Where the Heart Is – (Luke 12)

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, someone spoke up and asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. We can assume that this was a younger brother, as the eldest would have had the “double-portion” of the estate, and so also would have control. We are not told whether he was just seeking to get what he was rightly owed, or he  wanted a bigger share. Since the parable that follows was about covetousness, the latter is likely, and Jesus, of course, refused to get involved in the dispute.

The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627.

The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the parable of the rich fool, the man had more already than he needed. But instead of using his wealth to help those in need, he was only concerned with being able to keep accumulating more. And so, he did just that. But then God told him that his soul was required of him that very night – not next week or next year, but now. So, God asked, who would possess all of these things that he had prepared for himself. The point is obvious. The man should have devoted as much effort to laying up treasures in heaven – doing good with his wealth, and becoming rich toward God. Riches will mean nothing at the end of this short life.

In verses 22-34, Jesus tells us not to worry and fret about what we will wear or what we eat. He reminds us how God even provides food for the birds of the air. Surely, we are more valued by Him! Jesus is not telling us that we cannot make plans to provide for our families and our future. The scriptures are plentiful with words to the contrary. But the wise words he speaks are often difficult for us to absorb – “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” This makes so much sense, but it is so very difficult for those of us who daily battle with anxiety.

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus says, “instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” In the earlier chapter, Jesus told His disciples not to fear those who can kill the body. Now He tells them not to be afraid because God wants to give us the kingdom. If we truly devote ourselves to being His children, keeping His commandments, doing good to others, and giving to those in need, not only will God provide for our basic needs here on earth, but He will provide us with a place with Him forever. What more could we want?

There is nothing that can happen to us in this life that will matter when we cross into eternity with the Lord – nothing! To this end, Jesus tells us to provide ourselves with “moneybags” that do not grow old. Where our treasure is, our hearts will be also. My heart has been focused too much of my life on the cares of this world. I remind myself of these things Jesus said, and keep trying to change that day by day.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Good Portion – (Luke 10)

The village that Jesus and His followers entered in verse 38 was likely Bethany. Though the text does not state specifically, Mary and Martha in these verses are surely the same two women that were the sisters of Lazarus  (John 11:1). Lazarus is not mentioned here, and some have speculated that  it may be because of Jesus’ personal relationship with the three siblings.

 

English: Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha

English: Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Those who were Jesus’ enemies were still in power when Luke was written (John was written later), and so some believe that, given the nature of the miracle Jesus performed on Lazarus, it was not desirable to call more attention to this family. This is thoughtful speculation, but it could be over-thinking the situation. The Holy Spirit determined what would be included in each gospel. Though there was much else that happened at their home, Luke had a certain point to make.

 

Martha was distracted with “much serving” as a hostess, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His teaching. Martha thought Mary should help her instead, and she told Jesus so. Jesus answered: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

This passage is here simply to remind us of how easy it is for us to become so busy and distracted, so anxious and worried about other things, that we forget about what is most important. Martha and Mary had the Son of God in their home as a guest teaching those present personally. Martha’s heart was in the right place wanting to be a good hostess to all present. But what Jesus had to offer her was more important, and the rest would keep.

 

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

 

/Bob’s boy

 

___________________

 

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

 

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

 

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Philippians 4 – Whatever is Honorable

In this last chapter of the epistle, Paul’s affection for the people of Philippi comes through clearly, calling them his “joy and my crown” in verse one. His first congregation in Europe was still strong and he was certainly proud of them, and the great hope of salvation for them surely brought him joy in his confinement. Appealing to them to “stand firm thus in the Lord,” he uses no less than four terms of endearment. Although not naming the nature of the disagreement, he addresses two women, Euodia and Syntyche, by name asking them to mend their differences. He had evidently done much work in Philippi aided by them, as well as someone named Clement. 

On Paul's Second Missionary Journey, Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi. But when God freed them with an earthquake, the Philippian jailer tried to kill himself (Acts 16:16-40).

On Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi. But when God freed them with an earthquake, the Philippian jailer tried to kill himself (Acts 16:16-40).

The rest of this chapter contains so much wisdom and so many familiar verses that they hardly need comment at all, yet they certainly cannot be ignored here. Beginning with the words that make up the totality of a familiar hymn, he tells them to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” The intentional repetition is significant, as the words to follow are intended to encourage them to live their lives in a joyous manner that demonstrates to the world what righteous living does for those who live it – as well as how it reflects to others around them (us).

