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Spirituality

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #37: Proverbs 14:22–Devising Evil and Good

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:  

My Favorite Proverbs: Devising Evil and Good  (Proverbs 14:22)

Do they not go astray who devise evil? But mercy and truth belong to those who devise good.

In the original language, the word “devise” in this proverb means, “to plow.”  Picture a farmer cutting and plowing his rows as he anticipates a good harvest in the not-too-distant future.  That preparation, according to today’s proverb, is done spiritually every day by people for evil or for good.  Imagine with me some examples….

Devising Evil:

  1. Plan a party and purchase alcohol to be served.
  2. Wear a revealing dress while knowing it may impress men the wrong way.     
  3. Scheme over how to earn or win money through business deals which are not completely honest.
  4. Think through how you can escape God’s commands in your religion and still have His approval:  “I attend most of the assemblies; I doubt He’ll care if I miss to attend this ballgame just this once.”
  5. Imagine ways to hurt those against whom you hold a grudge, or simply use your influence to prevent good things from happening to them.
  6. Deceive your parents.  Lie about where you’re going and with whom you are going.

Devising Good:

  1. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8).     
  2. Plan your schedule every week to attend the worship assemblies.
  3. Spend time every day thinking of ways to serve your fellow man.
  4. Think of ways to encourage young people to make good decisions.
  5. Imagine ways you can be a more positive influence in this church.
  6. Concentrate on individuals you’d like to convert to Christ, and devise ways to help them toward that end.  

As you ponder this proverb today, remember that another one says: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).       

Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

For tonight let’s start analyzing the details of the judgment criteria in Matthew 25: 31ff. Jesus said…

“I was hungry and you gave me food.”

Tonight, if you have teeny people, practice the exercise in the video below in your home, and upon your first opportunity, take along your teeny people to actually knock on just such a door. Even if there are no door-knocking opportunities ever in your congregation, still make them for your family. (I learned, very early in my life, the value of children knocking on doors; both the value to those children and to people in our neighborhood who had tender hearts. Just do this. You will be glad you did. Take invitations to gospel meetings. Take pies. Take tracts. Take CDs of sermons. But take your children!)

If you have bigger people, bake bread or cookies tonight to leave on the doorstep of someone who really may be having a tough time getting to the store these days or for someone who has lost (temporarily or permanently) the income they had before the virus. (Think hairdressers, waiters, restauranteurs without drive-throughs, many of those in retail, and most in hospitality industries.) Make sure your children, sign a card, pray for the individual and go with you tomorrow to deliver. Pray together for this family/person tonight.

Review with your children how that Joseph was happy to give food to his brothers even when they had treated him very poorly. Emphasize that, even though the people to whom we give the food may not always be the most faithful to God (they may not even be Christians), the One to Whom we give the food is the spotless lamb of God who died for us, even when we were still sinners, too (Romans 5:8).

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance: #21–7 Things about Wise People

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:   Seven Things We Know about Wise People

A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother (10:1).

1. They are taught by the testimony of the Lord.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psa. 19:7).

A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel (Prov. 1:5).

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil (Prov. 3:7).

…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).

2.  They love the souls of men and women.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

3.  They keep good company.

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20).

4.  They put a high priority on healthy marriage.

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands (Prov. 14:1).

5.  They hear the sayings of Jesus and do them.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock (Matt. 7:24-25).

6.  They often look like fools in the eyes of worldly people.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Cor. 3:18).

7.  They live carefully and prudently.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15).

Bible Time with Glenn and Cindy

1. Read to your children 2 Samuel 11:2-5 and explain to them, in age-appropriate terms, what David did in these verses. For young children, it will be that he saw another man’s wife and he wanted her for his own, because she was beautiful. For older children, you will explain that he lusted for her and he sinned by having a sexual relationship with her. For all children, explain that stealing is stealing, whether it is a man’s money or his wife. “It’s called adultery when it’s a wife instead of money that is taken.”

2. For teens, here, fill in the details about the pregnancy and the selfishness of David, in not thinking about the involvement of innocent people (like a baby) in his grievous sin.

