Suggested Reading: Isaiah 7:1-9 When the Bible refers to faith, it does not refer to faith in a certain denomination and it does not refer to faith in a certain ministry. The word faith in the Bible always refers to … Continue reading
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. (Proverbs 12:4)
In a relationship, when one person brings disgrace on the other, it can be a sign that the affections displayed towards the partner were not genuine. When we truly love someone, we are careful with our actions out of consideration for their feelings. There is not much room for selfish pursuits if we do not want to hurt someone we love.
When we look at Delilah, the wife of Samson, we see how she violated the ties of love. Hers is a story of heartless treachery towards someone who loved her. It is under the guise of love that she manages to extract the secret of Samson’s strength from him.
In her actions we see a mixture of treachery, hypocrisy, and cruelty enveloped in a scary kind of perseverance. Samson was smitten by her beauty and fell in love with her. His love, and no doubt her attractive features, blinded him to her corrupted character. His guard was down around her. In their story we see the reality of this proverb playing out. We see how her actions ultimately destroyed her husband.
I think the reason, perhaps, why the Proverb focuses on the effects of a disgraceful wife on the husband and not on the effects on either party is because there are ample heroic stories of women who remain loyal or who come out on top, in spite of their husbands’ behavior. It makes quite an impact, however, when we see how a husband is destroyed by the actions of a disgraceful wife. Such a wife tears down her own household.
The wife of noble character, by contrast, is given a high place in the household. The mention of ‘crown’ means power as well as happiness and gladness. Her noble character enables her to rule her household by the power of her love. The crown symbol also implies that she enhances the dignity of her partner. With her healthy influence she elevates his character and brings him joy and happiness.
An unhappy union eats away at the essence of life, destroys its happiness, hampers progression and undermines the family structure.
I see two lessons here: firstly, there is no room for selfish actions in a loving relationship and secondly, it is a blessing without measure to have a partner in life that is considerate and wise in their actions and words.
Scripture Reference: Isaiah 45:1-14
With these words God makes it clear that He can appoint anyone to achieve His purposes. Cyrus did not acknowledge God, but yet he was appointed to be wealthy and have a title of honor to achieve God’s great purpose for His people.
Paul wrote to the Romans that Pharaoh was also such an instrument in the Lord’s hand. His stubborn refusal to let the people of God go, only set the stage for God to display His awesome power over the laws of nature. Through Pharaoh’s refusal to obey God the stage was set for God to prove He is Lord over His creation; He is the God who gives life and He has the power to take it away.
Here we have Cyrus: An unbeliever. Yet in verse 28 of Isaiah 44 it says that God calls him His shepherd who will accomplish all that God pleases and will play an important role in the restoration of His people.
God calls him “anointed.” God says He takes him by the right hand (guiding his actions) and subdues nations under him, disarming kings before him. God opens doors for him and allows no gates to be shut on behalf of Cyrus.
God goes before him and levels the mountains, strengthening him against any obstacles in his way. God gives him treasures hidden in darkness, riches stored in secret places in order that he may know that God is the LORD. He is the God of Israel who summoned Cyrus by name. He does this for the sake of His chosen people. He will strengthen Cyrus although he does not acknowledge that his strength comes from God.
God does this so that people may know He alone has the power to raise one up and bring another down. He brings both light and darkness, prosperity and disaster. He does all these things. He is also therefore the only One who can bring righteousness and salvation. He is the Creator of all things.
The Lord anticipates an objection to this and says, “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker…” (Verse 9). “Do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Verse 11).
He made the earth and created mankind on it. His own hands stretched out the heavens and He marshaled their starry hosts. He has done all this without seeking advice and ideas from humans. So, He can raise up whom He wants and bring down whom He wants. He will still be doing all this, however, for the sake of His children.
Although we may sometimes have questions about why God does this or the other thing; why He allows certain people to become leaders and not the ones we would have thought could achieve more in a position of leadership, God wants to ensure us that while we may not always understand His actions, we should trust His heart. His heart is fully focused on what is best for His chosen.
