God’s Word Guides – Proverbs

In Your Bible: Proverbs 1: 23; 1:33;
13:14; and Hebrews 4:12.

My plan is to select edifying verses in Proverbs to ponder and study. With the understanding that . . .the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires(Hebrews 4:12 NLT).

Many proverbs are difficult to read, even understand, and some may not seem applicable today. But they are. Bear with me as I guide you through this minefield of wisdom and rebuke. It’ll be worth the effort because Solomon wrote it for all, for all times. Remember our focus is to attain wisdom by delving into Scripture.

Listen

Solomon pleads with his people to not listen to the noise of sinful people around them. He reminds them of (probably helpful) instruction given by their father or mother to stay on the good path of life. Then he says plainly, “Listen to me as I (God through Solomon) share my heart with you.” Today too, we need wisdom.

Come and listen to my counsel. 
I’ll share my heart with you
and make you wise (Proverbs 1:23 NLT).

Solomon has many words of warning. However, keep in mind his earnest plea is for us to come and listen. We must listen to his soft appeal. We know many things that tug at our mind and heart are not edifying to say the least. God wants us to listen to him. Do we listen enough? Lean into God to hear him.

Receive Good Advice

But all who listen to me will live in peace,

untroubled by fear of harm (Proverbs 1:33 NLT)

We read in the Bible that God’s people didn’t listen or obey as often as they should have – to put it mildly. Even today, few do as much as God expects. The benefit of listening and obeying is God’s promise to live in peace. This is something to ponder. Selah.

Again, Solomon puts it plainly: The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death (Prov 13:14 NLT). We must remember our focus is to attain wisdom by delving into Scripture.

Prayer: Father, your Word is powerful. You gave Solomon these words knowing they would help us today. Help me not only understand but learn how to apply your instruction to my life.

A New Series: Proverbs – A Manual On How To Live

Do you remember this? God asked Solomon, “What do you want me to give you?” (see 2 Chronicles 1:1-12). Solomon wanted wisdom and knowledge in order to lead the people of Israel. Because Solomon asked for the right reason, God granted his request. Solomon wrote Proverbs as sage advice for the people.

A proverb, a truth condensed into a few words in a memorable fashion can be applied to a variety of life situations. Proverbs is to be taken in small doses. In my opinion, each should be smothered in prayer to discern its specific usefulness. Proverbs—a manual on how to live.

The Purpose

Solomon explains these words for righteous living are for all people young and old, immature and mature. In the first seven verses of Proverbs 1, Solomon spurts a staccato of useful and prudent information. Read each proverb carefully and thoughtfully.

1These are the proverbs of Solomon, David’s son, king of Israel.
2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,
    to help them understand the insights of the wise.
3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,
    to help them do what is right, just, and fair.
4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple,
    knowledge and discernment to the young.
5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.(Proverbs 1:1-6 NLT.

The Foundation

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7 NLT).

First things first. Revere God. Awe, as in reverence or fear of the Lord, is certainly not fright. Acknowledge God is sovereign and head over all things. Then comes knowledge, discipline, and wisdom from God. Solomon wants believers to put things in God’s perspective. Proverbs —a manual on how to live.

Prayer: Father, thank you for this book of direct guidance on how to live. Help me comprehend these pearls of wisdom to help me live a righteous life – close to you.

The Antidote

In Your Bible: 1 John 4: 7-11

Loved ones, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 This is love—not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atonement for our sins. 11 Loved ones, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:7-11 Tree of Life TLF Version).

Parallel to this Scripture is a succinct poem titled “Love Came Down at Christmas” by Christian Rossetti. It presents an image of incarnate love descending to earth, heralded by the star and the angels. The Father sent Jesus for our redemption — that’s amazing love.

True Love

Rossetti’s powerful poem, “Love Came Down at Christmas” sums up 1 John 4: 1-7.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;

Love was born at Christmas;

Star and angels gave the sign.

The Answer

This poem is the antidote for our soul as we recover from excess materialism, intense shopping, travel, gatherings (of friends/family) during the Christmas season. Take a moment to reflect on God’s gift of Love to us. He sent Jesus for our redemption — that’s amazing Love.

Father: Thank you for your glorious love. Your gift is in the forefront of my thoughts. Selah.

* History of Hymns, Love Came Down at Christmas, by C. Michael Hawn, uncdiscipleship..org.

The Christ(mas) Account

In Your Bible: Luke 2:8-20

Now there were shepherds in the same region, living out in the fields and guarding their flock at night. 9 Suddenly an angel of Adonai stood before them, and the glory of Adonai shone all around them; and they were absolutely terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I proclaim Good News to you, which will be great joy to all the people. 11 A Savior is born to you today in the city of David, who is Messiah the Lord. 12 And the sign to you is this: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly a multitude of heavenly armies appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth shalom to men of good will.”
15 And when the angels departed from them into the heavens, the shepherds were saying to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which Adonai has made known to us!” 16 So they hurried off and found Miriam and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the word that had been spoken to them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard were amazed at the things the shepherds told them. 19 But Miriam treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as they had been told (Luke 2:8-20 Tree of Life [TLV] Translation of the Bible.

The Christmas Story is sung, told, performed, and read every year. Let’s look at its profound features. The message was brought by a major angel, a host of other angels glorified God in song, and the shepherds basked in God’s glory. The focus: what God did for all of mankind – he sent a Savior for those who believe.

