SEPTEMBER 20

Proverbs 20:10: "Divers
[different, unequal] weights [for example, of stones on one side of a balance scale and something else on the other side--see note below*], and divers measures [unequal quantities in devices used to measure things (like grain, tea, and sugar) on a scale], both of them [i.e., divers weights and measures] are alike [are both] abomination [a repulsive, offensive, disgusting thing] to the LORD [God]."

Proverbs 20:23: "Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false
[deceitful] balance is not good [in the sight of God and mankind]."

According to Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church, both of these verses (which essentially say the same thing) refer to people who use deceptive business practices to cheat and steal. As stated in verse 10, these things are an abomination to God, which means that he hates them!

Here are some excerpts from the commentary:

Regarding "weights and measures" (balances or scales):

"1. Weights and measures were instruments used to conduct business in ancient times before paper money."

"4. Balance: Set of scales; i.e., an implement for weighing, consisting of two balance pans with a standardized weight in one pan and the object to be weighed in the other."

"b. … A false balance is an abomination.
" If the balance arms were of unequal length, the scale would appear to say that they were equal, but they would not be equal.
" It works like a seesaw. The short end requires more weight to balance the bar.
" Thus, dishonest merchants could use a 'false balance'-with arms of unequal length."

Examples of dishonest business practices:

"f. … In recent years some companies have chosen a sneaky way of getting more money from us.
" Instead of raising the price, they made the product smaller… but just a little smaller so you might not notice. (Ice cream; coffee cans; bread.)
" The size of the product is reduced, but the price is not reduced-so you are really paying MORE per ounce for the product, even though the can has the same price.
" It is not stealing, because the new cans are labeled in small print."

"4. We don't use stones and scales to buy and purchase today, but the principle applies just as well in the modern world.

"a. Some companies keep two books instead of two stones. They keep one book for the IRS and the auditor, and another book for their own records. (That's like having two different weights.)

"b. Gas stations have been caught in skimming scams. They tweak their pumps so that you are not getting a full gallon, even though the pump SAYS you are… and even though you are PAYING for a full gallon. That IS stealing and is against the law. Thus, they have two measures-one measure the customer actually receives (9/10 gal.) and the other is what he pays for (a full gallon).

"c. Today thieves steal identity. They have their own IDs and credit cards for everyday use. Then they have YOUR credit cards and IDs for when they go on a shopping spree."

Why 'divers weights and measures' are an abomination to God:

"b. The two (weights and measures) are BOTH the same…

"c. It really doesn't matter HOW you cheat with these instruments.

"d. Whether you put an unequal weight in the scale for items sold by weight, OR if you use the wrong size measuring basket for items sold by volume, the bottom line is the same.

"e. You're cheating! You're stealing! It is a dishonest scam. You're a crook!

"f. And today, it doesn't matter by what MEANS we cheat or steal from others… every method is alike an abomination."

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-20-index/proverbs-20_10/.
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Matthew Henry, another Bible commentator, said: "… In paying and receiving money, which was then commonly done by the scale, they had divers weights, an under-weight for what they paid and an over-weight for what they received; in delivering out and taking in goods they had divers measures, a scanty measure to sell by and a large measure to buy by … Whether they be about the money or the goods, in the buyer or in the seller, they are all alike an abomination to the Lord." (Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/20.html, "Verse 10")
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*Definition of balance scales, from the MathIsFun.com website: "A device for weighing. It has a balanced beam and two pans. When the pans contain exactly the same mass the beam is in balance. You can place an object in one pan and standard weights in the other to find what the object weighs."

To see what a balance scale looks like and how it works, click here: https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/balance-scales.html.

SEPTEMBER 19

Proverbs 19:4: "Wealth maketh
[riches attract] many friends; but the poor [person] is separated [set apart, isolated] from his [or her] neighbour [neighbors and friends] [meaning poor people have few, if any, friends and are usually left alone]."

According to Salem Bible Church's commentary, this verse is about true and false friendships.

Money is like a magnet, and "friends" are drawn to people who have lots of it. Unfortunately, when the money is gone, so are the false friends that it attracted. This also happens with celebrities, with people who are good-looking and popular, and with those who are in high positions and enjoy much power and prestige (respect and admiration). If, for some reason, they lose their celebrity status, good looks, popularity, and/or high positions, they'll lose most of their so-called friends, too.

If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-19-index/proverbs-19_4/.

SEPTEMBER 18

Proverbs 18:19: "A brother
[or other relative, friend, associate, etc.] [who has been] offended [hurt, or sinned against] is harder to be won [won over, won back, reached] than a strong [walled-in, fortified] city [which is almost impossible to conquer]: and their [the offended person's] contentions [arguments, quarrels, disputes] are like the bars of a castle [or fort, military stronghold, etc.--meaning they're thick, strong, and impenetrable]."

Offending people causes resentment, which is very hard to overcome.

In paragraph 6 of his commentary on this verse, Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church says, "It is EASY to offend a brother or a friend…" because it can occur:

" … through carelessness with our words
   … through maliciousness with our words
   … as a misunderstanding
   … by means of a third party sticking their nose in someone else's business
   … because we only heard one side of the story
   … when the one offended is overly sensitive or thin skinned
   … when the one who offends is callous or insensitive
   … because of something said in jest; it was a joke, but they took it seriously
   … when you are obeying God and rebuking sin
   … when we say things in anger that we would never say otherwise
   … when for one reason or another, the allegiance is no longer there… or the allegiance is given to someone or something else"

Regarding Solomon's reference to a "strong city" in the above verse, Pastor Delany says, in paragraph 8 of his commentary, that:

"c. An offended brother builds walls around himself to keep the offender OUT… when he feels attacked by the offender."

"e. Those walls are a kind of defense mechanism because the offended party doesn't want to be hurt again."

"g. Once those walls are built, they are extremely hard to penetrate."

Fighting frequently occurs within families (e.g., husbands and wives don't communicate with one another and are separated by an invisible wall, or parents go on for years not speaking to their children, and vice versa) and even between families, friends, neighbors, etc. One example cited in the commentary is the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, which began with a fight over a hog.

