Genuine Faith

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and daygreatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also(2 Timothy 1:3-5; NKJV)

Our local Christian family is faced with the imminent death of one of our very dear sisters in Christ.  My family and I joined another family to visit her last week in the hospital and though the circumstances weren’t what any of us wanted, the experience was so positive and encouraging!  As we prayed, sang, and talked together we were all so encouraged by our sister’s peace and confidence in Jesus.  It brought to mind the passage above and how the genuine faith in those in our lives can work to foster and solidify a genuine faith in us.  It brought to mind how I need to be thankful for and pray for those who have and are positively impacting my faith and to thank God for His putting them in my life.

Further, we have that same opportunity to make an impact with those we are “raising” or influencing in the faith.  If we have and demonstrate a genuine faith, others will be encouraged and strengthened in their faith.  We can also be aware of others struggling in their faith and maybe they need our direct involvement in their life in order to bolster their faith.  Either way, we have that kind of opportunity and we should take stock of our own walk in the context of those around us who are looking to us for influence and strength.

Still Sitting on the Porch

I am recycling here…a post from 2017.  It is something that came to mind yesterday and I needed the lesson again so I thought I would offer it to you too.

A favorite parable of Jesus for me can be found in Luke 15:11-32 telling the story of the lost son or the prodigal son. There are many lessons in the parable but for today’s discussion lets focus on the teaching of God’s grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and restoration of hope for His children and the application as we work to better love and lead our children.

I have long thought about this parable and what has always struck me is how awesome it was to see the father running from the porch and going out to greet his returning son. His son had taken his inheritance, moved out of the house, gone to a faraway place and blown all that his father had given him on a lifestyle I am sure did not make his dad proud or happy. I imagine it was known to the father just how bad his son was behaving and I am sure it grieved him tremendously. There are a lot of emotions that might apply…anger, pain, embarrassment, regret, fear…I am sure there were some long nights for this dad. This dad could have just become bitter and wrote his son off…that would have been an understandable ending to this story. Still, knowing how wicked the son had been and the grief he had caused, the father still gets up as he sees his son returning and runs to welcome him home. What we see are the foundational blessings of God being expressed to this wayward son who wants nothing more than to come home. What a great image and lesson.

As time has passed and my children are getting older, this parable is starting to take on a different shape for me. With teenagers now roaming my home, I have learned that “bigger kids=bigger problems”. Further, as they grow and begin to shape their own lives, we allow them more freedom and there become more times when they are away from us with their friends and you hope and trust they are making good decisions and respecting the boundaries you have taught and modeled in their lives. And guess what, they don’t! They make stupid decisions. They get themselves into situations you know they know are dangerous. The wonders of the teenage brain ceases to amaze me and quite frankly disappointment me.

So what do I do? What is God teaching me here in His word? He is teaching me the tremendous heart of the father in his getting up off the porch to run to his son. However, what I am learning now is that as remarkable as this act is, what is even harder and equally important as a father is to stay on the porch. Our children have to spread their wings and as they do they are not going to make the right choices every time and the older they get the more dangerous wrong choices become. No matter how much we want them to listen to every word we teach them, to trust us (and God) in shaping their hearts and minds, to learn from our mistakes so they don’t have to suffer as we have…no matter how much we want that they are going to have to figure some of it out themselves…and that can really hurt and cause some sleepless nights for dad.

So we sit on the porch. What does that mean? Does that mean we wash our hands of the responsibility for our children? Does it mean we bury the fear and hurt and just write them off with a “they will get what they deserve” or “I told you not to…”? Does it mean that we resign ourselves to a position of abdication and just move on with whatever else is going on in our lives? Of course not.

What we do is remember we operate from a position of strength and draw upon the peace of God. We are confident in that God will not forsake us and He loves our children too. We have a voice in prayer and we take our worries and concerns for our children to Him and we trust He is working. We accept his grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and hope and let it fill us up so that we are strengthened…both while sitting on the porch and so that we might get up and grab a hold of our children in the biggest bear hug out there when they come home and say “I am sorry”.

