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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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Matthew 6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

As I read this chapter the same message seemed to come to me over and over…  It isn’t about me – it is all about Jesus Christ.  We must not fast and pray to be seen by men because it isn’t about us, and we will never steal Jesus’ glory.  Our possessions shouldn’t be hoarded for our own benefit here on earth – they are meant to be used to glorify Christ and to draw others to him.  If our hearts are in our earthly treasures we will waste away with nothing to show for our life on earth.  If we hold our treasures with open hands and allow God to work through us, then he will supply our every need, clothing us like the flowers in the fields and providing for us like the birds of the air.

Now if I can just remember this until tomorrow.  How easy it is to get our eyes off Christ and onto ourselves and our own circumstances.

Father, help us to embed these verses firmly into our hearts and our thoughts. Help us hold your blessings with open hands and a spirit of sharing.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 13:1-6  Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verses 1-3 remind us to look to the needs of others including strangers, people in prison, and people who are being mistreated. I am often intregued by verse 2 where it says to entertain strangers because in so doing we might be entertaining angels. I wonder how many times people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Verse 3 instructs us to remember those in prison as if we were in prison with them. I’ve heard people speak of this verse who add that there are many kinds of prisons – depression, despair, and abusive relationships are a few examples. These are good examples, but I wonder if they are sometimes used to ease our consciences for not doing anything for the prisoners in the more traditional sense of the word. We mustn’t neglect either.

The next time you or I are inconvenienced by a stranger or someone who doesn’t exactly measure up to our standards of who we would choose for a close friend, remember these verses and consider that this inconvenience just might be an appointment that was created especially for you by God in heaven.

Then on a more introspective level verses 4 and 5 command us to maintain sexual purity, reserving ourselves for our marriage partners alone. We are also instructed to free ourselves from the love of money and to be content with what we have, for God has promised never to leave us or to forsake us. We should never fear what man can do to us when we have the Almighty God as our helper.

Lord, work in our hearts freeing them to love as you love, and to serve others as you served. Help us to recognize those divinely appointed situations that come into our lives, and help us to be sensitive to their needs. Help us be your light to the world.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Philippians 2:1-4 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

What a list of “ifs”! If we claim to know Christ as our Savior and Lord we should score on at least one of them. Are you encouraged from being united with Christ? Are you comforted? Do you have fellowship with the Spirit? Do you feel his tenderness and compassion?

Before I assume that everyone answered yes to at least one of these questions, let me digress to consider that some may feel a serious barrenness as you read the questions. If so, you have a serious heart problem that needs to be taken to Jesus in prayer. You can’t follow through with the rest of this passage without a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Trying to do so will only cause burnout in your faith. Don’t allow this void in your life be a stumbling block. Become proactive about growing in your relationship with Christ. Read your Bible, pray, and find one or more Bible believing Christians who can encourage you in your quest.

If you answered yes to any of the “ifs” in verse 1, then verse 2 challenges you to be like-minded with Christ sharing that kind of love with others. At this point I feel the need to review the list again. How can I show encouragement to others? Is there someone I should be comforting? Who do I know who is in need of Christian fellowship? Do I know someone who needs to be shown tenderness and compassion? If we are honest with ourselves, we should have had several individuals come into mind as we considered these questions.

In verse 3 we are encouraged to check our motives. I have to swallow hard on this verse. How much easier it is to offer service to others when people know we are doing it. Do we read our Bibles more seriously if we are being called upon to share it with a groups of peers, than if we are whisking through a daily passage or morning devotion out of a sense of duty? We are reminded in this verse not do operate out of ambition or conceit, but through a sense of humility as we place others above ourselves.

Verse 4 reminds us to bring the needs of others into our daily “do list.” In this day and time most of us feel so overwhelmed with the tasks that are already on our plate that we feel we have no time to give. I doubt if Jesus accepts this excuse, and I am as guilty as anyone with being fully absorbed in my own agenda.

Jesus, you tell us your yoke is easy. Help us not to encumber our lives with “do lists” we can’t handle, with “do lists” that prevent us from being like-minded with you, so we can show you to others in need around us. Make us willing to have a burden for the hurting around us, and inspire us to be like-minded in showing our love and compassion to them.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 12:12-13   Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens. 

This chapter in Hebrews is definitely a model for growth in our Christian walk. If you are going to stay with this writer, you have to move on and up.

These verses challenge us to get our act together, to strengthen our arms and knees, straighten our paths, so that we can be of service to others in Jesus’ name. We can’t serve God if we are determined to sit around in self pity. Wow! This has been a week of preaching to myself!

Father God, clear my foggy mind and lift me up. I know you are there for me, waiting for me to look up into your eyes so I can draw strength from them. But let me not draw strength for myself only, let me draw strength to serve you in whatever way you lead.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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     7“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock, to be ruler over my people Israel. 8 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 9 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 10 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also subdue all your enemies.      “‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you:1 Chronicles 17:7-10 (NIV)David wanted to build a house for God, but God let David know of his plans to bless and to protect David. God also had plans for the people of Israel, to give them a home of their own. He would protect them from wicked people and subdue all their enemies.

Isn’t this an interesting sequence of events. David wanted to bless God, and God in turn blessed David. Isn’t that just like God? If we would only remember who holds the keys to the storehouses of blessings for us all.

David was so different from many other kings who set out to make a name for themselves, and attempted to reign for as long as possible, even if it meant killing their own sons to prevent having an heir who might challenge the throne.

David wasn’t a perfect king; only Jesus could live up to that expectation. David made many mistakes which were recorded in the Bible. But he did have a servant’s heart, and he kept the good of his people in mind as opposed to using his subjects to build a kingdom for his own glory.

Father God, help us to see how it pleases you for us to have a servant’s heart. Help us to put others’ needs ahead of our own. Help us to serve you by serving others.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

    5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud
     
but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:1-5 (NIV)

     Peter is addressing the duties of the church elder – watching over the members of the congregation in a spirit of humility and servanthood. They should do this, not as a duty or requirement, but because they have a willing spirit to help others. They should not expect financial gain for their service nor should they lord their authority over the congregation in a heavy handed way.

      Peter then addresses the younger generation challenging them to be submissive to the older men. Peter stresses the concept that we have been considering all week – humility. Peter tells young men (and I don’t believe he deliberately omitted the women, this was one characteristic of the Jewish culture in his day) to clothe themselves with humility. Then he quotes Proverbs 3:34 saying “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)

      We may not be elders or have great leadership roles in our churches, but all who are called as Christians are also called to minister one to another.  For this reason, we can all learn from the advice Peter directed to the elders in this letter to “God’s elect” (from chapter 1:1)

     Lord, thank you for your Word that you use to speak to our hearts. Give us ears to hear and teachable spirits that we may be willing and able to humble ourselves and serve those around us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

Why do we invite guests into our homes for a meal, or take them out to a restaurant? Are we trying to impress them, hoping to win their favor, so they will do good things for us? Business people do this regularly, and our income tax laws (USA) allow them to call these meals business expenses.

Jesus says not to invite those friends, neighbors and relatives who might be inclined to return the favor. Instead we are told to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind because they will be unable to return the favor. This is true hospitality.

As I read these verses I believe it is our motives that are at the heart of the matter. As in all other forms of relating with people, we are to have a servant’s heart. If we invite someone to our home, we should look for someone with a need – someone we can help in some way.

If we are faithful to serve others through our hospitality, God will be the one who will bless us, though it may not be in this lifetime.  Verse 14 says you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Lord, give me a servant’s heart. Help me find ways to show hospitality to those in need, not to win their favor, but to reflect your love to them that they will seek to know you better.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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