First, there is the peace that the righteous can have in their relationship with the Lord:

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And he extends that further with the righteous living that will inspire and capture the hearts of wayward souls:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul closes the letter by thanking them for their concern, for their support, and for the gifts they sent with Epaphroditus. Seeking to put their minds at ease about him, Paul then gives the following inspiring words that we all would do well be able to honestly use to describe our own attitudes in the face of adversity:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret
of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

That last line, most often taken out of context, is not meant to imply that we can always be on top of the world no matter what. Rather, it lets us know that with the Lord’s help, we can get through the times when life may not be going so well.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Proverbs 17 – Laugh More!

OK, so we know that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:11-12).  So we should not be surprised when something he wrote (or any other scripture, for that matter) is validated by secular science, as is the case with verse 22 of this chapter (“a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”).

English: Watching a comedic television show he...

English: Watching a comedic television show helps provoke laughter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As far back as I can remember, my mother was a subscriber to “Reader’s Digest,” and one of my favorite parts was a joke section called “Laughter the Best Medicine.” That saying was always accepted as a general home-spun truism by most people – one of those things that “everybody knows.” But according to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034), laughter not only relieves stress, it has positive effects on your physical health in many ways.

According to this staff article, laughter “…enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” Other benefits include relieving one’s stress response, stimulating circulation and relaxing muscles, improving the immune system, relieving pain, and lessening depression and anxiety, I can vouch for those last two, as I have noticed the positive effects on my anxiety caused by even a single genuine laugh.

The trouble is, when we most need it the most, we often do not feel like laughing. But we should not just toss the thought aside. Next time these troubles threaten to engulf us, let’s try seeking out laughter in some way – whether it is a comedy on TV, a funny movie, a favorite companion, or even simple things like reading jokes somewhere. Give laughter a try – it’s Biblical!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 86 – Gladden the Soul of Your Servant

David hid in one of the many caves such as this near Adullam, a city 13 miles southwest of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 22: 1-12). David was in this area when three of his mighty men risked their lives to get him a drink of water from Bethlehem (2 Samuel 23: 13-17).

David hid in one of the many caves such as this near Adullam, a city 13 miles southwest of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 22: 1-12). David was in this area when three of his mighty men risked their lives to get him a drink of water from Bethlehem (2 Samuel 23: 13-17).

Psalm 86 is one of the lament psalms written by David. It is not clear whether verse 14’s “a band of ruthless men” that seek his life are Saul’s men or from the time that he had to flee Jerusalem because of Absalom’s conspiracy (2 Samuel 15-17). David’s prayer to God is for the preservation of his life, as well as the comfort of God’s care, and the lifting of his spirits in a time of unimaginable adversity.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul

The entire chapter models prayer today for God’s people when they are weary or oppressed, saddened, anxious, or depressed, And it is full of praise to God for His mercy and graciousness, steadfast love, and faithfulness (verses 5, 10, 13, and 15). David glorifies the name of God, while presenting his petitions, and thanking Him for His care. And he expresses his trust in God to do what will be best for him (verses 10 and 13).

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Psalm 112 – The Righteous Will Never Be Moved

lake_and_mountainsPsalms 111, 112, and 113 are sometimes referred to as “Hallelujah” psalms because they each begin with that exclamation (the ESV and some other versions translate as “Praise the Lord!”). Psalms 111 and 112 complement each other, as they each consists of an acrostic of 22 clauses or phrases arranged in 10 verses each.  Psalm 111 proclaims God’s greatness, mercy, and righteousness, whereas Psalm 112 considers and encourages the happiness, benevolence, and righteousness of God’s children. It praises God for all of the loving care He gives to those who truly fear Him, but says that such fear encompasses something more – a genuine delight in God’s word (verse 1b).

The righteous are to be blessed by God for treating his fellow-man with generosity, and conducting his affairs with justice. The righteous, the psalmist says, shall never be moved, with his heart steady and firm. He has no need for fear of bad news because he can trust in the Lord, secure in the knowledge that his righteousness endures forever.

Paul quotes from verse 9 in 2 Corinthians 9:9, encouraging the Corinthians to give generously to the collection for the needy brethren. The psalm tells the righteous that the reason they should have no fear is because the Lord will honor and care for him.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Proverbs 14 – The End of Joy May Be Grief

depression_anxiety_003Verse 10 says that “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” No matter how close we get to someone, rarely does anyone ever reach the point that we share every detail of the heart. Almost without exception it is just human nature to hold something back – at a minimum, the darkest moments are not shared. By the same token, nobody who is not close truly shares the joy that comes to us at those rare times when fortunes are at their best.

Verse 13 says “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” Outward appearances can sometimes be deceptive; and we do not always know what is in another’s heart. Many times, people surround themselves with those they believe will make them happy, hoping the sorrow will go away. But often, the charade ends up leaving them still in need of support.