Even more, you don’t have to sit on the porch alone. There are brothers in Christ out there who will sit with you. We are a family. We all want each other to go to Heaven. We all, however, are not always going to take the easiest route. This is especially true of our children but our God is faithful and He will fight for them too…praise Him in that, be thankful, hold fast dad.

Spiritual Diet and Exercise

 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. (1 Timothy 4:8-9)

Simple lesson for today that I have learned and relearned in my life…good health (assuming no significant medical condition) is a balanced diet and consistent exercise.  When I am watching what I eat and setting aside time for exercise…I feel and look better.

The verses above tell us that it is important to exercise and there are a lot of other places in the bible that tell us we should take care of the body God has given us.  Paul often used metaphors from athletics, as he is here, to teach us about spiritual health.  We should exercise physically and there will be profit in it but what really matters is exercising spiritually and growing in godliness.  This is both profitable in this life but also in the next.  Spiritual health is supremely important and we can exercise towards it.

A steady diet of God’s word and consistent exercising of our prayer muscles will result in spiritual health just as a good balanced diet and exercise routine will benefit our physical health.  This, as Paul says, is a “faithful saying” and something we should accept and incorporate into our lives.

Here’s a faithful Blackmer saying…”abs start in the kitchen” and I often say it making the point to my teenage sons that just because you are physically active doesn’t mean you will look physically fit.  You need to watch what you eat and put into your body too.

Well, I am going to say today, “godliness starts in the Word” and meditating and praying God’s word will result in our being and looking spiritually fit.  That doesn’t profit just a little but is eternally profitable.

 

 

Singing with Libby

Last night, my daughter and I had our bibles open and were discussing a host of topics.  What I love about Libby is when we are having these discussions she will ask “does it say that in the bible?” or “where can we find that?”.   So we were  jumping around to different verses from spying out the promised land to what it will be like being in heaven with God for eternity.

At some point she asked me “what’s a psalm” and my simple answer was a bible song.  She wanted to take a look so we landed in Psalm 19.  I began reading and got to verse 7 and the words became familiar to Libby and by verse 8 we were singing.  It was so awesome to see her smile, the recognition of the words, the clear joy on her face and that I got to share in it.  Libby makes me a better man in so many ways and I am always at my best when I am present and participating in her life.  She leads to me to Jesus and invites Him into our relationship…and she’s only 10…thank God for her and for all of our children.  In my children, I find great understanding of my Abba Father’s desire for me and having me as a child.  I thank Him for that too.

Draw your children near.  Be present.  Participate in their lives.  Sing a song…why not this one?

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Fruit of Love

Continuing the conversation from yesterday, I want to consider our relationships in terms of fruit.  This conversation starts with a self-examination and as I take these thoughts and look inward and at the results I am getting, I invite you to do the same. 

Specifically, I want to look at the target or what I want to be seeing in my life.  In looking at the standard and comparing what I am seeing in my life, the goal is to reflect on God’s word, respond in prayer, and refocus my activity towards the Gospel and my relationships with my brothers and sisters.  Fruit of the Spirit vs. Fruit of the Flesh. What does this mean to me? 

In Galatians 5:22-23, we see that a fruit of the spirit is LOVE…which is agape and a love of choice that is we choose Jesus and in His service choose the highest good for others.  We should see ourselves elevating the needs of others above our own and even if it hurts, is tough, comes at a cost, or takes a lot of effort we will decide and commit to resisting selfish words, actions and thoughts.

This is the kind of LOVE God has poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5) and this kind of LOVE furthers a deeper love for God as our Father (Romans 8:14-15; Galatians 4:6) and will spill over into our relationships (1 John 4:10-11, 16, 21) in which God is further glorified.

