Monday, September 16, 2019

Don’t Feed the Trolls

The weekend has come to an end and we are jump-starting a New Week as we start this New Week lets take a moment to recognize and examine what God is revealing to us as we continue to enter into His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts God is talking to us, but are we really listening to him with these words of wisdom Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace. Colossians 4:5-6 READ PROVERBS 26:4–12 Ever heard the expression, “Don’t feed the trolls”? “Trolls” refers to a new problem in today’s digital world—online users who repeatedly post intentionally inflammatory and hurtful comments on news or social media discussion boards. But ignoring such comments—not “feeding” the trolls—makes it harder for them to derail a conversation. Of course, it’s nothing new to encounter people who aren’t genuinely interested in productive conversation. “Don’t feed the trolls” could almost be a modern equivalent of Proverbs 26:4, which warns that arguing with an arrogant, unreceptive person risks stooping to their level. And yet . . . even the most seemingly stubborn person is also a priceless image-bearer of God. If we’re quick to dismiss others, we may be the ones in danger of being arrogant and becoming unreceptive to God’s grace (see Matthew 5:22). That might, in part, explain why Proverbs 26:5 offers the exact opposite guideline. Because it takes humble, prayerful dependence on God to discern how best to show others love in each situation (see Colossians 4:5-6). Sometimes we speak up; other times, it’s best to be silent. May we find peace in knowing that the same God who drew us near while we were still in hardened opposition to Him (Romans 5:6) is powerfully at work in each person’s heart. By Monica Brands REFLECT & PRAY Loving God, help me share Your love with others around me. How have you witnessed very different approaches being used by God to touch others? How can you better speak the truth in love? SCRIPTURE INSIGHT The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) is Hebrew poetry that uses a variety of poetic devices. In Proverbs 26, metaphors and analogies are used. The foolish person is compared to weather that’s inappropriate for the season (v. 1), an animal that needs to be constrained (v. 3), a useless leg (v. 7), and a powerless sling (v. 8). These comparisons warn about the self-destructive nature of foolish choices. Bill Crowder

Friday, September 13, 2019

Whatever We Do

The Week has come to an end YES! It's FRIDAY! As we take this moment to reflect over the week that just ended let us take these words of wisdom to heart as we continue on our journey to seek the truth of the word of God with Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3 READ PROVERBS 16:1–9 In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis confessed he came to Christianity at the age of thirty-three, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” Despite Lewis’s own personal resistance, his shortcomings, and the obstacles he faced, the Lord transformed him into a courageous and creative defender of the faith. Lewis proclaimed God’s truth and love through writing powerful essays and novels that are still being read, studied, and shared more than fifty-five years after his death. His life reflected his belief that a person is “never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” As we make plans and follow dreams, God can purify our motives and empower us to devote whatever we do to Him (Proverbs 16:1-3). From the most ordinary tasks to the greatest challenges, we can live for the glory of our almighty Maker, who “works out everything to its proper end” (v. 4). Every action, every word, and every thought can become an expression of heartfelt worship, a sacrificial gift to honor our Lord, as He watches over us (v. 7). God can’t be limited by our limitations, our reservations, or our tendencies to settle or dream small. As we choose to live for Him—dedicated to and dependent on Him—He will bring about His plans for us. Whatever we do can be done with Him, for Him, and only because of Him. By Xochitl Dixon REFLECT & PRAY God, thank You for reminding us that no jobs are too small and no dreams are too big in Your great kingdom. How can Proverbs 16:3 help you be more confident in the use of your gifts? What steps can you take to honor God as you follow a dream He’s placed on your heart? SUPPORT SCRIPTURE INSIGHT The book of Proverbs stresses honoring God in whatever we do. One phrase that parallels this sentiment is “the fear of the Lord” (16:6), which speaks of profound reverence and respect for God. Such awe, honor, and deference should be reserved uniquely for Him as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Lord over all. The personal and corporate value of possessing this essential quality is noted throughout the Proverbs. The fear of the Lord is foundational for wise living (1:7; 9:10); it’s something that can be chosen (1:29); possessing it prolongs one’s life (10:27); and its value is greater than material wealth (15:16). Those who are guided by the fear of the Lord protect themselves from evil (16:6; 19:23) and have everything they need (10:3). Arthur Jackson

