Judy’s Candy Bar Story

Proverbs 5

Proverbs 5 23 NIV

Solomon begins Proverbs 5 again reminding us to seek out God’s wisdom. We must not only hear the wisdom offered, but we must absorb that wisdom and apply it to our lives, so that we can make wise and moral decisions.  Then your “lips may preserve knowledge”.  In other words, the things we say will be full of knowledge and insight.  Solomon knows that we need God’s wisdom to help us make wise choices, because we are constantly facing temptations.

Solomon continues the chapter talking about our temptations, using the example of an adulterous woman.  He says, “For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.” (Proverbs 5:3) Simply put, this means that this immoral woman may come to you with sweet, flattering words.  She will look and sound very tempting.  She will tell you whatever it takes to lure you into believing that sexually sinning with her will bring you nothing but joy and happiness.

However, the next few verses go on to say, “But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.  She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.”  (Proverbs 5:4-6)  In verse 3 it seemed as though the woman was offering bliss, but we find out in these verses that she actually will lead us to suffering and death.  You notice it says “her steps lead straight to the grave”.  We are all moving on a path.  Each day we make countless decisions that are leading us down a path.  We need to be using the wisdom God has provided to us in the Bible to make sure we are making choices leading us on the right path.

In verse eight Solomon goes on to offer this advice, “Keep to a path far from her (the adulteress), do not go near the door of her house.”  The message here is stay as far away from temptation as possible.  Do not put yourself in situations that will tempt you to sin.

The story of Judy’s chocolate bar is the perfect illustration of the stay-as-far-away-from-temptation-as-possible principle.  Judy loves chocolate.  In fact, Judy loves chocolate too much, so she decides to not eat chocolate for a month.  One day, after deciding to give up chocolate for a month, Judy is at the grocery store buying food for dinner.  While at the store, Judy decides to just go down the aisle where the chocolate is.  She is not going to buy any, she just wants to look at it.  As she gets closer to the chocolate she notices that it is on sale.  Judy decides to purchase just one bar of chocolate.  She will not eat it now, but it is on such a good sale, she wants to take advantage of the bargain and buy it for later.  When she gets home from the store, she keeps thinking of the chocolate bar that is now sitting in her cupboard. Judy believes that just getting to smell the chocolate will be very satisfying and help her to stop craving the chocolate, so she unwraps the chocolate bar and takes a large whiff of the delicious chocolate.  It smells incredible.  Judy sets a small piece of the chocolate on her tongue, not to eat it, but just to take a little lick.  You guessed it, soon the chocolate is gone!  Judy devours the entire bar.  The question is, when would it have been easiest for Judy to refrain from eating the chocolate? Would it have been easier to not eat the chocolate when it was sitting in the wrapper in the cupboard, or when it was sitting on Judy’s tongue?  What if Judy had never gone down the chocolate aisle at the store, but had instead just gone to the fresh produce section?

We need to constantly pursue wisdom, so that we can make God-pleasing choices.  We must be vigilant so that we do not believe any of the world’s lies. And finally, when we have identified what our stumbling blocks are, we must stay far away and avoid those temptations.

Jill McClain

In God I Trust

Proverbs 3 5 NIV

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 is an often quoted and memorized Bible verse.  However, not surprisingly, it is easier said than done.  It is easy to say the words, without really thinking about what living out these words looks like.

Trust in the LORD.  When I trust in something I can count on it.  The dictionary definition of trust is, “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; to have confidence in (someone or something); to believe that something is true or correct.”  All of these definitions need to apply to my trust in God.  I must believe that all his promises are reliable and that what he says is true.  I must believe that he had the ability to create the world and that he has the strength to stand against my enemies.  I need have confidence that he cares for me and believe that his word, the Bible, is true and correct.

There are so many things in this life that I can put my trust in.  I can trust my family, my doctor, the government, my pastor, and the list goes one.  But over time, all these people will disappoint and let me down.  There is only one that is totally faithful and trustworthy, and that is my Heavenly Father.  However, if I don’t take the time to get to know God personally, I will never be able to totally trust him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart.  If I truly trust in God, it must be with ALL my heart.  If I only trust God some of the time, or with only some things, then I am not trusting God at all.  Trust is an all or nothing kind of proposition.

