Who is Like the Lord?

Micah 1-2

Have you ever wondered, “what’s so special about Jerusalem?”

I mean, think about it. Maybe look at a map. That area has been hotly contested by kingdoms, empires, nations, world religions, and people groups since the dawn of time. Why? The reason for each group is a little different, but practically speaking, it’s the only strip of land that connects Europe, Asia, and Africa all together. Everything around it is pure desert. 

So Israel, since the days of Moses, has been an impossibly small tribe in an ocean of military conquests and empires. Over and over again, though, God had protected Israel and preserved their residence in the top real estate of the ancient world.

Until the days of Micah.

During the time of the Old Testament minor prophets, Israel had walked away from God and His protection. The northern half of the kingdom (which split off from Judah, the southern half)) was about to be destroyed by the kingdom of Assyria. Micah was pleading with his countrymen to return back to God and His protection before they fell to a similar fate.

Micah means “Who is like the LORD?” and his name fits the theme of his message perfectly. Chapter 1 is a call for Judah to start mourning for the fate that is sure to befall them. It’s also a reminder that all of this will happen because they turned away from their covenant to God (see our discussion on Amos 5 earlier this week). 

In chapter 2, Micah goes on and on about the many ways that his country has totally forgotten about their God. My favorite verse in this section is 2:7b: “Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?” In other words, God asks Judah, “if you were following my Word, wouldn’t you be so much better off?” And this is the lesson for the reader today: God’s Word is beautiful and practical. We don’t just learn about God in His words! We also find life, love and contentment in God’s words!

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible Reading Plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Micah 1-2 and Revelation 8

Don’t Quit

Jeremiah 35 & 36

We sure could use a few more Jeremiahs today!  He was quick to follow God’s instructions, and he boldly spoke God’s truth even when it was quite unpopular.  And, he didn’t quit!

At the time of the events of Jeremiah chapter 36 the prophet had already been preaching to his Jewish brothers and sisters for over 20 years – warning them again and again of God’s displeasure and the coming wrath if they don’t repent and turn from their wicked ways.  Over and over again he has urged the people, the kings, the priests to stop sinning and return to God.  But as a nation, they don’t get it.  They revel in their freedom, follow after the gods of their neighbors and fall further and further from what God designed them to be – His chosen people who love Him and follow Him and are blessed by Him.

The 20 plus years of preaching hasn’t turned the hearts of Judah back to their Creator.  Maybe if it was ALL written down – would the people listen then?  God tells Jeremiah to write down all the sermons he has ever preached – every word that God has given him from the very start of his ministry.  God said, “Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I plan to inflict on them, each of them will turn from his wicked way; then I will forgive their wickedness and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3 NIV).  Even though God hates the sins of His people He still loves them and wants to give them another chance to come back to Him.  And so a great project begins.  Jeremiah dictates as his scribe Baruch writes it all down.  Perhaps the people will listen.  They spend over a year writing – God has said a lot.  How will the people respond to this book that lays it all out?

Since Jeremiah’s unpopular (but very Godly) message has already had him personally banned from the temple, Baruch is sent to read God’s words through Jeremiah to the people.  One who hears it, Micaiah, realizes the importance of what has been written and he arranges a reading of it with some of the royal officials.  “When they heard all these words, they looked at each other in fear” (Jeremiah 36:16) and they arrange for the king himself to hear the words on the scroll from Baruch, Jeremiah, and ultimately God.

Here’s the king’s chance.  He can hear God’s word and repent and lead the nation into a time of Godly reformation, thus saving them from God’s wrath at the hands of the Babylonians – just as his father Josiah had done years ago.  But King Jehoiakim thinks he knows better.  His arrogance and hardened heart don’t crack.  Instead, as the scroll is read to him in his chambers, he cuts it apart and burns God’s word, piece by piece.

