You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.

Proverbs 3:13-18  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

The world today puts great value on wealth and power. Unfortunately, even our churches give in to this kind of small thinking and give leadership roles to those who have “proven themselves” in the world. Out the window goes faith and even honor in too many instances.

But the true student of the Bible will come up with a different take on the source of true knowledge and wisdom. Read Proverbs 3:13-18. There is a wisdom that will bring riches, but not the kind that can be purchased with gold and silver. The riches include things money can’t buy: peace, joy, good will, a free conscience, respect and honor.

God is the giver of this kind of wisdom. It isn’t given to the greedy or to those hungry for power. It is given to those who are willing to seek it by spending time with him in prayer and by spending time searching through the scriptures for the lessons that only the Holy Spirit can teach us. And the riches gained from true wisdom include a relationship with Jesus Christ that will last through the end of our days on this earth and on into eternity. I’ll take riches of this kind over gold and silver any day!

Heavenly Father, incline my heart to seek thee more faithfully and deliberately. Help me to discern between Godly wisdom and the wisdom of this world, and help me to make seeking and applying godly wisdom a daily act of obedience to you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 3:13-16 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What prompts people to do good deeds? Politicians often do good deeds to gain recognition and votes. Businessmen make great donations to get tax write-offs. Some people want to be seen doing good deeds so they will make a good impression on others. Deeds done out of selfish ambition or envy are futile attempts to appease others, nor do they impress God. James calls these deeds evil practices.

There are others who are trying to balance the scales of their lives hoping to have more good deeds piled up on one side than bad deeds on the other as if they could earn their way into heaven this way. These are the most deceived of all.

James challenges us to rise above earthly wisdom and to seek the true wisdom that comes from God alone. The person who seeks godly wisdom will have a daily practice of doing good deeds, but this person will not be looking for man’s approval or applause. He will not be concerned about getting anything in return. He will not desire to have his name engraved on a plaque and hung on the wall for all to see the contributions he has made. He will simply look for ways to serve others sharing what he has with those in need.

Heavenly Father, search my heart and know me. Show me where I have my priorities upside-down. Enable me to serve you fully and completely. Give me the will to put others needs ahead of my self-indulgent spirit.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 3:10-12  Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

We were made in the image of God. How can we let our tongues get so un-godly? One minute we are praising God, the next we are cursing our brother who is made in the image of God.

I have often heard an expression that goes something like this: “When you get jossled what comes out of your mouth is what you are full of.” That is a frightening thought, but it gives us a clue about how to fix the problem. We need to fill our hearts and minds with those things that will bless others if they spill out when we get jossled. Spending time with Jesus and time reading his Word will help to fill our hearts with those things that will bless others instead of curse them.

Father God, lift our spirits and clean us up both inside and out in order to so fill us with your spirit that only good and uplifting things can spill out when our feathers get ruffled.

 Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 3:5-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

In these verses James makes it clear just how wicked our tongues can be. He compares our sharp words to a raging fire that destroys everything in its path. We are capable of using our tongues to boast about ourselves as well as to reduce others to rubble on a whim. Once our tongues get to wagging it is hard to slow them down. They can become as venomous as vipers if we don’t keep them under control. Are we quick to gossip (perhaps under the guise of sharing a prayer request)? Will we tell a “white lie” (if there is such a thing) to cover up something we don’t want others to know about? Do we tell things that don’t need to be said about others to make ourselves look better in comparison? Matthew 12:36 tells us that on judgement day we will have to account for every careless word we have spoken. That should make us sit up and take notice – and then take action to get our tongues under control.

As bleak as this seems, don’t dispair. We are blessed with a heavenly Father who is compassionate and willing to help us to control our tongues. If you continue reading in James you will find hope in this.

Father God, please remember that we are made of dust and show us your mercy. Help us to keep our tongues under the control of your Holy Spirit so that it may only bring forth words that will encourage others and build them up.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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James 3:1-4 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

James warns of the risk of becoming a teacher. The teacher who doesn’t measure up to what he or she professes to believe can do more harm than the blatant sinner who makes no bones about sinning. Furthermore, teachers who teach false doctrine are dangerous. James tells us that teachers in general will be judged more strictly than the rest of the population.

“That’s not fair!” I’ve heard it said by teachers and pastors alike. They argue that they are fallible the same as anyone else. And there is some truth in that, but they had better be dilligent in their study and genuine in their faith or people will see right through them. Most importantly lives will be damaged by a slack teacher.

James then addresses the most difficult part of the body to keep under control, and that is the tongue. Perhaps that is why he begins this passage by referring to teachers – for it is chiefly through what they say that teachers do their teaching.

The rest of these introductory verses compare the size and significance of the tongue to the body, and contrast this comparison with that of a rudder to a ship and a bit and bridle to a horse. If a ship is going to reach it’s destination, the rudder must be kept under control. The same is true of a horse, bit and bridle. James is making a powerful statement about the importance of keeping the tongue in check. He continues this discussion in the next several verses.

Father God, impress upon our hearts the importance of our witness to those around us, whether we are intentional teachers or not. Help us to be aware of the possibility that people are watching to see if we say what we mean and mean what we say. Help us not to disappoint those who might look up to us, and help us to especially guard our mouths and what we say.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Proverbs 15:1-4 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I have Proverbs 15:1 attached to a magnet on my refrigerator. My daughter gave it to me when she was young and reminded me of it every now and then when her father and I would get into yet another round of squabbles. It is so hard to remember to give a gentle answer when you are under fire, but that is exactly when a gentle answer is the most effective. It doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it come naturally. It happens best when we truly draw near to God on a regular basis and when we allow His Spirit to empower us.

Our words have more power than we are willing to acknowledge. Unfortunately our cutting, hurtful words cause much damage, and so often these negative words undercut all the positive words we will so hard to generate.

It is the loose tongue, the tongue out of control, that gets us into trouble. Like toothpaste outside the tube, try as hard as you will, you can’t unspeak those words any easier than you can put the toothpaste back into the tube. The best check on the tongue is daily time spent with God in serious prayer and Bible study. Deal with it honestly and openly with God and you will gain victory in time.

Father God, help us to recognize the sin of a tongue that is out of control. Help us to check our speech and keep a tight rein on our tongues. Teach us daily to use words that edify others and build them up.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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