Pearl of Wisdom #’17 We ought to spend our time here, preparing for there In our society, which is largely anti-God, anti-Christian and promotes evolution, humanism and secularism, it is hardly surprising that people think very little about eternity – life after death. If you take a Christian worldview, then you believe and understand that…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/09/24/live-for-eternity-pow17/
I don’t want you to just take my word for it… We take a little break from our current series on Psalm 103 to discuss something important. It is an immense privilege to share God’s Word with you through this blog, and I take that responsibility very seriously. But you, the reader, have a responsibility…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/04/12/the-berean-approach/
Hi! My name is Andy Brown, you may remember me from such blogs as andy-brown.org…!
It has indeed been some time since my last proper post, although I have tried to share some older material and some great posts from friends and fellow bloggers. Life has gotten rather busy and my writing has suffered. I would like to tell you that I’ve been working on book projects or other writing, but alas no! Some days I feel guilty for neglecting the blog, and other days I reflect on my full-time job, wife and four children, church leadership and Christian study course – and realise that I do have a lot on my plate! I’m sure you understand!
Thursday evening I enjoyed a time of fellowship with a group of UK-based Christian bloggers. We have been (trying) to get together every couple of weeks to swap stories, encourage one another and pray for each other. It is a wonderful time and I regret not being able to make all of the sessions so far!
The photo lists some of the members and their sites, so do check out their blogs if you are not already familiar. There are doubtless many more Christian bloggers out there hailing from the UK, so this is by no means an exhaustive list!
I came away from our recent call feeling very much encouraged, and I value the prayers of the group. Having a fellowship of believers is so important, and in our largely disconnected modern world, it is even more so. We often feel alone or isolated, despite the noise of life, and so it is critical we connect with fellow believers in Christ and strengthen one another.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
It is an instruction from the Bible that we do indeed encourage one another. There are times when life is a struggle, and in those days or seasons, we need the comfort of others to help us through. We absolutely rely on the Lord, but a little encouragement from fellow believers is most welcome too!
Encouraging someone costs little more than a small amount of time or effort. A kind word or timely phone call can really make a difference in someone’s life. You have that power today, and don’t let being busy be an excuse not to (talking to myself here…) My guess is that you won’t have to look very hard or travel very far to find someone in need of a boost.
While the gift of encouragement may be a specific spiritual gift (see Romans 12:8), it does not excuse the rest of us from doing it. Some have a special gift for evangelism, yet the call to share our faith is one we all enjoy. Naturally or spiritually gifted or not, we can all improve by practising. See if you can find a way to encourage someone in each of the next seven days, or even see how long you can keep the streak going.
I “encourage” you to check out some of the other writers I mention above, and have no doubt you will come away refreshed and uplifted. I will be sharing some of their posts in the near future, so do look out for them.
If you wish to encourage me, do leave me a comment, share a post or pray for me. I receive your prayers with delight and gratitude. Have a great weekend!
I love it when the Bible catches you off guard. And especially so when it is a passage you think you know well. That very thing happened to me this morning. I was looking over the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. I cannot say I was actually reading it, but was more just…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/04/17/the-challenging-word-of-god/
The other day my wife was talking to me, and like a dutiful husband, I was nodding and saying “Uh-huh…” in all the right places. My mind however, was somewhere else! I had to hold my hands up and admit that although I was hearing the words, I wasn’t really listening.
Verse 20 of Proverbs 4 is a rather eloquent way of saying “Listen up!” Attending to someone’s words is not simply to hear them, but rather to engage with them. Likewise, turning one’s head in the right direction (so that the ear is pointed at the speaker) is not nearly enough to ensure the instruction hits home.
Solomon is again entreating us to listen, to take on board and to respond to the wisdom of his teaching.
In a similar way, verse 21 encourages us to keep Wisdom’s teachings before our eyes and thus planted in our hearts. This idea of God’s Word and wisdom not departing from our eyes is an exhortation to be both regular and consistently reading and studying the Scripture.
A 30-minute sermon on a Sunday is not enough. A 5-minute devotional each morning may be encouraging, but it may be insufficient to receive the full counsel of God’s Word.
For me at least, little and often may be the key. I have followed “Bible in a year” plans before, and while useful in some cases, it can become a burden or even chore as we wade through six or more chapters each morning.
Better to read and meditate on a few Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.
Better to read and #meditate on a few #Bible verses regularly, than read a dozen pages without taking it in.
That is not to take Scripture out of context, I hasten to add. There is just as much danger in reading your favourite few verses all the time, and not engaging with the wider text or understand its place in the big picture.
Verse 22 says:
For they are life to those who find them,
and health to their whole body.
Proverbs 4:22 (WEB)
Verse 22 has always been a verse which fascinates me. It says that God’s word, or the instruction of wisdom, provides life to those who find them and even health to our physical bodies. We touched on this in previous posts on the book of Proverbs, and clearly living wisely will lengthen your life. Smoking, drinking or eating to excess, or not looking after oneself is not wise, and as a consequence will of course reduce one’s lifespan.
The word translated as “health” here is the Hebrew word marpe’ and is most often translated as “health” (as above) or “healing.” It can also be rendered as “cure” or “remedy” also.