Pastor Delany says we should try our best to avoid offending people in the first place, but if it happens anyway, this is what we should do about it:

-- If we have offended someone, we should apologize to him or her, and also confess that sin to God.

-- If someone has offended us, we should tell the person that we feel hurt and should hope for an apology and reconciliation.

The commentary (in paragraph 8c) ends with the following advice:

"Whichever side of those iron bars you find yourself… RESTORING the relationship ought to be paramount.
" A little bit of grace and humility goes a long way!
"  Solomon says that winning back that person is difficult.
" But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Nothing is too hard for the Lord."

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-18-index/proverbs-18_19/.

SEPTEMBER 15-17

Mark 5:24-34 - Jesus Heals the Woman With the "Issue of Blood"

Verse 24: "And Jesus went with him
[Jairus (one of the rulers of the synagogue)--to heal his young (approximately 12-year-old) daughter, who was dying]; and much [many] people followed him [Jesus], and thronged [crowded around] him [so they could watch him perform a miracle]."

Verses 25-26: "And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood
[a hemorrhage, probably coming from the womb] [for] twelve years [e.g., her monthly period may have flowed continuously during that entire time], And [who] had suffered many things of many physicians [because she took medicine that the doctors prescribed, and tried remedies and treatments that they suggested (some of which probably had painful side effects), in an attempt to control the bleeding], and [who] had spent all [of the money] that she had [on doctors, medicine, and treatments], and was nothing bettered [was not any better], but rather grew worse,"

Verses 27-29: "When she
[the woman] had heard of Jesus, [she] came in the press [crowd] behind [him], and touched his garment. For she said [to herself], If I may touch [nothing] but his clothes, I shall be whole [healed]. And straightway [immediately, after she touched his garment] the fountain of her blood was dried up [the bleeding stopped]; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."

Verses 30-32: "And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue
[healing power] had gone out of him, turned him about [turned around] in the press [crowd], and said, Who touched my clothes [intentionally, or on purpose]? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude [crowd] thronging thee [pressing against you], and sayest thou [you say], Who touched me?"

Verse 33: "And he
[Jesus] looked round about [looked around] to see her [the woman] that had done this thing [touched his garment]. But the woman[,] fearing [afraid] and trembling, knowing what was done [what had occurred] in her [body], came [to Jesus] and fell down [respectfully, in worship] before him, and told him all the truth [about what had happened]."

Verse 34: "And he
[Jesus] said unto her, Daughter [a word that expressed his tenderness and affection], thy faith hath made thee whole [it's because of your faith in me and my healing power that you have been restored to good health]; go [home] in peace, and be whole [continue to remain cured] of thy plague [your disease]."

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that, "… As secret acts of sin, so secret acts of faith, are known to the Lord Jesus, and are under his eye. If believers derive virtue from Christ ever so closely, he knows it, and is pleased with it." (Source for quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/mark/5.html, "(v. 31)")

SEPTEMBER 14

Romans 10:12
[On the subject of justification, or how sinners become righteous before (or acceptable to) God, the apostle Paul wrote]: "For there is no difference between the Jew [Jewish person] and the Greek [gentile, or non-Jewish person] [in regard to sin]: for the same Lord [Jesus Christ,] [who is Lord] over all [people,] is rich [in mercy and grace] unto all that call upon him [in faith, through prayer, for salvation]."

Salvation is offered to everyone (Jews and Gentiles alike).

SEPTEMBER 13

Galatians 5:22-23 - Christian Character

Verses 22-23: "But the fruit of the
[Holy] Spirit is [consists of:] [i.e., the Holy Spirit, working within a Christian, produces:]

love [for God and people],
joy
[happiness],
peace
[calmness, quietness of mind],
longsuffering
[having patience in difficult times],
gentleness
[being kind and polite, having a pleasant disposition],
goodness
[good works, doing nice things for others],
faith
[in God, and faithfulness to man (being true to our word, keeping promises)],
Meekness
[having a mild temper, not seeking revenge when someone offends or hurts us],
temperance
[self-control]:

against such
[things] there is no law [to condemn and punish] [in other words, these are good character traits, or qualities, and no law (including God's) will accuse, condemn (pronounce guilty), and/or punish us for having them]."

SEPTEMBER 12

Colossians 3:23
[In a letter to the Christians at Colosse (and everywhere else), the apostle Paul wrote]: "And whatsoever [whatever] ye do, do it heartily [cheerfully, enthusiastically, wholeheartedly], as [if you're doing it] to [or for] the Lord, and not [just] unto [to, or for] men [and women and children];"

SEPTEMBER 11

Romans 12:17: "Recompense
[repay, return] to no man [person] evil [words or deeds] for evil [words or deeds]. Provide things honest [honorable] in the sight of all men [people] [in other words, treat everyone with kindness, patience, and respect and always try to do what is right]."

We shouldn't "recompense … evil for evil" because, according to the Bible,  revenge is up to God, not us. One verse stating that fact is Deuteronomy 32:35, which says: "To me [God] belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."

SEPTEMBER 10

Matthew 15:7-8
[Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day)]: "Ye hypocrites [pretenders], well did Esaias [Isaiah] prophesy of you [in Isaiah 29:13--verse quoted below*], saying, This people [referring to the Jewish nation] draweth nigh unto [near to] me [God] with their mouth, and honoureth [worship and praise] me with their lips; but their heart [which should have a true love for God] is far [away] from me."

There were hypocrites in Bible times, and there are many hypocrites in the world today. That being the case, we should all ask ourselves: When we praise God and say that we love him, do we really mean it?
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*Isaiah 29:13: "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept [general rule regarding behavior or thought] of men:"

SEPTEMBER 9

Romans 10:13-15 - The Importance of Preaching the Gospel

Verse 13: "For whosoever
[whoever] shall call upon the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ] [in prayer, before death] [see below--Note 1] shall be saved [from hell and the lake of fire--see Note 2]."

