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14 April 2021

Proverbs 18:14

The human spirit can endure in sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?


Undoubtedly many reading this proverb will sadly nod in agreement because of your own crushed spirit. The weight of depression, of anxiety, of feeling unloved feels unbearable and you focus on merely surviving each day. This proverb lets you know that God understands. It is placed in Scripture for you to know that you do not suffer alone. God is with you and even now is bearing your great weight. You are not alone as a sufferer. Many others throughout the ages and in the present have known the “crushed spirit.” Stop at this very moment and offer a prayer for those whose spirits are crushed.

All the more reason it is so important to be about the business of encouraging others. Husbands are told not to be harsh with their wives and do not discourage their children (Colossians 3:19, 21). Why? Because such behavior crushes their spirits. So it is in all relationships. Venting anger and criticizing freely crushes. And we willingly crush the spirits of our brothers and sisters all the while claiming to do so for their good because telling the truth is what matters most. We are to speak the truth, but we are to speak the truth in love with the intent to build up one another in Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). And if we must correct a brother or sister of sin then we are to do so in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).

Examine your heart today especially in your relationship with those closest to you. Are you building up those closest to you or crushing their spirit? Remember your Lord of whom it was said “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). Surely he had cause to crush you for your sin and yet chose to become crushed himself (Isaiah 53:5) that your spirit might live.

 

1 Timothy 4

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

13 April 2021

Proverbs 18:13

To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.


Strong but true words. We do this on different levels. There is the surface level in which we actually begin answering before the person has completed the question, only to find that we wrongly anticipated what the question would be. “No, that is not what I was trying to ask.”

We give unasked for answers, such as when a person is sharing a concern, and we take it upon ourselves to give solutions when all the person wanted was a listening ear. “Thank you, but I already know what to do.”

And there is the level in which a question has been asked, and we miss the target in our response. “No, you don’t understand.” And the reason we don’t understand is that we did not hear well. This might be for a number of reasons. The person did not articulate himself well, thus misleading us. But we could have dealt with that by asking good questions first that helped the person communicate better. Quite often the reason we do not hear well is that we are formulating an answer while the person is still communicating. We don’t want to be caught without a wise answer, so we begin thinking through a reply while he is still speaking.

Don’t worry about having answers. It is better not to have an answer than to have a wrong one. If you must disappointed your inquirer, it is better to disappoint by confessing that you do not know the answer, rather than to disappoint by leading the person astray and making the matter more befuddling and leading to greater shame.

But you are more likely to have a wise answer if your primary concern is to listen well. Take the time to listen. Ask good questions. Do not be in a hurry to reply. And most importantly, pray for wisdom. You will be surprised by the answers that you did not have the wisdom for but was given at the right time by the Holy Spirit.

 

1 Timothy 3

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

11 In the same way, the women[c] are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Reasons for Paul’s Instructions

14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

He appeared in the flesh,
    was vindicated by the Spirit,[d]
was seen by angels,
    was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
    was taken up in glory.

12 April 2021

Proverbs 18:12

Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor.

There are several reasons why this proverb bears out, but consider one reason today. Haughtiness is foolishness; humility is wisdom. To be haughty is to be “scornfully and condescendingly proud.” It is not merely to recognize your own skill to be better than others, but to actually consider others as lesser beings. You despise them merely because they are not as adept in some particular skill that you are or because they have backgrounds that seem beneath you.

This is a poor attitude for a number of reasons, but again, it actually makes you foolish and thus more likely to take a spill. You will overestimate your ability and take foolish risks. You will deny yourself the benefit of other persons’ skills. You will cut yourself off from good relationships and partnerships. You will not prepare for the future, failing to see that you are likely to lose whatever great gift it is that you possess. Thus, you are setting up your own destruction.

Humility is wisdom because it frees you up to see clearly what are and what are not your strengths. It allows for you to seek the help of others. You forge strong relationships and partnerships; you think now how to prepare for the future. You win the respect of others, and, thus, you are likely to receive honor.

But where foolishness and wisdom are most realized is in one’s standing before God. Scripture makes plain that he will destroy the proud and raise up the humble. This may play out in one’s earthly life (which it often does); it certainly will occur in the day of judgment, at which time there will be no opportunity for repentance. Thus we see the greatest folly of the haughty person who thinks that he can actually outwit God.