The LOVE of God should be center stage in our lives.  We are to walk in LOVE (Ephesians 5:1-2) and we should love one another fervently (1 Peter 1:22).  LOVE as a decision/choice is fruit bore out of our relationship with God and is therefore the “tie that binds” and “garment” we as Christians put on (Colossians 3:12-14).  “Loose” connections in our relationships or allowing our own personal preferences or desires guide our thoughts, words, or actions is an indicator that we need to take a step back and choose different so that we might act different.  LOVE God and be positioned to LOVE each other which should be our primary motive in everything we do (1 Corinthians 16:14).  Further, LOVING as God has LOVED us will prevent our liberty in Christ from becoming destructive selfishness (Galatians 5:13).

Again, I invite you to reflect on the above passages in God’s word and examine your life and your relationships.  Be prayerful and consider what you see?  Do you see people who are getting stronger and relationships that are getting more and more united or do you see strife, confusion, hurt, anger, division?  Based on what you see, what part are you playing?  Are you holding fast to God’s love…allowing it to fill your heart…so that you can pour it out to others? 

Past-Present-Future

Many of you who know me know that I am an Air Force veteran, a student of history, and very much enjoy learning about military history.  There is a quote that you might have heard that goes something like “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana first said this in 1905 but most remember Winston Churchill saying ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it” during a speech in 1948. 

This is wise counsel and biblical.

Consider this passage from Romans 15 (1-5):

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hopeNow may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has given us His Word and it is for our learning and it takes work and time…but in the verse above we see that God (through His Word) is patient and if we learn from Him we will have comfort and hope. Further, we can be link-minded with God toward our brethren and we will then be able to strengthen one another and glorify God. 

This is what is on my heart today and what I want to discuss with you over the next several days.  I want us to be united and to learn from God’s Word together so that we can edify one another, be strong when another is weak, love always…hold the line in the great spiritual battle we are engaged in. 

Let’s look at these attributes through the lens of self-examination and determination as to whether or not we are exhibiting them towards our brethren and if not what can we do differently so that we might have patience and be a comfort to each other as God is to us.

Spiritual Fruit not Fleshly Fruit.  That is the objective…what God expects of us.  Gentleness.  Continual self-examination.  Willingness to bear one another’s burdens.  Humility.  Ample knowledge of God’s Word.  Patience.  Sincere and demonstrated love. 

Let’s look at these together over the next several days and I invite you to look around and examine your relationships in Christ.  What do you see?  Do you see people who are getting stronger and relationships that are getting more and more united or do you see strife, confusion, hurt, anger, division?  Based on what you see, what part are you playing?  What fruit are you bearing?  Why?

We are not perfect nor will we ever be.  But we are in this together and we are saved by a Lord who was perfect but was willing to take on the burden of all of our imperfection and sins to the point of death on the cross so that we would be perfected and be able to go home to Abba Father in heaven.  Seems to me, with an example and an Elder Brother like that…we should be willing to do whatever we can in our life to bear spiritual fruit for the sake of our own soul and the souls of those around us.  We need to look in the mirror, examine our fruit, and if we don’t like what we see understand that we are going to have to be different or our history will be our present and will be our future.  Love you all!

Count The Cost

 “A pair of dead birds greet visitors at the chained front door of what would have been the YMCA on Dishman Road in Beaumont, Texas. The birds likely flew in an opening in the rear of the 22,000 square foot unfinished building ripped open by vandals or transients looking for a place to get out of this season’s unusually cold winter. The owner, Wells Fargo, is looking for a way out of the property it acquired through foreclosure after the YMCA declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and construction halted in February 2010. For about $2 million dollars you could own this facility.”

I read this in a newspaper about five years ago while living in Beaumont, Texas. It made me think about the words of Jesus in Luke 14:25-33. Jesus talked about discipleship. Those who follow Him must count the cost. Jesus demands total allegiance. While many might initially begin to follow Him, they fail to finish because they didn’t count the cost.

Jesus’ words in this text are some of the most challenging He taught. There is no middle ground when it comes to following Him. Being a disciple of Jesus is a life-long endeavor. There is no halftime, vacation, or sabbatical. How do you think the great crowds felt when they learned this?

How do we feel when we hear these words from Jesus?  Let’s consider a few thoughts from what Jesus said.