Verse 14: "How then shall they call on him
[Jesus Christ] in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him [Jesus] of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear [or learn] [about Jesus] without a preacher [someone who proclaims the gospel (shares it publicly, or openly), such as a pastor or minister, evangelist, missionary, born-again Christian, or publisher of Bible tracts, magazines, and/or books]?"

Verse 15: "And how shall they
[the preachers] preach [the gospel, or message of salvation], except they be sent [by God]? as it is written [in the Bible, in Isaiah 52:7--verse quoted in Note 3], How beautiful are the feet of them that [how welcome are those who] preach the gospel [bring the message] of peace [with God], and bring glad tidings [joyful news] of good things [to come]!"
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Note 1: In his commentary, Albert Barnes says: "It is implied in this [verse (13): "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"], that we call upon him [Jesus] with right feelings; that is, with a humble sense of our sinfulness and our need of pardon, and with a willingness to receive eternal life as it is offered us in the gospel. And if this be done, this passage teaches us that all may be saved who will do it. He will cast none away who come in this manner. The invitation and the assurance extend to all nations and to people of all times." (Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-10.html, "Verse 13")

Note 2: Revelation 20:12-15 [In a vision, the apostle John was shown what will happen in heaven on judgment day]: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Note 3: Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings [as when heralds would run through the hills, bringing good news], that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"

SEPTEMBER 8

James 3:8-10 - Gaining Control of Bad Tongues
In a letter to the 12 tribes of Israel (and to all Christians), the apostle James (who was also a brother of Jesus) wrote:

Verse 8: "But the tongue can no man [person] tame [restrain]; it is an unruly evil [almost impossible to control], full of deadly poison [capable of saying malicious, slanderous, hurtful things]."

Verse 9: Therewith
[with our tongues] bless we God [we praise, thank, honor, and worship God], even the Father; and therewith [with our tongues] curse we men [we curse people], which are made after the similitude [likeness, image] of God."

Verse 10: "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing
[of people and God]. My brethren [brothers, meaning fellow Jews and Christians], these things [i.e., 'cursing men' while 'blessing God'] ought not so to be [done, or should not happen]."

We need God's help to "tame" our tongues.
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In his commentary on verse 10, Dr. Thomas Constable wrote:

"To the person who speaks praise to God in the worship service and then abuses people verbally at home or at work, James commands, 'Purify your speech through the week.'

"With the person who says, 'Oh, I know I talk too much,' and laughs it off, James is not amused. He insists, 'Be quick to listen, slow to speak.'

"By the person who boasts, 'I always speak my mind, no matter who gets hurt,' James is not impressed. He commands, 'Discipline your speaking.'

"Of the person who says, 'I know I gossip too much, but I just can't help it,' James still requires, 'Control your tongue.'

"Of the person who is in the habit of speaking with insults, ridicule or sarcasm, James demands, 'Change your speech habits.'

"He expects discipline to be happening in the life of a Christian. Any Christian can ask for the grace needed, for God gives good gifts … and gives them generously …"

(Source for above quotes:
https://www.studylight.org/commentary/james/3-10.html, "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable," with italics added for emphasis)

SEPTEMBER 7

1 John 5:14-15 - Prayer: Asking and Receiving

Verse 14: "And this is the confidence that we
[born-again Christians] have in him [God], that, if we ask [for] any thing [through prayer] according to his will [as revealed in the Bible], he heareth us:"

Verse 15: "And if we know that he
[God] [will] hear us, [regarding] whatsoever [whatever] we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired [the things that we have requested] of him."

If we want to make sure that God hears and answers our prayers, we need to (among other things--see note below*) ask according to his will.
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In his commentary on the above verses, Albert Barnes said:

Concerning verse 14:

"That, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us - This is the proper and the necessary limitation in all prayer. God has not promised to grant anything that shall be contrary to his will, and it could not be right that he should do it. … The limitation here, 'according to his will,' probably implies the following things:

"(1) In accordance with what he has 'declared' that he is willing to grant. Here the range is large, for there are many things which we know to be in accordance with his will, if they are sought in a proper manner - as the forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the soul, … comfort in trial, the needful supply of our wants, grace that we may do our duty, wisdom to direct and guide us, … deliverance from the evils which beset us, the influences of his Spirit to promote the cause of religion in the world, and our final salvation. …"

The phrase according to his will probably also implies:

"(2) … what 'he' [God] sees to be best for us. …
"(3) … what it will be 'consistent' for God to bestow upon us. …
"(4) … what will be for the good of the whole. …"

Concerning verse 15 :

Mr. Barnes said that sometimes God's answer to prayer is delayed. That's because:

"(a)the prayer may relate to something future, as protection on a journey, or a harvest, or restoration to health, or the safe return of a son from a voyage at sea, or the salvation of our souls - all of which are 'future,' and which cannot be expected to be granted at once; and,

"(b)… The 'delay' may arise from such causes as these:

"(1)To try our faith, and see whether the blessing is earnestly desired.
"(2)perhaps it could not be at once answered without a miracle.
"(3)it might not be consistent with the divine arrangements respecting others to grant it to us at once.
"(4)our own condition may not be such that it would be best to answer it at once.

"We may need further trial, further chastisement, before the affliction, for example, shall be removed; and the answer to the prayer may be delayed for months or years. Yet, in the meantime, we may have the firmest assurance that the prayer is heard, and that it will be answered in the way and at the period when God shall see it to be best."

(Source for Barnes' quotes: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-5.html, "Verse 14" and "Verse 15")
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*Regarding asking according to God's will, another Bible commentator points out these facts:

"God's promise of answering prayer, however, is not a blank check, the qualification laid down here being only one of a number of Scriptural limitations on it. Others are: prayers must be offered in faith (Mark 11:24), in the name of Jesus (John 14:14), and by one abiding in Christ (John 15:7). Furthermore, only those who have forgiven (Mark 11:15); and only those whose prayers flow out of an obedient life (1 John 3:22), and who will not use their blessings for the gratification of their lusts and passions (James 4:3), may properly claim in confidence the answer of their prayers."