 

1 Timothy 2

 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[b] she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women[c] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

10 April 2021

Mark 15:42-16:8

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

 

Jesus Has Risen

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.[a]

Prayer: Almighty Father, You have given Your only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant that we may put away the old principle of corruption and wickedness, and always serve You in purity and truth; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

9 April 2021

Proverbs 18:11

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
    they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

Note the contrast with the previous proverb. The righteous man looks to the LORD to be his strength; the rich man looks to his wealth. The righteous man turns to the LORD and finds safety; the rich man turns to his wealth and finds an illusion. For wealth can save no one. It can create an illusion of safety, but it not only fails to protect; it creates its own dangers.

A wealthy man must take measures to protect his wealth. He must protect himself from others who seek his harm because he is wealthy. He cannot distinguish for sure those who are his friends and those attracted to his wealth. His wealth cannot protect him from slander nor from jealousy. He can fall in disgrace and lose his family.

Or even more dangerous, his wealth can make him happy all his days. It can protect him from constructive criticism and keep him entertained enough so that he does not consider his heart. It can deceive him into thinking he really is powerful. And thus he learns only at his death that his “high wall” was an imagination all along.

 

1 Timothy 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

 

The Lord’s Grace to Paul

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

The Charge to Timothy Renewed

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

8 April 2021

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
    the righteous run to it and are safe.

What’s in a name? How can a name be a strong tower? What’s in a name is what is in a person. According to that person’s character and relationship to us, the name may evoke joy or sadness, peace or fear. And so it is with the LORD – Yahweh, I AM WHO I AM. For those made righteous in Christ, his name is a strong tower. The mere mention of the name evokes joy and peace and confidence. To belong to him is to know security. In contrast, those who are without Christ may despise and fear the Name.

In our time, the names “God” and “the Lord” evoke little emotion, one way or the other among the religious and nonreligious. The reason is that they impute whatever images and traits they so wish in the names. The name that is our strong tower and that reveals who truly knows the LORD is the name of Jesus Christ.

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.

Dear Name! the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and hiding place,
My never-failing Treasury filled
With boundless stores of grace;

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see thee as thou art,
I’ll praise thee as I ought.

Till then I would thy love proclaim
With ev’ry fleeting breath;
And may the music of thy Name
Refresh my soul in death.

 

2 Thessalonians 3

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

 

Warning Against Idleness

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

 

Final Greetings

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

7 April 2021

Proverbs 18:9

One who is slack in his work
    is brother to one who destroys.

The slacker destroys productivity. Products, service, goals are sacrificed. He destroys morale, as others are influenced to have the same attitude or frustrated so that they become less productive. He destroys teamwork, as others become not only angry with him but with supervisors for not managing him well. He destroys his own future, his laziness becoming the obstacle that he cannot get around.

But the problem of the slacker is that he does not recognize that he is one. He attributes his lack of productivity to others – to the bureaucracy he works under; to the supervisor who doesn’t manage well; to his colleagues who don’t understand how he works; to his parents for not raising him well; to his spouse who doesn’t appreciate him; to whomever he can remotely place blame.

He may even think that he is productive. He is pleased with his output, especially if he works with others who also have low productivity. That is why he and others are resentful of the worker who comes in and immediately out-performs them. His laziness is played out in different ways: he simply moves slowly; he is easily distracted; he is unmotivated and shows his disinterest; he enjoys talking; he may work busily but disorganized (too lazy to organize himself).

You are likely to be thinking of some lazy workers now. But be sure to examine yourself. Remember, the slacker’s problem is not recognizing his own laziness. Also examine how you are influenced by the slacker. Is he affecting the way you do your job. Are you blaming him for your poor attitude? Remember, the slacker is quick to blame others for his failings. Your Master for whom you work is Jesus Christ: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

 

2 Thessalonians 2

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

 

Stand Firm

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[b] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

6 April 2021

Proverbs 18:8

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

Such is the danger of the whispering tongue. We are enticed by it. We like hearing secrets “confided” in us. We like being in the know, of being brought into the inner circle. But those words go into our “inner parts.” We mull over them, and they begin to seep into our unconscious and eventually conscious thoughts. We become distrustful of the people we have heard about; we worry over the inside information we’ve been given. Others’ reputations are tarnished in our minds. Complainers whisper their complaints, and before we know what is happening, we become complainers.