Can you imagine the anger and defeat and perhaps fear Jeremiah and Baruch may have felt when they heard the fate of their scroll – God’s words?  To know the utter disrespect they (and their God) had received – and how their work was violated and destroyed.  And they didn’t even have a copy saved on their hard drive.  Totally lost.  Over a year’s work, gone.  But, God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).  So, when God tells Jeremiah to write it all down again – with an extra word for Jehoiakim – Jeremiah and Baruch get to work – and the second work is completed, more impressive than the first. And perhaps much of what we read today in the book of Jeremiah comes from this second labor of love and obedience and great persistence.

God’s Words are priceless.  Some will hear and respond and pass it on. Like Jeremiah they are motivated to live by, love and share God’s words in order to save themselves and their hearers  (1 Timothy 4:16).  But others will scoff, show no fear and even seek to destroy it.  It does not change the supreme importance and value of the words – or the God who spoke them.  Nations, kings, priests, people; past, present and future will be judged by how they respond to God and His Word.  The king who brazenly cut apart and burned the scroll paid with his life – and his children and country suffered mightily for it as well.  Jeremiah and Baruch had far from an easy life – but they didn’t give up.  They kept at it – writing, sharing, reading, speaking and living God’s Word.  They persistently worked striving to help save those in danger of experiencing God’s wrath.  Will you stand with them today and be a Jeremiah?

-Marcia Railton

Sorry we were late in sending today’s devotion out.

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 35 & 36 and Hebrews 9

Let the Rains Fall

Isaiah 54-58

Isaiah 55 10a 11 NIV sgl

There is an endless cycle of the outpouring of God’s word followed by Man’s obedience and satisfaction before Man disobeys and becomes dissatisfied. This can manifest itself over the course of generations, as is the case in the story of Noah. God is with Man in the Garden and Man knows God. Man is obedient but his obedience quickly turns to disobedience. Once God decides it is time to pour out His Word, He speaks to Noah and Noah listens. Then the cycle repeats. We see an obedient generation in the early kingdom of Israel under David which becomes disobedient in a matter of generations. The cycle can also be seen in the life of individuals. I was fed the Word from the time I was an infant; I grew up with it and accepted it. Then I became disobedient as I became a teen only to see God’s word in a whole new light and to be brought back to obedience and satisfaction in God. In fact, I have seen this cycle no less than three times in my own life. The cycle can be a minor affair, not having to represent a complete falling out with God but instead moments of spiritual hunger and moments of spiritual contentment.

Isaiah 55:8-11 is a wonderful metaphor for this cycle. We see that God’s word is like the rain, for it exists for a purpose; it exists to nurture the earth and to bear fruit. At times the rain can come as a veritable monsoon, as in the days of the early church when men were prophesying and speaking in tongues and the church was spreading like wildfire. It can come and it can go without warning, bringing with it the full force of a thunderstorm, forcing everyone to watch in awe. It can also come gently in the night and no one will hear it.

Droughts can stretch on seemingly endlessly, but survival is still made possible by the preparations that we make during the rainy season. We store up food for ourselves so that we won’t go hungry. Droughts are tough. Some people don’t survive. Some are victims of their own inaction, unable to survive because they didn’t reap a harvest while it was available to them. Yet still others seem to be innocent, faithful in the harvest and responsible in the draught, but they fall victim to it nevertheless. It is possible that there was water nearby and all they had to do was search for it. Sometimes it requires the wisdom to move on from a place to survive a draught. After all, there is a reason that not many people live in the desert.  The draught is difficult to overcome but one thing is certain: the rain will come again.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+54-58&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Isaiah 59-63 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119 11 NIV sgl

(We will read the second half of the longest chapter of the Bible on Sunday – but feel free to actually read the whole thing both days – it is full of good stuff!)

What comes to mind when you hear the word purity? Because we currently live in a fallen world where sin is part of our human nature, we are all impure. Think about it… what about your thoughts? What do you think about? Are there any sins that don’t start with a thought? I’m sure we could learn a whole lot about someone if we could read their thoughts, because the thing about our thoughts is that they are essentially hidden from the rest of the world. And this is why it can be so dangerous. What starts to be a single almost innocent thought can then eventually or suddenly develop from good to bad to ugly. So when would be a better time than now to examine our thoughts and heart. God knows our thoughts, we can’t hide anything from Him, remember? Our thoughts do matter. They reveal what is in our heart. 

