November 1, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 31:10-31

In January of 2009, on my first (maybe second) visit to Center Point Church, Tim was preaching in a relationship series similar to the one we finished in the Spring. Anyway, he brought a young lady up on stage as he was discussing friendship, and I’ll never forget his description of her—“Everybody’s best friend!”

In 2009, CPC was quite a bit smaller and many times over the next several months I would see “Everybody’s best friend” around church. In the Fall, I started serving with Todd in the college ministry that I was able to officially meet Erin for the first time. Long story short, we’ve been married for almost 7 years and now have two baby girls.

I remember thinking when Tim called Erin, “Everybody’s best friend” that she would be somebody I’d like to get to know—and I’m glad I did!

Proverbs 31:10–31 provides a description of a wife of noble character. However, it also serves as a sort of epilogue to the book of Proverbs—it is an example of woman wisdom in action (See also Proverbs 8).

Two notes of interest is that this section is a Hebrew acrostic. It is a form of poetry where each verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. Likewise, this section is a chiasm pictured below from the New American Commentary.

I read a dating book when I was single that had a chapter heading I’ll never forget. It said, “Before you tie the knot, make sure the rope isn’t around your neck.” While I didn’t know much in 2009, I did know that. As I was searching and praying for a wife, one of the things I was looking for was a person who was well-liked by people I respected. I had already felt that the Lord was calling me into ministry and having a wife that was constantly in conflict or unapproachable would be a hinderance and not a help. Thus, Tim unknowingly provided the endorsement I was looking for. The important aspect of a chiasm is the center—a wife of noble character brings public respect for her husband, and I would add, her household.

I don’t always live with wisdom, but I know without a doubt that marrying Erin is the best decision I’ve ever made. She and I are far from perfect, but I know that when people meet her, they view me in a more positive light—she brings public respect to me and my house.

If you’re married, you understand the value of a spouse who lives in light of God’s wisdom. The question is, how has your reading of Proverbs challenged you in wisdom and understanding? If you’re single, and feel called to get married, I would say that before you start looking for a Proverbs 31 kind of person, make sure you are one. If you live like a fool according to Proverbs, hopefully a Proverbs 31 person wouldn’t give you a chance to drag him or her down. In that case, pursue wisdom, which begins with the fear of the Lord.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

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October 31, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 31:1-9

Proverbs 31 is a famous passage… but not for the verses I am covering. Tyler will enlighten us on the well-known “wife of noble character” section tomorrow. As for today, we’re looking at the first 9 verses of the chapter, and while they aren’t as popular, they pack quite a punch.

Aside from knowing that Lemuel was a king in Massa (Arabia), very little is known about him. Some Jewish scholars say that this could have been another pen name for Solomon as it clearly fits the writing style and content. If that were the case, then the mother mentioned in verse 1 is Bathsheba who knew all too well about the topics covered — evil women, drunkenness, and fighting for the oppressed.

In verse 3, Lemuel gives his son a stern warning about sinfully giving himself to women (plural), especially those who would bring him down. This is a great reminder to us that the Lord desires marriage to be holy: one man given to one woman in a covenant bond. If Lemuel’s son gave himself to these women, his future throne would be in jeopardy. These sinful women would bring him to his knees.

The next section (verses 4-9) give us a neat parallel concerning alcohol and fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. Lemuel strongly opposes drunkenness in these verses. Check out this commentary from the ESV:

The calling of kings is to serve the well-being of their subjects, especially in protecting the rights of all the afflicted. They must never allow their judgment to be clouded by wine or strong drink. ESV Study Bible

Also, in another one of my study tools (NLT Study Bible), it says this: “Too much wine numbs the senses. A king needs his wits about him and should not overindulge in alcohol.” This translates well to us today. We are in a fast-paced, social media-driven world. The overuse or abuse of alcohol can make you look like a fool quickly, impairing not only your judgment but also your testimony as a Christian. Be wise, be careful, use sound judgment. Remember the words of the apostle Paul in your decisions about alcohol:

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23

The parallel that I spoke of earlier comes in verses 8-9. What the author is essentially saying is this: “Instead of opening your mouth to get drunk, use your mouth for something more useful — fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.” This clearly echoes Isaiah 1:17:

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

CPC, may we always be known for serving & giving. The world needs us. The Lord has called us.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

October 30, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 30

Today as you read this passage notice in verses 1-6 the writer is establishing his humility before God. He is recognizing that God is so much more than he or any person will ever be. He recognizes that he is insignificant and in desperate need of God and his wisdom. He is taking a posture of appropriate fear before God. Then in verses 7-9 he makes his requests to God. He asks 2 things.

Request number 1: Remove from me falsehood and lying. This implies both that he does not want to become a liar and that he does not want to have people lie to him. It is this idea of pursuing holiness personally and avoiding things and others that will cause one to stumble. This is a desire and a prayer that we as believers should be praying.

Request number 2: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.” This request reflects the wisdom that Proverbs is trying to instill in people. This is the idea that we would not desire excess but that we would desire what is needed for life. This mentality and attitude leads to a generous heart as well. Because in excess that we may gain we are happy to give because God has already provided for our needs.

The rest of this chapter describes sin and the path of sin. Essentially what comes when we decide that we do not want to have a posture of humility before God. When we are prideful we follow our flesh rather than our savior. We choose this every day. What is your choice today?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

October 28, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 29

There are two verses that really stand out from this chapter as we near the end of our time in Proverbs.

One’s pride will bring him low,
    but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (23, ESV)

Honor is something that all of us desire in some way. It can come in the forms of being loved, praised, acknowledged, cared for, appreciated, etc. But this verse is paradoxical to what many of us believe will bring us honor. Much of the honor we desire is based on what other people can give us; it’s focused on self. This verse teaches us that true honor does not come when we are focused on our self, but when we shift the focus away from ourself. What then should we do? Seek to magnify God and minimize self.

The fear of man lays a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (25, ESV)

Throughout the book of Proverbs, you see this word “fear” thrown around, most notably in Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10. We are repeatedly commanded to fear God, and this verse shows us one of the main hindrances to fearing God, which is fearing man instead of God. Fearing man essentially means that you live for the approval of others. Fearing God on the other hand means that you live in the freedom of self-forgetfulness, which leads you to trust that God is enough. I love what the 2nd half of this verse says: “whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Fearing God means trusting Him instead of yourself. (Note: a great resource if this is a struggle for you is a book called When People Are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch. It’s helped me immensely in fighting fear of man.)

What are you trusting in? Do you notice the correlation between pride and fearing man, and humility and fearing God?

In the comments, share something that God taught you through His Word.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice