December 28, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 29

Real Life Humility . . .

What a packed chapter! There are so many instructions. It is tough to digest all of these instructions, while trying to see how they all fit together. But that is a good exercise while reading Scripture. It seems as if two ideas really color the whole chapter. The first is the idea of discipline and corrective rebuke. The second is the idea of righteousness versus unrighteousness. It seems as if the whole chapter is filled with contradicting statements, which show good vs. bad, or godly vs. evil.

This is a good way to look at character issues, as often dealt with in Proverbs, because it shows you not only how to act, but how not to act. With all of these contradictory statements, which are all so applicable, I want to land on verse 23, with the idea of pride vs. humility. It says, “one’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (ESV).

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

True humility. I wonder if we really know what it means to be humble anymore. It seems like humility is “out of style.” It seems that in any school, any job, any ministry, any friendship, any relationship, or any marriage, humility will just get you trampled on, while a prideful confidence and boasting will get you respect and recognition. It doesn’t matter who you are or how humble you “act,” the temptation to “not be humble” is ever present.

Why be humble? I mean, what is the point? If you don’t brag about your accomplishments, then how will you get recognition? If you don’t act prideful while in the presence of the rest of your friends, then you will just get taken advantage of and people will take shots at you. What’s the point of laying my life down and serving people if they never even notice?

If we are honest, all of us feel this. So, what is the answer? What is the purpose of humility? It may be out of style with the world, but it is certainly not out of style with the Lord. He places a high value on it. Verse 23 in this chapter says, “one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” Honor from whom? Is it from our friends and people around us? Well maybe. But the truth is that we will obtain honor from the Lord. God says “this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66.2). This is big! You want to be noticed? Well, you will be noticed by God IF you are humble. Truly humble. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Do you believe this? Do you value God’s recognition more than man’s recognition? Then practice humility. God will reward what is done in secret.

For a practical application in how to grow in humility, I challenge you to memorize Philippians 2:3-11. Put this verse in your heart and let it take root. It will change you and bring about true humility.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

December 27, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 28

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:13‐14

This is a great chapter; packed with a lot of great things that talk about justice and obedience to the law. However, the verses that really seemed to hit home for me were verses 13 and 14. These verses really reinforced what Tim has said about being consecrated. He talked about having a transformed heart and that being consecrated or set apart cannot happen apart from repentance. If you didn’t hear this message I encourage you to subscribe to the iTunes podcast and listen to it.

Verse 13 says that “he who conceals his sin does not prosper.” When we hide our sin, we begin to be eaten away at from the inside out. Have you ever done something horribly wrong and kept it hidden? If you have, you know what I am talking about. It is a feeling of guilt and sadness. It is a feeling of defeat, like you can never get victory over the sin in your life. This guilty feeling is the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sin and urging you to get it out through confession and repentance (John 16:8). When we continue to hold this in it consumes our thoughts, our feelings, and our joy. We no longer live life freely and without worry. We are always trying to hide it from others so they think we are perfect. This kind of person can never live the prosperous life God has for them. This person can never fully live a life of “unspeakable joy” (1 Peter 1:8) or “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7) until they confess their sin. Then, as the verse says, we will “find mercy.” When we go to God with our faults and our mistakes He forgives. What a great God we have! He never says “No!” or “Not this time!” He is always there with arms wide open to take us back; He is always there with His mercy.

The real danger of concealing sin is found in verse 14. When we conceal sin and neglect the Holy Spirit’s conviction long enough we begin to harden our hearts or have a “seared conscience” (1 Timothy 4:12). We are warned in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to not “put out the Spirit’s fire.” We are also told in Ephesians 4:30 to “not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.”

