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27 September 2021

Proverbs 22:24-25

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared.

What might you learn from a man given to anger?

You might confuse a temper tantrum for forceful action. Men given to anger think that the expression of anger shows they mean business, when it merely means they are immature. Those on the receiving end of the anger lose respect for such a man. If they seem to jump to orders at his rage, it is because of his position of power not because of the anger itself which they resent and behind his back will mock.

You might believe that anger is necessary to motivate yourself. This really is a danger, because such an idea has even become institutionalized. Athletes buy into it wholesale, as do many others in competitive situations. They believe that anger gives them the competitive edge. They don’t understand that it is not anger that marks the champion, but the commitment to excellence. Anger may give spurts of energy, but more often than not it gives the competition the edge as the wise competitor knows how to use the other man’s anger to his own advantage.

You might discover too late that you have unconsciously taken on the traits of the angry friend, just as children of angry parents take on their parents’ anger. You don’t notice how the tone in your voice has changed, how quick you are to take offense. What you begin to see is how sensitive your friends are becoming, how impatient they seem to be with you, how irritating small things become. And then you are caught in the snare of losing those closest to you and lacking the patience to win them back.

 

Psalm 71

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.

Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
    of your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion.

25 September 2021

Matthew 6:1-6 & 16-18

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 

***

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

 

Prayer: Lord, give Your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow You the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

24 September 2021

Proverbs 22:22-23

Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
    and will exact life for life.

How can one rob the poor? Why bother to crush the afflicted? Why bother, even if one is wicked, to do what brings no gain? Perhaps there is a robbery and an affliction that occurs by ignoring the plight of the poor and the afflicted. Concerning the commandment not to steal, the Larger Catechism contends this means we are to “endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own.” The poor and the afflicted are the class of people least likely to be given consideration. For we condemn them for the ills they have brought on themselves or else are embarrassed by them. As there may be no gain in robbing the poor or crushing the afflicted, so we do not see gain in helping those who “won’t help themselves” or those who have given up in despair.

We need to take note of the class of people that Scripture time and again says God is on the side of. We need to do some soul-searching, because God evidently is quite willing to search our souls about this. He is taking sides. He becomes the pleader of their cause. He is not an indifferent judge on this matter. Indeed, he is ready to judge us according to our response to them. Whose side do you want to be found on?

 

Psalm 70

Hasten, O God, to save me;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

May those who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    Lord, do not delay.

23 September 2021

Proverbs 22:17-21

Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
    I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
    sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,
    so that you bring back truthful reports
    to those you serve?

Note the central motivation for learning the proverbs: that your trust may be in the Lord. Knowing what is right and true, gaining wisdom and knowledge – these things lead to trust, not skepticism. Faith in God is not based upon superstition, myth, and old wives’ tales. It flows out of knowledge from the Scriptures which is then reinforced by knowledge from natural revelation and experience.

Why, then, do educated people not turn more naturally to faith? For the same reason uneducated people do not – sin. Man fails to trust God because he does not want to trust God. He wants to take pride in himself, to boast of his own wits. He therefore chooses his own path to knowledge, proving in his own mind that knowledge leads him from God.

But for you who believe, who want to grow closer to God, then seek knowledge; seek wisdom. Study the Scriptures; continue to study the Proverbs and meditate upon them so that your trust may be in the Lord alone.

 

Psalm 69

Save me, O God,
    for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
    looking for my God.
Those who hate me without reason
    outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
    those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
    what I did not steal.

You, God, know my folly;
    my guilt is not hidden from you.

Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    may those who hope in you
    not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
    may those who seek you
    not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
    and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
    a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
    and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
10 When I weep and fast,
    I must endure scorn;
11 when I put on sackcloth,
    people make sport of me.
12 Those who sit at the gate mock me,
    and I am the song of the drunkards.

13 But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
    do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
    from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
    or the depths swallow me up
    or the pit close its mouth over me.

16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
    in your great mercy turn to me.
17 Do not hide your face from your servant;
    answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.
18 Come near and rescue me;
    deliver me because of my foes.

