Saturday In The Proverbs—Don’t Judge By Outward Appearances (Proverbs 23)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…they are deceptive food (Proverbs 23:3).

Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly” (John 7:24). That means we have to look beyond the surface; we have to see things as they really are, not as we want them to be. 

Things like…

…the outward appearances of wealth aren’t the same thing as true riches (vv. 1-3, 6, 8)

…overwork doesn’t mean it’s good work or a noble work ethic (vv. 4-5) 

…just because someone hears you doesn’t mean they are truly listening to you (v. 9)

…just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it (vv. 10-11)

…children may grumble in the moment of correction, but they will be truly thankful in the end (vv. 12-5, 22-25)

…sinners aren’t “getting away” with their sins (vv. 17-18)

…people who “party hardy” aren’t necessarily enjoying themselves (vv. 19-21, 29-35)

…pornography and other sexual sins aren’t victimless crimes or “no one is getting hurt” activities (vv. 26-28) 

As the Holy Spirit to show you the truth. Ask Him to show you the ultimate consequences of your activities. Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly. 

A “Slip Of The Tongue”?

Have you ever said something and then immediately thought, “Where in the world did that come from?!?” 

You might have thought it was just a slip of the tongue, but it’s not. That slip of the tongue is actually a gift to us to help us know what’s really going on in our heart. 

Check out this 2-minute clip—

The Scriptures I reference in this passage are Psalm 39:1; Jeremiah 17:9; and Matthew 15:19. 

This is a snippet from a longer message on putting other things in our life in perspective. You can check out the full video by clicking here, or you can read the list of the 5 things we need to keep in proper perspective by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 19

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 19

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 19.] 

     In the temple precincts judicious minds were without excuse, because they understood what Our Lord was doing. Outside Jerusalem, Our Lord always said, “Don’t tell anyone Who I am”; every time He went to Jerusalem He made it clear who He was. 

The presentation of the Gospel of God to sinners is one of love and mercy, but to the house of God one of judgment and truth. When we preach to the crowd outside we lambast drunkenness and other things, Jesus never did. The stern messages of the Bible are never given to sinners, but to God’s people.

From Notes On Jeremiah

Hmmm, are we doing this the right way? It seems like many times we get this reversed—we rebuke those outside because of their sin, and we speak tenderly to those on the inside. Definitely something for Christian leaders to consider carefully. 

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible (book review)

If you’ve ever looked at the list of books I’ve read and reviewed at the end of each year, you will quickly discover how much I enjoy reading! I read science, biographies, theological works, philosophy, financial resources, relationship helpers, and on and on. But hands-down, not-even-close to second place, I read the Bible more than anything else. Not only do I read the Bible extensively every day, I then read all of my other books through the lens of Scripture. 

So whenever I come across a resource that helps with Bible reading and study, I’m absolutely thrilled to share it with you. One such resource I’ve been so excited about is the Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible. 

I originally purchased this study Bible because of the “illustrated” part. I glanced through it and found several things that make the biblical accounts more understandable. Things like: 

  • timelines 
  • genealogical records
  • “blueprints” of notable buildings and structures
  • infographics 
  • maps and tables 

Then I was excited to discover the wealth of articles embedded in the notes section next to the biblical texts. 

But the happiest discovery I made was the ability to combine the written text with so much additional online content. Using the Faithlife Study Bible app on my iPhone, I can access all of the content in the print version in addition to more resources that have become available since this study Bible was published. My favorite way to do this is via the “reference scanner” in the app. I use my iPhone camera to take a picture of the part of the Bible I’m studying and then the app pulls up all of the resources associated with nearly everything on that page. Amazing! 

If you already love studying the Bible, this book/app combination will take you to a whole new level. Even if you’re just getting started in a Bible study, you will love how much fullness these resources quickly bring to your fingertips. 

Living Lives That Make Sense

This sounds totally contrary to common sense, but I’ll bet you’ve seen this before—Someone does something unexpectedly nice, and gets criticized for it. 

Why would that be? 

