Stand Firm – Back at Church

Romans 1

In today’s Bible reading I will be looking at Romans 1.  I want to specifically focus on where he says “…that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”  I think this is especially important to take note of since covid made it hard to gather for a long time and I think we can all agree that to some degree our Faith was affected.  This is why I think it is important that I go to church, to be able to meet with like-minded believers who are going to support me in my own walk with the Lord and for me to be able to support them as well.  God did not intend for us to be alone, but for us to have fellowship with one another and encourage each other to live daily for Him.  As life is returning to normal at this stage of the pandemic I think it is important that we make an effort to rebuild our church communities and get ourselves back into those routines that will draw us closer to God.

Earlier this week you heard about our recent Midwest Family Camp theme of standing firm in our faith and its importance.  Throughout verses 21 and 22  we can see the effect that happens when we are not standing firm in our faith,For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools”  This is why it is important to be in a community of believers, iron sharpens iron, and wise Godly people can point out when our thinking becomes futile, or when we are not honoring God with our actions.  Without these leaders in our churches we may become like the fools that Paul is talking about here, and if you read on, these foolish people do not end up living fun or flourishing lives. 

In our churches we need people who are willing to step up as leaders and examples of what standing firm and walking with God looks like. 

Katie-Beth (Fletcher) Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 3-4 and Romans 1

Good Intentions… yet Not What God Intended

June 23     1 Chronicles 13-14 and Proverbs 23

Now” that David’s living in Jerusalem. He wanted to return the ark of the covenant there. He said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the LORD our God, … let us bring back the ark of our God back to us.” (13:2,3) David had good intentions of bringing the ark back, but he did not actually inquire of God or do it according to His instructions. He gathered all Israel together to bring the ark of God up from Kirjath Jearim. He had it put on a new cart. “All Israel played music before God with all their might with singing, on harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets.” (13:8) He had such good intentions, but once Uzza held the ark when the oxen stumbled and he died, David became angry and was afraid. He took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom and left it. 

We lived in the village right behind Kirjath Jearim. In fact, for 20 years we could look out our living room/kitchen windows and see it! Also, one can see in the picture modern houses built around the ancient site.  There is a Catholic church over the ruins, which is the case for other sites in Israel. And one can see the main road, which is still the modern-day ridge route they would have traveled on to avoid the deep cutting valleys. 

Aerial view of a city

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Even though David had good intentions, afterwards he sought God for instruction, which encourages us to do the same. Not long after the Philistines attacked near Jerusalem, it says, “David inquired of God” if he should go against them. (14:10) Again, he inquired of God if to attack them, and God told him to send an ambush around them and succeeded. (14:16) “So David did as God commanded him, and they drove back the army of the Philistines from Gibeon as far as Gezer (could include pictures of them too😉). Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the LORD brought the fear of him upon all the nations.” (14:16,17) This account of David is so encouraging though he had good intentions and yet failed to seek God, he corrected himself immediately and sought God’s counsel if he should attack the Philistines.  We can learn from David and do likewise! “Be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day.” (Proverbs 23:17) In wrap up, it is interesting to note once again another Proverbs that talks about a child, which has a Hebrew word meaning more “youth.” “Do not withhold corrections from a child (YOUTH), for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13) Children and youth both need lots of training and correction, but the end results are so rewarding. Reach out to children nearby you or related to you and encourage and lovingly correct them. Many may be going back to camp this summer, which is a special time for them. Many times, they have good intentions and yet need directed in God’s ways. 😊

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Turn of Events

June 21 1 Chronicles 9, 10 and Proverbs 21

The Philistines fought against Israel on Mount Gilboa. King Saul and his sons were also fighting against them. They fell slain in battle there.  It says that “Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he didn’t keep the word of the LORD.” (10:13) He consulted a medium for guidance, “but he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore, He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David.” (10:14) It is so important to ask God for guidance, first and foremost. We so often ask others or search online for answers, which can be okay, but mainly we need to seek and ask God.  It had been almost 9 years since Saul’s disobedience and rejection by God as king, yet he was still ruling for years, until it says that God killed him through the Philistines, and FINALLY the kingdom was turned over to David… as they mourn for King Saul.  