3. Also here, talk to your kids about the messengers in this passage. Was it fair for David to ask his messengers to help him sin? What should the messengers have done when asked to go and get the beautiful woman for David? Do you think they knew they were helping him “steal” another man’s wife?  Has anyone ever asked you to help them do wrong? (Give examples like asking to copy your homework or asking you to tell a lie to help keep a secret or asking you to hide something that got broken. It’s fun to make up these scenarios and ask your kids “What should you say if someone asked you to do this?”)

4. For younger children, for now, just tell them that Bathsheba went back home, but she was afraid that her good husband would find out that she and David had been acting like they were married. She was afraid Uriah would find out that she had gone to the palace to be with another man who was not her husband.

5. All ages should learn that David violated the seventh of the ten commandments and they should be able to quote that command from Exodus 20:14. For those who have the Hannah’s Hundred 2 CD, all of the ten commandments are included in song there and this would be a great time to learn to sing them.

6. I hope you can emphasize to your children that David decided to sin by taking Bathsheba. Up until he actually committed this sin (had her come to the palace and took her in), he could have repented of his wish to have Bathsheba and prayed to God for help in staying far from her. But, instead, he made a choice that is going to have some very bad consequences. Teach your children that when we think about doing something that’s wrong, we should quickly change our minds before we actually do the wrong thing. (Explain this to young children by talking to them about a beautiful chocolate cake that you have told them not to touch. Explain to them that they should not go to the drawer to get a fork or to the cabinet to get a plate. They should not take the lid off the cake stand. But explain to them that it’s all pretty easy to fix until they actually touch the cake. But once it’s cut and  eaten, there are some consequences that are not fun.)

Make a list of things we might say in our homes, to try and think before we disobey or act disrespectfully. In our house, they included these. You will have your own:

–“Think about this before you choose, now.”

–“Make a good choice.”

— “Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

–“This is not going to end up good. Think about it.”

–“Wait and minute and think. Do you know what is going to happen if you disobey?”

The goal here is to get your children to ask these warnings on their own, even if you are not with them when the temptation comes.

7. Have teens think about people they know who have already made choices that have had bad endings.  Have a conversation about these “real-life” choices that should have been stopped before certain actions were committed. If they cannot think of any in their circles of peers, remind them of the decision to sell Joseph (how much pain came in the lives of the brothers once they decided to do that and how they had to start deceiving to cover their tracks.) Remind them of Potiphar’s wife’s decision to lie about Joseph and how an innocent man suffered much because of a selfish choice on her part.

Pray with your children.

Be sure they can repeat God’s ideal for marriage: One man and one woman for life.

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Still Using a Little Dixie Cup?


Looking at all of this water as I sit here watching the waves roll in on this beautiful Alabama Gulf shoreline brings to mind my two-year-old grandson, Ezra. It was a painstaking task for such a little one who  loves splashing in a puddle even more than I love putting my toes in this deep and expansive one.  But he was determined to make his own puddle for splashing in my bathroom floor with a dixie cup and a tiny stream of water running in my bathroom sink. I saw him pour the meager ounce of water on the hardwood and I asked him “Ezra, why on earth are you pouring water in Mammy’s floor?” 

“I make a puddle. I can spwash.”

“Well, you may NOT make a puddle in the floor, but you are welcome to make one in the bathtub, if you like.”

He smiled broadly. That was even better! He would get to carry the water in his little Dixie cup, that with each fill held a little less of its shape and got a little more crumpled. Tirelessly, he went back and forth from the sink to the tub, pouring his little purple and yellow cup half-full of water into the big garden tub, barely even making a wet spot for jumping. In truth, he was spilling more on the floor en route than he was collecting in the tub. 

It occurred to me that we, finite little creatures in the workings of an awesome God, are a lot like Ezra. We keep doing the same futile things over and over again, trying to make our own “puddles”. We painstakingly try to collect the things that will make for happiness in the end. We often spill and make messes in the process and what we ultimately accomplish is  small and temporal. We fail to realize that we have a Helper, who could give us unbelievably effective and permanent results if only we would come to know His ways for our lives.

