Monday, September 23, 2019

Pay Attention...

"Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips." -- Proverbs 22:17-18
A new school year has begun and students range from prekindergarten to graduate school. Lessons will be taught this year that will prepare these young people for further education and a future career. Some will become skilled in their knowledge and others will pass the time, learning just enough to graduate. Those who pay attention and apply their heart will succeed.
Spiritual growth is no different. A survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, aimed at testing religious knowledge within the churched community, revealed a major lack of Biblical understanding. This should not be a shock. Even among true believers, some make every effort to be skilled in their Bible knowledge and others just skate along, learning just enough to warm their hearts or ease their pain. Those who pay attention and apply their heart will grow.
What about you my friend? What do you know and understand from the Scriptures? Have you been studious enough this last year to experience a marked spiritual growth? Have you added to your Biblical insight in such a way that you are ready to share with others? Remember, those who pay attention and apply their heart will grow.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Progress ...

"Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning." - Proverbs 9:9
When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter threw him a question: “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” And Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” Those who are truly wise are those who are making progress.
When we come to Christ, our lives are changed forever. We have new hearts and the presence of the Holy Spirit to give us guidance. What more do we need? In answer to this question Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Spirituality is a forward movement of growing wiser every day. The righteous continually add to their learning and make progress.
What are you doing to add to your Biblical understanding? What are you reading this week that will improve your spiritual qualities? When was the last time you took a book of the Bible apart piece by piece to gain Godly wisdom? Be wise by making progress.

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Always learning...

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise... Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge." -- Proverbs 19:20, 27
What's the difference between a good Doctor and a great Doctor... or a good mechanic and a great mechanic? One who is well trained in their field will be good. But one who continues to train throughout their career will be great. The difference is this: one has learned and the other is always learning.
This principle was understood by Solomon as he emphasized the need to listen and accept instruction to be wise. At the same time, those who stop listening to instruction will stray. The humble lifelong learner will be wise indeed, because they not only have learned, but are always learning.
Never believe that you finally know the Bible and all its teaching. There is always more to learn and much more to master. The difference between a good disciple and a great disciple is this: one has learned and the other is always learning. Which will you choose to be?

Friday, September 20, 2019

What a Friend...

"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." -- Proverbs 18:24
Journalist Walter Winchell was once quoted to say, "A friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." In day to day living, we may have a vast number of companions or acquaintances, but only a friend will walk alongside through the storms of life. True friendship will always provide a "bridge over troubled waters".
While we might recall one or another friend in life, Solomon speaks of a friend who sticks closer than a brother. As the ages passed, there came one who is a friend above all friends. This one said "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)  Joseph Scriven put it this way, "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!" With Jesus as your friend, you will have the greatest "bridge over troubled waters".
Having given thought to our "friend who sticks closer than a brother", do you stick close to him? Friendship is a two way relationship and Jesus also said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." Do you turn to your friend only when you need him, or do you spend time with him every day and follow his counsel? Friendship needs to be nurtured to grow strong for the storms of life. Take Jesus as your friend, for he is the real "bridge over troubled waters".

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Godly Counsel...

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." -- Proverbs 15:22
One of the age old questions throughout life is: "How can I know the will of God?" From the earliest years, the child of God searches for the answer. Books have been written and workshops given beyond number. At times we would just like God to make it simple and write his will on a wall. The search continues for an easy way to discern his leading.
Over the years the insight has been given from every known source; search the Scriptures for principles of wisdom, pray for the Spirit of God to guide and evaluate the providential working of God. One last, but most important resource is to seek the counsel of many advisors. How quickly do we go astray when we fail to seek Godly counsel?
But be careful to seek counsel in the right way my friend. Choose those whose hearts are clearly in tune with God's heart. Find those who give evidence that they are led by the Word of God and his Holy Spirit. Be prepared to accept Godly counsel, even when it might disappoint your expectations. If you seriously desire to know and follow the will of God, he will never fail to "guide you in paths of righteousness for his names sake". (Psalm 23:3)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Freely give ...

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." - Proverbs 11:24-25
Occasionally a well pump needs to be primed. In rural areas these are hand pumps and often require water to get water. By pouring water into the pump and cranking, you will be rewarded with fresh water in abundance. This sounds easy enough, but when you are parched and you have to give up the only water you have for the promise of more than enough, holding back is a great temptation.
Solomon knew that generosity is like a fresh spring of living water in every situation. Others are blessed and our own soul is refreshed when we are generous. In turn, when we freely give, we find that we freely receive. Jesus notes in Matthew 10:8 that all we have has been freely given"Freely you have received...". And simply put, since all that we have is from God's grace, holding back should never be a temptation.
Take a moment and make an inventory list of all your God-given blessings. Never mind what anyone else may have, just focus on your blessings in life. Now ask the Lord how you can be a generous blessing to others. Don't be tempted to hold back... "Freely you have received, freely give". (Matthew 10:8)

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Daily Listeners...

"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” - Proverbs 8:34-36
"Take it one day at a time". What does that phrase really mean?  We use this counsel regularly to encourage those who are struggling with the troubles of life. But, do we practice it every day, come sunshine or rain? And how do we take each day? Do we greet every morning with anticipation, watching and waiting at the door of God's wisdom? Blessings belong to the daily listener.
The Lord gives wisdom daily. Not weekly or monthly, but daily. Receiving his wisdom is like placing bricks in a wall. When we build a cathedral, we must do it one brick at a time. When we build a life, we must do it one day at a time. And the materials that we use will determine the ultimate quality of that life. Blessings belong to the daily listener.
How do you begin your day my friend? Are you so rushed in the morning hour that you have no time to watch and wait on the Lord? Do you try to make up for lost days once a week? Take... no, make the time every day to seek the Lord's wisdom in his Word and in prayer. Be still, and know that he is God. Blessings belong to the daily listener.