Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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What's in a Name?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bible Reading: Proverbs 22

Why is it that you don’t meet people named Jezebel? If I had to guess it is because most people know the story of Jezebel in the bible and what a wicked woman she was. To this day the name Jezebel is associated with all kinds of negative stories… in fact I don’t think there is anything positive said about her in the bible. Her name was tainted by her actions, and to this day, we associate the name Jezebel with wickedness. 

We understand on a practical level that our name means something—it matters what people think about when they hear you name. When your name is spoken, what people think of, matters. Yesterday in our bible reading the father encourages his son to consider the value of a good name: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22.1)

In our world having money will allow you to do a lot of things: to have influence over people, you can do a lot of good and encourage change. But the father says having a good name is better than that… why? What the father is really pointing to is influence and integrity, isn’t he? A good name is valuable because it demonstrates that we are people who do what we say we’re going to do and that is worth more than any amount of money.

Just ask the guys at Enron. Enron was the largest oil and gas conglomerate in the early 2000s. They were making money left and right and their stock was through the roof. Everybody was investing in Enron back then… but then they got caught committing corporate fraud, everything went south, and nobody wanted anything to do with them. After the collapse, the company tried to get itself back together and move on… but nobody wanted anything to do with “Enron”, and they eventually had to change their name.

You see, you can have riches, you can have gold and silver, but if people think you’re a scoundrel it doesn’t matter what you have. And as Christians that should matter to us. I know you can’t control everything people think about you… but like we talked about in bible class Sunday, we ought to be people of integrity, so that if someone were to say something bad about us, nobody would believe.

We should be people that are consistent, trustworthy, and wise in the way we live our lives… because if we are not these kinds of people, it doesn’t just affect us. Having a good name matters because we are stewards of somebody else’s name: Jesus Christ. And so, we need to live in such a way that brings honor to his name. 

What do people think of when they hear your name? Let’s be mindful of this as we go back into our lives tomorrow to put God first and live in such a way that our name reflects honorably on his name.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bible Reading: Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21.9 – “It is better to live in the corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.”
Proverbs 21.19 – “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.”

I thought it curious that twice in this chapter, the wise father warns his son about the effects of living with a quarrelsome woman. In fact, he says it would be better to live in a cramped space or a desolate place than have to endure a woman like that.

Let me just say up front: this is not a message directed at women to tell you to act right. I know better than to do that… and besides, I don’t think that’s what the father is trying to imply. Speaking from wisdom (and probably some life experience), he is pointing to an everyday struggle that many people face.

Do you see what the father is trying to say? By her actions and speech, this woman is creating an environment that encourages the man to be discontent. The father clearly paints a “lesser of two evils” scenario that doesn’t benefit anyone.

What I see in these Proverbs, from a broader perspective, is a lesson about the power we have to affect others with our words and actions. Did you notice the emphasis put on how these negative interactions affect the relationship? Someone who is quarrelsome and fretful is exhausting to be around and doesn’t add value to others. Their negativity encourages others to look for a way out, even if it means choosing the lesser of two evils.

This is risky territory for me… so I’ll tread carefully. I certainly think there is a lesson here for wives about how they speak to, and treat, their husbands. Paul wrote, “…let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5.33b). But that goes both ways. The husband also has a responsibility to “love his wife as himself” (Ephesians 5.33a). There is a need for both parties to behave properly and considerately towards the other.

Do you consider the effect you have on those around you? Have you thought about what kind of environment you are creating in the home by your words and actions?

I know we don’t set out to be a quarrelsome or fretful person, but we can easily digress into that when we become discontent and reckless with our words. We must be thoughtful and intentional in how we speak to and treat others, especially in our marriage relationships.

It's Not About Me

Monday, February 04, 2019

Bible Reading: Proverbs 16

Proverbs 16.18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 

Have you ever felt like everything is about you? If you’re a human, the answer is probably yes. (Who is the first person you look for in a group photo?) 