19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
    all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart
    and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
    for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
    and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

22 May the table set before them become a snare;
    may it become retribution and[b] a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them;
    let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute those you wound
    and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
    do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
    and not be listed with the righteous.

29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
    may your salvation, God, protect me.

30 I will praise God’s name in song
    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the Lord more than an ox,
    more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
32 The poor will see and be glad—
    you who seek God, may your hearts live!
33 The Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his captive people.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
    the seas and all that move in them,
35 for God will save Zion
    and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
36     the children of his servants will inherit it,
    and those who love his name will dwell there.

22 September 2021

Proverbs 22:16

One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

A lot of rich people will dispute this proverb. It is precisely by taking advantage of the poor (i.e. those who do not how to or are incapable of making wealth) that wealth is achieved. Furthermore, a key to wealth-making is knowing to whom to give and so open doors for getting even more back.

But this proverb is not about how to get rich; it is about justice. As we have already seen, Proverbs does not despise wealth but how one obtains it. Steady accumulation over time is praised; get rich quick schemes are frowned upon, especially when such schemes (as most do) depend upon taking advantage of the poor and others who cannot defend for themselves. This proverb addresses that injustice, plus the added element that goes with it, which is forming a good old boy network of the haves against the have-nots.

The ugliness of the scenario presented is that of relationships formed – both adversarial and friendly – based purely upon what one’s neighbor can and cannot do for one’s own financial advancement. The one who has money is a friend; the one doesn’t is a sucker. In both cases the neighbors are merely means to an end. They have no other significance.

Treating both the poor and the rich like this, you will certainly end up in poverty regarding relationships. You will be impoverished spiritually. You can only end up cynical, and you die with no satisfaction. And, for that matter, you stand a good chance of dying financially impoverished. For when difficult times come, your so-called “friends” want to take advantage of you. Grow rich in relationships and you cannot really be poor.

 

Psalm 68

May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
    may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
    as wax melts before the fire,
    may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds[b];
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,[c]
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

When you, God, went out before your people,
    when you marched through the wilderness,[d]
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
    before God, the One of Sinai,
    before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
    you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
    and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

11 The Lord announces the word,
    and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
    the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,[e]
    the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
    its feathers with shining gold.”
14 When the Almighty[f] scattered the kings in the land,
    it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.

15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
    Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
    at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
    where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
    and thousands of thousands;
    the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.[g]
18 When you ascended on high,
    you took many captives;
    you received gifts from people,
even from[h] the rebellious—
    that you,[i] Lord God, might dwell there.

19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
    the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
    I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
    while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”

24 Your procession, God, has come into view,
    the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
    with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26 Praise God in the great congregation;
    praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
    there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
    and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.

28 Summon your power, God[j];
    show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
    kings will bring you gifts.
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
    the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
    Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31 Envoys will come from Egypt;
    Cush[k] will submit herself to God.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
    sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
    who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

21 September 2021

Proverbs 22:15

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

This proverb presents a premise that corrects the idea that a child merely needs to be educated as to what is right. Education is necessary, and much of the time children do merely need to be instructed as to what is right, and they will then do it. But children are also like adults in that they are sinners. Much of their folly comes from their sinful desires. And so, oftentimes without any instruction that something is wrong to do, they will nevertheless act in secret. They have a conscience, just as adults, and like adults will violate it.

This is where discipline comes in, which is necessary for children and adults. The essential difference is that discipline has a greater chance of driving out the folly in the child than the adult. If discipline is exercised wisely and consistently, the child is likely to learn his lesson and become a wiser person.

Even so, as much good that discipline can do regarding folly, it still cannot cleanse the heart. A child may grow into a mature adult with a good head on his shoulders through the help of proper discipline. But he cannot be disciplined to love the Lord; he cannot be disciplined to see his need for a Savior, nor given the desire to follow his Lord. That is the work of the Spirit.

And so as parents, we need to exercise wise, consistent discipline to drive out the folly that is naturally inherent in our children. We are to instruct them in the Word of God and teach them the gospel. And we are to pray for the Holy Spirit to blow into them the breath of God that they may have life.

