Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 4:23

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of my favorite illustrations of something Jesus said involves a tube of toothpaste. I look at the congregation and tell them people are like a tube of toothpaste. Then I ask them a question: What comes out when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste? After laughing nervously for a minute because they figure it’s a trick question (it’s not), I tell them: toothpaste. The next question is why? At this point, they’re really worried I’m going to pull something on them. Toothpaste comes out of a tube of toothpaste because that’s what’s in it. Now, sure, I’ve occasionally seen a magician make something like ketchup come out of a tube of toothpaste, but we all know that’s just a trick. If you were to go to the store and open all the tubes of toothpaste right out of their boxes, you would find nothing but toothpaste in them over and over and over again. Then, just to illustrate the point, I squeeze a tube of toothpaste all over a plate in front of them. The illustration is fun, but it helps make a point that Solomon makes right here in Proverbs. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: 1 Corinthians 4:15

“For you may have countless instructors in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When was the last time you got advice from someone else? I suspect it was fairly recently. Oh, it may have not come directly from a person – we tend to be far too isolated from one another these days for that to happen – but if you engage with any form of media (especially social media) you’ve probably received some advice. We live in a world in which there is no shortage of people waiting to tell us how we should live our lives (including, I suppose, this very blog). Some of the advice is general, some of it is very specific, but it is all looking for an opportunity to be given to us. And for all this advice, how are we doing as a people? Are we healthier, wealthier, and wiser? Maybe what we need is not more advice. Maybe Paul is onto something here in what otherwise seems like a stray observation. Let’s explore this a bit together this morning.

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Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 11:4-6

“Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath, but righteousness rescues from death. The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What benefit is there in being right with God? If you’re a follower of Jesus, before you jump all over yourself offering a litany of answers to that question, pause for just a minute and think on it. What benefit is there in being right with God? Let me ask that another way. What benefit is there in righteousness? It’s amazing how changing just a couple of words there puts a whole different spin on that question. Righteousness is a theological word. Being right with God and being righteous are generally two different concepts in our minds. Let me add one more element to this: What benefit is there in being right with people? Now, that’s a totally different question. Except it isn’t. I have been journeying through the book of Proverbs with my deacons for the past few weeks. This morning I want to reflect with you for just a minute on something that caught my attention in our passage for this week. Let’s talk about the benefits godly living.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 15:2-5

***This is an update of an earlier post from Thursday. Sometimes things come out right on the first try. Other times they need to go back to the drawing board for a bit of reconsideration. Thanks for growing with me.

“So Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ And the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate questioned him again, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? Look how many things they are accusing you of!’ But Jesus still did not answer, and so Pilate was amazed.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you didn’t know if you should speak or not? Sometimes a well-spoken word can lift a hard situation up out of a pit and make it better than it was before. On the other hand, there are times when even a single word, no matter how well-intentioned it may be, will only add to the weight already pressing down on another person. Sometimes an eloquently arranged argument can diffuse a moment of great tension or change a mind and heart forever. Other times, whatever comes out of our mouths (or off of our fingers) will only be used as more fuel for the fire. When we are in these kinds of moments of decision where we have to decide whether to speak or hold our peace, we should know that we aren’t alone. Jesus has been there too. Here’s a story of one such time.

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Morning Musing: Zechariah 11:16

“I am about to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are perishing, and he will not seek the lost or heal the broken. He will not sustain the healthy, but he will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hooves.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

History matters. An adage that has become a cliché over time is if we do not study history, then we are doomed to repeat it. The idea is that if we do not make ourselves conspicuously aware of the mistakes we have made in the past, then we are likely to make the same ones again when given the chance. That may be a cliché, but it’s still true. This kind of thing is what God seems to have in mind here.

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