Now, to clarify this, we cannot lose the Holy Spirit and, thus, our salvation. We can, however, according to these and other passages cause ourselves to become calloused and hardened to the Holy Spirit’s call and conviction in our lives. We can become the men in 1 Timothy 4:12. When we harbor sin constantly and for long periods of time in our heart without repentance we begin to lose our reverence for God and we become numb to the things of God. I believe this is the biggest problem in our churches today. We are all running around with a façade of perfection and, inside, we are harboring sin and, as promised in this passage, falling into trouble. We need to become a church of open repentance and forgiveness. If you have a secret sin stored inside your heart stop right now and repent of it, ask for forgiveness and turn to Jesus.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

December 26, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 27

I hope yesterday was a WONDERFUL Christmas for you and your family. So glad you’ve made JumpStart a priority today. There are just a few more days in 2011 and only a few more chapters in Proverbs. Today is Proverbs 27. Lots of great truths here . . .

• Verse 17 is one we quote a lot: As iron sharpens iron, 
so a friend sharpens a friend. Accountability is critical – without it we risk ruin. Who do you have in your life that asks you tough questions? Guides you when you make tough decisions? If the answer is no one – pray that God sends you someone this year!

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (vs. 5-6)

• Of course I would never touch verses 15-16…

A quarrelsome wife is as annoying
 as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

These verses make me grateful for the wife God gave me!

Let me camp out on one more idea (of the many that are here): Verse 1-2 say…

Don’t brag about tomorrow, 
 since you don’t know what the day will bring. Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.

These verses remind me of some important principles:

1) We have no guarantee of tomorrow – we must live in today.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. James 4:13-16

Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring it’s own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34

2) Don’t brag about your accomplishments – all praise goes to God.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

3) Pride is destructive – but humility is constructive.

All of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 1 Peter 5:5b-6

How does pride have a stronghold in your life? Begin to release it today through the power of the Holy Spirit in you.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

December 24, 2011

Today you should read: Proverbs 26

Fool– a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
Sluggard– a person who is habitually inactive or lazy.
Meddler– to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwontedly

I have listed above the three themes found in Proverbs 26 and their definition as found on dictionary.com. It seems that the meaning given to us in the Old Testament still holds true today. Practically speaking Solomon, in his wisdom, gives us great warning for dealing with these three types of people.

First, a fool is not deserving of honor. Vs. 1-11 gives multiple examples of how giving honor to a fool can be harmful to you and everyone involved. For example, do not send a message by a fool because it will not represent your heart and it will harm those who receive the message. A fool harms everyone with his words and his message comes off as arrogant and unhelpful. Why? Because the fool is wise in his own eyes. Wisdom comes from a humble heart and a willingness to learn and to be taught. A fool is characterized by pride and arrogance and to him/her honor is not to be given.

Second, the sluggard is lazy. Vs. 13-16 are humorous when we first read them but they point out the true ridiculousness of this sin. They makes excuses for not getting things done such as, “there is a lion outside so I’m not going out there.” Also, he turns over in his bed like the door on it’s hinges. When I read this I think of the eerie creak of a door we hear in a scary movie. My favorite example is the sluggard actually gets tired of feeding himself. This sounds so extreme but how many of us eat fast food on a regular basis because it takes to much effort to cook? Why does the sluggard act this way? Because a sluggard is wise in his own eyes. Discipline and hard work come from a heart of humility and a greater concern for the mission of God than for our own comfort.

Third, the meddler is deceptive. Vs. 17-28 speak of the harm that a meddler causes. One of the most convicting examples for me is v.19 that says, “a meddler deceives but resounds with “I’m only joking!” Just because we say that we are just joking does not erase the hurt that is caused by our words. Also, a meddler instigates quarreling. This is such a harmful sin and this kind of behavior is so destructive to the body of Christ. It is this kind of attitude the drives wedges between friends, families and churches. A meddler is a coward who has an issue but is afraid to handle it properly with the person with whom they have the issue.

Church, it is time to grow up! Why would someone meddle? Because they are out for their own selfish gain. Once again, a gracious heart is a humble heart and realizes that the sin that they have committed against God is greater than any sin someone has committed against themselves.

So, I warn you, do not confide in any of these three characters. Instead, pray for them and lovingly rebuke them in hope of restoring them back to God. Also, I warn you today to examine your heart. You may find that one of these characters describes you. If it does describe you, please respond in repentance and turn back to the gospel.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Posted by: Chad Wiles