 

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—[b]
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;
    God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

20 September 2021

Proverbs 22:14

The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
    a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.

A kiss is not just a kiss when the purpose is to lure into sin, a sin that leads into the pit of destruction. Words of invitation to pleasure are words of poison when that pleasure is forbidden passion. The folly of men is to believe that the sin is harmless, and that they have the discernment and willpower to avoid the pit. But if money is the root of evil, then understand that sex is the root of folly. Sex makes a man foolish. An otherwise cool-thinking man becomes stupid when his sexual passion is aroused. He actually believes that illicit sex will give him satisfaction. He is actually willing to risk his reputation, his career, and his family for the sake of momentary pleasure that vanishes immediately and which leaves him craving for more, never fulfilled.

What then is the second line of the proverb saying? Is God angry with men who fall into such a pit, or does he allow men with whom he is angry to fall into it? Sometimes our punishment is to be allowed to go where our passions lead us.

Men, don’t be stupid. Know your weakness when it comes to sexual temptation. Know that you cannot think straight and walk away. The best way to deal with such temptation is not to brace yourself against the temptation, but to walk away from it. The best way to avoid falling into the pit is to get away from the edge of it.

 

Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”[a]

Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
    you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance.

13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
    and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
    when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
    and an offering of rams;
    I will offer bulls and goats.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

18 September 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

 

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Prayer: Lord, we pray that Your grace may always go before and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

17 September 2021

Proverbs 22:13

The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
    I’ll be killed in the public square!”

He does have a point. We may not worry about lions, but there are cars and trucks that could hit us. It may be best not to go outside to work. And, for that matter, there are dangers in the home – tripping down the stairs, stumbling over shoes or stepping on a ball. It may be best to remain in bed. Too bad the sluggard in Solomon’s day did not have TV and a remote. Today’s sluggard does not even have to come up with excuses for not doing work. The distraction of 24 hour television with literally hundreds of channels saves him from having to think up rationalizations for lying in bed or the couch. He can get by with the dull thought of “I’ll get up in just a minute.”

Peter tells us that there is actually a lion out there ready to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). The problem is that he is also within our home, even within our room, even under the bedcovers! Whatever imaginary lions the sluggard has to keep him from doing something with his life, he should be taking into account this very real lion – Satan – who is devouring his very soul. Inactivity is a killer of the soul; for we were made to act, to produce, to glorify our Maker through being makers in his image.

Whether healthy or ill; whether bold or timid, do whatever God has given you the ability to do that he might be glorified. Who knows, maybe today you will meet a lion in the streets and slay him!

 

Psalm 65

Praise awaitsb] you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgavec] our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
    God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
    having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.

You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.d]
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing.

16 September 2021

Proverbs 22:12

The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

God watches over knowledge as a shepherd watches over his flock. Far from fearing knowledge, Christians should above all nurture it and strive to grow in knowledge, for God is the God of truth. It is good to grow in all the fields of knowledge, except for learning the ways to sin. That is really the only knowledge that Adam and Eve gained. They learned to think like Satan.

Such knowledge God despises and he will turn against the one who uses it. Let us remember this as we worry over evil men getting away with wickedness. God will overthrow them, most often in this lifetime, but with ultimate finality after death. It is that second death that Christ tells us to fear, which awaits the wicked.

The traitor thinks he is getting away with his treachery. All that he is doing is storing up God’s wrath that will be carried out. God is not blind to our sin, nor will he be mocked. Do not be jealous of the traitor or anyone who uses deceit. Rather, all the more determine to speak the truth and to uphold knowledge, especially the knowledge that is of Jesus Christ.

 

Psalm 64

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, “Who will see it[b]?”
They plot injustice and say,
    “We have devised a perfect plan!”
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear;
    they will proclaim the works of God
    and ponder what he has done.

10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

15 September 2021

Proverbs 22:11

One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

Note the addition of gracious speech. Shouldn’t purity of heart be enough for friendship, even with a king? It is speech that conveys what is in the heart. Speech can be used to deceive and other proverbs warn of flattery, but the point here is that one with a pure heart considers his words carefully.

