November 24, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 3

Proverbs 3 is chock-full of life changing information. It is one of my favorite passages. A few years back, I taught through this chapter and we memorized it together as a church. It has several commands – each of which come with a promise.

PRINCIPLES:

Don’t fight the Lord’s discipline in your life – God corrects the ones He loves. Feel privileged when He corrects you and submit to Him and His way. (v.11-12)

Wisdom is one of the most valuable things in our life. It’s more important than money or material things. It brings you a long life, full of blessings and honor. (v.13-16)

Living with the principles of wisdom is satisfying and brings happiness. (v. 17-18)

Don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment – they are like jewels around your neck. (v. 21-22)

Don’t withhold good from people it’s within our power to help. (v. 27-28)

The wise inherits honor – but fools are put to shame! (v.35)

My favorites, though, are verses 24-26…

You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

They remind me of Psalm 37 and Psalm 91. Read them today… you’ll be blessed and encouraged!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

November 23, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 2

Cause and Effect…

The Proverbs are so rich! They are full of practical advice. It’s encouraging to read a book of the Bible and have real life, plainly stated, application right in front of your eyes. It’s not difficult to find a take-away, or in this case a walk-away ☺. This chapter in particular tells us to “walk away,” a way that will result in prosperity. Godly prosperity.

This chapter is set up in a type of cause and effect. It claims that if we will do something, we will receive something. If we believe something, we will obtain something. If we search for something, we will find something. To describe it more specifically; verses 1-4 show what we must do. They set the tone for the rest of the chapter. The rest of God’s words in this chapter are built upon the condition of verses 1-4. Verses 5-22 are the effect. They are the results that will occur if verses 1-4 become true in our lives. Notice that verses 5-22 are only true if verses 1-4 are true. Are verses 1-4 true in your life? Go back and re-read them before moving on.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Here’s the idea: in order for us to understand the fear of the Lord, find the knowledge of God, gain wisdom, have Him as our shield, have Him guard our paths, understand righteousness and justice and equity, have wisdom in our heart, have a pleasant soul full of knowledge, obtain discretion, be delivered from evil, walk in the way of good, keep the paths of righteousness, and inhabit the land, we must take heed to verses 1-4.

Verses 1-4 say that we must:

1. Receive His words. The word “receive,” like a wide receiver in football, not only catches (or hears in our case), but he brings it in. Draws it close. Holds on to it tightly. We must do the same with God’s words. (v. 1)

2. Treasure up His commands. When I think of treasuring something, I think of how a mother treasures her newly born baby. Her freshly born love colors every decision she makes and consumes her thoughts day and night. We must do the same with His commands. (v. 1)

3. Make our ear and heart attentive to wisdom and understanding. Have you ever been in church when you’re tired? You can’t help but be in a distant daydream? But you do everything you can to listen. You strain your ears, you discipline your mind, you focus your heart, because you know that you need the truth that is about to be spoken. It’s difficult, but you almost say to yourself, “heart, you need this, so listen up!” That’s the idea of making your ear attentive to God. Life is hard. It’s tiresome. But you strain your ear and heart to listen because you know God has what you need. (v. 2)

4. Call out for insight and raise our voice for understanding. I can’t help but think of desperate prayer when I read this. Like a person who is making a life or death decision and he needs to know God’s will in it. The truth is, this is a life or death situation, and we need God’s will in it. We must cry out to Him. (v. 3)

5. Seek and search like for hidden treasure. How hard do you look when standing in front of red-box when you need a movie night with your spouse? Sometimes you make the person behind you mad, because you are taking so long! Imagine if you looked at God’s Word with such intensity, trying to squeeze out as much truth as possible, weighing out all the options. But even more, what if you looked at it as if you were searching for treasure? We need to search the Scriptures for the treasures within. (v. 4)

Verse 5 starts with the word, “then.” Then verses 5-22 will be true. Verses 5-22 are certainly desirable outcomes. Let me ask you, how bad do you want those outcomes true in your life? Bad enough to make verses 1-4 true in your life?

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

November 22, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 1:20-33

Proverbs 1:31- “they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

This passage screams America to me. When I read this I can’t help but think of our world in general, but specifically America. We are a country who has, for a long time, ignored the wisdom of God and are now seeing the repercussions of it. We have not only ignored God’s wisdom as a country but we have “mocked” it as well.

God’s word tells us to hold life as sacred and that a person is alive and a human being at conception. Not only have we ignored those truths but we have made abortion, the murder of little, helpless babies, legal and celebrate it as “freedom.” God’s word tells us that sex is a good and wonderful gift but only to be enjoyed within the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman. Not only have we ignored this, but it is common place for young people to have sex before they are married. We celebrate the “freedom” to live together before marriage and “test drive” the relationship to see how it goes.

God’s promise stands true to us. “They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.” Wisdom has been here all along, calling out to us, warning us of what these “fruits” will be. I believe we are living in the first days of our country reaping the promises of verses 28-33. We are reaping a harvest of “free” children and teens that are rebellious and will do what they want, when they want. I also see a nation of people who want all things to be about them and to accommodate their comfort and desire to be first. The time is coming when we will certainly call out to wisdom, but she will not answer. If we don’t change as a world and as a nation soon, we will be in a whirlwind of trouble with unimaginable consequences.

So what about you? What about your family? None of us can change the world on our own but we can change ourselves and be God’s instruments to change those He has given us influence with. Are you listening to God’s wisdom daily through His word or are you “leaning on your own understanding?” (Proverbs 3:5) It is imperative that we grasp our need for God’s wisdom in our lives and allow it to change us and to direct our decisions. If we don’t, God’s promise in verse 31 remains for us.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

November 21, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 1:1-19

Welcome to a new book in JumpStart. Proverbs will finish up our 2011 JumpStart studies, and it’s been a great year! We’ve been through Genesis, Mark, Joshua, Psalms, Romans, Ruth, Jude, Exodus, and now Proverbs.

Proverbs is written by Solomon, David and Bathsheba’s son. Although the dates of the book are not certain, we believe it was written between 1004-926 B.C. Solomon wrote over 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:32), and those contained in this book are a section of these. The New Testament contains 35 direct quotations from it or allusions to it.

The first six verses give us the purposes of the book:
•For gaining wisdom and instruction (v. 2)
•For instruction in proper behavior – doing what is right, just and fair (v. 3)
•To give discretion to the young (v. 4)
•For the wise to add to their learning (v. 5)
•To help us understand proverbs and parables (v. 6)

Verses 8-9 remind us to listen to the instructions our parents give us; they are valuable to us and to our lives. When we’re enticed by sinful men (v. 10), don’t give in to them.

Verse 7 is the key verse for the whole book:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Do you fear the Lord? That doesn’t mean that we’re scared of Him, but that we revere Him. It means that you are afraid to live in any way that doesn’t bring Him glory, and that you’re careful to not dishonor Him in any way.

Proverbs says that this is the starting point of knowledge: to recognize God for who He is and ourselves for what we are… to fear (reverence) the Lord.

… but fools despise wisdom and instruction
To despise something means to reject it – to ignore it. Do you ever despise (ignore) God’s wisdom and instruction from His Word? When we do… we’re… how do I say it… FOOLS! James speaks of this in chapter 1:22-24.

Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

Now, THAT’S foolish! Who would ever hear what God says and walk away and ignore it? US! That’s who. And it’s foolish. Bow your head and confess this to the Lord, and the arrogance that it takes to do it. Now, ask God to help you to be a hearer and a doer of the Word… it will change your life!

Posted by: Tim Parsons