The answer to these enigmas is prayer. The Lord knows our needs and wants to listen to us when we are in despair. Casting our burdens on him is not simply a good thing to do – it is scriptural; and develops the trust in Him that we need.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 55 – Cast Your Burden on the Lord

prayingmanA good portion of this psalm relates to betrayal by a once close and trusted friend; and Spurgeon seems right to assess it as reading “like a song of the times of Absalom and Ahithophel.”  Some have also seen it as a prophetic foretelling of the prayers of Jesus in the face of His betrayal and imminent death; and that certainly does fit as well.  There is no reason why it cannot be both, as most of the Royal psalms do refer to present as well as prophetic circumstances.  Consider verses 3-6:

…in anger they bear a grudge against me.
My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;

But as a lament, much of it also seems to have application to the despair that overwhelms one because of the oppression of the world and the ultimate enemy – the devil himself, who lays in wait, constantly seeking to beat us down, and causes us grievous harm in ways we may not understand as being from his work at the time they occur.  As such, it is like a great many other psalms, which have tremendous power and application in our own prayers when we often wonder how we can carry on through our suffering:

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan
because of the noise of the enemy

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 18 – Restore My Soul

Proverbs 18:14 speaks truly:

A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Have you ever felt totally defeated?  Have you ever thought that if only there were someone to whom you could wave a white flag, you would be perfectly willing to surrender?  When the spirit is crushed, the whole of life can feel like it is too much to bear.  So what do you do?

depressionLearning to “surrender all” to Jesus is not easy.  It goes against everything we have been trained to do all of our lives.  We are taught to pull ourselves up “by our bootstraps.”  We’re trained to find solutions to problems, and then to implement them.  Do not misunderstand me, God does not want us to sit around and just expect that He is going to fix all of our problems for us.  Quite the contrary.  But we must learn that there is a limit to our abilities.  There are always going to be things that are beyond our control.  How about a plan?

1.  Talk to God each and every day.  Find your quiet place and your quiet time.  Perhaps you can take a walk by yourself – just you and the Lord.  Ask Him for His wisdom in knowing what you can and must do, and for His help in getting those things done.

2.  Spend time each day in God’s word.  God speaks to us through His word.  You will not find each and every time you read that there is that one magical verse that will give you insight and clarity of thought.  But by training yourself to let Him speak to you, you will receive the grace of His knowledge over time.  He has promised that He will not withhold from us the wisdom that we need.

3. This is the hardest one (for me), but the most important.  Realize that there is a point at which you have done all that you can do.  You have sought His wisdom.  You have talked with Him and bared your soul concerning your burdens.  And just as importantly, you trust Him to take care of the rest.  You trust that whatever happens next, God will not forsake you.  He will carry His sheep like the good shepherd He is, and with His help, – come what may, you can bear it.

Three scriptures, a song and a prayer for the weary soul

Psalm 55:22“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you”

1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The song – a special prayer to the Lord

Restore My Soul

Restore my spirit, Lord, I need restored.
My heart is weary, please help me, dear Lord.
I stand in need of more strength from Your Word,
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.

Revive the fire, Lord, deep in my soul.
Stir my desire to work in Your fold.
Light in my heart, dear God, my zeal grown cold.
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.

Renew my courage, Lord, it needs restored.
My cup is empty, refill it, dear Lord.
Replace all doubt and fear with faith so bold.
Renew my love, rebuild my faith,
O restore my soul.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 17 – The Lord Tests hearts

crucible

Proverbs 17:3: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.”

A crucible is a container that is used to melt metal on a furnace. A crucible for silver would usually be made of clay/graphite, and would have to withstand extremely high temperatures, possibly ranging from 1800 – 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the process of refining these precious metals, the impurities float to the surface as “dross” where they can be removed.  The extreme heat makes the precious metals better – richer, and even more pure.

The Lord does test our hearts (1 Chronicles 29:17), for He looks upon man in a different way than other men do (1 Samuel 16:7).  And James tells us that we should “count it all joy” when we encounter trials (James 1:2-4).  So what do we do when those times of trial seem too much to bear?

Ahhh… that’s the part that is most difficult to accept, at least it is for this blogger.  Let’s look closely at what James says in verses 5-8:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

Most of my life, I have failed to put verses 5-8 together with verses 4-6.  James is trying to tell us that if we do not know how to “let steadfastness have its full effect,” if we do not seem to be able to cope -to stand the heat, we should ask for God to give us the wisdom to do so.  He has promised to give it “without reproach.”  And God always keeps His promises.  That means He does not disapprove of our asking for it.  He will not chastise us for our weakness, nor will he belittle us for any ineptitude on our part.  But we must ask with faith, not just believing, but knowing that God will deliver that wisdom to us.  That is the kind of faith for which I must continually pray.  I am still working on it.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.