At the time of Jesus’ life on earth, there were not righteous leaders in place. Instead, God worked things out long before the time so that a thoroughly corrupted government were in control of things. However, it was right in the middle of this darkness that the light of Christ came shining through even more. It was a time which caused people’s hunger for righteousness to reach its peak and it was just then that He sent them His Righteous One. The hungry were filled.
In our time many people across the world hunger for righteousness in leaders as corruption in leadership has become the rule, rather than the exception. But, just as He worked out His purposes in the middle of the dark times of Jesus, so He will work it out today.
As He said then, He says today, “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.”
He does all these things because He loves us.
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Psalm 48 is about the beauty of God’s church –not a specific organization or denomination –but that body of believers who follow their Lord and do what He says. This body of believers is represented here as a city. God lives in her –this body is the bride of our Lord Jesus.
Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth
When reflecting on what God has done for her and in her, His greatness is revealed. He is praised by those who recognize her as His workmanship. Her loftiness is beautiful –she stands out among the crowds. She is the joy of the whole earth –bringing the good tidings of great joy to all nations.
Even the creation groan in eager expectation, waiting for her to be revealed in His glory. She is beautiful like the views from high mountains –breathtaking. God has proven Himself to be her fortress.
When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, they saw her and were astounded
Yes, powerful foes will join forces against her and advance together to destroy her, but once she is revealed, they will flee in terror; they will be astonished by her splendor. At the point of attack, terror will seize them. They will look like a woman who has gone into labor. God will destroy them. Up to this point we have heard what He is going to do for His bride –then we will see that it is just as we have heard.
God makes her secure forever.
Our faith will be confirmed. God makes His city secure –forever! Not only a temporary security that depends on our moods and strengths, but a security that remains even when we are in our weakest moments.
We meditate on your unfailing love.
His bride is close to Him and she will meditate on His unfailing love. She will declare His Name and His praise to the ends of the earth. This is her response to what He has done for her.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Righteousness is at His right hand –Jesus Christ the Righteous One. When He reveals His righteous judgments, there will be great rejoicing among His people. Take a closer look at His bride, see how secure she is made by her bridegroom and tell the future generations.
This God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. His commitment to us is a permanent one. He is our God forever!
- 100 verses for facing any situation you can imagine (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- Breastplate of Righteousness (krisbelfils.wordpress.com)
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (Matthew 24:42)
When Jesus compares His coming with that of a thief, it may appear disparaging, but it is a very fitting way to describe the result of that great event on those who were not constantly watching for Him.
A thief does not announce his visit to the home of his choice. He aims to surprise the inhabitants, catching them off-guard so that the suddenness of his ‘visit’ may disarm them.
Now, Jesus does not come to rob us as a thief does. He uses this analogy, I believe, specifically to describe the effect His coming will have on those who were unprepared. It will catch them unawares. But for those who listened to His warning to ‘keep watch’, His arrival will be the fulfillment of all their desires.
He teaches us to be permanently watchful. This, of course, does not mean that we become passive. Jesus makes it clear that the ones found working as they watch are the ones who do His will. A watchful person is someone who is habitually alert to events. In a spiritual sense, such a one is also a person of prayer, as a heart constantly lifted up to God is more tuned in with His actions and His will.
As we close our eyes at night, we have no guarantees that we will see the morning. Everyday and every moment may be our last. I believe this reminder extends beyond waiting for the great coming of the Lord to our individual days on this earth. We never know when we will be beckoned home.
Considering this, may we be ready for the Lord’s return, but also ready that when our time is done on this earth before He should come, we are also found in that watchful attitude. This is not a call to be obsessed with death, but to live as if every day is an extra special gift. May we never take a new day for granted.
- Is Jesus a prophet or the Son of God? (prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
In this proverb the marked contrast in both the condition and character between good people and bad people is clearly shown.
The Contrast in their Condition:
The good ones draw upon themselves the blessings of God. They have His favor upon their lives. They remain firm and are recipients of His wisdom. Their desires are directed by His Spirit so that in Him they are fully satisfied. They keep themselves within the channels of His will and by that they avert the chances of being wrecked by selfish desires.
In contrast, the wicked draw upon themselves inevitable misery. Firstly, they lose His favor when they plan things to obtain goals at the expense of others. Since they seek to achieve regardless of the cost to others, they soon lose the favor of their fellowman too. So, by their misdeeds, they forfeit the very public esteem they crave.
