Proverbs 13

prov-13.jpgGreetings!  Let’s look at some more timeless wisdom from God’s word. 

      A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.

2 From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.

3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

I’ve found that one of the key ingredients to success at work and at home is what I say and what I don’t say.  Being more intential about saying good and encouraging things makes a big difference, but even more important are the things I don’t say – those pointless, unconstructive things that make you feel better for a moment but are there for a lifetime.

4 The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

6 Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

7 One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

8 A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat.

9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13 He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.

Learning to submit to authority is an important success factor in life.  Too many people grow up without basic manners and with the ethic that rebellion is good.  They are destined for misery.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

15 Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.

16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly.

17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

18 He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.

20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

As 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”  I’ve seen how choosing friends well has made a huge difference in my daughters’ lives so we encourage that whenever we can. 

21 Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

Giving is important and can bring great joy, but there is nothing wrong with thrift and saving.  We need to trust that God will provide, but one of the ways He provides is to give us enough to save for retirement and to give generously.

23 A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.

24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

That is the classic verse about how to punish children.  I go through Proverbs a chapter at a time here, but it is also productive to go through the whole book to look at particular themes such as money, marriage, children, etc. 

If we love our kids we will discipline them appropriately while keeping their natures in mind.  V. 24 isn’t a blank check for abuse.  It doesn’t say to punish in anger.  But age-appropriate and infraction-appropriate punishment is important to their well-being.

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Psalm 33

ps-33.jpgGreetings!  This opening convicts me, because I am a lousy singer and have always been self conscious about my singing.  I do play guitar at some gatherings, which I enjoy because it gives me a way to praise him another way.  And that way I can sing if I like, because no one is standing too close to me!

The main point is to worship him fully and joyfully, as is fitting for all He is and all He does.

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—

15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What does God really want here?  For us to fear him and put our hope in his love (v. 18).

Psalm 32

ps-32.jpgGreetings!  The first two verses are really a massive understatement to me.  We toss around the word blessed rather easily, but consider how it is used here.  If my sins aren’t forgiven and God counts them against me as He could, then I have no hope and am doomed to an eternity in Hell. 

Yet with his forgiveness I not only don’t get the punishment I deserve but I get a life with him now and for eternity. 

Of David.

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.

God is patient, but there will come a time when forgiveness is no longer possible.  250,000 people will die today all around the world.  Very few knew today would be their day.  Today is the day to get right with God.

7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Today is a great day to rejoice in God’s love and forgiveness.

Psalm 31

ps-31.jpgGreetings!  David (or possibly Jeremiah) is crying out to God for protection.

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.

Jesus quoted v. 5 on the cross – Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the Lord.

That reminds me of Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”

7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.

8 You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

9 Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.

10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends— those who see me on the street flee from me.

12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

13 For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”

15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

17 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.

18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.

24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

I have never suffered anywhere near what this Psalmist did, yet he trusted in the Lord.  That challenges me to trust in him all the more through minor trials and fears.

Acts 28

acts-28.jpgGreetings!  Paul is on his way to Rome as a prisoner.  They have been shipwrecked on Malta.

Ashore on Malta

28     Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. 3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9 When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. 10 They honored us in many ways and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.

No matter how severe the circumstances, Paul was always looking to spread the message of Jesus with words and deeds.

Arrival at Rome

11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux. 12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days. 13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli. 14 There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome. 15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged. 16 When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.

Paul was obviously a low-risk prisoner and had earned a lot of freedom for himself.

Paul Preaches at Rome Under Guard

17 Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”

27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”

30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Once again, Paul reasoned with his hearers  (“explained . . . “tried to convince”).  As usual, some were convinced and some were not.  God is ultimately in control of that, but we are obedient if we share the truth regardless of the outcome.

The Book of Acts ends in a somewhat anti-climactic way.  It chronicled key events in the history of the early church.  Paul wrote a couple of his letters from prison there.  He may have been released at some point and then put in prison again.  Either way, he was eventually killed for his faith after being imprisoned in Rome. 

Acts wasn’t just about Paul, it was about the spread of the Gospel.  I pray that we would all live out verse 31 and that we would boldy and without hindrance preach the kingdom of God and teach about our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 27

acts-27.jpgGreetings!  Luke is traveling with Paul (note how he says, “we . . .”).  Thus begins an amazing adventure on his trip to Rome.

Paul Sails for Rome

27     When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us.

3 The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs. 4 From there we put out to sea again and passed to the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 5 When we had sailed across the open sea off the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia. 6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea.

9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. 12 Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.

They will learn to listen to Paul.

The Storm

13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. 14 Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. 15 The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. 17 When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. 18 We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

21 After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Hopefully that convinced any doubters that what Paul said about God was true. 

The Shipwreck

27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.

33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.

Fourteen days!  How miserable that must have been.  I didn’t remember that it was such a big ship to have 276 people on board.

39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.

42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Acts 26

acts-26.jpgGreetings!  Remember, Paul has been in jail for two years.  And jails were even less pleasant then than they are now.  But what was Paul’s primary goal – to share the Gospel and advance the kingdom, or to win his freedom?

26     Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”

So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.

4 “The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?

So many people are quick to scoff at the miraculous (i.e., that God would enter his creation and do things outside the natural laws He created).  Yet creation is such a miracle itself.  If God created the universe and all life, what would be so hard about raising people from the dead?

9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

The good deeds come after the repentance.  They are evidence that people have turned to God.   But it is by faith in Jesus that we are sanctified (made more holy).

21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

Paul was obviously very intelligent.  Yet Festus couldn’t reconcile this with Paul’s message.

25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Agrippa dodged the question.  He knew the answer – or should have known it – but apparently didn’t want to follow it to its logical conclusions.

29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 They left the room, and while talking with one another, they said, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Paul was faithful in presenting the Gospel to these leaders and all who listened.  Whether they believed it was between them and God.