See, Ezra didn’t think about the fact that there was a big and powerful source of water in the spout of that tub. What would come out of that waterspout, if I but turned a lever for him, would fill up his tiny Dixie cup hundreds of times without the trip he was making back and forth. In fact, he would not even need the crumpling cup. There would never be a mess on the floor and the danger of him slipping in that mess would never threaten. Not only that, but there’s a stopper in the bottom of that tub. With the turn of a big knob, I could plug that reservoir up, so that none of the water would be wasted. None of that big stream of water would go down the drain where his little trickle of a puddle of water had been slowly disappearing. All of the resources were there for Ezra to not only jump in a “puddle” and have a splashing good time, but there was enough ingenuity there for his little Scuffy tugboat to sail or even for him to have a heated sauna swim, had he preferred, as I would have if I were his two-year-old size. 

Sometimes the blessings and opportunities are all around us, but we keep carrying the Dixie cup, spilling the contents along the way and processing through the same futile routines over and over again. We think we can work our way to desired goals only to find out in the end that our dreams are disappearing down the huge drain that only our God can plug. He has every resource we need to achieve what really will make us happy and fulfilled, but we fail to investigate His Will. We fail to ask for His wisdom. We fail to understand fully His resourcefulness. He controls all the levers and knobs and he freely offers His limitless capability for our ultimate progress and benefit. But often, like Ezra, we just go on about our vain tasks with impotent precision, expending life’s time and energy in fruitless pursuits. (In this case, it was profitable for me to allow Ezra to be “entertained” for a while before I showed him the “puddle” I could so easily make for him. See, I needed to dry my hair and put on my make-up. But God is never too busy to turn on the living water for those who are seeking it [John4:10].)

I know many people who have thrown away the Dixie cup and turned on the waterspout. Can I help you know His will for your life? You can stop living small and messy and start basking in His spiritual abundance!

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun. (Ecc. 2:11)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc. 12:13)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: When My Godly Husband Falls (Part One)

Just this week, I’ve been asked the question of a godly woman….””What do I do? My husband was a good leader. He was involved in the family and a great example in the church. But he has been consumed by temptation. Our lives are becoming distant from one another. Our home is suffering and I am becoming bitter.”

While most problems in our homes could have been avoided by having taken a good, hard look at the man before the marriage took place, there are some cases in which women marry good, honorable Christian men—who change.  Perhaps, as was the case with Saul, position or prestige changes a man. Perhaps disappointment in others or financial loss may alter a man’s devotion to God. Perhaps it is sexual temptation or involvement in addictive behavior. It is simply the case, that while there is no temptation so great that a man cannot resist it.(I Cor. 10:13), the devil is trying to get your husband to fall prey to his devices.

It is worth my time to consider ahead of time just what my “plan” would be if my godly husband falls. What if he is tempted by the devil and begins a downward spiritual spiral that causes him to sink deeper and deeper into sin? How will I react?

I must not fall with my husband. Notice here, we are not speaking of a good and faithful man who make mistakes. We are speaking of a husband who is living in sin. His conscience has been seared (I Tim. 4:2).                                                                                                            

In talking with women who suddenly find themselves married to sinful men, I often quickly realize that, although the sins of the wife may not be exactly the same ones as those of the husband, she is embittered and is quickly becoming less committed to doing right and more vulnerable to the devil, herself. A wife is tempted to lie to cover up the sinful behavior of her husband. A woman begins to date non-Christian men after having put away her husband for adultery. A woman begins missing worship services because she is embarrassed by her husband’s behavior. A woman stops praying because she feels as if God is not listening. A mother becomes overwhelmed by trying to be the only godly parent and begins to make compromises in the way she is raising her children. We could make a long list of various ways the devil is successful in weakening wives whose husbands become involved in sin. Let’s predetermine the course we will take if ever placed in such a sad position. May I remember that I am spiritually married to Jesus and that my bond with Him is even stronger than the one I have with my husband.

(Much of this post taken from Women Of Scandal: https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Women-of-Scandal/p/65464960/category=3290197)

Thursday: Look for the practical part two. I surely do not have all the answers. But God does. Next up is my best shot at getting a grip on His will in this kind of difficult and challenging marriage.