Proverbs 15-16 B

It feels good to be known. When someone remembers your favorite restaurant or has figured out your tendencies and can anticipate them. We all desire it, and we are all intimately known by our Creator.

“Even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from the Lord. How much more does he know the human heart!” 15:11

God deeply knows us; he designed us! He knows our capabilities and our limits. Bethany and I have always shared an admiration for Psalm 103:14:

”For he knows our frame; he is mindful that we are dust.” 

He is so gracious with us, remembering that we are fragile humans. He shows up, provides our needs and pours his endless strength into our emptying cups.

Is there something in your life you feel like God has forgotten about? An unmet desire or a nagging trouble?

Bring it to him, express your heart and wait for him to respond. You are known and loved by him. Don’t stew in silence, growing in resentment. Talk to him about it!

 

-Carly

Proverbs 13-14 B

“Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.” (14:4)

Translation: you’re going to have to put up with some crap if you’re going to be successful. The path or least resistance isn’t a strong one.

There are many factors which lead us to being picky-choosy. My disposition leans toward the avoidance of pain. Pair that, with American commercialism, which always has a thrilling offer to replace whatever just isn’t working out. We’ve got choices. Lots of choices. Too many choices.

Because of this, it’s rare to find someone choosing the hard thing. You know what I’ve learned? Worthwhile things require a bit a pain, patience, endurance, investment, risk and sacrifice. We can go through life easily avoiding this, but it will keep things pretty cheap.

I love the way the wording of the Proverb doesn’t condemn the person who wants a clean stable more than a big profit, it just makes a statement. This begs the question: what am I building towards that I’m willing to put up with some crap for? What am I deeming worth it? 

What is it for you? A relationship? Career? Project? Health goal? To be successful in any of those things, you’re going to have to do some super not glamorous crap shoveling. In a relationship, maybe it’s dealing with your own crap, or maybe it’s graciously handling someone else’s. Major investments can mean major pay offs, you’ve just got to stick with it.

-Bethany

 

Proverbs 11-12 B

Whenever rich people talk about how meaningless it is to have money, listen up! They are obviously speaking from experience.

“Riches won’t help on the day of judgment, but right living can save you from death.” 11:4

“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” 11:24

“Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring.”  11:28

Laziness is mentioned throughout the Proverbs, and specifically a few times in these chapters (12:24-27). I’m fundamentally lazy, and it’s taken years (and demanding young children) to snap out of it.

Be a good steward of your time. Your identity shouldn’t be marked by your productivity, but if God has given you a capable body, move it and get stuff done. 

There’s a lot of content in each of these verses, which one did you take notice of?

 

-Carly

Proverbs 9-10 B

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (10:19)

I counted 11 uses of the words lips or mouth in chapter ten, with a few additional phrases like babbling fool. I sensed a theme.

Now in my thirties, I’ve only begun to apply the wisdom of thinking before I speak. These verses, and others like it, haunted me throughout my early life, because I could never quite reign in my quick tongue or impulsive need to announce every last thing.

I believe it’s another great example of how our strengths often double as our weakness. Being quick witted has gotten me places, but being a babbling fool has resulted in people not being able to take me seriously (maybe for the best, who really needs to be taken seriously anyway?).

Something we don’t like bringing up is that ugly slander word.

“He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.” (10:18)

Gossip is a major cultural component and we have justified it in many ways. I think part of the problem, is that we create expectations of perfection from each other and then load up the shame when it inevitably doesn’t work out. I think if we start with the baseline idea: we’re all going to screw up, having a propensity for imperfection, then we can focus our discussions on victories, moments of kindness and generosity instead.

We’re only making fools of ourselves when we slander others.

I will continue working on theses things, always bringing it to the LORD, and depending on His Spirit for the deepest transformations. He is the one who is able to use my crazy mouth as a force of good.

  • -Bethany
  • Proverbs 7-8 B

    “Obey my commandments and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.”  7:3

    What are some ways we can protect, prioritize and retain God’s word?

    Read it. Don’t rely on podcasts and devotionals (or this blog!) to tell you what God says, find out for yourself! Your mind will absorb and retain the information more that way too.

    Memorize it! I struggle with this one, but it’s important. Sometimes it feels religious to shove a bunch of Scripture in your brain when we have such easy access to our Bibles (and the internet). But mediating on Scripture and repeating it from memory is a beautiful thing and there’s no comparison to just reading it. I’ve had a lot of luck memorizing verses by adding a tune and making them a song! It’s fun, and helps you out when you’re in a pinch at bedtime and need to scrounge up a lullaby.

    Write it down. Is there a truth you need to see, and hear, over and over? Scrawl it on a piece of paper and tape it to your door. Your mirror. Your headboard.

    Exposure to God’s Word is so important. Lately, I’ve been using the Bible app on my phone and using the audio setting to listen to Scripture. I’m a visual learner and I prefer reading it myself, but sometimes it’s nice to be read to as well.

    What are some ways you remind yourself of God’s specific truths and instructions throughout the day?

     

    -Carly

    Proverbs 5-6 B

    My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger—if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said—follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net.” (6:1-5)

    I had to dip into the New Living Translation today, because I had no idea what the word surety meant, or how to understand it in this context. This version helps, especially since it seems like a surprising bit of advice.