(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-john/5-14.html, "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible")

SEPTEMBER 6

Proverbs 6:34-35 - Adultery and Jealous Husbands
Besides the fact that adultery is sin, these are reasons why people should not commit adultery:

Verse 34: "For jealousy is the rage of a man [jealousy causes rage (violent anger) in a man whose wife commits adultery (has sex with another man)]: therefore he [the husband] will not spare [withhold his hatred and anger from that man (the offender, or adulterer), or show pity, compassion, and mercy to him] in the day of vengeance [revenge]."

Verse 35: "He
[the husband] will not regard any ransom [accept money or anything else as payment] [to forget what happened]; neither will he rest content [be at peace], though thou [you, or anyone else] givest [him] many gifts [as a bribe]."

In other words, "… jealousy is furious, and cannot be appeased by bribes." (Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/6-34.html, "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers")

Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse. It is combined with other verses about adultery, including verses about the consequences of stealing a loaf of bread. In part, the commentary says:

"1. The consequences of adultery are far worse than of stealing bread… and longer lasting.

"2. The jealousy and rage of the man whose wife was stolen… he will not spare in his vengeance.

"a. He will not spare-he will stop short of nothing-even killing the adulterer! [Hopefully, most people would resist this urge!]

"3. There is nothing the adulterer can do to make it up to him either.

"a. You can restore a stolen loaf of bread-even sevenfold.

"b. But you cannot restore this situation… though you try with a ransom and with large gifts.

"c. The man offended will never be able to look at the man who committed adultery against him  without thinking of the adultery… even after many long years.

"4. Thus, Solomon teaches his son about long lasting consequences of the sin of adultery. His hope is that his son will listen and spare himself from guilt and shame."

If you want to read the rest of Pastor Delany's commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-6-index/proverbs-6_30-35/.

SEPTEMBER 5

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Christian Contentment, and Freedom From Fear
In a letter to Jewish Christians, the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 5: "Let your conversation [conduct, way of life] be without covetousness [a craving for money and/or possessions, especially those belonging to other people]; and be content [satisfied] with such things as ye have: for he [God] hath said [to people like Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon in the Old Testament*], I will never leave thee [you], nor forsake [abandon, desert] thee."

Verse 6: "So that
[referring to God's promise that he will never leave us] we may boldly [confidently] say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear [be afraid of] what man [other people] shall do unto me."

God's promise (in the above verses) to Christians who lived in Bible times also applies to Christians who are alive today.
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*God's promises to Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon can be found in:

Genesis 28:15 [God's promise to Jacob]: "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

Joshua 1:5 [God's promise to Joshua]: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

1 Chronicles 28:20 [God's promise to Solomon]: "And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD."

SEPTEMBER 3-4

Psalm 127:1: "Except
[unless] the LORD build the house [e.g., an actual house, and the family inside] [or, for that matter, unless God helps people do anything--see note below*], they labour [work hard] in vain [without success] that build it [referring to those who try to 'build the house' themselves]: except the LORD keep the city [safe, by guarding and protecting it], the watchman waketh [awakens, wakes up, stays alert] but in vain [without success]."
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*According to various Bible commentaries, the word house in the above verse can apply to the temple of the Lord, an ordinary house, or a family, but it can also be applied to everything that we do. With this meaning in mind, we are being told that our success and safety depend upon the presence and blessing of God.

In his commentary, Albert Barnes gives specific examples of why we are dependent upon God. Here's what he says:

-- About the builders of the house: "… No matter what their skill, their strength, their industry may be - all will be in vain unless God shall assist them. They are dependent on Him for life, for health, for strength, for practical wisdom, for a disposition to continue their work, and for success in it. Their work might be destroyed by fire, by a tempest, by an earthquake, or by an irruption [a bursting in, meaning a sudden, violent, or forcible entry] of enemies; and for the result, therefore, they are entirely dependent on God."

-- About the watchman guarding the city: "… the idea is, that, whatever may be the diligence, the care, the fidelity of one thus appointed to guard a city, its safe-keeping must depend on God alone. Fires may break out in spite of the watchmen; a tempest may sweep over it; bands of armed people may assail it; or the pestilence may suddenly come into it, and spread desolation through its dwellings … It is universally true that, after all the care for their own preservation which people can employ, their safety depends wholly on God."

(Source for quotes: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-127.html, "Verse 1")

SEPTEMBER 1-2

Matthew 4:17-20 - Becoming "Fishers of Men" (Soul Winners)
Following his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus went into the wilderness of Judea (a desert) and fasted (ate no food) for 40 days and 40 nights before being tempted three times by the devil, or Satan. Then he returned to Galilee and heard that John the Baptist had been cast into prison.

Verse 17: "From that time [i.e., after he was tempted by Satan and learned that John the Baptist was in prison] Jesus began to preach [to the people], and to say, Repent [change your mind, turn toward God (feel sorry for your sins, have a desire to please God)]: for the kingdom of heaven [referring to the reign of God] is at hand [is near, approaching, or coming soon]."

Verse 18: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren
[brothers], Simon [who was also] called Peter, and Andrew his brother [both of whom had previously been disciples (followers) of John the Baptist], casting a net into the sea [in order to catch fish]: for they were fishers [fishermen]."

Verse 19: "And he
[Jesus] saith [said] unto them [Peter and Andrew], Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men [referring to people's souls, meaning he would teach the brothers how to preach the gospel and become soul winners]."

Verse 20: "And they
[Peter and Andrew] straightway [immediately] left their nets, and followed him [Jesus] [meaning they became his disciples]."

Like Peter and Andrew, if we want to become soul winners, we need to follow (trust and obey) Jesus.

Note:
If you're unsure of what it means to follow Jesus, the article entitled "What does it mean to truly follow Christ?" may help. Here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/follow-Christ.html.