 

Thankfully, we can find in Psalm 119 how to stay pure. 

 

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

 

Psalm 119: 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Because God’s word should be our treasure in life we should hide it in our heart and meditate on it so that we can obey it and therefore stay pure. So let’s see what Philippians 4:8 says. “ And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This makes staying pure a little harder, not only should they be pure, they should be honorable as well.

 

 I am so glad this verse made it into our Bibles because it has certainly helped me. When I was little I used to have trouble falling asleep from worrying, until my mom wrote out Philippians 4:6-8 and hung it up next to my bed. Suddenly I had a way to check my thoughts. A thought checker. If it doesn’t align with Philippians 4:8 throw it out of your mind. And even more than that, I was able to memorize it and because of that I’ve been able to use it throughout the years. 

 

Starting some habits can be really helpful in controlling your thoughts. But the first step is to really know the scriptures so you know what is right and wrong. Because how else can we know what the Bible says if we don’t take the time to study, meditate, memorize, and know what it says? Also you will need to commit to memorizing scripture so that when the time comes that they are needed you will be able to pull them out of our pocket and meditate on them. 

Here are some great verses to memorize and hide in our hearts.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 “ Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way  you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

 

Romans 8:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for your. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Or 2 Corinthians 6:6, Romans 8:6, or 2 Corinthians 10:5, and many many others. 

 

So the next time you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, make it a habit to test your thoughts and make sure they align with Philippians 4:8.  When they don’t, affirm that it is a thought that doesn’t align with God’s word and toss it out. Just like Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter was a stumbling block for him, you might choose to say something in response to it to help combat it. Then, ask God to renew your mind and help you strive to live a life pleasing to Him. Lastly and one of the most important steps, meditate on scripture. Choose a specific verse that is personal and recite it over and over again. 

 

So how can a young person stay pure? By living according to God’s word. By meditating on Scripture and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A1-88&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1 and Psalm 72 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Tell the Next Generation

1 Chronicles 7-10

Psalm 78 4b NIV

 

I believe today’s reading will be the last of the genealogies for awhile.  There are a lot of names, a lot of generations.  Father to son.  Father to son.  Father to son – and sometimes a daughter.  Father to son. A whole lot of heritage.  A whole lot of passing along from one generation to the next.  It reminds us that our life is not just what we see and experience today.  We have a past that has shaped us and we (and our children) have a future for which to prepare.

 

I am reminded of a passage in Psalm 78 that we read last week but didn’t have time to discuss directly.

 

My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their ancestors—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.

Psalm 78:1-8

 

I am thankful for a father who passed along to me the spiritual heritage he received from his father and grandfather.  Both of my parents brought their children up to seek and serve the Lord first – it is by far the most important life lessons that they taught.  In fact, today’s photo is a Bible timeline that I inherited from my dad, and one of my favorite treasures from him. He spent hours researching and meticulously drawing out this timeline to help illustrate for his Bible students (including his children) God’s faithfulness and plan for the ages.  And, he lived it out with his life, too.

 

So, now it is my turn to pass along what I have heard and learned.  How do I do that with the words I speak, with the priorities I set and with the life I live?  How do I help my children seek God, grow in faith and love Him more and more?

 

There are so many negative influences and evil that would love to help us and our children forget God’s great deeds, His law, His faithfulness and His plan for the ages.  But we must not forget.  Nor is it enough to just remember for ourselves.  We have a great responsibility to hand these truths down to the next generation so they can hand them down to the generation after them, etc…until Jesus returns.

 

Maybe you cannot celebrate an upright Godly spiritual heritage in your genetic past.  You don’t have the benefit of an antique family heirloom Bible timeline rolled up in your closet.  That’s okay.  Paper rips and ink fades, but if you have a love for the LORD you have priceless spiritual mentors you can call mom and dad.  And, then, we must in turn create a spiritual heritage rich in God’s goodness, laws, and plan for salvation for those around us: our children, grandchildren and those children of all ages and colors and countries who need to know what God’s Word says and who God is.