The Contrast in their Character:
Wrongdoers don’t like to be corrected as they are usually arrogant. They have an indifference towards the feelings and views of others. They are self-assured and as a result unwilling to learn. They are attracted to and enjoy bad company. They are selfish, seeking only self-gratification, regardless of who they harm in the process.
Good people love knowledge and are generally humble enough to learn from correction. They seek honest ways to achieve their goals, without harm to others. They have no desire to injure others as they pursue their aspirations. Good people are benevolent people who desire the good of others. They are generally well-disciplined people. “Whoever does good is an ally of God; he is in immediate co-operation with Him.” (J. Parker)
The Book of Proverbs often paints these contrasts between the righteous and unrighteous so that we may grow in the wisdom and knowledge of how to live a life that pleases God. It is important to press the point that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. It is through faith in Christ that we are declared righteous in the sight of God. It is because of Him that we are able to enjoy the favor of God. His grace is enough, but this grace did not come cheaply. It cost Him the life of His Son.
Therefore, being recipients of such costly grace, we are to make it our duty to follow Him in all that we pursue in this life. That means we follow Jesus’ way of doing. He never achieved any goal by selfishness. On the contrary, His life on earth was the perfect example of selflessness. As we desire to please Him in all that we do, may we also desire to walk as Jesus did. In His way of doing we will find blessings and favor from God freely available.
Resource: Biblical Illustrator
- SIH’s Think On These Things: Proverbs 24:1-2 (settledinheaven.wordpress.com)
Water, rivers and streams are often used in Scripture, especially in Isaiah, as symbols of divine blessings which come from the abundant influences of the Holy Spirit. God makes the promise of the Holy Spirit all over Scripture.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:3)
Here we have an encouraging promise. It is clearly a promise meant to cheer up a downtrodden heart. The beauty of water as an emblem of the Holy Spirit shows His cleansing property, His ability to quench our spiritual thirst, His refreshing influences and His ability to make our hearts fertile ground for receiving His word. He is the reason we bear fruit –the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Here we can also see the generous nature of God. He does not give His Spirit in tiny measures. No. He ‘pours’ out His Spirit. “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” John 3:34
These words portray God’s grace towards us. We may stumble. We may fail from time to time. We are up the one day, and perhaps a little low the next. However, we have this unchanging promise. He chose us. He loves us and will cleanse us, refresh us, take care of us in every imaginable way. His grace is intense.
This is a promise of His eternal assistance. Perhaps we cannot pray as we ought to. Yet, we need not worry. He will help us pray. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26). He starts the work in us. He will complete it.
In these words we may also read comfort to parents concerned for their children. Although we must all walk our own journey with the Lord, parents are concerned for their children and their relationship with the Lord. We can tell them about the Lord. We can teach them His precepts, His Word, His grace, but at the end of the day their journey with the Lord will be between Him and them.
We can never claim that we have in any way initiated the spiritual life of another or of ourselves. We may be His instruments, but we are not the creators of spiritual life. “Men might as well claim the honour of creation or resurrection as boast of commencing their own spiritual life.” (Charles Spurgeon. ) Therefore, God encourages us with these beautiful words for concerned parents. He will start His work in them. He will complete it.
These are only a very small part of what the Spirit of Christ does for us. We can never completely declare the fullness of His Spirit of Grace. The Holy Spirit alone can create in us a new heart. And the good news is: We are forever under His abundant influences. We truly are a people blessed by God!
Resources: Charles Spurgeon
- Half Hearted Outreach (thoughtsofspencer.wordpress.com)
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
The word translated as ‘still’ is the Hebrew word râphâh which means to cast down, to let fall, to let hang down, to be relaxed, especially in the hands, to not make an effort.
In other words, when God tells us to be still, He is in fact saying to us the same thing He repeats in various other parts of Scripture. He wants us to let go of our fleshly efforts and allow His powerful Spirit to work through us and in us. We reach the goal of being transformed into the image of His Son not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit.
