Blogging Proverbs (www.bloggingproverbs.wordpress.com) is completed! I know pride is a sin, but I am “chuffed” (really pleased!) to have completed this passion project.
My only regret is that it hasn’t been more widely received, although to be honest I haven’t promoted it very well!
Now my task is to turn it into a book! Next stop is to blog about the Psalms.
To those who did read, like and/or comment, especially Ryan Callahan and Jeff, many thanks- your interaction encouraged me that it wasn’t just me being blessed!
And if you’re new to Blogging Proverbs, don’t worry, I’m going to keep it out there for posterity!
I’ll do another post introducing my Psalms blog, but for now, why not pop over to Blogging Proverbs and have a browse? 🙂
Goodbye for now, and God bless,
And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14:36 ESV
Jesus here provides the ultimate example of submission, or yielding to someone else’s will. As Paul put it, “even though He was in very nature God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross”. Humanly speaking, Jesus didn’t want to be crucified. But He submitted to the Father’s will.
A father and son are equal. A father is not intrinsically better than his son. But sons ought to submit to their fathers. And so Jesus submitted to the Father.
In Christian circles, we often think of submission of a wife to her husband. But just as with a father and son, they aren’t unequal. It’s just that a wife should tend to submit to a husband.
If we’re not a wife or we don’t have an earthly father, that doesn’t mean to say we don’t have to submit. Paul commands us to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Just as He didn’t insist on His own way, so we should only seek Father God’s way.
“God our Father, we’re thankful that Christ yielded to Your will for our salvation. May we yield to Your will too, to Your glory and praise, amen”
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16 ESV
Ruth’s faithful loyalty to Naomi is exemplary. She had nothing to gain, humanly speaking, by committing to an old, embittered lady. But evidently something about Naomi’s God had impressed this Moabitess.
Ruth had been married to Naomi’s son. But both had been widowed. As far as anyone could tell, there was no future for Ruth with Naomi in the land of Israel. It would have seemed to have made sense to stick around in Moab and hope to remarry and have kids that way.
But Ruth refused to abandon her bereft mother in law. She had the boldness to tell Naomi not to tell her to leave. She committed to life with this bitter old lady.
Ruth was traditionally an enemy of God’s people as a Moabitess. But she committed to be grafted in to the children of Israel through faith in the God of Israel. I as a Gentile was once a stranger to this same God. But by His grace, He grafted me in to His people.
“Lord God of Israel, thank You for the powerful example of Ruth of faithfulness even when there seems to be nothing to be gained by it. Please help us likewise to do the right things, for the honour of Your name, amen”
The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me.
Jeremiah 35:14 ESV
The Rechabites were tea-totallers. They were like Methodists traditionally are, with a tradition of abstinence from alcohol. Although the Bible itself doesn’t command tea-totalism, God did commend the Rechabites for obeying the tradition of their patriarch Jonadab.
The point God was making in this chapter through Jeremiah was that it’s all very well observing family traditions, but it’s much more important to obey the commandments of God. If we break family traditions, we dishonour our parents. If we break divine law, we rebel against Almighty God.
There’s nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation. Neither is there anything wrong with tea-totalism. But obedience of God isnt just some lifestyle choice: it’s essential.
We all fail to perfectly obey God. Thankfully, as Jesus said, the work God asks of us is to believe in the One He sent: Jesus Himself. Jesus perfectly kept God’s law so that if we trust in Him, we will be saved.
“Heavenly Father, please help us to obey You, and to believe in Your Son. In His name we pray, amen”
I sought the Lord , and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:4-5 ESV
Only a couple of times in my life have strangers observed the truth of verse five in my life. Once at uni, when putting my shopping away, my flat mate’s friend observed how happy I seemed, and wondered what the secret was. I missed an opportunity to witness of my faith and simply claimed to have a sunny disposition!
A few months ago, a customer said to me, “do you just love life?” I half witnessed to him, of having a lot to be thankful for. But really, the secret of verse five is verse four.
Radiant, unashamed faces are the portion of those who seek the Lord. When we do so, He answers us. He delivers us from all our fears.
The Bible often tells us not to be afraid; and also to fear the Lord. That’s not a contradiction. It just means that if we fear the Lord, we’ll have nothing else we need to fear.
“We seek You Lord and thank You for answering us and casting out our fears. Thank You for the joy and honour You bestow upon us, in Christ’s name, amen”
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
1 John 5:21 ESV
Idols have been described as good things that become god things. There’s nothing good about a stereotypical idol like a Buddha statue or those in a Hindu temple. But idolatry is often more insidious than that.
Money isn’t wrong in and of itself. But although money makes a good servant, it makes a terrible master who is never satisfied however much you work for it. Likewise power isn’t necessarily wrong to have, as long as we acknowledge Who it comes from. But if power corrupts, the illusion of absolute power that some rulers might have over their people corrupts absolutely.
Sex within heterosexual, monogamous marriage is a good gift of God. But even within that context it can be idolised to the neglect of prayer and worship of God. Anything that usurps our affection and allegiance which should be God’s is an idol.
John Calvin famously said that our hearts are idol making factories. We need the Holy Spirit to breeze through our hearts and smash all our idols. When we allow Him to do that, we need to remain vigilant that new idols don’t replace the ones we’ve destroyed.