Monday, September 9, 2019

When We Know Who Wins

Now that the weekend has come to an end and we are Kickstarting a New Week lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help us understand that no matter how tough things get in life with JESUS on our side we ALL are WINNERS with He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Revelation 21:4 READ REVELATION 21:1–5 My supervisor is a huge fan of a certain college basketball team. This year, they won the national championship, so another coworker texted him congratulations. The only problem was my boss hadn’t yet had a chance to watch the final game! He was frustrated, he said, knowing the outcome beforehand. But, he admitted, at least when he watched the game he wasn’t nervous when the score stayed close to the end. He knew who won! We never really know what tomorrow will hold. Some days can feel mundane and tedious, while other days are filled with joy. Still other times, life can be grueling, agonizing even, for long periods of time. But despite life’s unpredictable ups and downs, we can still be securely grounded in God’s peace. Because, like my supervisor, we know the end of the story. We know who “wins.” Revelation, the Bible’s final book, lifts the curtain on that spectacular finale. After the final defeat of death and evil (20:10, 14), John describes a beautiful victory scene (21:1-3) where God makes His home with His people (v. 3) and wipes “every tear from their eyes” in a world with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4). On difficult days, we can cling to this promise. No more loss or weeping. No more what-ifs or broken hearts. Instead, we’ll spend eternity together with our Savior. What a glorious celebration that will be! By Adam Holz REFLECT & PRAY One day God will soothe every hurt, heal every wound, and wipe away every tear. How can the hope of heaven give you strength? How might your favorite “happily ever after” story echo Revelation 21? SCRIPTURE INSIGHT If we’re not careful, our concept of heaven can be cartoonish. We might picture clouds and harps and sweet-looking cherub figures. This isn’t the idea Revelation presents. The clouds John describes in Revelation are associated with judgment and great violence (10:1; 14:14-16). The harp-like “music” heard in chapter 14 is like the sound “of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder” (v. 2). And the angelic beings appear absolutely terrifying (14:6-20). Yet here in chapter 21 we read one of the most comforting passages ever written. And the biggest comfort is that “God’s dwelling place is now among the people” (v. 3). We don’t know exactly how this works, but when Jesus Himself tells us “I am making everything new!” (v. 5), we know it will be grand. This old world is described as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Why would God’s new heaven and earth be less so? Tim Gustafson

Friday, September 6, 2019

I Will

The week as come to an end YES! We have made it to FRIDAY! as we prepare ourselves for the weekend lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom as we continue on this journey to help others see the light of Christ in us with Love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18 READ LEVITICUS 19:9–18 Shirley settled into her recliner after a long day. She looked out the window and noticed an older couple struggling to move a section of old fence left in a yard and labeled “free.” Shirley grabbed her husband, and they headed out the door to help. The four of them wrestled the fence onto a dolly and pushed it up the city street and around the corner to the couple’s home—laughing all the way at the spectacle they must be. As they returned to get a second section of fence, the woman asked Shirley, “You be my friend?” “Yes, I will,” she replied. Shirley later learned that her new Vietnamese friend knew little English and was lonely because her grown children had moved hours away. In Leviticus, God reminded the Israelites that they knew how it felt to be strangers (19:34) and how to treat others (vv. 9-18). God had set them apart to be His own nation, and in return they were to bless their “neighbors” by loving them as themselves. Jesus, the greatest blessing from God to the nations, later restated His Father’s words and extended them to us all: “Love the Lord your God . . . . Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Through Christ’s Spirit living in us, we can love God and others because He loved us first (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 John 4:19). Can we say with Shirley, “Yes, I will”? By Anne Cetas REFLECT & PRAY Loving God, thank You for the love You’ve shown me. Please, Holy Spirit, love others through me so that You might be glorified. How have you been cared for by someone when you felt alone? Who can you reach out to this week to show the love of Jesus? SCRIPTURE INSIGHT The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) is found in a chapter containing a variety of rules for godly living that many scholars consider a counterpart of the Ten Commandments. Leviticus 19:18, like the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17), is about responsibility toward one’s neighbor. But it goes a step further by saying our care for others includes love, which extends not only to members of the believing community but also to “foreigners” (Leviticus 19:34). Jesus quoted this golden rule as an extension of our love for God: “The most important [commandment] . . . [is to] love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Mark 12:29-31). Alyson Kieda

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

It’s Slippery Out Here!

In observance of Labor Day I hope that everyone had a chance to get some much need Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation As we jump-start the New Week Welcome to the ninth month of the New Year YES! It's September as we have entered into this New Month lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to continue to be a light in dark places with Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil. Psalm 141:4 READ PSALM 141 Years ago, when I was learning to ski, I followed my son Josh down what appeared to be a gentle slope. With my eyes on him I failed to notice he turned down the steepest hill on the mountain, and I found myself careening down the slope, completely out of control. I cratered, of course. Psalm 141 shows how we can easily find ourselves slipping down sin’s slope. Prayer is one of the ways we stay alert to those slopes: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil” (v. 4) is a plea that echoes the Lord’s Prayer almost exactly: “Lead [me] not into temptation, but deliver [me] from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). In His goodness, God hears and answers this prayer. And then I find in this psalm another agent of grace: a faithful friend. “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Psalm 141:5). Temptations are subtle. We’re not always aware that we’re going wrong. A true friend can be objective. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6 nkjv). It’s hard to accept rebuke, but if we see the wounding as a “kindness” it can become an anointing that puts us back on the path of obedience. May we be open to truth from a trusted friend and rely on God through prayer. By David H. Roper REFLECT & PRAY Father, please keep my feet from straying. Help me to listen to You and good friends. What slippery slopes do you gravitate toward? In what ways can you set a guard over your heart? SUPPORT SCRIPTURE INSIGHT We easily understand David’s prayer, “Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers” (Psalm 141:9). But we can also relate to his plea for protection from himself: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (v. 3). David may have been fleeing from King Saul when he wrote this psalm. The restraint in his words matches his behavior toward Saul. David refused to harm “the Lord’s anointed” when he had the opportunity (1 Samuel 24:1-7; 26:7-24). He understood the temptation to say something inflammatory or to succumb to the “advice” to assassinate Saul (26:8). This may explain his reference to the “wicked deeds” (Psalm 141:4) he wished to avoid. David sought justice but left it up to God. Tim Gustafson

Friday, August 30, 2019

Great Things!