And lean not on your own understanding. I need to let go of what I think I know, and totally rely on God.  I must stop trying to be self-sufficient, but instead depend on my Creator and his infinite wisdom.

In all your ways submit to him.  Trusting in the Lord requires that I submit everything that I have, and everything that I do to him, all the time, every day.  Some versions say, “in all your ways acknowledge him.”  I acknowledge him when I feel his presence with me throughout the day, and turn to him for comfort, companionship and guidance.

And he will make your paths straight.  When I fully trust God, then he can lead me down the correct path.  So often I want to go my own way and do my own thing.  I like to be the boss. However, when I am truly trusting in God then I eagerly follow God’s direction.

When I want to know what God’s will in my life is, I only need to trust in him with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding, but in all my ways submit to him.  If I am trusting, leaning, and submitting, then I can be confident that I am following God’s plan for my life.

Jill McClain

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

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

 

The Source of Wisdom

PROVERBS 1

Proverbs 1 7 NIV

For the rest of the week we will be examining the first five chapters of Proverbs.  The writer of this portion of Proverbs is Solomon, the man who asked God for wisdom.  The book of Proverbs was written as an instruction guide, offering advice, and teaching fundamental truths about life.

Proverbs 1:1-7 introduces the book of Proverbs.  This section implores the reader to study continually, always in search of knowledge and wise instruction so that he may gain wisdom and develop the discernment necessary for righteous living.  Discernment is the ability to judge well, make the right decisions or proper choices.

1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

                                    (Proverbs 1:1-6)

Then in verse seven we have the theme.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  All knowledge and wisdom begins with God.  Knowing and obeying God is the foundation for every Christian.  The Creator used wisdom to create the entire world, and wisdom is fundamental to all of life.  “By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20)  We can know nothing, without it first coming from God.

The proverb of greatest importance is to fear God.  There is nothing more important than to know and obey God.  The next instruction for a successful life is to obey your parents.  In Proverbs 1:8-9 Solomon warns us to honor our parents’ teachings. He says that a parent’s instructions should be seen as treasures, valued and obeyed.  “Listen, my son, to your father’s instructions and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”  (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Skipping ahead a little to the beginning of chapter 2, we hear again the importance of pursuing wisdom.  We are told to purse wisdom, just as we would pursue a hidden treasure.  Then we are told again that God is the source of all wisdom.  And finally that wisdom will lead us to righteousness, justice and protection.

1My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

(Proverbs 2:1-11)

Just as surely as God gave Solomon wisdom, he can give it to you, too.  “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). However, it does require a constant searching, as if searching for a hidden treasure.  Actively studying your Bible every day is a great way to search out the treasure of wisdom.
Jill McClain

Wise Enough to Know We are Not Wise Enough on Our Own

1 Kings 3 9

Yesterday, we looked at the relationship between King David and Bathsheba that led to the birth of Solomon.  When King David died, Solomon became king.  “Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” (2 Chronicles 1:1)

God appeared to King Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what he would most like to receive.  Solomon could have asked for remarkable good looks, great bravery in battle, a large loving family, or great riches.  However, Solomon instead asked for wisdom and knowledge.  God replied to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you.”  God was very pleased that Solomon chose wisdom as the gift he most wanted to receive from God.  So, He not only agreed to give Solomon wisdom, but He also said, “I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”  (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)   Later in that same chapter we read that Solomon had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses and that “he made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones”. God blessed Solomon not only with wisdom, but also with fame, riches and prestige.

Especially during the beginning of King Solomon’s reign, he used his great wisdom and discernment to help govern his people.  One such instance is recorded in 2 Kings 3:16-28.  Two prostitutes came before Solomon asking him to solve a dispute.  Both women claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy.  Solomon said he would cut the baby in two and give each woman half of the baby.  One woman quickly offered that the baby should be given to the other woman.  Solomon determined that the woman who was willing to give the baby up, rather than have him cut in half, must be the true mother for she loved the son too much to have him harmed.