Paul uses this same concept in regard to witnessing: “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).

Does graciousness characterize your speech? Are people encouraged after speaking with you? Even in disagreements, do they acknowledge that you demonstrate due respect and fairness? Do they respect you?

What is gracious speech? It lacks grumbling and sarcasm. It certainly is void of profanity. It pays sincere compliments readily. It is encouraging. Its focus is on the welfare of others. It flows from a mind that is consciously thinking of the right and good thing to say. It flows from a heart that truly cares to honor God and respect one’s neighbor.

Have such a heart; speak with gracious words – you must be a friend of the King.

 

Psalm 63

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

14 September 2021

Proverbs 22:10

Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended.

This is a proverb that has been proven many times in all kinds of settings. One person can sow discord throughout a team, a staff, a class, any group. He does not have to be openly rebellious. All he needs to do is consistently say a few words of discontent and disrespect, a few sarcastic remarks. At first others may shake off his words; they may quickly mark him as being a problem. But after a while the words begin to have their effect.

For there are always some things that are not right, that could be better. But whereas before, the others may have overlooked such problems, they begin to get bothered. “John may be a complainer, but he is right about Tom being too harsh sometimes.” “I hadn’t thought about it before, but John does have a point.” “Maybe John is right; maybe I should file a complaint.” “John is being too sarcastic, but that was funny the way he made Tom sound.”

And then John leaves. As if a fresh wind had blown through a room and driven away a foul odor, so the atmosphere changes. Is there a scoffer in your team? Are you the scoffer? Christians can be just as guilty and actually worse because we cannot admit to ourselves that we are guilty. Do you have a complaining attitude? Does everyone in your workplace or class know what disgruntles you? Are you a person that other complainers are attracted to?

Better to change than to have to leave for peace to come.

 

Psalm 62

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
    Would all of you throw me down—
    this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
    from my lofty place;
    they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
    but in their hearts they curse.[b]

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
    the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
    together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
    or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
    do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
    according to what they have done.”

13 September 2021

Proverbs 22:9

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.

What is a “bountiful” eye? It can be translated good or generous. It is evidently an eye that looks about and sees ways to bless others. The man with the bountiful eye bestows bounty to others, but also included is the thought that he reaps bounty.

Compare this proverb with 11:24: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” Generosity is a virtue; furthermore, it is a virtue that reaps its own reward. But generosity means taking delight in giving. One may give a generous amount, but do so begrudgingly or with the intent to earn reward or assuage guilt. This proverb is upholding the person who looks for opportunity to give because he delights in giving. He shares his bread with the poor because he delights in heartening others, and because he delights in pleasing his Lord, who delights in our giving to the poor.

So in the same manner our Lord Jesus Christ has a bountiful eye. He delighted in doing God’s will; he delighted in giving himself for us who were poor; he delights even now in sharing his riches with his people who believe in him.

 

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.[b]
For you, God, have heard my vows;
    you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Increase the days of the king’s life,
    his years for many generations.
May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever;
    appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name
    and fulfill my vows day after day.

11 September 2021

Matthew 5:31-37

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

 

Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.[g]

Prayer: Lord, let Your continual pity cleanse and defend Your church, and because it cannot continue in safety without Your aid, keep it evermore by Your help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

10 September 2021

Proverbs 22:8

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

We reap what we sow. The employer who sows injustice among his employees will reap poor performance. The seller who sows injustice among his customers will reap business failure. The parent who sows injustice within the family will see his children turn rebellious. The employer may threaten to fire, the seller may act offended, and the parent may yell but their rod of fury will lose its force. A person will endure injustice only so long. Either he will retaliate or he will leave.

Are you sowing injustice? As a Christian you may actually have more difficulty seeing what you are doing. We are quick to admit when we lose our temper or overreact or some other sin that we explain as a momentary relapse. What is more difficult to see (and to admit) is a pattern of sowing injustice in our relationships. We then are surprised to learn that a spouse or a child or a friend or a colleague has harbored resentment against us.