 

God’s genealogy doesn’t end here in 1st Chronicles.  It is continuing today, and into the future.  Will it be recorded that you passed along what is of the most importance to those that came after you?  Don’t let yourself, or your children, be listed as the ones that forgot.  Tell of His goodness.  Put God first.  Pass it on.

Marcia Railton

 

Too important to not mention: I love verse 6 in Psalm 78 (above) where we see the value and great worth of, “the children yet to be born”.  Whether the children are conceived or not, born or not, they were planned to play a part in God’s design of the passing along of family and faith.  How tragic that this link has been broken time and time again when the children yet to be born are killed for convenience before they even get a chance to hear, learn and share of their Creator.  Tell of His goodness.  And His Word and His law.  Do not forget.  And do not ignore the evil that rejoices when God is forgotten.  We need to speak louder since voices in the chain are silenced.

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+7-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalms 102-104 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Starving for God

Job 21-23

Job 23 12b NIV

Poor Job.  I do pity him.  But not just for the extreme losses and suffering he endured.  Not just for the additional pain of unsympathetic, accusing friends.  But for being born when he was.

Previously we have mentioned Job’s yearning for a mediator – someone to stand before God on his behalf.  Someone in the middle who would reach out his hands to touch both God and man and draw them together.  Wise Job.  Can you imagine how thrilled he would have been to have the opportunity to meet, listen to, accept and follow the Messiah, God’s Son Jesus?  But, it wasn’t time yet.

It also wasn’t time yet for him to hold God’s precious living, giving words of life in his lap.  Job knew the power and gift of God’s words.  He stated, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).  But, at this time in history God would speak when He chose, where He chose, to whom He chose, and the record of his words would be passed down, mostly orally, to any who would listen. It was a good start – but Job longed for more.  He said:

“If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
 I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
 I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.”

(Job 23:3-5, NIV)

We know that Job will get the amazing opportunity to have the Almighty speak directly to him (that is coming in next week’s reading).  But that didn’t help him yet at the time of today’s passage.  He is searching for God.  He is starving for God’s word.  He needs to hear from God.  And he does not yet have the gift of God-breathed scriptures on his lap or in the palm of his hand.  God’s Word is powerful and a great treasure.  What a blessing we have in the gift of the Bible – where we find God, His wisdom, love, majesty, truth, encouragement, correction, as well as His Son, forgiveness, and a hope and a plan for eternal life.  It is an incredible gift to hear God.  It is an incredible gift to read the words of God.  It is a gift we too often ignore.

God warns that His Word will not always be readily available.  “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land– not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11). Perhaps He was first referring to the 400 years of silence that would take place between the inspired Old Testament and New Testament.  But, I fear that it also refers to a time in the end days.  Perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of it even now.  Prepare by stockpiling God’s Word in your heart now.  It will help you both today and tomorrow.

If you ever feel God is distant – check to see how far away your closest Bible is.

If you ever feel you can’t hear God – turn off the distractions and open His Word.

If you ever feel you are starving for God – feast on His Word.

 

Seeking God in His Word,

Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s passage – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+21-23&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 24-28 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Contentment and So Much More

Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30 8 9 NIV

The author of this proverb, Agur, begins by belittling his understanding. The irony is that his words hold great wisdom. He is not bragging about his knowledge and understanding. He is declaring the LORD our God as unfathomably great. He asks six questions, five of which identify the power of God. The sixth is prophetic of the yet unborn son of God, Jesus. Additionally, his understanding of the perfection of God’s word and the refuge it provides us is astounding. This is a man of great wisdom who humbly recognizes his insignificance before God which in itself makes him all the more wise.

He then focuses on two requests of God; honesty and contentment. He asks that falsehoods and lies be kept far from him. He provides a variety of ways in which lies and deception can bring curses down upon our heads. They destroy our relationships and cause us to spiral ever further from the God who loves us. Entwined in these illustrations are lessons of being satisfied with what we have. Appreciating that our needs are met and being content with that is not easy when there is often so much more that we want. God provides for our needs, the author acknowledged this. Everything beyond our needs comes from our desires which are, more often than not, borne of our sinful natures.