Christians can expect to experience this more frequently. Jesus told His followers to be prepared for persecution from those who didn’t believe in Him. One of Christ’s disciples named Peter added a few other warnings for Christians: 

  • Non-Christians will accuse you of doing wrong even when you’re doing right
  • Non-Christians will think it’s weird that you don’t do the same evil deeds they do
  • Non-Christians will heap abuse on you for not doing the evil deeds they do (1 Peter 2:12; 4:4)

This is because living good, Christ-honoring lives causes a burning in those hearts that don’t know Jesus yet. 

Solomon said there’s an aching void in the heart of every human being. It’s a longing to know what makes sense in life (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). When Christians live their lives focused on God, and they live—as Peter said—“such good lives,” it reminds non-Christians of what they’re missing. 

Christian, you need to remember why we live this way. The belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:18) is the foundation for our lives. In fact, Peter called Jesus the Living Stone. As His followers, we are also called “living stones” that the Holy Spirit is building together to make a spiritual signpost to point others to Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9, 12). 

We cannot do this under our own power. Jesus Himself reminded us that we need the Scriptures which all point to Him (Luke 24:27, 44-45), and the Holy Spirit which will help us apply the revealed Scriptures (John 14:26) and live “such good lives.” 

So here’s how I’m challenging myself this week, and I’d like to extend this challenge to you too. For the next seven days, just before going to bed I’ll be asking myself these three questions:

  1. Did I read the Word of God today? 
  2. Did I see the God of the Word in the Word of God a little more clearly today?
  3. Did I live a good, Christ-honoring life today that pointed others to Jesus?

Join me this Sunday as we continue our look at how Christians should live as aliens and strangers while visiting Earth. You can join me in person or via Facebook Live.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Knowing True & False Riches (Proverbs 22)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…riches… (Proverbs 22:1, 4, 16).

There are earthly riches and there are heavenly riches. There are temporary gains and there is eternal wealth. This Proverb helps direct us to true riches that last forever. 

Good character and a good reputation are better than money (v. 1)

God alone decides what is truly valuable (v. 2)

Prudence helps you avoid bankruptcy (v. 3)

Humbly fearing God is the path to eternal wealth (v. 4)

A perverse pursuit of wealth is a hard and painful path (v. 5)

Better godly children than gobs of money (vv. 6, 15)

Debt enslaves (v. 7)

Cutting corners to make a buck will come back to bite you (v. 8)

Generosity leads to more blessings (v. 9)

Don’t pay attention to those who scoff at God’s ways (vv. 10, 24, 25)

A grace-filled, pure lifestyle will get you noticed and rewarded (v. 11)

God rewards those who do things His way (vv. 12, 17-21)

A good work ethic brings rewards (vv. 13, 29)

Immoral pursuits end in a deep pit (v. 14)

Don’t treat people differently because of their ‘net worth’ (vv. 16, 22, 23; see also James 2:2-4)

Be careful to whom you make financial  commitments (vv. 26, 27)

Don’t encroach on others’ space (v. 28) 

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 18

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 18

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 18.] 

     These people are affecting to be the people of God—“We are the people of God, this is the temple of God…the prophets we like to listen to are those who prophesy smooth things.” … The early aspirations God stirred in them have gone, and now they simply make God and everything in connection with Him an affectation to go on their own ways. …

     There is an obstinacy that deliberately takes the law into its own hand and leaves the source of its life. There needs to be a recognition of where the source of life is and a determination to stay at it. Backsliding is the prevailing human stubbornness after the experimental knowledge of salvation. Backsliding is never spoken of in the Bible as a degenerate tendency, but as a conscious forsaking. …  

     It is no longer “Satisfy us early with Thy mercy,” but “Satisfy us with these other things, we want material prosperity and success.” … Never falter by trying to make anything lesser the cause for what is greater; for instance, trying to make health of body the cause for a right spiritual relationship, or material prosperity the cause for worshiping God, and never make obedience the reason that God is blessing you, obedience is the effect of being rightly related to God. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

Backsliding occurs when we deliberately try to find loopholes, evasions, or excuses for not obeying the Word of God. 

Whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to make a change, we have a decision to make: we can obey or we can make excuses (which is conscious disobedience). Obedience shows we are rightly related to God. Our excuses and evasions show we are trying to get God to be rightly related to our way of thinking. 

What God is asking you to obey may be a hard thing, but it is always the best thing! Don’t evade, justify, or make excuses—simply, as the words of the old hymn remind us, trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus. 

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