“Lord, idols are everywhere. Please help us to avoid idolatry, as we seek to navigate lives of faithfulness to You. For the honour of Your name, amen”
Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
Psalm 80:14-15 ESV
God of the angel armies is illustrated here as a vine dresser. In the new testament, Jesus describes Himself as the vine itself, and His people as the branches. In the old testament, it seemed like God “had it in” for His people, allowing them to get carried away into captivity.
To be honest, in the new testament era, it can seem like God’s got it in for His people, allowing us to be persecuted. But Jesus describes God as the vinedresser pruning the vine to make it more fruitful and to cut away the unfruitful branches. We can make this prayer our own.
We want God to turn again, and to have regard for His beleaguered people. We want Him to look down upon the work of His hands and to have mercy upon us. Thankfully, that is what He does.
As a vinedresser isn’t going to let wild animals ravish his vineyard beyond repair, so God will judge those who harass His people. A great harvest of souls is coming. Our job is to make sure we bear good fruit, not rotten, for the sake of God.
“God of the angel armies, please turn and have mercy upon us, for the sake of Your great name, amen”
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1:2 ESV
“All may go well with you” literally means “prosper” or “successful journey”. I’m often writing against the “prosperity (health, wealth and happiness) gospel”, so what do I make of this verse? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with praying for someone to be healthy, prosperous and happy.
But we don’t come to Jesus as a means to the end of becoming prosperous, healthy and happy. Jesus isn’t the means to an end, He is the end. John himself would end out his days in exile by the Roman Empire on the island of Patmos.
If we belong to Jesus, it is well with our souls. He who began a good work in us will carry it through to completion. If we prosper bodily as well as in soul and spirit, that’s a bonus.
So it’s okay to pray for people to prosper. But what would it profit someone to gain the whole world and loses their soul? The most important thing is that our souls prosper, through faith in Jesus.
“Loving heavenly Father, we pray that we would prosper bodily even as we prosper spiritually. But even if we don’t, may we wholeheartedly worship You anyway. In Jesus’ name, amen”
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
Psalm 84:5-6 ESV
Where do we draw strength from? Our own ingenuity or health? Or do we recognise God as the source of our strength? If we do so, we’re blessed.
Another translation for highways of the heart to Zion is “whose hearts are set on pilgrimage”. But successful pilgrimage isn’t just about a good journey. It’s about the correct destination, the heavenly Jerusalem.
Last time I heard verse 6, I reflected that the implication of how the wilderness valley of Baca becomes a place of springs is that it is irrigated by our tears. As Psalm 126 says, “those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy”. If we weep for the lost, when we share the gospel with them, they’re more likely to positively respond.
In case we think our tears water our gospel efforts, ultimately, it’s the Lord’s blessing that brings the increase. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain who build it. Our tears aren’t a magic cause of a fruitful harvest, they simply show that we’re serious about telling the good news.
“Lord, thank You for the blessing of strength You bestow upon us. May we set our hearts on pilgrimage to You, and have compassion on the lost as we call them to join us. In Jesus’ name, amen”
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Revelation 1:1 ESV
The mark of the beast, the dragon, war in heaven, the whore Babylon: Revelation is often disturbing and notoriously perplexing! But right from the outset, John clarifies what it’s all about at its heart: Jesus Christ. He’s pictured variously as (including) the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb who was slain, a baby who would rule the nations, the Rider on the white horse.
If we get caught up with trumpets, bowls and thunder etc, we’ve missed the wood for the trees. If Revelation terrifies us, we’ve failed to see that it shows the sovereignty of Christ over all the awful things that have happened in this world in the last 2000 years, and will continue until Jesus returns.
If we get too eschatological (theological about the end times) about Revelation, we can miss the fact that it has relevance for past and present as well as future. It meant something to John and his original readers as persecution began to hot up in the Roman Empire. And it still resonates today as we anticipate the return of the King.
If we don’t recognise that God is on the throne, we could easily despair as His judgements sweep the world. But plagues, famine, war and death aren’t the end of the story. A perfect future in a heavenly city is our destiny if we trust in the Lord.
“God Almighty, thank You for being in control over all that happens in this world. Thank You that a new creation is dawning when suffering is swept away. Please help us to trust in You, now and forever, amen”
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—
Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV
God knows what our hearts and souls are like: forgetful! So we need to take care. We need to keep our souls diligently.
We might not have personally witnessed the incarnate Son of God at work, but we are part of an unbroken chain of witnesses to His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of His Spirit at Pentecost. We need to make sure that we don’t forget what we have seen with eyes of faith of Him. We need to tell the next generations the good news.
We’re to be wholehearted in our thankful remembrance of God’s deliverance of us. Once we were in darkness, but now we’re in God’s kingdom of light. Once we were lost, but now we’ve been found by our loving heavenly Father.
This good news isn’t to miserly be kept to ourselves. We are to pass it on to our children and grandchildren. Even if we don’t physically have offspring, we can have a spiritual lineage of people who’ve come to faith through our witness.
“Father in heaven, please help us remind ourselves of all of Your goodness. May we pass on the good news of Your salvation to subsequent generations, to the praise of Your glory, amen”