Message from God

The angel was not sent to the chief priests or the elders who were not prepared to receive it, but to a few of poor shepherds, near Bethlehem.

  • These shepherds were alert and doing their job
  • They were truly surprised with the appearance of the first angel
  • They saw and heard the glory of the Lord around about them
  • Yet, they were astounded and afraid

What the Angel told them—the Message for mankind:

  • Do not be afraid of this message
  • This message will bring great JOY to all people of the world
  • Today the Messiah is born in the city of David
  • The angel gave instructions [a sign to them] on where to find the Messiah
  • They did not doubt, but went immediately to find Him

The First Evangelists

Commentators ** have reason to think that the shepherds told Joseph and Mary what the angels told them, and the song of the angels sang. This was a great encouragement to new parents. Also, it is probable that Joseph and Mary told the shepherds what an angel had told them concerning the child. This strengthened each everyone’s faith.

The angel had told the shepherds not to keep any of this a secret. But instead tell everybody of this joyous encounter with Jehovah/God. It was their testimony. And the focus: what God did for all of mankind – He sent a Savior.

Prayer: Father, I see again your mercy on me and the peace I have in you from what we call The Christmas Story. In you alone I have Salvation.

* Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible, Copyright 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

** Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary of the Bible, biblegateway.com

Abide in Me – God’s Spirit In You

In Your Bible: Romans 8:9-14

In Romans 8, Paul teaches and encourages believers on their position in Christ. He wants us to understand the spiritual realm. Paul’s words powerfully reveal how God’s Spirit works in the believer.

Freedom in Christ

Paul begins with . . . there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1,2 NASB).

When a believer joins with God through belief in Christ, he receives a sure foundation, salvation, and a new life. Paul assures believers their faith walk transforms our mind—how we think and live.

God’s Spirit

Paul explains how spiritual aspects empower the believer. They are unified in One the Father/God and best seen this way:

  • Ruach – Spirit, breath of God, Spirit of God (breathed into man see Genesis 2:7)
  • Yeshua – Jesus the Christ, God in Jesus the Son
  • Elohim – God the Creator [Spirit of God]
  • Messiah – The One promised of God, Deliverer, Anointed One from God

The Tree of Life Translation of the Bible, from the Messianic Jewish Family Bible, illuminate’s specifics of how God’s Spirit brings power to the believer. This powerful translation reveals the assurance we have. (Bold markings are my input.)

. . . you [believers] are not in the flesh but in the Ruach—if indeed the Ruach Elohim dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Ruach of Messiah, he does not belong to Him. But if Messiah is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Ruach of the One who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Ruach who dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we do not owe anything to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Ruach you put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. For all who are led by the Ruach Elohim, these are sons of God (Romans 8:9-14 Tree of Life Translation). 

Believers in Christ are freed from the law. They are not condemned, the Spirit of God (Ruach, Elohim, Elohim, and Messiah) has set us free. Paul’s words, from the Tree of Life Bible, powerfully reveal how God’s Spirit works in the believer.

Prayer: Father, this revelation of Messianic understanding bolsters my faith. Thank you for Jewish believers who help us grasp your greatness. Selah.

Abide In Me – Part 3

Be Like Christ

The apostle Paul outlined the integrity and strength believers should live by—the character of Christ:

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me [Paul] truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:1-5 NLT).

Christ-followers must think like Jesus and bear a resemblance of who he is. This may seem impossible unless you fully accept what Paul says here . . . for we have the mind of Christ (1Corinthians 2:16b NLT). In this manner, we will actually see the Father’s love when we take on this attitude, the mind of Christ.

Have This

In this letter, Paul encourages believers and builds them up. He strongly promotes unity in the love of Christ and tells how to do it:

  • Love one another as Jesus does and he (Paul) taught them
  • Be of the same mind and spirit
  • Have one purpose – seek God’s best

Do This

Then Paul exhorts believers concerning things we too often miss or dismiss as “oh that’s not me.” He says we must do the hard stuff in order to . . . have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:1-5 NLT).

  • Be humble – don’t let pride enter your daily life
  • Be selfless – not selfish which too often is our thought process
  • Be one who takes an interest in others – seek what others want too

In this manner, we will actually see the Father’s love when we take on the attitude, the mind of Christ.

Prayer: Father, I love that you show me what you desire. Keep me immersed in the light of your Word for true Life.

Abide In Me

This is the second in a series on abiding in me as Jesus said. The Apostle Paul uses the term in Christ 53 times throughout Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. He discloses the benefits, blessings, new character, and empowerment that accompany being in Christ. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Faith

Paul tells believers that by faith in Christ, they are justified and become sons of God. Plus, their faith working through love brings them in to a special relationship with the Father, . . . so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14b NASB).

The author of Hebrews gives us a deeper understanding of faith:

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.  By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:1-3 Amplified).

Strength

Paul hears reports of believers’ good discipline and the stability of their faith (Colossians 2:5). He rejoices at their new character and growth as they mature in Christ. The apostle affirms believers even when he cannot be with them to teach and encourage them himself.

Mystery

Paul tells believers there is something special and powerful with their position in Christ. It’s a mystery hidden for generations—Christ lives in you! This gives you assurance of sharing his glory (Colossians 1:26,27b). What a glorious promise. Our citizenship in heaven is by faith in Christ.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your plan that Christ could live in us. I praise you for providing this glorious way to be in relationship with you.