What is the cost? The cost of following Jesus is everything!  Despite the large crowds that were following Him, Jesus didn’t attempt to soften His words. His words were demanding, stringent, and probably shocking. To be a disciple of Jesus you must hate everyone including yourself, Luke 14:26. Jesus must be first. Jesus must come first before anyone else.  Many are surprised when they read the word “hate.” Certainly, we are to love all men. It’s the idea of “loving less.” We must love Jesus more than anyone else, including ourselves. Half-hearted discipleship will not work. An “every once in a while” kind of discipleship will not work. Read Revelation 3:15-17 as an example.

Can We Do It? Is it possible for us to put Jesus first above everyone and everything? The answer is YES. It is. Otherwise, Jesus would not have told us to do it. But it will require a lot of work. While our reward will be great, it will come with a price. But anything worthwhile comes with a price. The price of redeeming us required sacrifice on the part of Jesus, Ephesians 1:7. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that the same will be true for us. We can do what Jesus says. We will have to trust Him at all times. We will have to remember the big picture: eternity with Him.

Will We Do It? We are to count the cost. We don’t want to be like the man who began to build but then never finished. When I’m studying with people and teaching them about Jesus, this is one of the passages I share with them. I want them to see what Jesus says about discipleship. It really is a serious matter and one really needs to consider what Jesus says about it. As Christians, let’s be sure that we finish. As Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”

Courage To Arise And Build

Nehemiah is one of my favorite stories to read about in the scriptures. Nehemiah got things done. Nehemiah had a plan and vision. Nehemiah was a great leader. Nehemiah was a man of God.

We can go on and on about these characteristics he had. Today, I want to consider another great quality Nehemiah had.

Nehemiah had great COURAGE.

In Nehemiah 1:1-4, he received terrible news. But the news he received didn’t crush his spirit. He indeed felt terrible. But he cried out to God. He turned to God. While he was in great pain hearing the news, it didn’t crush him. Rather, he had the courage to trust in God and continue to find a way to make a difference.

We need to have the courage to continue and to find ways to make a difference. Nehemiah could have received the news of his family and brethren, cried, and then continued on with his work. But he didn’t. He had the courage to arise and build. This is the mindset we must have.

But that’s not all. Nehemiah had the courage to speak. In Nehemiah 2:1-5, we find Nehemiah making a great request to King Artaxerxes. This took a lot of courage. Nehemiah had a lot riding on the line. Yet Nehemiah had the courage to open his mouth. This may not seem to be like a big deal, but it is. When it comes to arising and building, we will have to open our mouth.

We will need to open our mouth to help encourage our spouse and our children.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth when things need to be corrected.

We will need to have the courage to open our mouth and apologize when we are wrong.

I’m sure there are other examples we could consider. The point? We need to have the courage to open our mouth like Nehemiah. We will have to override the fear of rejection, difficulties, etc. Nehemiah had the courage to ask the king. He got a YES!

Finally, we are going to need the courage to finish. At times, it can be easy to arise and build. People do this every New Year. People get excited. They listen to podcasts. They read blogs. They are ready for growth. But. They. Don’t. Finish.

I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. This is where we will need to have courage. The courage to see something through even when it gets hard. That’s what Nehemiah did. He faced opposition, Nehemiah 4:1.  But he had the courage to finish building the wall. Let’s strive to have the courage to arise and build. Let’s go.

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 31

Here we are at Day 31!

Proverbs 31:1-31 (1) The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him: (2) What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows? (3) Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. (4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, (5) lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (6) Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; (7) let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (8) Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. (9) Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (10) An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. (11) The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. (12) She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. (13) She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (14) She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. (15) She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (16) She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. (17) She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (18) She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. (19) She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (20) She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. (21) She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. (22) She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. (23) Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. (24) She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. (25) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (26) She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (27) She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (28) Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: (29) “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” (30) Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (31) Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What are you doing? (vs. 1-10). I love this section of Proverbs 30. The mom says to her son, “What are you doing?” There are things that will destroy a king, and there are things that will destroy anyone who is not a king. The king’s mother also warned him about women, the wrong sort of women (vs. 3). Momma will follow up here later to talk about the right kind of woman. There is a time for alcohol, this Proverb teaches, but those times and amounts are limited. Alcohol will distort your ability to discern between right and wrong, so watch out for it! What should a king be doing? Opening his mouth to plead the cause of the helpless and needy. So should anyone who isn’t a “king.” That is what God’s people should be doing.