Could it be that the very studying of God’s Word can bring health to us, and I mean in some supernatural way rather than as a natural consequence of living right? While some would give a definite yes to that question, others would dispute it. I would encourage you to study its meaning for yourself.
The WEB translation of verse 23 is a little confusing, to me at least! Here it is from the NLT:
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Despite talking of the health of the body in the last verse, this one is not referring to our blood pump, but rather our inner self. Guarding our heart is very much in line with what this passage has been talking about. Too few of us take seriously what we allow into our hearts and minds. Instead of keeping the Word of God before us constantly, we fill ourselves with ungodly entertainment or gossip. We are foolish if we think our hearts can go unscathed by such continual battering.
Your heart, that is, your inner self, will determine how your life goes. It is like a child who is constantly criticised or put down, they will struggle in life to overcome such negativity. Our hearts, in a similar way, cannot be soaked in negativity and produce positive results.
Verse 24 deals not with what we put into ourselves, but rather what comes out of us. It strongly advises us to be careful about how we speak, and I cannot emphasise enough the power of our words.
Paul also instructs us to:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
What a challenging verse this is! I say a lot of things in a day, but can hardly confess to all of it being helpful for building others up. I try to add value with my words, always having in the back of my mind that one day I will give account for them to the Lord. Yet too frequently I find my words are not wholesome, but instead are negative, critical or just wasteful. How about you?
Verse 25 to 27 all echo the same sentiment. Keep your eyes fixed ahead, and your feet on level ground. This is clearly not to advise us against turning our heads nor to ascend inclined ground in our hometowns! Instead, the Proverbs are warning us to keep fixed on what is right, and not to turn aside to evil.
If we do not do this, if we just wander along aimlessly, then we will find ourselves in trouble. Our focus and our determined purpose must be to seek after what is right and good. Our sinful nature has been programmed into us since birth, and despite the new life Christ brings, we do tend towards selfishness and evil unless we are set against it.
What are your eyes fixed on? Are locked ahead, gazing upon God’s Word, or do they wander and lead you astray? How about those feet? Are they shod with the Gospel, and following after Jesus, or do they stumble or meander away?
Make a decision right here and now that you will seek after wisdom all day long. Fix those eyes and discipline those feet, and you will life in God’s Word.
When I left university, I had little idea of what I wanted to do with my life – let alone what I thought God wanted me to do!
I applied for several jobs, and remember one vividly. It was an accounting role, and was based in Canary Wharf in London. At that time, it was a really up and coming area of the city, with a huge amount of development going on. It is now a very busy business district, among other things.
I was fortunate enough to be offered an interview for the role, and travelled to the area. There were some massive buildings there, and it was apparently a very expensive area. I recall buying a sandwich and having to take out a small loan to afford it!
I located the building and it was huge. As I went in through the main doors, I was confronted by a large reception area. Behind the main reception were the letters depicting the name of the firm in enormous characters. To me, it may as well have been as big as the Hollywood sign itself!
I may have been an adult by then, but I felt like a little boy gazing up at this gigantic sign. My heart sank and the phrase “out of my depth” sprang to mind! It never really occurred to me to turn and run, but I would not have been ungrateful if the ground had opened up at that point.
And that is when it happened…
It wasn’t an audible voice that I heard with my ears, but it was what I would later learn to be God’s voice whispering in my spirit. He said quite simply, “I am the God of this place as well.”
After that, the sign did not seem so big anymore.
I took a deep breath, uttered a little prayer and pressed on. I signed in, was escorted upstairs and gave it my best shot. As it happens, God had other plans for me and I did not get that job. Perhaps the reason I was offered an interview was simply to get me in front of that sign? I don’t know, but it taught me that God is ever-present. It showed me that even when I face things that are seemingly far bigger than I am, I go with a God who is bigger than everything.
What are you facing today or this week? If it seems too big for you, then remember you do not face it alone. The One who set the stars in place goes with you.
Jesus said, “Surely I am with you, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b). And He meant it.
I want to encourage you to go to church with a servant’s heart.
The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)
Church is not about you. For many of us, we go to church wanting it to meet our needs. We might want our favourite seat. We want our preferred style of music. We want sermons that do not make us feel uncomfortable or challenge us too much.
That may sound harsh, but unfortunately we are often guilty of going to church for what we can get out of it, not what we put in.
Of course, church should be a blessing to us, and if we never received anything from being there, it would not be healthy or right. But the primary purpose is not about what you need or want.
Instead, go with an attitude of service. Give up your seat or parking spot for a newcomer. Pass out the notice sheet if you see those without one. Help move the chairs afterwards if they need moving, or offer to serve the coffee or other refreshments.
Bringing together the family of believers is primarily about the worship of God. It can take a lot of work and organisation to bring it all together, and our consumer society means that too frequently we rock up, expecting to be “fed” and then leave. We are a family though, and if we all do our bit to serve one another, it will be such an amazing experience.
The church I attend is not perfect (of course) but one of the things that was so positive about it was that there were so many volunteers of all ages contributing to the events. We first went to a family oriented event, with different craft activities and a Bible time later on. There were many people there who were just there to serve, and it has always stayed with me.
In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! But we all have gifts, talents and abilities we can use to be a blessing to each other. If everyone did a little serving, then that would go a long way.
In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! #church #Bible #Christianity #Jesus