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SEPTEMBER 20

Proverbs 20:10: "Divers
[different, unequal] weights [for example, of stones on one side of a balance scale and something else on the other side--see note below*], and divers measures [unequal quantities in devices used to measure things (like grain, tea, and sugar) on a scale], both of them [i.e., divers weights and measures] are alike [are both] abomination [a repulsive, offensive, disgusting thing] to the LORD [God]."

Proverbs 20:23: "Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false
[deceitful] balance is not good [in the sight of God and mankind]."

According to Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church, both of these verses (which essentially say the same thing) refer to people who use deceptive business practices to cheat and steal. As stated in verse 10, these things are an abomination to God, which means that he hates them!

Here are some excerpts from the commentary:

Regarding "weights and measures" (balances or scales):

"1. Weights and measures were instruments used to conduct business in ancient times before paper money."

"4. Balance: Set of scales; i.e., an implement for weighing, consisting of two balance pans with a standardized weight in one pan and the object to be weighed in the other."

"b. … A false balance is an abomination.
" If the balance arms were of unequal length, the scale would appear to say that they were equal, but they would not be equal.
" It works like a seesaw. The short end requires more weight to balance the bar.
" Thus, dishonest merchants could use a 'false balance'-with arms of unequal length."

Examples of dishonest business practices:

"f. … In recent years some companies have chosen a sneaky way of getting more money from us.
" Instead of raising the price, they made the product smaller… but just a little smaller so you might not notice. (Ice cream; coffee cans; bread.)
" The size of the product is reduced, but the price is not reduced-so you are really paying MORE per ounce for the product, even though the can has the same price.
" It is not stealing, because the new cans are labeled in small print."

"4. We don't use stones and scales to buy and purchase today, but the principle applies just as well in the modern world.

"a. Some companies keep two books instead of two stones. They keep one book for the IRS and the auditor, and another book for their own records. (That's like having two different weights.)

"b. Gas stations have been caught in skimming scams. They tweak their pumps so that you are not getting a full gallon, even though the pump SAYS you are… and even though you are PAYING for a full gallon. That IS stealing and is against the law. Thus, they have two measures-one measure the customer actually receives (9/10 gal.) and the other is what he pays for (a full gallon).

"c. Today thieves steal identity. They have their own IDs and credit cards for everyday use. Then they have YOUR credit cards and IDs for when they go on a shopping spree."

Why 'divers weights and measures' are an abomination to God:

"b. The two (weights and measures) are BOTH the same…

"c. It really doesn't matter HOW you cheat with these instruments.

"d. Whether you put an unequal weight in the scale for items sold by weight, OR if you use the wrong size measuring basket for items sold by volume, the bottom line is the same.

"e. You're cheating! You're stealing! It is a dishonest scam. You're a crook!

"f. And today, it doesn't matter by what MEANS we cheat or steal from others… every method is alike an abomination."

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-20-index/proverbs-20_10/.
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Matthew Henry, another Bible commentator, said: "… In paying and receiving money, which was then commonly done by the scale, they had divers weights, an under-weight for what they paid and an over-weight for what they received; in delivering out and taking in goods they had divers measures, a scanty measure to sell by and a large measure to buy by … Whether they be about the money or the goods, in the buyer or in the seller, they are all alike an abomination to the Lord." (Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/proverbs/20.html, "Verse 10")
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*Definition of balance scales, from the MathIsFun.com website: "A device for weighing. It has a balanced beam and two pans. When the pans contain exactly the same mass the beam is in balance. You can place an object in one pan and standard weights in the other to find what the object weighs."

To see what a balance scale looks like and how it works, click here: https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/balance-scales.html.

SEPTEMBER 19

Proverbs 19:4: "Wealth maketh
[riches attract] many friends; but the poor [person] is separated [set apart, isolated] from his [or her] neighbour [neighbors and friends] [meaning poor people have few, if any, friends and are usually left alone]."

According to Salem Bible Church's commentary, this verse is about true and false friendships.

Money is like a magnet, and "friends" are drawn to people who have lots of it. Unfortunately, when the money is gone, so are the false friends that it attracted. This also happens with celebrities, with people who are good-looking and popular, and with those who are in high positions and enjoy much power and prestige (respect and admiration). If, for some reason, they lose their celebrity status, good looks, popularity, and/or high positions, they'll lose most of their so-called friends, too.

If you want to read the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-19-index/proverbs-19_4/.

SEPTEMBER 18

Proverbs 18:19: "A brother
[or other relative, friend, associate, etc.] [who has been] offended [hurt, or sinned against] is harder to be won [won over, won back, reached] than a strong [walled-in, fortified] city [which is almost impossible to conquer]: and their [the offended person's] contentions [arguments, quarrels, disputes] are like the bars of a castle [or fort, military stronghold, etc.--meaning they're thick, strong, and impenetrable]."

Offending people causes resentment, which is very hard to overcome.

In paragraph 6 of his commentary on this verse, Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church says, "It is EASY to offend a brother or a friend…" because it can occur:

" … through carelessness with our words
   … through maliciousness with our words
   … as a misunderstanding
   … by means of a third party sticking their nose in someone else's business
   … because we only heard one side of the story
   … when the one offended is overly sensitive or thin skinned
   … when the one who offends is callous or insensitive
   … because of something said in jest; it was a joke, but they took it seriously
   … when you are obeying God and rebuking sin
   … when we say things in anger that we would never say otherwise
   … when for one reason or another, the allegiance is no longer there… or the allegiance is given to someone or something else"

Regarding Solomon's reference to a "strong city" in the above verse, Pastor Delany says, in paragraph 8 of his commentary, that:

"c. An offended brother builds walls around himself to keep the offender OUT… when he feels attacked by the offender."

"e. Those walls are a kind of defense mechanism because the offended party doesn't want to be hurt again."

"g. Once those walls are built, they are extremely hard to penetrate."

Fighting frequently occurs within families (e.g., husbands and wives don't communicate with one another and are separated by an invisible wall, or parents go on for years not speaking to their children, and vice versa) and even between families, friends, neighbors, etc. One example cited in the commentary is the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, which began with a fight over a hog.