Here we are we have made it to the end of the week YES! It's FRIDAY! We have also made t to the end of August as we say Goodbye to the eighth month of the New Year and step into the ninth month of the New Year which is only a day away lets Welcome in the month of September with GREAT Expectation from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with these words of wisdom What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 READ PSALM 126 On November 9, 1989, the world was astonished by the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that had divided Berlin, Germany, was coming down and the city that had been divided for twenty-eight years would be united again. Though the epicenter of joy was Germany, an onlooking world shared in the excitement. Something great had taken place! When Israel returned to her homeland in 538 bc after being exiled for almost seventy years, it was also momentous. Psalm 126 begins with an over-the-shoulder look at that joy-filled time in the history of Israel. The experience was marked by laughter, joyful singing, and international recognition that God had done great things for His people (v. 2). And what was the response of the recipients of His rescuing mercy? Great things from God prompted great gladness (v. 3). Furthermore, His works in the past became the basis for fresh prayers for the present and bright hope for the future (vv. 4-6). You and I need not look far in our own experiences for examples of great things from God, especially if we believe in God through His Son, Jesus. Nineteenth-century hymn writer Fanny Crosby captured this sentiment when she wrote, “Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son.” Yes, to God be the glory, great things He has done! By Arthur Jackson REFLECT & PRAY Great things in the past can inspire great joy, great prayer, and great hope. What great things have you experienced from the hand of God? How does reflecting on these increase your trust and hope? SCRIPTURE INSIGHT Psalm 126 is one of the songs of ascent, a title given to fifteen of the psalms (120-134). These psalms are also known as pilgrim songs and were most likely sung by Jewish worshipers as they ascended the road to the temple in Jerusalem to attend the three required festivals or feasts (Passover, or Festival of Unleavened Bread; Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks; and Tabernacles, also known as Tents or Booths). We read about this requirement in Deuteronomy 16:16. Other scholars believe these songs were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the steps to minister at the temple. Psalm 126 calls worshipers to rejoice as they remember how God “restored the fortunes of Zion” (v. 1), or Jerusalem, most likely when the people returned from captivity in Babylon during Ezra’s time. Alyson Kieda

Monday, August 26, 2019

Another Chance

So I can't believe it we are starting the New Week in the last week of August before we head into the ninth month of the New Year with September just around the corner lets take a moment to reflect on these words of wisdom to help us shine bright for our Lord and savior Jesus Christ with Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! Micah 7:19 READ MICAH 7:1–3, 18–20 At the Second Chance Bike Shop near our neighborhood, volunteers rebuild cast-off bicycles and donate them to needy kids. Shop founder Ernie Clark also donates bikes to needy adults, including the homeless, the disabled, and military veterans struggling to make it in civilian life. Not only do the bicycles get a second chance but sometimes the recipients get a new start too. One veteran used his new bike to get to a job interview. Second chances can transform a person’s life, especially when the second chance comes from God. The prophet Micah extoled such grace during a time the nation of Israel groveled in bribery, fraud, and other despicable sins. As Micah lamented, “The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth” (Micah 7:2 nlt). God would rightly punish evil, Micah knew. But being loving, He would give those who repented another chance. Humbled by such love, Micah asked, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?” (v. 18 nlt). We too can rejoice that God doesn’t abandon us because of our sins if we ask for forgiveness. As Micah declared of God, “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (v. 19 nlt). God’s love gives second chances to all who seek Him. By Patricia Raybon REFLECT & PRAY Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the grace of second chances. What sin will you repent of and gain a second chance from our loving God? SCRIPTURE INSIGHT Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, ministered some sixty-five years to both Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1; Hosea 1:1). Both kingdoms were at this time characterized by idolatry, corruption, injustice, and oppression of the poor (Micah 7:2-3). Even as he speaks of God’s disciplining hand, warning that Israel would be destroyed by the Assyrians (1:6), of the exile (v. 16), and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (3:12), Micah also speaks unequivocally of God’s benevolence and blessings if they would repent and “act justly . . . love mercy, and walk humbly with [their] God” (6:8). Micah also prophesied of the blessings of the return of a remnant back to Jerusalem (2:12) and the birth of the Messiah (5:2). Micah thus concludes with a proclamation, “Who is a God like you” (7:18), reminiscent of God’s own self-revelation in Exodus 34:6-7. Interestingly, Micah’s name means “Who is like Jehovah.” Visit christianuniversity.org/OT223 to learn more about the prophet Micah. K. T. Sim