    Taking on someone else’s debt, or being a co-signer or something, sounds noble. Why would the godly advice to be get out? I think the idea is having the humility to keep ourselves from getting in over our head. I see this all the time, in myself, and in some others I’ve worked with. We over-commit and over-extend ourselves. It seems like the good and right thing to do, but we can’t actually be responsible for ourselves and everyone else. We end up making promises we can’t keep. It turns into a pride problem. Now swallow your pride and go! He says. Have your name erased! Un-sign yourself up. Yeah, it’s going to look bad and maybe give you a bad rep, but that’s why you had to swallow your pride. Perhaps moving forward we will be more careful about becoming a sad, panicking bird caught in a net.

    I’d like to say I’m growing in this area, but I know how excited I still get about stuff, and impulsively agree to things that sound noble or adventurous. I’m learning to slow down.

    What about you? Have you bitten off more that you can chew? Have you made some commitments in order to look good or generous, but don’t really have the capacity to follow through? Ask the LORD, today, if there’s anything you need to get yourself out of, then swallow your pride and go.

    -Bethany

    Proverbs 3-4 B

    Never let loyalty and kindness leave youTie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and peopleand you will earn a good reputation.” 3:3-4

    I find kindness incredibly underrated in the Christian culture I’m around. People really want to be right, instead of gracious. They want to be busy instead of available for hospitality.

    But there is something to be said about just being likable. What makes someone likable? For me, it’s when someone shuts down gossip when it starts up. Stands up for someone who is being put down. Treating people gently, even when you’re being inconvenienced. Considering someone else’s needs before your own. These are all specific ways I can see the verse above be applied.

    Look back on how you treated people today. Would you consider yourself wearing kindness and loyalty, draped around you like a scarf? Our reputation is important to God. What are you known for?

     

    -Carly

    Proverbs 1-2 B

    Welcome to the proverbs. I’m getting excited to be in this book, because I desperately want to posses wisdom and wear sound instruction like jewelry (1:9).

    As I made my way into this familiar introduction, this phrase leaped off the page:

    “Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

    (1:7b)

    I was, yet again, reminded by the foundational need for humility on the path toward wisdom. It’s only been in recent years when I’ve allowed myself a measure of comfortability in being wrong. Maintaining a posture of learning is a key life skill.

    Sometimes it can be exhausting. As I continue the steep upward climb of language learning and exploration of this new cultural, historical context, I’d like to find something to fancy myself an expert on. But alas, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know (a bonus non-Biblical proverb).

    When it comes to content on social media, it can be easy to roll my eyes at other people and write them off as uneducated. But all of us doing this hasn’t resulted in a ton of productivity. We all need to take a posture of learners, researchers, listeners and remember(-ers?) of the good things our parents taught us when we were little about kindness and compassion. (Hopefully enough of us were taught that).

    Join me as we spend the next few weeks in this rich book. Let’s be ready to be wrong, to be challenged, and to grow. Not just surrounding ourselves with what we already know or want to hear. Only a fool stays where they are.

    -Bethany

    Mark 15-16 B

    How lovely that our reading has coincided with Easter weekend! I love this story, but sometimes struggle to see it with fresh eyes.

    “A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)” 

    I find this to be such an interesting detail to the story. The recipients of Mark’s letter must’ve been familiar with Simon, if he’s name dropping his parents to give context?

    Throughout the Bible, we are offered help from God. Soar on his wings like an eagle, cast your burdens on him, take his easy and light yoke, etc etc. He’s extended his hand to us and offering us freedom from our sins.

    Let’s not forget what we’re being invited into. First of all, Jesus’ love and acceptance is available to absolutely anyone, and there is no shame or guilt that should keep you from receiving his grace. He has experienced AND conquered pain, suffering, death, dying, the grave, mourning, grieving, sin, shame, guilt and any other emotion or experience that takes the life out of you.

    But Simon lugging the ol’ rugged cross up the hill, reminds me that I am called to get my hands dirty and serve Jesus. Love unlikeable people, give away my money, involve myself in foster care, advocate for ALL people to be loved and so on.

    What is something you saw with fresh eyes reading these chapters? What are your thoughts on Simon’s involvement in the crucification? Take a minute and ask God how you can get more involved in his work with mankind.

    Happy Easter!

     

    -Carly

    Mark 13-14 B

    “And Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures’.” (14:48-49‬)

    As I was reading, this time, I started asking myself, what is with all the drama about Judas’ betrayal? All he did was tell them where to find Jesus, one night, when they were usually very aware of his location. Big deal right? Jesus even calls this out, “why the theatrics? You see me every day.” But then He gives the reason: to fulfill Scripture.

    The prophesies concerning the Messiah were not like horoscope predictions: likely or easily fulfilled. They were very specifically unlikely.

    This is also evidenced in Peter, who swore he would never deny Jesus–even following Him to the death–but then did so, maybe an hour later.

    It takes me back to the purpose of this letter: to ask all the questions and present all the evidence concerning the Christ-hood of Jesus. He had power over sickness and demons. He fulfilled even the most improbable prophesies.

    The long awaited Messiah had come and somehow it went down in a both predictable and surprising way. Down to the last moment, falling asleep in the garden, the disciples didn’t seem to get Jesus was about to die, even though He’d been talking about it non-stop.

    It is so very relatable to be constantly instructed with the Truth, and then still blink at it, like it’s not sinking in at all.

    Is there something the LORD is constantly telling/reminding you? What is keeping those words from sinking in to your heart? Whether it’s about self worth, identity, the importance of forgiveness, the vitality of grace, etc. it’s time to get the message.

    Talk to the LORD about it, today, and ask Him to reveal what is in the way of the truth sinking in.

    -Bethany