A virtuous wife (vs. 11-31). We began the book of proverbs looking at two kinds of women, two pathways, two choices. We end the book of Proverbs considering the kind of woman that God praises and that we should praise too! Remember from the beginning of this chapter that this advice and picture of a godly woman came from a godly mother who was counseling her son! I hope that we as Christian men do not read this section of Scripture and come up with unrealistic expectations for all of the things our wives must do to be pleasing to God (really to us). This is, I believe, a composite picture of the wonderful things that a godly woman is, says and does. She is a teacher of good things. This woman loves her family dearly and cares for them in a sacrificial way. She works hard to provide for her family in whatever way necessary. A godly woman is thoughtful of so many things and people. She sees those in need and reaches out to them. In her wisdom she sees the “winters” of life coming and prepares her household for them. Notice that the husband safely trusts in her. He is not micromanaging her affairs. He’s got his own work to do. But look at how the husband and the kids rise up and praise her. This is so important. Praise that woman, do not wait for Mother’s Day!

31 Days of Proverbs – Proverbs 30

Here we are at Day 30! Tomorrow is the last day of our 31 days of Proverbs.

Proverbs 30:1-33 (1) The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (2) Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. (3) I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. (4) Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! (5) Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (6) Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. (7) Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: (8) Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, (9) lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (10) Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty. (11) There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. (12) There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. (13) There are those–how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! (14) There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (15) The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: (16) Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” (17) The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (18) Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: (19) the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin. (20) This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.” (21) Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up: (22) a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; (23) an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. (24) Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: (25) the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; (26) the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; (27) the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; (28) the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces. (29) Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride: (30) the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any; (31) the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him. (32) If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. (33) For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.

Agur’s relationship with God (Verses 1-9). The author here, Agur not Solomon, speaks of his relationship with God. He recognizes how inadequate he is before God. On his own he could not come to the knowledge of God. He sees the value of God’s word and knows that to add to it or take away from it is defiance before God. I love how Agur asks for two things from God, and I believe these are good things for all of us to ask of God. First of all, take all falsehood away from me. May I speak the truth in my heart in the mirror before my God, and may I speak the truth to others around me. Secondly, don’t make me too rich or too poor. This Agur was a pretty wise man.

Groups of 4 things. The Proverb writer starts with three things and for emphasis adds that it is four things.

  1. There are those (vs. 11-14) who are proud, cursing and dangerous.
  2. Never satisfied (vs. 15-16). Just like the leech who has offspring who are gluttonously ravenous, there are some things in life that will never say “Enough!” The grave will never be satisfied, the ground will always drink up more water, and one who is unable to conceive is crying out to God for a baby.
  3. Things too wonderful to understand (vs. 18-19). Young, pure love is a wonderful thing to God. Just like watching a ship on the seas, an eagle flying or a serpent moving gracefully along the rocks.
  4. Things the earth cannot bear up (vs. 21-23). Some things make the earth tremble. When these things happen, it is just going to cause more trouble. You think a woman getting married is a good thing, but if she is a hard to love woman, that marriage will be trouble. We might think a slave becoming king is a great Cinderella story, but if the slave comes to the throne bitter and thirsty for vengeance, it will ruin the kingdom.
  5. Small but wise (vs. 24-28). Ants are small and can be squished with a finger, but look at what they do every year. They work hard and provide their food for the winter. Locusts are also small creatures, they have no king, they they are smart enough to “march in ranks.” Rock badgers have enough sense to find a safe place to live in the cliffs.
  6. Stately (vs. 29-31). Whether it is a king with his troops behind him, or a rooster or a lion, they all have a kind of swagger to them. Notice, though, what is said in the next verse. Vs. 32 warns us against having that kind of swagger in exalting ourselves.