Here is a modern aerial (drone) view of Mount Gilboa taken by our homeschooled high school son that was with my husband on a field trip. It is a mountain range, not one individual mountain. And guess what? It still has the same name today! In fact, by it you can see a manmade “snow” slope to go sledding on throughout the year.  😊

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Proverbs 21:1 follows the two chapters in Chronicles perfectly! “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.” And not just his heart but his whole life, as we just read that He can even kill the king. “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (21:3) “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the LORD.” (21:30)

Another Proverbs I wrote “sp” for speech by it helped me a lot during a rough time in my life. “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” (21:23) There were troubles brewing in my life, but it really helped to GUARD my mouth and tongue like a security guard standing by the opening of my mouth watching what I was going to say.  In Israel, there are security guards everywhere. Most malls have a grocery store in them, but before buying milk in the mall’s grocery store, I would need to pass by three security guards!  Thus, it is good for our words to be guarded at the exit of our mouth to make sure they are fitting! It is a good exercise today to picture a security guard by our mouths and tongues to make sure what we say is appropriate and pleasing to God. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

She Calls Out, But Is Ignored

Proverbs

Proverbs 1 20 a

The wisdom of God is personified as a woman in Proverbs 1:20-33.

20 “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:”

These verses paint a picture of Lady Wisdom loudly crying out in the middle of the city for people to listen.  She is desperately trying to get everyone’s attention.  The suggestion here is that God wants everyone to hear and respond to his wisdom.  Furthermore, everyone is eventually going to hear the loud calls, and will have to make the decision to either accept or ignore the offer.

 

Although wisdom is loudly calling out, few are listening to her.  The simple, the mockers and the fools are all ignoring her pleas.

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?”

 

Many will ignore the calls for wisdom, but the wisdom of God is available to those who do listen and turn from their sinful ways.

23 “Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.”

Nobody likes to be rebuked, to be strongly reprimanded, or have their actions criticized.  However, God will give understanding and wisdom to those that do repent when they have been rebuked.

 

Next the attention switches back to all those that continually fail to listen to God’s wisdom and are instead pursuing their own desires.

24 “But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.”

These verses reiterate that this group of people had the opportunity to listen to wisdom and obey God’s truths, but they instead willingly choose to ignore God.  There are consequences for their choices.  Notice that these verses state when disaster strikes and when calamity overtakes, not if disaster strikes or if calamity overtakes.

 

The next passage illustrates the need to seek wisdom before we act.  Once we have acted foolishly or sinned, we must face the consequences.  Even if we ask for forgiveness and repent, there are often still consequences that we have to face.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

We must wisely choose the correct path so that we can avoid disaster or calamity.  Too often we spend so much energy and time trying to get out of tough spots and wiggle our way out of bad situations that were brought on by our own poor choices. We would be far better off to listen to wisdom and avoid these bad situations and tough spots altogether.

 

The last two verses in the chapter contrast the foolish and the wise man.

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Failing to follow God’s wisdom has consequences.  Consequences now, but ultimately the greatest consequence will be on the final day of judgement.  Similarly, wisely following God’s plan does not guarantee a problem free life, but it will give you peace and joy in this life, and most importantly it will ensure a perfect and eternal life in the kingdom.

Jill McClain

Recognizing Wisdom – Proverbs 14

Prov 14-12 corrected
Have you ever found it easier to see the right thing for someone else to do than for yourself?  There is a reason for that.  We often times can tell someone what to do but can’t seem to do it for ourselves.
For example:
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
But he who utters lies is treacherous
 
In this proverb we see that lying only brings destruction.  We ourselves hate being lied to.  We hate seeing people live a lie. We know how much damage it can do.  We know this but I bet if I asked if you have ever lied or lived a lie you would probably say yes.  I bet if I asked you if you knew how to correct that in someone else’s life you would have an answer almost immediately.  It is so easy to see the foolishness in someone else.  Its easy to know what to do to correct their wrong behavior.  But I bet it is harder to correct in yourself.  Why can we see the answer to foolishness in others easily but have such a difficult time correcting it in our own lives? 
   The answer is we have no emotional ties to their sin.  We won’t have to deal with the consequences of trying to correct our behavior.  I can tell you how to correct your behavior all day long because I don’t have to do it.  I don’t have to deal with the mess.  But if I have to correct a sin I know what that will take, and often times I don’t want to deal with the pain and hurt that comes with going back and fixing issues like lying bring about.
Read Proverbs 14 and see if you can see any foolishness in your life that you need to correct.  Are their verses in this chapter that really resonate with you?  Can you see the foolishness in those verses?  Can you recognize the wisdom it takes to realize that some of these verses apply to you.  Are you willing to recognize the wise thing to do and apply it to your life?  Your foolish ways become harder and harder to stop the longer you wait. 
The very first verse illustrates this perfectly:
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
 
Are you tearing your life apart by not recognizing wisdom?
I’m praying for you.
Andy Cisneros

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

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