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The Bible

Proverbs Day Twenty-Four | Core strength training

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If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small. Proverbs 24v10 (NLT)

Too many may read this and focus primarily on the word fail. Interestingly the ESV translation uses the phrase faint.

I think that faint captures the heart of the wisdom much better. After all, as the adage goes “real failure, may be failure to try”.

Resilience is a really important trait especially in those pressure circumstances we might find ourselves in. It could be any number of situations! Resilience stops us fainting. We are able to resist it.

This proverb stood out immediately to me because I feel I am learning about calmness in the face of pressure – when the odds are stacked against me.

It is a slow journey of learning and asking God to change me. It matters most when I disagree with someone, they rub me up the wrong way or don’t do what I expected or wanted. I have spent so much time in Psalm 23 this year because it is the antidote to weak strength in the face of strong pressure. The key to strength is knowing that God is with me. His rod and his staff they comfort me etc.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23v1-6 (ESV)

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Proverbs 24v10 (ESV)

Proverbs Day Twenty-three | A common form of self-harm

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Wow! I am loving this month. Partly the joy of discovering a little nugget that I have never seen before. Then the joy of the wisdom nugget itself.

While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you. If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; don’t desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you.  Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. Proverbs 23v1-4

This latest one seems to be a cautionary warning against the lure of power, status and wealth. These things in themselves are not bad, after all God is the most powerful, most important and most wealthy in the world.

The real challenge lies in being able to handle what I have been given or entrusted with. I can learn a lot from observing others, and then observing my own desire and response to what others have. The Bible teaches that wealth is deceptive and those who pursue it can fall into many harmful desires. Paul understood this, hopefully Timothy listened. I pray that I do also.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6v6-9

Living in the U.K and mid-way through my fourth decade I need to hear these warnings again and again, especially as the more I have seems to grow or could grow. Balance, perspective and priorities are vital.

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. Proverbs 23v1-4

Proverbs Day Twenty-One | Not missing it!

By | Blog, Devotionals, Discipleship, Doctrine, Foundational, Holy living, Leadership, Life change, Love, Loving the poor, Preaching, Provoked Within, Salt, The Bible, The gospel, Wisdom, Witnessing | No Comments

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices. Proverbs 21v3

I am deeply provoked and sobered that I could miss the really important things in following Jesus. In addition I could spend too long and too much effort on the things that matter a whole lot less.

Jesus really was unflattering about those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. What these folk taught or said might be true, but it needed to be demonstrated not just declared. Failing to do this may make us guilty of “crushing people with unbearable religious demands and never lifting a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23v4).

I see more than ever that a relentless pursuit against performance and pretence will be good for me and for others I share life with. God is not fooled. He knows what we do for show and what we do for Him. He knows whether we operate in the Kingdom or out of it. I want to help people discover, follow and serve the Jesus of Matthew 23. He said it as it was, saw it as it is and changes us despite ourselves.

Therefore, I am learning in a new way the high value Jesus places on justice, mercy and faith. These are matters of the heart (Matthew 23v23). That is wisdom!

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21v3

Proverbs Day Sixteen | Bags

By | Blog, Death, Doctrine, Foundational, Revelation, Suffering, The Bible, The gospel, Wisdom | No Comments

The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness. Proverbs 16v11 (NLT)

A just balance and scales are the LORD’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. Proverbs 16v11 (ESV)

This proverb strikes me as a beautiful description of the sovereignty of the cross. The justice, mercy, love and wrath displayed on the cross – God’s chosen means to administer justice and apply forgiveness through the sacrifice of the second Adam (Jesus) in order to deal with the sin of the first Adam.

  • The cross is right
  • The cross is just
  • The cross is His work not ours

Let us boast in the bag entitled “the Cross of Christ” not the one with our name on it.

She Cries Out! Hide these words – Bible Reading Plan

By | Bible memorisation, Devotionals, Discipleship, The Bible | No Comments

As mentioned during my last talk I use the following Bible Reading Plan. It has no dates and no time schedule. I love it! I call it “Read the Bible within whatever time frame and order that suits you Plan”. Very catchy. The attachments are below. I have included both the excel spreadsheet and more printer friendly PDF. The excel attachment is the one I used to create it, so that you can adapt it if you wish.

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She Cries Out! Hide these words – Seeds Family Worship Link

By | Bible memorisation, Discipleship, Life change, The Bible | No Comments

Following on from the teaching yesterday I want to introduce you to Seeds Family Worship which we have used as a family for a number of years. Whilst I think they were originally designed for families I personally have listened to them lots on my own and have found them a real encouragement and an aide to storing the Word of God in my heart.

Two samples are here:

You will also be able to find the albums on iTunes.

Enjoy.

She cries out: Responding to the wisdom of God

By | Blog, Preaching, The Bible, Uncategorized | No Comments

On the 19th January we will commence a new teaching series in The Hill. It is She cries out. The title comes from a passage in the book of Proverbs (Chapter 1 verses 20 to 21). I particularly like the way The Message conveys it:

Lady wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town centre she makes her speech. In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she yells out.

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A helpful conversation on oaths!

By | Church, Holy living, Love, Preaching, Provoked Within, The Bible | No Comments

A few days ago a loving and very supportive brother in the church contacted me to query some of the content of my talk ‘It’s yes Jim, but not as we know it’. Firstly, I am thrilled to bits that somebody in the church would be willing to do this. The Bible is without error, whereas anyone who knows me, or listens to me, for a while will know that I stumble in many ways! I am therefore genuinely grateful that the church is listening, thinking and challenging what is said. Secondly, the manner in which it was done was full of love, genuine support and encouragement.

The query centred on me seeming to take a very pragmatic stance on whether Christians have a choice to swear or make an oath, or simply to let their yes be yes or their no be no. In response, this brother understandably commented that in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus says almost identical words to James:

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