We need to learn how to say no when the whisperer comes around. We need to walk out of the room. We need to understand that the persons hurt the most by whispering are us, the listeners. The whispers go down with a delicious taste, but they poison the soul.

 

2 Thessalonians 1

Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[b] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.[c]

5 April 2021

Proverbs 18:7

The mouths of fools are their undoing,
    and their lips are a snare to their very lives.

By his mouth the fool shows lack of wisdom and thus loses the respect of others. He irritates others with his thoughtless remarks; he offends; he makes himself a bore; he betrays confidences; twists the words of others; shows arrogance; stirs up trouble. And all the while is troubled that he does not get a fair hearing!

Sometimes a fool can tell the truth, but because he has developed a reputation of a fool he will not be believed. His mouth has become his ruin. He grows in resentment; he turns to other fools who will hear him. And thus his lips become a snare to his soul as he leaves the path of life and wanders into the way of the wicked.

If you have a history of getting into trouble because of your mouth, do whatever you must do now to control your tongue. Seek accountability with respected brothers and sisters; read books on the subject; seek counsel from those known for their good speech. Do it now; do not put off getting help, for your tongue is a snare for your soul; it will bring you to ruin. James 3:9 warns of those who with the same tongue bless God and curse those made in the image of God. This is not to be taken lightly.

 

1 Thessalonians 5

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 

Final Instructions

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

3 April 2021

John 11:17-44

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

 

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Prayer: Almighty God, we praise and bless You because You have conquered death through Your dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Inspire our minds and control our actions that we may please You both in thought and work; for the sake of the risen Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns in glory with You and the Holy Spirit one God for ever and ever. Amen.

2 April 2021

Proverbs 18:6

The lips of fools bring them strife,
    and their mouths invite a beating.

What a funny proverb and so true! The fool will even be warned: “You’re asking for it. You’d better stop talking.” But he won’t stop. He must rant and rave; he keeps provoking, keeps sounding off until the listener either literally or figuratively gives him his beating.

Why does the fool invite punishment? Because he is caught up in himself. He has worked himself into a fit, and it feels good to vent. He loves the sound of his voice and cannot see the real effect his words are having. He likes hearing himself talk more than being heard. He does not consider how to communicate; he simply wants to make sound.

The exasperating part of it all is that he does not understand why he receives a violent reaction. He blames the listener for being impatient or mean or unjust or a fool. “All I did was ask a question.” “I was only trying to reason with him.” “I don’t know why he should get so upset.” He does not learn from the reactions of others, even when he develops a history of angering others. He blames bad luck with getting jobs that have difficult co-workers and bosses. His church is filled with problem people and leaders who don’t care. His wife thinks only of herself and his children are moody. He does not make the connection between their behavior and his foolish speech.

We will all at times speak foolishly. Let us at least learn from our mistakes and develop the ability to listen to others.

 

1 Thessalonians 4

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.[b] The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

 

Believers Who Have Died

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 April 2021

Proverbs 18:5

It is not good to be partial to the wicked
    and so deprive the innocent of justice.

Surely we all agree with this proverb, but then, how might we be guilty of such injustice? By placing ourselves before God and others. We will ignore political policies that hurt others but either help us or at least do not harm us. We will avert our eyes when confronted by injustice if what is required of us is sacrifice or inconvenience. When our world is just that – “our” world – then right and wrong get redefined to what makes us feel comfortable or uncomfortable. We are partial to the wicked when we ignore their wickedness. We deprive the righteous of justice when we fail to strive for justice.

And then there are our actions. We are partial to the wicked when we speak like them and hurt others. We deprive the righteous of justice when we fail to speak well of them and encourage them. We must remember that the Judge of all the earth sees our every action (and inaction) and that his standards are far beyond human laws. What we consider trivial, he regards as great offenses or great deeds of kindness; and so much of what we think to be of great magnitude, he finds to be small.

All the more then, let us do the daily difficult work of examining our hearts before the Lord; and let us daily fall on the grace of God in Christ for forgiveness and for the power to live righteously to his glory.

