Re-defined Joy

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 15:15-17 (day two) All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Vs. 15

How desperately do we want that ‘continual feast’ to be material? Car, job, bank account, etc. So often we read that kind of verse believing that if I’m ‘happy’ enough, things will work out. I am a big believer in positive attitude, but that is not what scripture is calling us to here or in other passages like this.

It seems to me that we must constantly re-define the concept of ‘joy’. ‘Happy’ should not be our end game. Do I want that for you, for me, for my family? Absolutely! But an honest assessment of the human condition reminds us that our fallen sin-filled world robs many of happiness. Scripture is replete with stalwart believers who are walking a dark and lonely journey. What scripture promises is the assurance of God’s presence in those circumstances. This is joy, this is a feast; to know the Lord has not left you. Let us continually seek joy in all situations.

Re:Verse Blog – 4/22/24

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 15:15-17 (day one)

Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Proverbs 15:15-17 in our Spring Re:Verse Series: Proverbs – “The Way of Wisdom.”

To watch the Re:Vlog video, Click Here!

National Epidemic

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day seven)

Righteousness exalts a [family],
But sin is a disgrace to any [home].

“Wait Rick, you can’t just change the Re:Verse text like that! Did you not get enough parenting last week?” Let’s unpack why I made this change.

We have a national epidemic, and it’s not covid or some sort of illness. America is becoming Biblically illiterate. Only 18% of the United States population is considered Scripture Engaged according to the American Bible Society’s State of the Bible. Scripture Engagement is defined as “consistent interaction with the Bible that shapes a person’s choices and transforms their relationships with God, self, and others.If we want America to become more righteous, Scripture Engagement must become a priority.

An affinity for Scripture starts in the home. When children see that you make scripture a priority (do you read publicly and consistently?) and they see that it makes a significant impact on your life (do you exemplify Jesus?), they too will want to engage with  scripture. We might not be able to solve America’s Biblical illiteracy through a sermon or a program, but if each family would do their part to make scripture and prayer a priority in the home, we can begin to help America heal from this epidemic.

Good Travels

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day six)

The most basic understanding of the first half of this proverb is that the people prosper under godliness. The implications are clear enough: godly leadership has a profound impact.

Godliness is never stagnant; it always spreads. Just as a single light can illuminate the darkest room or one seed yield a bountiful harvest, so it is with godliness. One godly person can ignite a chain reaction, profoundly impacting their peers as their godliness spreads.

Godliness is never a quiet personal experience. It never keeps to itself. It only knows one direction; it travels.

(And for those reading  this post on a Saturday [wink, wink], thank you for your commitment to Re:verse and loving your pastoral staff.)

Contrasts and Chasms

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day five)

“Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.”

Have you noticed the stark contrasts that  Proverbs clearly depicts?  One that fears God and one who despises God. The wise and the foolish. And in our text this week, the righteous and the sinful. The exalted and the disgraced. The chasm seems to grow wider and wider between the two sides. Is there no middle ground?  Kinda this or mostly this. No, there is no room for half hearted devotion. No place for mediocre obedience. The options are either righteousness or sinfulness. And the results and consequences of each, are clearly spelled out so that the choices and decisions of individuals and nations are evident. The good news is that we can still find righteousness personally and corporately when we fear the Lord, love His Word, turn to Him in humble repentance, and trust His promises.

Glory

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day four)

Our worldview in the West is so heavily individualistic that we often view salvation and repentance through that lens too. Yes, salvation and repentance are for individuals, but they are also for communities and nations. So much of what the Old Testament prophets address is about collective repentance and national righteousness. Daniel repents on behalf of the entire nation. Isaiah calls for the collective people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways. It seems almost impossible today in our modern, Western worldview that an entire nation could repent and turn to God. Yet, it comes up over and over again in Scripture.

So how do we move towards corporate repentance and righteousness? It’s more than standing on our religious high horse repeating, “America just needs to get back to God.” Yes, of course she does. But tropes won’t help us achieve that. It’s more than just politics and policies, though those are important.

I wonder if it starts with considering Jesus’ vision for us in John 17:22-23,The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.”

The more we pursue and experience the glory and unity of life in the Spirit that Jesus describes in our homes, small groups, congregations, neighborhoods, etc., the more national righteousness seems possible.

Fracture

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day three)

“Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a disgrace to any people.”

What is righteousness? Is it doctrinal purity? Devotion? Moral behavior? A profession of faith? God and country? Progressive cred? Repudiation of liberalism? Siding with the tax collector instead of the Pharisee in Jesus’s parable of the men who when to the temple to pray? Many will insist they aren’t perfect, even though they think they’re right. Righteousness is tricky that way, for individuals and for the nations. Claims to righteousness often have the effect of drawing lines and fracturing community. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear groups of people setting themselves against each other, declaring they’d rather not build a nation with those who don’t meet their standards. What kind of disgrace awaits such a people?

Deal with Sin

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day two)

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.

Sin is a disgrace. Let’s face it, we can never be truly righteous and free from sin. It is struggle that we confront each and every day. The challenge to ‘take up our cross’ is not an idle one. It begins with realizing those areas where we have fallen short…again. Thanks be to God that we can lay them at the feet of Jesus and be made clean.

Although our pursuit of righteousness will always be tinged with our fallen nature and tendency to sin, it is in that willingness to address sin that will separate us from the world. If we are consumed by sin, and every facet of our lives publicly and privately profess that sin controls us, it doesn’t matter what amount of ‘good’ we do. That good will always be viewed in connection to the overwhelming sin that surrounds everything else.

Our pursuit of righteousness must be marked with humility. It must begin with a desire to seek after only what that Lord desires, and to rid our lives of the things which hinder that pursuit. Then a people, a nation, can be exalted.

Re:Verse Blog – 4/15/24

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 14:34 (day one)

Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Proverbs 14:34 in our Spring Re:Verse Series: Proverbs – “The Way of Wisdom.”

Apologies: Technical Difficulties with the audio

Discipline Transforms

Re:Verse passage – Proverbs 13:24 (day seven)

As I think through this text and how I parent, the question I find myself asking is how does God discipline me?

When our children are learning to ride a bicycle, they fall… a lot! When they fall, we don’t wrap them in bubble wrap or remove all the obstacles from their path. We pick them back up, point them in the right direction, and hope they crash into something softer next time. We let them fall to make them stronger. Eventually, they will learn to ride the bike with ease because their ability has been transformed through adversity.

God’s discipline is not meant to punish us. God’s discipline is meant to transform us. Our punishment was fulfilled in the cross. His discipline transforms us through repentance. We will fall. Sometimes He will even let us fall, but He is the Good Father who is always there to pick us up when we fall so that He can point us in the right direction. Romans 2:4 tells us His kindness leads us to repentance. Through that repentance, the crashes will get softer and less often. Eventually, we will navigate the adversity with ease because our heart has been transformed to look like His. That is how discipline works!