Today you may be contemplating important plans for your future.  Maybe you are struggling with how to deal with a difficult person in your life.  Or possibly you are dealing with a family crisis. When you are faced with difficult choices in your life, how reassuring to know that the Creator of the universe can grant you the wisdom and discernment needed to make sound decisions.  Will you ask Him to? Will you search out the wisdom He has already shared with you in the Bible?

Jill McClain

Never Too Messy for God

INTRODUCTION to PROVERBS

1 Chronicles 22 9

Solomon, who is he and why should I know that name?  First, let’s review the salacious story that led up to the birth of Solomon.  It was Spring, a time when most of the kings in the land would go to battle, due to favorable weather conditions and plentiful food.  However, King David, decided for whatever reason to send his soldiers out to battle, but he himself stayed back in Jerusalem, which certainly went against the warrior king’s typical protocol.  On one of these fine Spring evenings, King David took a walk out on his roof top. As he was strolling around he gazed upon a beautiful woman bathing.  David inquired who the gorgeous bathing beauty was, and was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.  King David invited Bathsheba to join him in his bedroom….which lead to…..can you guess?  I’ll give you a hint.  A short time later Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant, with his child.

Upon hearing that Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, King David twice tried to convince Uriah, one of his fiercest warriors, to come home to be with his wife, hoping it would appear that Bathsheba had gotten pregnant by Uriah.  When both of those initial plans failed, David concocted an even more sinister scheme, this time to have Uriah killed.  King David ordered that Uriah be sent to the front line of the fiercest battle, and then instructed that the rest of the soldiers fall back, leaving Uriah alone to face the enemy.  Just as planned, Uriah met his untimely death in the battle that ensued. Following Uriah’s death, Bathsheba moved into David’s home and became his wife.

Not surprisingly, God was very displeased with David for taking Uriah’s wife and then sending him out to die.  David had to face the consequences of his sins.

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you (David) king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms.  I gave you all Israel and Judah.  And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?  You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own.  You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now, there, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’  This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you.  Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight.  You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (2 Samuel 12:7-12)

After God delivered this message to David the child born to David and Bathsheba became ill.  David was full of remorse and pleaded with God for forgiveness and for his son’s life.  God forgave David, but his first son with Bathsheba died.

David and Bathsheba had a second son, and they named him Solomon.  Solomon means peaceful.  Solomon went on to become King and his reign was one of peace as foretold in I Chronicles 22:9, “But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side.  His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.  He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father.  And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” God loved Solomon and told the prophet Nathan to name him Jedidiah, which means beloved of Jehovah.

There may be consequences to pay for your sins, but if you seek forgiveness God can still work through your “mess” to accomplish great things. After all, from David and Bathsheba came Solomon.

-Jill McClain

 

(If you’ve been reading with us all year you know we have been working on reading and discussing one chapter of the New Testament everyday – with some FREE THEME days added in to round out the 365 days.  For the month of October we will be reading one chapter of Proverbs a day – the 1st chapter on the 1st of October, 2nd chapter on the 2nd, etc…  It’s a great book to help us all gain a lot of wisdom.  Then, in November we will cover the book of Revelation, and finish off the year with the last gospel we saved for December: Luke.  Keep reading His Word!)

“Go, Tell It on the Mountain”

Go, tell it on the mountain

 

“Go, Tell It on the Mountain” was first sung by slaves on American plantations during the 19th century.  The slaves could identify with a Messiah that was born in a lowly manger and lived a humble life.  They embraced the Savior’s promise of a better life for all who would follow him.  And so the slaves eagerly sang the Good News for all to hear.

 

Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching o’er silent flock by night,

Behold throughout the heavens there shone a holy light.

 

Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

The shepherds feared and trembled when, lo above the earth-

Rang out the angel chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth.

 

Go, tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

Down in a lowly manger our humble Christ was born,

And God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.

 

The song tells the story of shepherds watching their sheep on the night Jesus was born.  A bright light startled the shepherds and an angel told the frightened shepherds the news of Jesus’ birth.  As soon as the angels left, the shepherds excitedly decided to go find Jesus.  “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which was just as they had been told” (Luke 2:16-18, 20).

The shepherds were excited to see Jesus and they were eager to tell everyone they met about all they had heard and seen!  They were thrilled that the promised Messiah had finally come and they couldn’t contain their enthusiasm.  They were motivated and anxious to spread the Good News!  Consequently, others in turn learned of the Savior’s birth.