 

1 Thessalonians 3

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.

 

Timothy’s Encouraging Report

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.

11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

31 March 2021

Proverbs 18:4

The words of the mouth are deep waters,
    but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

This proverb seems to be presenting a contrast between the words of sinful man that hide motive, like the deep waters which hide what is underneath, and the words of the wise which is refreshing and clear like a bubbling brook. We are as likely to use words to miscommunicate than to communicate. We use words to hide our true feelings, to camouflage our real intentions. We sometimes use words to disguise our ignorance. So-called intellectuals and scholars will at times rely on esoteric (hard to understand) words merely to seem deep.

How refreshing to hear clear wisdom spoken. We’ve been in “discussions” that only grow more confusing, and then, some word of reason is spoken, and the answer so difficult to discover becomes so simple that we marvel we did not know it all along. A question is raised that brings light to what seemed a complex dilemma.

And so Jesus’ words must have been like a bubbling brook to so many ears as he cut through the verbal entrapments of the religious leaders; as he spoke “with authority”; as he taught truth. The paradox of Jesus’ teaching is that many turned away from him, claiming, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” And yet others attested, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” And so wise words reveal the wisdom of the speaker and the wisdom of the hearer; for only those so tuned to truth can recognize it, so that even if they do not understand all they hear, they nevertheless recognize when it is spoken and desire to hear more. They find its cool stream delightful and refreshing.

Delight in the bubbling brook of God’s Word today, especially in the words of Christ which are words of eternal life.

 

1 Thessalonians 2

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.[b]

 

Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

30 March 2021

Proverbs 18:3

When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
    and with shame comes reproach.

One would think that a truth so obvious would have a sobering effect on the wicked. And yet, far from avoiding behavior that leads to disgrace, they all the more pursue their immoral and wicked ways, even basking in the notoriety that results. For the wicked are also fools who mistake shame for honor and contempt for respect. They value the praise and respect of other fools and disdain the opinion of the wise and honorable. They also value being in the spotlight for whatever reason. If it must take wicked behavior to stand out, then so be it. Indeed, that is the behavior they enjoy most.

But we should desire an honorable reputation earned by exhibiting integrity, love for our neighbor, and devotion to our Lord. As Christians, we can expect to be slandered, but it should be just that – slander, and not a true report. Our neighbors ought to be perplexed by us, finding our beliefs odd and yet acknowledging that we are trustworthy, caring neighbors.

But the reputation most important is our reputation before God. He alone knows fully our hearts; he alone judges rightly; before him alone we will stand to give an account for our lives. Desire now to live in such a way that honors our Lord; for truly no better reward can we gain than to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

1 Thessalonians 1

Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace and peace to you.

 

Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ Faith

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For we know, brothers and sisters[b] loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

29 March 2021

Proverbs 18:2

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.

It is hard to get in a word in a conversation with a fool. Even when he asks you a question, he interrupts before you can say much. He must give his opinion, tell his story, listen to his own voice. And all the while he thinks that he is earning your good opinion of him. Surely he must be wise to be able to have an opinion about everything; certainly he must be intelligent to know so much. Of course the truth is that he has revealed his foolishness and ignorance. If only he would heed the counsel of Proverb 17:28 and keep silent; at least then some may mistake him for being intelligent.

It is difficult to help such a fool, due to his being wrapped up in himself. He finds himself entertaining. He likes listening to his voice; his pleasure is in expressing his opinion. If you contradict him, he only talks more in self-defense. If you stay quiet, he interprets your silence as being enrapt with his speech.

Again, the problem of the fool, regardless of his type of folly, is that he loves his folly. Education will not help him. Whatever information and skill he gains, he only turns into means to further his folly. He simply does not like what is wise, what is sensible. Wisdom does not appeal to him. He cannot be reformed. You cannot change him by reasoning with him or scolding him. The only hope is that, like the prodigal son, he will come to his senses on his own; or rather, that the Holy Spirit will do what is necessary to convict him. Pray for the fools you know. Have pity on them and lift them before the Lord.