This past Sunday, we discussed the struggle we sometimes face with pride and the effects it can have in our lives. Pride is something that, throughout my life, has been difficult for me to get under control. As I reflect on past seasons of my life, it seems like I was always talking about what I had done or who I knew and gave little concern to others. If I’m being perfectly honest, these were seasons in my life where my confidence was low, and what I really trying to do was build my own self-esteem. But as C.S. Lewis once said, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

The key to advancing past this mindset is to be honest about our shortcomings (Romans 3.23) and acknowledge that God’s way is right and true (Deuteronomy 32.4). James 4:6 tells us “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

There are many stories in the Bible that give examples of prideful individuals who let their own ego get in the way; but there are also stories of humble heroes who exercise the humility, grace, and wisdom from God. From David, who refused to kill King Saul (on two separate occasions) to the prophet Daniel, who strove to serve God and did not seek riches or glory (Daniel 5:17), the Bible shows us the type of attitude that God desires. On the other end of the spectrum, we see men like King Saul and Haman (whom we studied on Sunday) who are famous examples of pride leading to a fall.

The core lesson we can take from each of these stories is this: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11, Matthew 23:12).

We must remember: It’s not about me. Instead of letting pride be our motivator, let’s follow the example of Christ: “Let nothing be done from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ...” (Philippians 2.3-5)

Playing with LEGOs

Monday, January 28, 2019

Bible Reading: Psalm 19

As a kid I loved playing with LEGOs. Every Christmas I would get a new LEGO set, and my dad and I would put it together. As I got older, he let me do them by myself. I remember one Christmas I received an especially large LEGO set that I was struggling to put together. The pieces weren’t fitting just right, and I was getting really frustrated.

In my 10-year-old mind, the best solution was to grab my box of spare LEGOs and add pieces to the set to make it work. This worked temporarily, but after a while I realized that was not going to make things better; in fact, it made things worse. Eventually, I accepted that what I really needed to do was stop and go back to the instructions to see where I had gotten off the pattern. I was never going to make the model properly without getting back to the pattern.

In our walk of faith, we know what our lives ought to look like because God has given us a pattern, by revealing to us his will through his word, and giving us the example of Jesus Christ. But because of our nature sometimes we get a little bit off of the pattern, and the principles in scripture don’t seem to fit just right. And so, we add our own think-sos or we take actions that are not proper, thinking we will get the result we desire. But what we do not recognize in these moments is that we cannot produce a righteous result from our own mind.

“Who can discern his errors?” (Psalm 19.12) David asks. The answer: not us!  But God’s word can. Just prior to this David reminds us “the law of the Lord is perfect, sure, and right (Psalm 19.7-9). James says the word of God is like a mirror that shows us our faults and encourages us to make changes (James 1.25).  Without God’s word as the only guide, not only will we fail to follow the pattern, we will fail to please God. 

As you read your bible today, be honest about what you are using as the pattern for your thinking and listen carefully to how God’s word encourages you to change. 

"Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:13-14).

Two Invitations

Monday, January 21, 2019

Bible Reading: Proverbs 9

When we were in Beaumont last week, Kelsey and I were given many invitations to have dinner with old friends. Unfortunately, we only had a limited time and weren’t able to say yes to all of them. One night, we were given two invitations to dinner, at the same time in different locations. And so, we had to make about who to spend time with. Although we caught some flak from the group we rejected, the choice we made was not a big deal; but it did require us to weigh our options and make a decision based on what we felt was the best use of our time.

Not every choice we make will alter the course of life, but some will. In our spiritual walk we are given two invitations: to walk the way of wisdom or the way of folly. Whichever we choose will determine the course of our eternity. The tricky thing is that these two invitations often seem identical at first glance. In Proverbs 9, both wisdom and folly invite the simple person to spend time with them (Proverbs 9.4, 16). But what makes these invitations different is not what they promise, but where they take you.

Notice that foolishness says, “Come as a fool and stay as a fool” (Proverbs 9.16-17), but wisdom says, “Come as you are, but be changed” (9.6). The way of the fool is easy and temporarily satisfying but ends in death (9.18). The way of wisdom transforms and leads to life (9.6).

We receive many invitations in life, but what we need to consider is where those invitations will take us. These invitations will come in the form of the people we choose to spend time with, the places we choose to go, the way we spend our time, etc. Our choices in these situations will determine the course of our lives. The point is, we have a choice to make. Will we walk with wisdom or folly?

The choice you make today may not produce an immediate consequence, but it will affect you in the long run. As you make your choices this week, listen to the wisdom from the father: “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9.6).

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