Pastor Delany says we should try our best to avoid offending people in the first place, but if it happens anyway, this is what we should do about it:

-- If we have offended someone, we should apologize to him or her, and also confess that sin to God.

-- If someone has offended us, we should tell the person that we feel hurt and should hope for an apology and reconciliation.

The commentary (in paragraph 8c) ends with the following advice:

"Whichever side of those iron bars you find yourself… RESTORING the relationship ought to be paramount.
" A little bit of grace and humility goes a long way!
"  Solomon says that winning back that person is difficult.
" But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Nothing is too hard for the Lord."

If you want to read the rest of the commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-18-index/proverbs-18_19/.

SEPTEMBER 15-17

Mark 5:24-34 - Jesus Heals the Woman With the "Issue of Blood"

Verse 24: "And Jesus went with him
[Jairus (one of the rulers of the synagogue)--to heal his young (approximately 12-year-old) daughter, who was dying]; and much [many] people followed him [Jesus], and thronged [crowded around] him [so they could watch him perform a miracle]."

Verses 25-26: "And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood
[a hemorrhage, probably coming from the womb] [for] twelve years [e.g., her monthly period may have flowed continuously during that entire time], And [who] had suffered many things of many physicians [because she took medicine that the doctors prescribed, and tried remedies and treatments that they suggested (some of which probably had painful side effects), in an attempt to control the bleeding], and [who] had spent all [of the money] that she had [on doctors, medicine, and treatments], and was nothing bettered [was not any better], but rather grew worse,"

Verses 27-29: "When she
[the woman] had heard of Jesus, [she] came in the press [crowd] behind [him], and touched his garment. For she said [to herself], If I may touch [nothing] but his clothes, I shall be whole [healed]. And straightway [immediately, after she touched his garment] the fountain of her blood was dried up [the bleeding stopped]; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."

Verses 30-32: "And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue
[healing power] had gone out of him, turned him about [turned around] in the press [crowd], and said, Who touched my clothes [intentionally, or on purpose]? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude [crowd] thronging thee [pressing against you], and sayest thou [you say], Who touched me?"

Verse 33: "And he
[Jesus] looked round about [looked around] to see her [the woman] that had done this thing [touched his garment]. But the woman[,] fearing [afraid] and trembling, knowing what was done [what had occurred] in her [body], came [to Jesus] and fell down [respectfully, in worship] before him, and told him all the truth [about what had happened]."

Verse 34: "And he
[Jesus] said unto her, Daughter [a word that expressed his tenderness and affection], thy faith hath made thee whole [it's because of your faith in me and my healing power that you have been restored to good health]; go [home] in peace, and be whole [continue to remain cured] of thy plague [your disease]."

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that, "… As secret acts of sin, so secret acts of faith, are known to the Lord Jesus, and are under his eye. If believers derive virtue from Christ ever so closely, he knows it, and is pleased with it." (Source for quote: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/mark/5.html, "(v. 31)")

SEPTEMBER 14

Romans 10:12
[On the subject of justification, or how sinners become righteous before (or acceptable to) God, the apostle Paul wrote]: "For there is no difference between the Jew [Jewish person] and the Greek [gentile, or non-Jewish person] [in regard to sin]: for the same Lord [Jesus Christ,] [who is Lord] over all [people,] is rich [in mercy and grace] unto all that call upon him [in faith, through prayer, for salvation]."

Salvation is offered to everyone (Jews and Gentiles alike).

SEPTEMBER 13

Galatians 5:22-23 - Christian Character

Verses 22-23: "But the fruit of the
[Holy] Spirit is [consists of:] [i.e., the Holy Spirit, working within a Christian, produces:]

love [for God and people],
joy
[happiness],
peace
[calmness, quietness of mind],
longsuffering
[having patience in difficult times],
gentleness
[being kind and polite, having a pleasant disposition],
goodness
[good works, doing nice things for others],
faith
[in God, and faithfulness to man (being true to our word, keeping promises)],
Meekness
[having a mild temper, not seeking revenge when someone offends or hurts us],
temperance
[self-control]:

against such
[things] there is no law [to condemn and punish] [in other words, these are good character traits, or qualities, and no law (including God's) will accuse, condemn (pronounce guilty), and/or punish us for having them]."

SEPTEMBER 12

Colossians 3:23
[In a letter to the Christians at Colosse (and everywhere else), the apostle Paul wrote]: "And whatsoever [whatever] ye do, do it heartily [cheerfully, enthusiastically, wholeheartedly], as [if you're doing it] to [or for] the Lord, and not [just] unto [to, or for] men [and women and children];"

SEPTEMBER 11

Romans 12:17: "Recompense
[repay, return] to no man [person] evil [words or deeds] for evil [words or deeds]. Provide things honest [honorable] in the sight of all men [people] [in other words, treat everyone with kindness, patience, and respect and always try to do what is right]."

We shouldn't "recompense … evil for evil" because, according to the Bible,  revenge is up to God, not us. One verse stating that fact is Deuteronomy 32:35, which says: "To me [God] belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."

SEPTEMBER 10

Matthew 15:7-8
[Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of his day)]: "Ye hypocrites [pretenders], well did Esaias [Isaiah] prophesy of you [in Isaiah 29:13--verse quoted below*], saying, This people [referring to the Jewish nation] draweth nigh unto [near to] me [God] with their mouth, and honoureth [worship and praise] me with their lips; but their heart [which should have a true love for God] is far [away] from me."

There were hypocrites in Bible times, and there are many hypocrites in the world today. That being the case, we should all ask ourselves: When we praise God and say that we love him, do we really mean it?
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*Isaiah 29:13: "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept [general rule regarding behavior or thought] of men:"

SEPTEMBER 9

Romans 10:13-15 - The Importance of Preaching the Gospel

Verse 13: "For whosoever
[whoever] shall call upon the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ] [in prayer, before death] [see below--Note 1] shall be saved [from hell and the lake of fire--see Note 2]."