 

Colossians 4

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

 

Further Instructions

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Final Greetings

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant[a] in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our[b] circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews[c] among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

28 March 2021

Ephesians 5:26-27

26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

John 15:13

13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, in tender love towards mankind You sent Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to become man and to suffer death on the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility: grant that we may follow the example of His suffering, and also be made partakers of His resurrection; through Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

26 March 2021

Proverbs 18:1

An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
    and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

The thought here is not that it is wrong to seek solitude or even to work alone. Rather, it speaks to the person who has fortressed himself against companionship. He may be like the hurt lover of Paul Simon’s song “I Am a Rock,” who isolates himself from relationships so that he might not be hurt again. He may be the disenchanted idealist who gives up his dreams and loses respect for his neighbors. Or he may be the epitome of the American hero – the person who “goes it alone,” who lives for himself.

Whatever may be the motivation, to isolate oneself either physically or emotionally goes against the way God made us, which is to be communal creatures. We are made to desire companionship. Our dreams are meant to be shared with others. This is especially true for us as Christians, who when we come to faith in Christ are made members of his one body. To isolate ourselves from one another is like the eye wanting to isolate itself from the head or the hand from the arm.

Whatever experiences you may have had that would lead you to isolate yourself from the body of Christ, know that the true help for you is not isolation, but connection. The hope for us all in living productive lives for the Lord is to be attached to him through his people.

 

Colossians 3

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is youra] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Instructions for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

25 March 2021

Proverbs 17:28

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues.

The point of this proverb and the previous one is that the best use of words comes from a measured restraint, or to use a common phrase – think before you speak. The problem with the fool is that he speaks quickly without considering his words. He speaks on impulse. He does not consider how others perceive him as he is speaking.

Think through what to say and how to say it. And if you can’t think of what to say, then be silent. You will be considered wise until you prove otherwise. Indeed, your silence can be a very tool for communicating that you have something to say. It is better to have others cajole you into sharing your thoughts, than for you to impose them on reluctant hearers. Words that are not readily given become more sought after than the words spilled out quickly.

 

Colossians 2

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

 

Spiritual Fullness in Christ

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[e]

 

Freedom From Human Rules

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

24 March 2021

Proverbs 17:27

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.

How is being few with words connected with being knowledgeable? First of all, the person of knowledge and understanding knows that his value is not found in making others see how knowledgeable he is. He is not compelled to speak louder, quicker, and more often than others. His self-esteem is not wrapped up in being thought smart by others.

His understanding is seen in his cool spirit that keeps him from aggravating problems and allows him to calm others. By his cool spirit he can act with wisdom and apply his knowledge productively. He controls his anger because it is the wise thing to do.

He restrains his words, knowing when and to whom to speak, and thus not wasting words or having his words used against him or being misunderstood. This restraint actually raises him in the estimation of others. He may not be recognized for his wisdom early on, but time will provide the occasion and prove his understanding. Whereas, the quick talker will eventually prove how little he really knows.

But note: the man of knowledge and understanding is not praised for keeping his knowledge and wisdom to himself, but rather knowing how to impart them effectively by restraining his impulses. A quiet person does not necessarily know more than the talker. The key is having control over one’s impulses and especially one’s tongue.

 

Colossians 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sistersa] in Christ:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father.b]

 

Thanksgiving and Prayer

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on ourd] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified youf] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

The Supremacy of the Son of God

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because ofg] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

 

Paul’s Labor for the Church

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

23 March 2021

Proverbs 17:26

If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good,
    surely to flog honest officials is not right.

Injustice occurs in two ways: not punishing the guilty and punishing the law abiding. It is one thing to be lax about prosecuting the guilty, but it is more grievous to take action against the person who is upright. Indeed, this proverb presents not merely a person who is innocent of a crime, but who consciously lives an upright life and promotes justice.

Understand that the writer is not merely shaking his head at injustice. His moral stance is based on God’s law, and God will enforce his law. In essence, he is pronouncing doom on the judge who imposes injustice. To do what “is not good” is to incur the wrath of God, and God will not be mocked. All the more, he will mete out his justice against those in authority abusing their offices. The ruler who is a tyrant; the judge who is unjust; the boss who takes advantage of his power over others – such persons should take warning that what they do “is not good,” and God will avenge his law, especially when injustice is carried against the upright.

Pray that the unjust will receive their due punishment in this life, not simply so that you can see it happen, but that in this life they still have time to repent. Final judgment will take place when there will be no chance of repentance. For God is just and he will see that final justice is delivered.

