Word he has said and done countless things to reveal himself to us.

Even as we picture this beautiful temple we see a picture of God Himself. It’s hard for me to wrap my  mind around the Old Testament Presence of God because I am used to him being with me 24/7. He lived in a cloud, separate from humanity. In the Old Testament he is revealed as a Holy, untouchable God who had Solomon place the ark in the middle of a sea suspended on the backs of sculptured bulls. 17,500 gallons of water separated men from God.

But then God touched humanity in the person of Jesus. The Holy God stooped to our level so we could know him better, more intimately than ever before. At his death he broke down the walls between us and the Most Holy Place. And he lives within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

But here’s something to think about. While we are living this life on earth there is still a separation between us and our Holy God. Jesus stands in the gap and the Holy Spirit prays for us. But we are still separated by a sea of time and space.

Revelation 21:1 tells us that when this life is over there will be no more sea! No pool of water, no time or space. We will see him face to face! We will know him as we are known by him. We will be able to touch him, feel his arms around us.

I am praising God for the promise of that day!

May 22

I Kings 5:13-18, 9:15-16, 20-23, 6:1-38, 7:1-12; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 1718, 8:7-10, 3:1-17; Psalm 127

Did you read how elaborately Solomon built the Temple? So much gold! Such intricate details! Thousands of men worked together to make it fit for a king – The King! 

It was where God would dwell on earth. It must have been magnificent.

We don’t need that gold-covered stone and cedar building today. God lives in the hearts of believers here on earth. We are his temple.

But God is asking me if my heart is fit for the King. Solomon took great care in preparing that building to welcome God. He saw to every detail. 

Sometimes I think we believe all we have to do is ask Jesus to come into our hearts, then life goes on as usual. But I don’t see that here. Yes, Jesus is faithful to forgive us when we ask and he makes our hearts his home. And if that’s all you want out of your relationship with him I guess that’s between you and God.

Myself, I want his home to be magnificent. I want my life to welcome him. I don’t want a cheaply built temple. I’m sparing no expense. So I’ll continue to read his word and pray. I’ll continue to choose a life set apart. I’ll choose to praise him in all things. I’ll choose to recognize sin and flee. Not because any of that will earn me salvation. His grace did that. I want to live a life that honors him, that provides him with a beautiful place to call home here on earth.

When people looked at Solomon’s temple they must have been in awe. They must have said, “Wow, that’s where God lives”. I want them to say the same thing about me.