Perhaps it is time to do reality check. Pay attention to others and how they respond to you. Ask if there is something you need to examine and do not get defensive if they do have something to say. You don’t want to find out years later what you are reaping.

 

Psalm 60

You have rejected us, God, and burst upon us;
    you have been angry—now restore us!
You have shaken the land and torn it open;
    mend its fractures, for it is quaking.
You have shown your people desperate times;
    you have given us wine that makes us stagger.
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner
    to be unfurled against the bow.[e]

Save us and help us with your right hand,
    that those you love may be delivered.
God has spoken from his sanctuary:
    “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem
    and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth.
Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
    Ephraim is my helmet,
    Judah is my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin,
    on Edom I toss my sandal;
    over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

Who will bring me to the fortified city?
    Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us
    and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy,
    for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory,
    and he will trample down our enemies.

9 September 2021

Proverbs 22:7

The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.

The rich man rules over the poor man who is dependent upon him. The lender has control over the man who borrows from him. This is the disadvantage we should strive to avoid. What difference does it make that I owe money to someone else? That someone else has a claim on me. In a sense I work for him, for I am earning money to turn over to him.

Desire for comforts and pleasures leads us into indebtedness and keeps us from financial independence. But that very desire then is frustrated because we must work all the harder to satisfy the debt it has created. The rich man and the lender are the ones who get their desire through our labor.

What then do we do? For one, we should follow the teachings of the proverbs to be industrious, to build wealth slowly, and to walk along the righteous path. And then we would do well to follow James’ admonition: “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,” i.e. in his standing in Christ (James 1:9). In Christ we are free; in Christ we are rich. If we would see who we are and what we have in him, then our desire for worldly gain and pleasure would diminish; then, oddly enough, we will do the things that actually lead to greater security and freedom.

For in truth, it is what gives us most pleasure that we become slaves to. If it is of the world, then we become slaves of the world and its lenders; if our pleasure is in Christ, then we become his slaves where we find ultimate freedom.

 

Psalm 59

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me!
    Fierce men conspire against me
    for no offense or sin of mine, Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
    Arise to help me; look on my plight!
You, Lord God Almighty,
    you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
    show no mercy to wicked traitors.[c]

They return at evening,
    snarling like dogs,
    and prowl about the city.
See what they spew from their mouths—
    the words from their lips are sharp as swords,
    and they think, “Who can hear us?”
But you laugh at them, Lord;
    you scoff at all those nations.

You are my strength, I watch for you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
10     my God on whom I can rely.

God will go before me
    and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,[d]
    or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
    and bring them down.
12 For the sins of their mouths,
    for the words of their lips,
    let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13     consume them in your wrath,
    consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
    that God rules over Jacob.

14 They return at evening,
    snarling like dogs,
    and prowl about the city.
15 They wander about for food
    and howl if not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

8 September 2021

Proverbs 22:6

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Literally, the first line reads “according to the way he will go.” Some then have interpreted the meaning to be that if you raise a child according to his inclination, he will set on a crooked path that he will not depart. Certainly that is true, and many parents bemoan that their children did actually depart from the way they should go.

Nevertheless, there is much truth to our traditional understanding of the proverb. Covenant children are likely to grow up in Christian faith and keep it. Even if their faith remains a second-hand faith inherited from their upbringing, they nevertheless keep along the law-keeping path. And even if they consciously reject their parents’ faith, they still have ingrained in them Christian instincts hard to shake off.

Indeed, the testimony of many covenant children is that of wandering from the faith and returning to it precisely because of what they learned as children. They remember the Bible stories and verses. They remember the hymns. One covenant child turned to God in the midst of overdosing on drugs because hymns popped into his mind at the time and kept him sane.

Raise up your children in the way they should go. Remember that the way to go is to Jesus for grace and mercy. They should see that that is where you go. They should see that as law-abiding as you might try to be, what really motivates you is the mercy found in Christ, that it is Christ’s strength that makes you strong, that it is the forgiveness found in him that gives you hope. It is such hope and love for our Savior that will keep many a child on the right path and not depart from it.