Philippians 4

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

 

Final Exhortations

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Thanks for Their Gifts

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Final Greetings

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

22 March 2021

Proverbs 17:25

A foolish son brings grief to his father
    and bitterness to the mother who bore him.

Fools annoy others; they make others angry. Others enjoy fools, finding them to be entertainment. But fools grieve their parents who are filled with shame by the public disgrace and filled with sorrow for the path their children are following. They may also be angry, but their anger is stirred by disappointment and the loss of hope for their children.

It is a wondrous feeling to hold one’s own newborn, to know that this is not just a baby but one’s own child. There is no question for a parent at that moment that he or she will do anything to protect him and to do what is best for him. And no parent cannot but help to invest their own happiness and hopes in the child. This is the reason why parents can seem to be more reasonable with other children than their own. Just as we do not lose sleep over the investment of others, but are anxious about our own, so parents are anxious for their own children.

Your hope for your children and for yourselves is to entrust them to God. You have responsibility to raise your children in the path of righteousness, but you cannot control their hearts, nor be with them everywhere. And you must remember that they ultimately belong to God. You can do nothing better than to hold them up before your Lord in prayer. Certainly there is much you can do to learn how to raise your children and relate to them, but always be faithful in prayer. God grieves also for his wayward children. You do not love your children more than he. And so you can share your grief in prayer with one who understands. For after all, you are his child and he has had plenty experience dealing with your foolish ways.

 

Philippians 3

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Following Paul’s Example

15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

20 March 2021

Colossians 3:12-14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Prayer: We beseech You, Almighty God, to look in mercy on Your people: that by Your great goodness they may be governed and kept safe evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

19 March 2021

Proverbs 17:24

A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
    but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

The contrast here is between the discerning who keeps focused on wisdom and the fool who chases after each fad that pops up from everywhere. Today he would be the one fascinated with the “new discoveries” of the “Da Vinci Code.” His home library is an archive of each year’s most popular self-help and new thinking books. He’s taken all the newly discovered ancient Asian exercises and meditation practices. He’s dabbled in Indian Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. He’s got the latest book by the Dai Lama. And there is his collection of crystals and other New Age paraphernalia.

But the discerning “sets his face toward wisdom.” He does not lose focus; he does not waver from the one true source of wisdom – Scripture. He does not lose sight of his one true hope – the redemption of Jesus Christ. He does not waver in his faith in the one true God. Like Christ when tempted by Satan, he does not waste time with fruitless debate about what is right or wrong for him but merely cites the teaching of Scripture. And like Christ, his trials do not discourage him, for keeps his eyes on the joy set before him.

For Christ is his wisdom. In Christ wisdom becomes simple and profound. To abide in Christ is all that he needs.

 

Philippians 2

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Do Everything Without Grumbling

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.

18 March 2021

Proverbs 17:23

The wicked accept bribes in secret
    to pervert the course of justice.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. The giving of bribes has a long history. Bribes are given to sway judges’ rulings; to fix betting events; to obtain advantage over business competitors; to gain money and power. It is wicked to give such bribes, but as this proverb points out, it is also wicked to accept bribes. For the one giving bribes in one sense is not the one perverting justice; rather, he is giving a bribe to one who has the power to pervert justice. The very reason he must give a bribe is that he lacks such power.

Thus, we see the danger of power. Many “good” persons have taken positions of power in the courts and in government with the desire to enforce justice, only to be corrupted by the lure of money or other form of bribery. And we are all susceptible to bribery in our own small spheres of influence. The teacher is tempted to award “pets” in the class; the parent to favor the “nice” child of the family; the boss to favor the employee who brings snacks to work. We don’t need to receive thousands of dollars to misuse our authority. Small favors that make us feel special will do.

We are all susceptible to bribery, however great or small the bribe or our power. Thanks be to God that he, the Great Judge, is swayed by nothing other than his own just character; and all praise to God that he is moved by his own mercy. Our God will always do what is right; he will always do what is for our good. We may consider that there is one “bribe” that he always accepts – the intercession of his Son who is our High Priest. He will never turn down his Son who ever pleas for us.

 

Philippians 1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life Worthy of the Gospel

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.