He wants us to worry less, to ‘try’ less and to trust Him more. He wants us to learn to leave matters in His hands without having anxiety. He said to Moses when faced with the Red Sea in front of him and the Egyptians behind him, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:13) He says the same to us this day.
God wants to restore the calm in our hearts by our trust in Him. It is in this condition of quiet trust that we are most likely to see the manifestation of His divine presence and power. It is then that we will see that what has been done could only be done by God.
When we ‘know’ that He is God, we will know that His supremacy is absolute, His justice impeachable, and His wisdom without error. If we don’t know Him intimately, we will have difficulty quieting our spirits.
We cannot see anything in stormy waters. It is when the waters are quiet that we get to see the beauty beneath the surface. We will find it hard to see the power of God when our hearts are storm-tossed by anxiety. It is in the calm that we will sense His presence and see His power.
As described in the introductory paragraph, part of the word ‘still’ also means to be relaxed in our hands. God wants us to let go of our grip on our life and let Him take over. Our tendency to want to be in control often leads us to hold on to things which should be surrendered to God. Jesus asked full surrender from His followers. We, however, tend to be selective in our surrender. We will most often not give up all to His leading.
It is in full surrender alone that we can be ‘still’ and ‘know’ that He is God. No matter what things look like now, know this: He will never leave us nor forsake us. Let us trust Him and let go of what should be in His hands. Let us try less and trust more.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 23
Jesus teaches His followers to watch out for teachers of the Word whose lives don’t correspond to their teaching. Followers of Christ are not duty-bound to follow teachers unless their lives are testimonies to what they teach. While proper respect should be shown where it is due, we are not to follow blindly.
In Matthew 23 He points to His followers their current example in hypocrisy –the Scribes and Pharisees. They were given the authority to teach the Law which is what is meant by them “sitting in the seat of Moses.” However, with this authority comes the obligation to live exemplary lives. For the most part, however, their actions differed from their words.
They rigidly expected much from their followers, but were never prepared to do anything to help them carry the burdens they have themselves laid upon them. They put on special outward shows of religion, but their inner lives were not in line with what they worked so hard to portray outwardly.
They enjoyed their reserved seats at gatherings as proof of their honorable and distinct positions in society. They basked in the special attention they got in public and expected to be treated with special respect.
They loved being called by titles. In the time of Jesus, ‘Rabbi’ was a special title signifying a great person. It was given to those eminent teachers as a means of dignity, honor, and authority. Jesus tells His followers they should not be like that, because He is their Master and Teacher. He is the only one worthy of titles of being great. But, while He is their Master, they are all equal. The true followers of Christ do not covet titles of distinction. We should not allow others to give us titles nor should we give titles to others.
This is an express command to His disciples not to give each other titles which cause ranks and grades. That is the way of the world. By reading the greetings in the Epistles and the first followers referring to one another, we clearly see them following this direction. Nowhere does one refer to the other by a title, but always by their names, followed by a description of their duty. Paul, for instance, refers to himself as Paul followed by ‘an apostle of Christ’. Never does he refer to himself as Apostle Paul.
Such titles engenders pride, a sense of superiority, envy (and a sense of inferiority) as well as an inclination to “Lord it over” God’s children. They were not to call any earthly minister “father” either as this title belonged to God the Father. He is our supreme authority. We are accountable to Him first. This does not mean we don’t give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7).
The command against titles is intended to prevent the giving of empty titles, of producing distinctions among themselves, of claiming undeserved authority over God’s children and a claim to superiority. God will Himself lift up the person who humbles himself before God.
Jesus then pronounces these hypocrites guilty and names the causes of their guilt. Jesus was the expert in detection of hypocrisy and being the visible image of God, shows how much hypocrisy repels God. This is the most terrible of all His reproofs while He was on earth and it was not directed at sinners, but ironically, at the church leaders of His time.
Among all their crimes, He mentions how they pretended spiritual authority to get something out of the innocent and unsuspecting. They put on a fine show to defraud others. They committed terrible deeds under the cloak of religion. They used long prayers, for instance, as a way of showing how ‘spiritual’ they are. They were keeping the outside clean, but neglected the most important thing –the heart.