 

Psalm 58

Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
    Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
    and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray;
    from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
    like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
    however skillful the enchanter may be.

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
    Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away;
    when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
    like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
    whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.[c]
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
    when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
    “Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
    surely there is a God who judges the earth.”

7 September 2021

Proverbs 22:5

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

This proverb has the similar message of 22:3: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” The new contrast is between the crooked (the wicked) and the righteous who take care to guard their souls. But the results are the same. Like the simple, the crooked find trouble in the path they have chosen to take. Like the prudent, the righteous is alert to where danger lurks and stays away from it.

One might say that the crooked and simple are the more daring, while the prudent and righteous are afraid to be risk-takers. Yet at the heart of both proverbs is not about being daring but being foolish. The simple is foolish in his estimate of the danger; the crooked is foolish in choosing a path that is wicked. The prudent and the righteous are both wise in sizing up danger and honorable in choosing what risk to take.

One man walks into a seedy neighborhood thinking that he can flirt with danger and temptation. Another walks into the same neighborhood to befriend someone, well aware of the danger but more intent to do what is right. Both take risks. Both put themselves in situations where trouble could come. But who is more likely to get into further trouble?

The simple and the crooked are lured by the excitement of temptation. That is why they fail to see their danger. That is why obstacles keep popping up. Their eyes are fixed on sin. The eyes of the prudent and the righteous are fixed on Christ, which makes them all the more alert to the greatest danger – the attacks against their souls.

Remember the greatest danger before you today. It is not that you might get hit by a car or robbed. It is that situations will catch you off guard and lead you to sin. Satan is not so interested in making you physically suffer; as revealed with Job, what he wants is to lead you astray. Be alert to the real enemy and the real danger.

 

Psalm 57

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
    rebuking those who hotly pursue me—[c]
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions;
    I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—
    I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
    but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
    my heart is steadfast;
    I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
    Awake, harp and lyre!
    I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.

6 September 2021

Proverbs 22:4

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.

What riches? Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, the riches of God’s grace, forgiveness of sin, redemption, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, adoption by God as his child, God’s steadfast, unmerited love.

What honor? To be called a child of God, to hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” to be called brother or sister by Jesus Christ, to actually receive “praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” to someday receive an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” to wear the crown of life.

What life? Abundant life in Christ, a forgiven life, a redeemed life, an eternal life of joy, a meaningful life, a transformed life, a life to come in which we will not sin nor be sinned against nor feel any effect of sin, a life spend in the presence of God and of the Lamb.

Not a bad deal.

 

Psalm 56

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
    all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not[c] let them escape;
    in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll[d]
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

4 September 2021

Matthew 5:21-30

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

 

Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Prayer: Keep Your Church, Lord God, with Your continual mercy, and because the frailty of man without You cannot but fall, keep us always under Your protection, and lead us to everything that makes for our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

3 September 2021

Proverbs 22:3

The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

This is the same message as the proverb: Fools rush in where angels fear to dread. The simple “go on” either because they do not see the danger or because they estimate themselves too highly, thinking they can withstand harm.

The prudent does not hide himself out of cowardliness. Rather, he is able to discern the danger and discern the appropriate action to take, which will at times be to hide or walk away. As an old Kenny Rogers song says, “You’ve got to know when to hold them (cards) and know when to fold them.” There are times to speak up and times to remain quiet; times to stand one’s ground and times to give in. There are times to fight and times to make peace. The prudent understands the times; the simple does not.

And thus the simple person oftentimes suffers for his actions. He is admonished for his speech and punished for his behavior, and he actually does not seem to know why. He cannot look about him and see how his action is inappropriate.

Certainly the lesson is for us to develop our ability to discern. We are to be prudent. But all the more let us thank our God who watches over us. For the most prudent person is still unaware of most dangers. We do not see the future; we do not see the unseen spiritual world. We do not grasp fully our depravity and frailty, nor the power of the evil one. How many times have we been oblivious to the dangers about us and God has protected us from suffering? Let us thank God for the prudent One who saw our danger and put himself forward to suffer on our behalf.