Verse 14: "How then shall they call on him
[Jesus Christ] in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him [Jesus] of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear [or learn] [about Jesus] without a preacher [someone who proclaims the gospel (shares it publicly, or openly), such as a pastor or minister, evangelist, missionary, born-again Christian, or publisher of Bible tracts, magazines, and/or books]?"

Verse 15: "And how shall they
[the preachers] preach [the gospel, or message of salvation], except they be sent [by God]? as it is written [in the Bible, in Isaiah 52:7--verse quoted in Note 3], How beautiful are the feet of them that [how welcome are those who] preach the gospel [bring the message] of peace [with God], and bring glad tidings [joyful news] of good things [to come]!"
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Note 1: In his commentary, Albert Barnes says: "It is implied in this [verse (13): "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"], that we call upon him [Jesus] with right feelings; that is, with a humble sense of our sinfulness and our need of pardon, and with a willingness to receive eternal life as it is offered us in the gospel. And if this be done, this passage teaches us that all may be saved who will do it. He will cast none away who come in this manner. The invitation and the assurance extend to all nations and to people of all times." (Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-10.html, "Verse 13")

Note 2: Revelation 20:12-15 [In a vision, the apostle John was shown what will happen in heaven on judgment day]: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Note 3: Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings [as when heralds would run through the hills, bringing good news], that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"

SEPTEMBER 8

James 3:8-10 - Gaining Control of Bad Tongues
In a letter to the 12 tribes of Israel (and to all Christians), the apostle James (who was also a brother of Jesus) wrote:

Verse 8: "But the tongue can no man [person] tame [restrain]; it is an unruly evil [almost impossible to control], full of deadly poison [capable of saying malicious, slanderous, hurtful things]."

Verse 9: Therewith
[with our tongues] bless we God [we praise, thank, honor, and worship God], even the Father; and therewith [with our tongues] curse we men [we curse people], which are made after the similitude [likeness, image] of God."

Verse 10: "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing
[of people and God]. My brethren [brothers, meaning fellow Jews and Christians], these things [i.e., 'cursing men' while 'blessing God'] ought not so to be [done, or should not happen]."

We need God's help to "tame" our tongues.
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In his commentary on verse 10, Dr. Thomas Constable wrote:

"To the person who speaks praise to God in the worship service and then abuses people verbally at home or at work, James commands, 'Purify your speech through the week.'

"With the person who says, 'Oh, I know I talk too much,' and laughs it off, James is not amused. He insists, 'Be quick to listen, slow to speak.'

"By the person who boasts, 'I always speak my mind, no matter who gets hurt,' James is not impressed. He commands, 'Discipline your speaking.'

"Of the person who says, 'I know I gossip too much, but I just can't help it,' James still requires, 'Control your tongue.'

"Of the person who is in the habit of speaking with insults, ridicule or sarcasm, James demands, 'Change your speech habits.'

"He expects discipline to be happening in the life of a Christian. Any Christian can ask for the grace needed, for God gives good gifts … and gives them generously …"

(Source for above quotes:
https://www.studylight.org/commentary/james/3-10.html, "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable," with italics added for emphasis)

SEPTEMBER 7

1 John 5:14-15 - Prayer: Asking and Receiving

Verse 14: "And this is the confidence that we
[born-again Christians] have in him [God], that, if we ask [for] any thing [through prayer] according to his will [as revealed in the Bible], he heareth us:"

Verse 15: "And if we know that he
[God] [will] hear us, [regarding] whatsoever [whatever] we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired [the things that we have requested] of him."

If we want to make sure that God hears and answers our prayers, we need to (among other things--see note below*) ask according to his will.
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In his commentary on the above verses, Albert Barnes said:

Concerning verse 14:

"That, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us - This is the proper and the necessary limitation in all prayer. God has not promised to grant anything that shall be contrary to his will, and it could not be right that he should do it. … The limitation here, 'according to his will,' probably implies the following things:

"(1) In accordance with what he has 'declared' that he is willing to grant. Here the range is large, for there are many things which we know to be in accordance with his will, if they are sought in a proper manner - as the forgiveness of sins, the sanctification of the soul, … comfort in trial, the needful supply of our wants, grace that we may do our duty, wisdom to direct and guide us, … deliverance from the evils which beset us, the influences of his Spirit to promote the cause of religion in the world, and our final salvation. …"

The phrase according to his will probably also implies:

"(2) … what 'he' [God] sees to be best for us. …
"(3) … what it will be 'consistent' for God to bestow upon us. …
"(4) … what will be for the good of the whole. …"

Concerning verse 15 :

Mr. Barnes said that sometimes God's answer to prayer is delayed. That's because:

"(a)the prayer may relate to something future, as protection on a journey, or a harvest, or restoration to health, or the safe return of a son from a voyage at sea, or the salvation of our souls - all of which are 'future,' and which cannot be expected to be granted at once; and,

"(b)… The 'delay' may arise from such causes as these:

"(1)To try our faith, and see whether the blessing is earnestly desired.
"(2)perhaps it could not be at once answered without a miracle.
"(3)it might not be consistent with the divine arrangements respecting others to grant it to us at once.
"(4)our own condition may not be such that it would be best to answer it at once.

"We may need further trial, further chastisement, before the affliction, for example, shall be removed; and the answer to the prayer may be delayed for months or years. Yet, in the meantime, we may have the firmest assurance that the prayer is heard, and that it will be answered in the way and at the period when God shall see it to be best."

(Source for Barnes' quotes: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-john-5.html, "Verse 14" and "Verse 15")
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*Regarding asking according to God's will, another Bible commentator points out these facts:

"God's promise of answering prayer, however, is not a blank check, the qualification laid down here being only one of a number of Scriptural limitations on it. Others are: prayers must be offered in faith (Mark 11:24), in the name of Jesus (John 14:14), and by one abiding in Christ (John 15:7). Furthermore, only those who have forgiven (Mark 11:15); and only those whose prayers flow out of an obedient life (1 John 3:22), and who will not use their blessings for the gratification of their lusts and passions (James 4:3), may properly claim in confidence the answer of their prayers."