God looks at the heart. He is not deceived by shows of religion. May we never forget that as we journey on this Way to the Father.
- *Apostolic* (motivation1000.wordpress.com)
- If Jesus Christ walked the Earth today, would you follow him? (lynleahz.com)
If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner! (Proverbs 11:31)
There is an earthly reward stored up for those who live right. As David said, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Although we should not put our minds on earthly things, but on things above, God has rewards on earth for those who live according to His will.
There is not much evidence of justice in this world. It is a place where the good people may suffer for their virtues and the bad ones escape because of their wickedness. People may get away with breaking the law if they have the right influence. What is good is called bad and the bad called good.
Some may reflect on this unfair state of things and decide it is best to selfishly go after what you want, regardless of the consequences to others. But, not even in this wicked world will harm to others in the pursuit of personal success be tolerated. In the final analysis, the good will be rewarded and the bad will get what has been coming to them. We see that happening even in this life.
These words are intended to spur us on to carefully reflect on the consequences of our choices. It is generally accepted that ‘honesty is the best policy.’ Even those people who are inclined to tell lies, hate being lied to. They appreciate an honest person although they don’t live by that rule themselves.
The proverb seems to indicate that the punishment for sins in this world is more certain than the rewards for goodness. Not everyone appreciates and acknowledges the kind deeds of others, but a bad deed is not likely to be overlooked. The newspapers reflect this. Kind deeds may go unreported, but the bad things hit the front pages.
The wicked may appear to go on their way unaffected by their bad deeds, but their recompense will not be delayed forever. Their chosen course will sooner or later be interrupted by the suffering they bring upon themselves. Already in this life we see the heavy payment for bad living. It leads to imprisonment, certain diseases and public embarrassment.
There is no escape from the laws of the Universe. We cannot go against these instituted laws without suffering in one form or another. Reflections such as these inspire us to act with wisdom from above.
- Living a Godly life yet living in the world mixes about as well as water and oil. (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
Scripture Reference: Matthew 22:34-40
Since Jesus silenced the Sadducee who tried to trick Him with questions about marriage in heaven, the Pharisees gathered together, perhaps in the hope that they would fare better than their rival Sadducees in tricking Jesus with their questions. They decided to send to Him an expert in the law to test Him regarding the law of God. “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?“
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
We should love God with all our power. We should love Him above all else; above all other beings and things and with all the energy we have. When we love Him with all our heart, we fix all our love on Him above all others. Our love for Him is stronger than all other and we are willing to give up all else for our love of God.
With all your soul
Our love for God should course its way through our entire life. We will love Him enough to give up our life for Him. We will be completely devoted to His interests.
And with all your mind
We love Him enough to submit our intellect under His infinite wisdom. Our love for God should not be mindless. Our minds should be fully engaged. Loving Him with all our mind does not mean we become robotic in our adoration of Him. Our intellects are as much, or even more, engaged in our love for Him, as our intellects are engaged in our love for another person. This submission of our mind means that we bow down to His will when we cannot grasp His actions with our minds. It means we trust Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing.
This is the first and the greatest commandment.
God’s utmost desire for us is love. Love for Him. Love for others. From this love springs all other facets of goodness. Paul wrote that if we love we have fulfilled the whole law. In his first epistle to the Christians in Corinth he dedicates an entire chapter to love. Love is the backbone of our connection with God. Without love we are nothing.
When Jesus says this is the first and the greatest, He means that this commandment excels all others in dignity and excellence. It is the very foundation of all other commandments. God is the most excellent and glorious of all beings and is deserving of our supreme love. When we love God in a right way, all our other affections fall into their proper place.
And the second is like it
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is as important, as dignified, as pure and as useful as the first commandment. The expert of the law questioning Jesus did not ask for anything beyond the first and greatest commandment, but Jesus took the opportunity to make him aware that this constitutes part of the entire law. We cannot love God if we do not love people who have been created in His image.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments
This is the substance of the entire Scripture. It is the foundation of the Word of God. God is love. He who does not love, does not know God. The whole purpose of the spoken word by the prophets and by Moses was to encourage people to love God and each other. “And the greatest of these is love…”
- My God Where Is the Love? (babeinchristblog.com)