The Promises of God with Stanley – Part 1

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-one, two hundred twenty-two, two hundred twenty-three…

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-four, two hundred twenty-five, two hundred twenty-six…

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty-seven….

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, what are you doing? What are you counting?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty eight….huh? Oh, I’m counting the promises that God has for us in the Bible.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, do you want me to just tell you how many there are?

Stanley:                       Two hundred twenty eight….huh? Do mean that you already know?

Mr. Mathisen:             I know about how many there are. Would you like to know?

Stanley:                       Would I like to know? You bet! How many are there?

Mr. Mathisen:             I looked it up, and there are more than three thousand promises that God makes to His people in the Bible. Isn’t that fantastic?

Stanley:                       Wow! And I was only up to two hundred twenty-eight! Can you tell us about them? I’m sure that the girls and boys would like to know too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Sure, let’s start with two basic promises. The first one is found in the book of Isaiah chapter 41 verse 13.

For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.  (Isa 41:13)

Stanley:                       Wow! Does that mean God is right here, right now, ready to help us?

Mr. Mathisen;             Yes, Stanley that’s exactly what it means. There is another verse that talks about what Jesus said. It’s in a book called Hebrews chapter 13 verse 6. It says:

So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper so that I will have no fear.”  (Heb 13:6a)

And in another verse Jesus says:

“I will never leave you or abandon you.”  (Heb 13:5b)

Stanley:                       Wow! That does mean God is right here, right now, ready to help us!

Mr. Mathisen;             You know, I know a couple of stories that talk about that. Would you like to hear them?

Stanley:                       You bet. I bet I know one too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Would you like to tell your story first?

Stanley:                       No, I want to hear yours first.

Mr. Mathisen:             Okay, remember the time when Gideon was asked by God to fight the Midianites, but God would only let him have 300 soldiers to fight 32,000  Midianites? They didn’t even have to fight. Gideon and his men startled the sleeping Midianites with horns and lamps and the Midianites beat themselves and then they ran away! How cool was that?

Proverbs 2 in my 31 days with Solomon devotion…

Read: Proverbs 2

Verse(s) that struck me:

Pro 2:1-22

(1)  My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.

(2)  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.

(3)  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

(4)  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

(5)  Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God.

Reflection:

It is so easy to overlook these opening verses and jump directly to the more commonly focused on verses later in this chapter. To my mind, for me right now, this is the core of the message of Proverbs and of much of scripture. We (I) need to listen to the Lord. I spend far too little time just listening to Him. I think I value what He has to say and yet, how often do I resort to just doing what I think is best?

In today’s crazy world, it is hard to tune out all the rest of the messages being slammed at us every minute of every day. And yet, this is exactly what I must do; not just now, but every moment of every day.

Do I really value God’s wisdom as much as silver? Do I spend one tenth the effort to gain and understand God’s word as I do the elements of my job or favorite hobby?

Application:

This is really not something that I can really do on my own. I need to plead with the Lord for His assistance in tuning out the rest of the messages and for understanding of His message. If I am to truly understand and value the Lord’s commands, then I need to devote time and energy to listening and ingesting what He has to say to me.

I also need to take His commands to heart and make sure that they are the guiding principles that guide my life, control my thoughts and direct my actions.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to tune out the rest of the world so I can focus on you and your Word. Help me to really concentrate on what your Word has to say to me, not what everyone else needs to hear, just me. Help me to Love your Word enough to follow it daily, as a moment by moment guide that I yearn to follow.

New/Old projects – “31 Days with Solomon”, Proverbs 1

I have decided to dust off some old projects of mine and post them here. Over the coming days, weeks and months, I hope to reinvigorate some of my earlier writings and explore them in new ways.
The first one I would like to present has been titled “31 Days with Solomon“. My intention was to create 31 days of devotional writing from the Book of Proverbs. The work, as presented here, is still in somewhat of a raw form. I hope to get better at that over time. Feedback would be helpful in refining it.

Read: Proverbs 1

Verse(s) that struck me:

The New Living Translation   Proverbs 1

1:2 The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline, and to help them understand wise sayings.

1:3 Through these proverbs, people will receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair.

1:4 These proverbs will make the simpleminded clever. They will give knowledge and purpose to young people.

1:5 Let those who are wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. And let those who understand receive guidance

1:6 by exploring the depth of meaning in these proverbs, parables, wise sayings, and riddles.

1:7 Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline.

The King James Version (Authorized)   Proverbs 1

1:2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;

1:3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; F1

1:4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. F2

1:5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

1:6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; F3 the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.

1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning F4 of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Reflection:

One of the first things that struck me about this collection of verses that open up this chapter are the bookends that we see in verses 2 and 7. In verse 2 we are told that “The purpose of these proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline”. In verse 7 we are told that “Only fools despise wisdom and discipline”. It appears, to state the obvious, that it is God’s purpose with these teachings to inject some “wisdom and discipline” into our lives. He tells us that “only fools despise wisdom and discipline”. Do you or I want to be or remain undisciplined fools? No, I do not think that anyone wants to be a fool. I know that I don’t. So, understanding that, I can’t just turn my back on what I can learn here. But, what is available to learn from the Proverbs? Let’s look at what these verses tell us to expect.

1.      “Understand wise sayings or words of understanding.”

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike sitting in on meetings or conversations where the level of understanding required to participate is higher than mine. I find myself fidgeting, daydreaming or using my notebook to plan other activities. I need God’s wisdom in all areas of my life.

2.      “…receive instruction in discipline, good conduct, and doing what is right, just, and fair.”

I, quite often, think that I already know the right thing to do in most situations. My wife occasionally points out areas that I lack in what would seem to be this “common” sense. My poor judgment or sense of justice can also pervert my “common” sense. This happens most often when I am driving or when someone else exercises one of their rights at the expense of one of mine. I need to be reminded of what good conduct is and how to do what is right, just and fair. I am often in need of remedial instruction in these things.

Application: We should seek out God’s wisdom from the scripture and put it to work in our lives daily. Rejecting the advice of the wise because we think we know better than they do or that no one really understands our situation is foolishness. Receive the instruction, be willing to learn.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be wise. Help me to seek out and acquire wisdom from your Word and from the Godly people in my life. Help me to be humble enough to accept and apply that wisdom in my life. Amen.

We are underway!

I am glad to report that the writing group at my church has embraced the concept of this project and we are moving forward with it.

Yay God!!

I will be working with someone to do weeks 1 and 4 and writing other material to tie all of the other pieces together into a cohesive whole.

Our first writing is due in two weeks! I am so excited to be working on this project with these talented people.

Please pray with me that God will guide all of the writing, editing and artwork for this project!

Outlines! Why are they so hard?

I have been trying to outline the 28+ stories necessary for this Christmas Children’s devotional and am getting bogged down in how to trace the Christmas story through the Old Testament. There are so many great stories in the OT. How many do I include? How do I show their relationship to our need for a saviour and God’s promise to send Jesus?
This may be the hardest part of the whole thing. Pray for me to get this right.