(Source for above quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-john/5-14.html, "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible")

SEPTEMBER 6

Proverbs 6:34-35 - Adultery and Jealous Husbands
Besides the fact that adultery is sin, these are reasons why people should not commit adultery:

Verse 34: "For jealousy is the rage of a man [jealousy causes rage (violent anger) in a man whose wife commits adultery (has sex with another man)]: therefore he [the husband] will not spare [withhold his hatred and anger from that man (the offender, or adulterer), or show pity, compassion, and mercy to him] in the day of vengeance [revenge]."

Verse 35: "He
[the husband] will not regard any ransom [accept money or anything else as payment] [to forget what happened]; neither will he rest content [be at peace], though thou [you, or anyone else] givest [him] many gifts [as a bribe]."

In other words, "… jealousy is furious, and cannot be appeased by bribes." (Source for quote: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/proverbs/6-34.html, "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers")

Pastor Jim Delany of Salem Bible Church has a good commentary on this verse. It is combined with other verses about adultery, including verses about the consequences of stealing a loaf of bread. In part, the commentary says:

"1. The consequences of adultery are far worse than of stealing bread… and longer lasting.

"2. The jealousy and rage of the man whose wife was stolen… he will not spare in his vengeance.

"a. He will not spare-he will stop short of nothing-even killing the adulterer! [Hopefully, most people would resist this urge!]

"3. There is nothing the adulterer can do to make it up to him either.

"a. You can restore a stolen loaf of bread-even sevenfold.

"b. But you cannot restore this situation… though you try with a ransom and with large gifts.

"c. The man offended will never be able to look at the man who committed adultery against him  without thinking of the adultery… even after many long years.

"4. Thus, Solomon teaches his son about long lasting consequences of the sin of adultery. His hope is that his son will listen and spare himself from guilt and shame."

If you want to read the rest of Pastor Delany's commentary, here's the link: https://www.salembible.org/proverbs-index/proverbs-6-index/proverbs-6_30-35/.

SEPTEMBER 5

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Christian Contentment, and Freedom From Fear
In a letter to Jewish Christians, the apostle Paul wrote:

Verse 5: "Let your conversation [conduct, way of life] be without covetousness [a craving for money and/or possessions, especially those belonging to other people]; and be content [satisfied] with such things as ye have: for he [God] hath said [to people like Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon in the Old Testament*], I will never leave thee [you], nor forsake [abandon, desert] thee."

Verse 6: "So that
[referring to God's promise that he will never leave us] we may boldly [confidently] say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear [be afraid of] what man [other people] shall do unto me."

God's promise (in the above verses) to Christians who lived in Bible times also applies to Christians who are alive today.
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*God's promises to Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon can be found in:

Genesis 28:15 [God's promise to Jacob]: "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

Joshua 1:5 [God's promise to Joshua]: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

1 Chronicles 28:20 [God's promise to Solomon]: "And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD."

SEPTEMBER 3-4

Psalm 127:1: "Except
[unless] the LORD build the house [e.g., an actual house, and the family inside] [or, for that matter, unless God helps people do anything--see note below*], they labour [work hard] in vain [without success] that build it [referring to those who try to 'build the house' themselves]: except the LORD keep the city [safe, by guarding and protecting it], the watchman waketh [awakens, wakes up, stays alert] but in vain [without success]."
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*According to various Bible commentaries, the word house in the above verse can apply to the temple of the Lord, an ordinary house, or a family, but it can also be applied to everything that we do. With this meaning in mind, we are being told that our success and safety depend upon the presence and blessing of God.

In his commentary, Albert Barnes gives specific examples of why we are dependent upon God. Here's what he says:

-- About the builders of the house: "… No matter what their skill, their strength, their industry may be - all will be in vain unless God shall assist them. They are dependent on Him for life, for health, for strength, for practical wisdom, for a disposition to continue their work, and for success in it. Their work might be destroyed by fire, by a tempest, by an earthquake, or by an irruption [a bursting in, meaning a sudden, violent, or forcible entry] of enemies; and for the result, therefore, they are entirely dependent on God."

-- About the watchman guarding the city: "… the idea is, that, whatever may be the diligence, the care, the fidelity of one thus appointed to guard a city, its safe-keeping must depend on God alone. Fires may break out in spite of the watchmen; a tempest may sweep over it; bands of armed people may assail it; or the pestilence may suddenly come into it, and spread desolation through its dwellings … It is universally true that, after all the care for their own preservation which people can employ, their safety depends wholly on God."

(Source for quotes: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-127.html, "Verse 1")

SEPTEMBER 1-2

Matthew 4:17-20 - Becoming "Fishers of Men" (Soul Winners)
Following his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus went into the wilderness of Judea (a desert) and fasted (ate no food) for 40 days and 40 nights before being tempted three times by the devil, or Satan. Then he returned to Galilee and heard that John the Baptist had been cast into prison.

Verse 17: "From that time [i.e., after he was tempted by Satan and learned that John the Baptist was in prison] Jesus began to preach [to the people], and to say, Repent [change your mind, turn toward God (feel sorry for your sins, have a desire to please God)]: for the kingdom of heaven [referring to the reign of God] is at hand [is near, approaching, or coming soon]."

Verse 18: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren
[brothers], Simon [who was also] called Peter, and Andrew his brother [both of whom had previously been disciples (followers) of John the Baptist], casting a net into the sea [in order to catch fish]: for they were fishers [fishermen]."

Verse 19: "And he
[Jesus] saith [said] unto them [Peter and Andrew], Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men [referring to people's souls, meaning he would teach the brothers how to preach the gospel and become soul winners]."

Verse 20: "And they
[Peter and Andrew] straightway [immediately] left their nets, and followed him [Jesus] [meaning they became his disciples]."

Like Peter and Andrew, if we want to become soul winners, we need to follow (trust and obey) Jesus.

Note:
If you're unsure of what it means to follow Jesus, the article entitled "What does it mean to truly follow Christ?" may help. Here's the link: https://www.gotquestions.org/follow-Christ.html.


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