Agur then contrasts contentment with greed. First pointing to leeches which will gorge themselves beyond their needs. Then he personifies four things which are never satisfied. Two of these are actually life-giving; the womb and land. These are bookended by destructive examples; the grave and fire.

Verse seventeen seems oddly out of place and more than a little disturbing. It actually goes with the theme of honesty. The person suffering such a creepy fate has been dishonest in action and words with their family, and likely with everyone else in their life. Ultimately they will be alone and everything they had will be scattered among the people around them.

How do the eagle, snake, ship and couple fit together? Is this what Agur did not understand? I doubt it. Each of these examples can be seen as somewhat mysterious in what path they will take. The eagle is not limited in the great expanse of the sky just as there are few obstacles that the snake could not overcome. Without a rudder and someone to steer, the ship would be tossed at the whim of the sea just as the whims of men and women often make courtship, that is dating for all those not familiar with the term, tumultuous. So how does this fit in with what Agur is trying to convey? It goes back to his self-proclaimed ignorance of, well, everything but specifically of God’s ways and will.

And then we get back to a verse that makes us scratch our head. The mention of the adulteress is actually an example of someone who is neither content with their relationship or dealing honestly with others. Additionally, she is completely without remorse as she sees nothing wrong with her actions. My prayer is that none of us would get caught up in this specific type of behavior but even more so that we would be remorseful of any actions that we take or words that we use which hurt others.

Up until verse 21, Agur has been consistent with themes of God’s power and majesty, honesty, and contentment. Somewhat enigmatic but consistent nonetheless. Beginning with verse 21 though he expands his words of wisdom. First to include the injustices of the world or what he refers to as four things by which the earth cannot bear. Of the four examples the first and last are of one who is raised to a higher position, likely without the benefit of knowledge or understanding of their responsibilities. This type of unfair promotion can lead to disaster in most cases. It is not uncommon though to see someone with little knowledge of how to manage situations or how to lead people placed in a high position. Additionally it is a warning to us not to seek after something we are not prepared or equipped to handle. I guess that goes back to one of the main ideas as well, contentment.

Agur then reminds us that wisdom and understanding are not reserved for anyone. Young and old, big and small may seek after these great treasures. His specific examples are of course of the small creatures and the wisdom found in how they act. The contrast however is of larger creatures and their “stately bearing.” The imagery used is of pride and arrogance. Perhaps a reminder of humility in our own positions, whatever they may be. Given how this proverb concludes that would certainly seem to be the final lesson.

So what have we learned from Agur, other than that he has a pretty cool name? Humility is greatly valued, especially in light of our amazing God’s power. He was in awe of the gift of God’s word that has been given to all men. He esteemed honesty and contentment as the greatest gifts to request from God. And he reminds us that it is not our age or size that matters but our willingness to seek after wisdom that counts.

 

To be continued…

Jeff Ransom

Check Your Heart

Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 19 NIV

 

Christian comedian John Crist has become known for the phrase “check your heart.” For example, when you order your meal at the counter but say “I’ll just have a water”, but when you get to the machine you fill up your cup with Sprite. Hmm… check your heart! He is not suggesting that you check the muscle that pumps blood through your arteries and veins. He is talking about your spiritual heart.

 

Proverbs 23:7 says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, said he to you; but his heart is not with you.” The Passion Translation puts it like this “For as he thinks within himself, so is he. He will grudgingly say, ‘Go ahead and eat all you want,’ but in his heart he resents the fact that he has to pay for your meal.” Basically, the words of your mouth and your heart need to be aligned. Your words will mean nothing if your heart holds a grudge.

 

When you think about doing something bad to a person, it’s just as bad as you doing it. If your heart is clean then your lips speak clean words but when your heart is dirty all that you share is dirty.  You might be able to hide it for a while but eventually it will come out.  We need to pray the same prayer of David in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

 

Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The writer wants us to understand that our first priority is to guard our spiritual heart because our whole life flows out of our heart. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

 

Make sure you are checking your heart regularly… and not with a stethoscope but with God’s word!

