Bible reading for weekend March 29 -- 30
Mar 29 -- Proverbs 16 and Philippians 3
Mar 30 -- Proverbs 17 and Philippians 4
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)
MAKING PLANS. We all make plans, and that's a necessary part of life. In the early section of Proverbs 16 I noticed the repetition of the theme, plans of the heart (vv 1, 9). Eric Lane, in his commentary on Proverbs (Christian Focus Publ., 2000), entitles this section (16:1-9), "Living Under the All-Sovereign God." We make our plans, but always with the awareness of God's sovereignty. Our words, and the response to them, are used or over-ruled as the Lord sees fit (v 1). "Man proposes, but God disposes" is a phrase from Thomas a Kempis, who wrote, "For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand. For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands." (Of the Imitation of Christ, I:19) God sees and weighs the motives of our heart (v 2). We should commit our work to the Lord, who will bring to pass that which is good (v 3). The Lord is sovereign over the wicked (v 4), over the proud (v 5), and over our enemies (v 7). He can turn enemies into friends, especially through the gospel. Those who trust God's appointed sacrifice should walk in love and faithfulness toward God (v 6). Perhaps this verse points us to the perfect life and atoning death of Christ, as well. We should be content with a righteous life even if it means little return here and now (v 8). Lasting success of our plans comes from the Lord (v 9). So, as we make plans in life we should ask such questions as, do I trust God's sovereign hand? Are my motives right? Have I committed my work to the Lord? Am I being proud or too self-confident? Am I trusting the Lord to rule and over-rule for his glory and for my highest good?
OUR WEEKEND PLANS. My wife and I are thankful to have completed our vaccinations! We are looking forward to a family visit this weekend, so my post is a little shorter than usual :) Do enjoy your continued reading in Proverbs -- there are so many gems to be mined from this book, both in the individual proverbs and in the larger inter-related themes.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4)
KNOWING CHRIST (ch 3). Sometimes when I hear someone "share a testimony," it seems primarily about giving up bad stuff to come to Jesus. There's sin, drugs, loneliness, selfishness, etc., and then seeing the light of Christ and coming to him in faith. That's valid, as far as it goes, but look at this chapter where Paul lists all the good things he gives up for Christ. Every good thing he could boast in, rest upon, or take pride in -- like family, heritage, religious zeal, education, personal morality -- he views all these things as rubbish compared to knowing Christ! The value of knowing Christ, finding our righteousness in him alone, and experiencing his life (and suffering with him) is worth more than anything in this world. And this relationship is a goal worth pursuing with all-out, single-minded determination. So, conversion means not just giving up bad things to follow Christ, but giving up even the good things in order to follow Christ supremely. As you read through this passage, ask yourself, is this how I view knowing Christ and growing in him?
REJOICE IN THE LORD (ch 4). The epistle to the Philippians is a letter filled with joy. Though Paul is under house arrest in Rome, and though the church in Philippi is a financially poor congregation, yet he speaks of joy (or rejoicing) fourteen times in this one letter! For the Christian joy is found not in circumstances but in the Lord. We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord (v 4), that is, to find our delight and satisfaction in the Lord himself and what he chooses to provide for us. How many times I have gone over this chapter with those seeking comfort in their fears and losses. It would be good for all of us to memorize verses 4 through 8! Verse 13, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me," relates not to the fulfillment of earthly goals (especially since Paul was imprisoned), but rather to the Lord's enablement to face any situation with God's grace and provision (see the context, vv 12-19). J. I. Packer wrote, "Joy is a condition that is experienced, but it is more than a feeling; it is, primarily, a state of mind." So, we must ask ourselves, is this our mindset? Does joy characterize my life? Is there a buoyancy in our walk with God? Are you confident and content with the Lord in the circumstances in which he's placed you?
Image credit: photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Another resource I recommend is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.