The angel’s announcement to the shepherds was not just good news for the shepherds, but “great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).  Are you doing your part to spread the good news to all people?  You must go and tell the gospel on your mountain, in your neighborhood, at your school, where you work and everywhere you go.

-Jill McClain

“Away in a Manger”

Away in a Manger

 

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And help me with others Thy mercies to share.

 

When Jesus was born he did not come with the splendor and pageantry that would be expected of a king; instead, Jesus was laid in a manger.  A manger is a feeding trough for hungry animals, such as cattle, horses and donkeys.  It is no place for any sleeping baby to lay, much less a king.  Although Mary and Joseph probably tried to clean the manger up before they laid Jesus down, it was still undoubtedly a dirty and rough place for a baby to sleep.

Baby Jesus was laid in a manger because there was no other place for him to lay.  “She [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).  At first it may seem that it was just a series of misfortunate, unforeseen circumstances that resulted in the baby Jesus being laid in the manger.  However, that simply can’t be the case. God had centuries to prepare for the birth of his son.  Since the first sin in the garden, God had foretold of Jesus’ coming (Genesis 3:15). 700 years before Jesus was born Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  So, God had plenty of time to plan every detail of his son’s birth.  God could have easily arranged to have Jesus born in a castle with an ornately decorated cradle as a bed; after all, He is God, and He can do anything.

So, why would God choose that Jesus’ first bed should be a manger? Jesus was laid in a manger as an infant king because he came to teach mankind that God’s expectations are often opposite of the world’s.  Jesus taught his followers that the last would be first and the least would be the greatest (Matthew 19:30).  He humbled himself and became a servant, washing his disciples’ feet.  Jesus’ entire life was an example of humility.  Based on Christ’s life-long example, Paul instructs us to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).  In verse 8 of the same chapter Paul goes on to say, “he [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”  The manger was just a foreshadowing of the humility that that would lead to the cross.

What about you?  Are you ready to live humbly to follow Jesus?

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him [Jesus], ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’

Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head’” (Luke 9:57-58).

Jesus’ first bed was a manger, because there was no other place for him to lay his head.  Later, as an adult he still had no place to lay his head.  We have been called to follow Jesus.  What are you willing to leave behind to humbly follow your Savior?  Are you ready to give up your comfy cradle for a manger?

-Jill McClain

 

 

“Joy to the World! The Lord is Come”

joy to the world

 

Isaac Watts published the words for “Joy to the World” in 1719.  A century after Watts wrote the words, Dr. Lowell Mason, heavily influenced by Handel’s “Messiah”, set the words to music. Watts wrote the famous carol after meditating on Psalm 98.  Psalm 98:4 reads, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music.”  This is precisely what Watts was trying to do by writing the hymn.

 
Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King
;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He’ll rule the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love, and wonders of His love
And wonders, and wonders of His love.

 

The first verse of the carol talks of Jesus coming to earth.  It does not talk about Jesus’ coming as a special baby, but more importantly his coming as King. There is no mention in the entire carol of Bethlehem, a manger, shepherds, or a special star.   In fact, much of the carol has more to do with Jesus’ future, second coming, than with his birth as a baby.

 

The third verse of the carol mentions “thorns infesting the ground” and “the curse”, both references to God telling Adam that the ground would be cursed as a consequence of his sin (Genesis 3:17-18). Because Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, mankind would have to work to produce food, and instead of abundant crops growing effortlessly, now weeds and thorns would be plentiful.  However, the carol is looking forward to a day when there will be no more sin, sorrow or thorns.  We know all too well, that that day has not yet come, but we look forward with confidence to the day Jesus will return to earth again and all the consequences of sin will be defeated.

Although much of “Joy to the World” tells the story of Jesus second coming, it is still a wonderful song for us to sing at Christmastime.  As we celebrate Christmas, it is important for us to remember that Jesus did not stay a baby in a manger.  His story does not end with his death on the cross, or even his resurrection. We sing of “Joy to the World” because we know that one day Jesus is coming back to set up his Father’s perfect, never-ending, kingdom here on earth!

-Jill McClain