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

Dark Ways

October 2 – Proverbs 2 (& surrounding chapters)

Proverbs 2 12 13 NIV

Let’s continue to look at Proverbs 1-4.  Today we are going to focus in on the sections dealing with avoiding sin and living a righteous life.

Proverbs 1:10-19 issues a warning about hanging out with the wrong crowd.  “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.”  (Proverbs 1:10) It is critical to quickly and firmly resist even the smallest temptation.  Immoral people are often not satisfied with just doing bad things on their own, but they will instead often try to persuade others to join in their wrongdoing.  But Proverbs warns, “My son, do not walk in the way with them (sinners).  Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood.”  (Proverbs 1:15-16) The wise will not give into negative peer pressure, but they will quickly flee from temptation and those doing wrong.  It is dangerous thinking to believe that you can associate with habitual sinners, but not be affected yourself.  Verses 18 and 19 then explain that those that set out to do evil will ultimately harm themselves.  “But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives.  So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.”

In chapter two Solomon continues to stress that a wise person will resist evil.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

However, it is not enough to just avoid sin, but it is important to go beyond that, and treat others with goodness and generosity.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you. (Proverbs 3:27-28)

In chapter four a stark comparison is given between the righteous and the wicked.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19)

How important to realize that with every choice we make, we are choosing to either live in the light or the darkness.

Then Solomon ends chapter four with some straightforward advice about how to keep choosing to live in the light.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

We must read the word of God, not only looking on it, but keeping it in our heart, or following through and acting on it.  We have to guard our heart and mind, always being vigilant of our thoughts, actions and priorities. We must be careful of what we say.  We must keep our eyes focused on God and his plans for our lives.  And finally, we must make sure that we are always moving in the right direction, drawing closer to God, and never turning away from him.

Jill McClain

 

Don’t Just Save Yourself

Deut 6 7

FREE THEME – The rest of the story in Deuteronomy 6

Yesterday we looked at the beginning of Deuteronomy 6 and saw God’s blueprint and purpose for spiritual education: God makes the rules and sends Moses to teach the people so that they will obey and receive God’s blessings.  God’s people need to be learners who study what is right and do it – not just once or twice – but continually.  Are they really God’s people if they don’t believe and act like it?  And how can they believe and act like it if they haven’t truly learned what God requires?  And, not just what others say God requires, for there are many who distort God’s Words and have not learned from Him.  God’s word needs to be a vital part of us – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 6:6).   It is our connection to God Almighty.

But, it is not enough for you to be connected and learning.  Your next job – is to be a teacher.  For Moses continues, “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ” (Deuteronomy 6:7).  It’s not enough for me, or for you, to be full of God’s Word – just for our own health and benefit and blessing.  It must be shared.  It must be passed on to others – and specifically to the next generation.  They need to know about the One true God.  They need to know about His love and faithfulness and also His requirements and even His anger.  They need to know about the blessings and curses He laid out for His children – so they can choose wisely.

Further along in Deuteronomy 6 Moses reiterates – be sure to follow God’s laws for your life so you will “do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you.” (6:18).  But, it’s not enough to save yourself.  In 6:20 we are to have an answer for our son (perhaps a teenager – or a college student) questioning why we live the way we do.  We are to tell about God’s goodness and faithfulness and the promises we have seen Him keep.

We see this over and over again in Scripture.  Learn – and teach.  Listen – and speak.  Live it – and Give it.  In Psalm 78 we read:

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

The battle is real – and it is for the lives of our neighbors, our children, even the children yet to be born.

If your excuse is that you don’t know enough – see part 1 from yesterday – be a learner.  Get into God’s Word and then pass it on.  But don’t wait until you think you know everything (never) – start with what God teaches you today – and share it.  And don’t be surprised when you learn even more as you seek to share it with others.

 

Keep Growing – and Helping Others Grow

Marcia Railton

 

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