 

Psalm 55

Listen to my prayer, O God,
    do not ignore my plea;
    hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
    because of what my enemy is saying,
    because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
    and assail me in their anger.

My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
    horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away
    and stay in the desert;[c]
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
    far from the tempest and storm.”

Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
    for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
    malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city;
    threats and lies never leave its streets.

12 If an enemy were insulting me,
    I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
    I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
    my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
    at the house of God,
as we walked about
    among the worshipers.

15 Let death take my enemies by surprise;
    let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
    for evil finds lodging among them.

16 As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
    who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
    because they have no fear of God.

20 My companion attacks his friends;
    he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
    yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
    yet they are drawn swords.

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you.

2 September 2021

Proverbs 22:2

Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.

Whether rich or poor, we are all creatures made by God to glorify God. There is nothing we possess that we were not given – neither money nor the ability to make money, neither favorable circumstances of birth nor the wit to climb out of unfavorable circumstances. There is no such thing as a self-made man, nor an unlucky man.

The Lord is the maker of us all. That means we share the same value before him and the same status of sinners. We may look at one another and say, “There go I,” for we both bear the image of God. It is for mankind, which includes us all, that Christ became man and died. It is to man in every circumstance – rich or poor, slave or free, male or female – that the gospel is freely given.

Therefore, no one can boast of what he possesses or has attained. He would have nothing unless granted by his Maker. Nor can man boast of how he deserves favor. Nor can anyone complain about his circumstance, as though he deserved better. For our Maker does not reveal his secret counsels and makes clear that what anyone receives is out of grace and mercy.

It is said that contentment lies not in what we possess but in accepting our circumstances. That is not quite true. Real contentment does lie in what we possess. The trouble of the rich is that they think of the wrong possessions; the trouble of the poor is that they fail to understand what they have. Whether rich or poor, they are “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 2:5).

 

Psalm 54

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me—
    people without regard for God.c]

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
    in your faithfulness destroy them.

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
    I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
    and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

1 September 2021

Proverbs 22:1

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

This is the lesson George Bailey learned in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” One earns a good name by living a good life, and that name becomes a sound investment. The person with a good name is more likely to receive help when the time comes. He is more likely to receive the benefit of the doubt should he be slandered. He is more likely to be defended by his neighbors when attacked. Others will speak up for him; people are pleased to do favors for him. Even his opponents will give him respect.

A good name does not guarantee security, and sometimes the good life actually leads to a poor reputation, as even Christ experienced. All the more then the importance of having a good name before God who is our true judge. And all the more important to find one’s identity in Christ. It is his name that gives us a good name before God.

And let us exalt now the name of Jesus before whom every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10).

 

Psalm 53

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;
    there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread;
    they never call on God.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
    where there was nothing to dread.
God scattered the bones of those who attacked you;
    you put them to shame, for God despised them.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When God restores his people,
    let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

31 August 2021

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the Lord.

It is good to make plans. It is good to prepare well for whatever battle one faces. But always remember that the victory belongs to the Lord. His will will be done. With such knowledge, you should:

1. Maintain an attitude of prayer throughout your preparations and battle. You may pray for victory, but more importantly that you will honor Christ in the battle.

2. Neither bemoan your weakness nor be puffed up in your strength. It is by your weakness that God’s strength is made known. Whatever strength you may have is what God has given to you.

3. God has his own purposes beyond your battle. You do not know what those purposes are. But you do know that all things are to work toward his glory, and you know that as his child those purposes include your good. God is not distant, indifferent to your battles. But God is also not contained in your small world.

4. Whatever success you may experience, the victory belongs to the Lord and he is to receive all credit and glory.

Now go forth to your battles today.

 

Psalm 52

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
    Why do you boast all day long,
    you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
    your tongue plots destruction;
    it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
    falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c]
You love every harmful word,
    you deceitful tongue!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
    He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
    they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man
    who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
    and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
    in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
    for your name is good.