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The Songs of Jesus and God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life – July

We occasionally share on this page readings of daily devotionals that have been a blessing and recommend Timothy Keller’s two books of valuable brief commentaries on passages of Scripture: The Songs of Jesus (Psalms) and God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life (Proverbs).

Here are two more that have recently had a great impact for us.

July 6 (the date on which Jan Hus died, singing as he was burned at the stake in 1415):

Commenting on Psalm 78:32-37 with the theme, “The Life of Selfish Fear,” Pastor Keller says,

“Some seem very eager to follow God (verse 34). They speak eloquently of their faith (Hosea 6:1-3) and exhibit much joy in believing (Matthew 13:20-21). Yet their faith never lasts. They turn to God only when their sin has painful consequences (‘Whenever God slew them, they would seek him,’ verse 34). For example, they may be honest, but only out of fear of being found out or from a desire to appear moral and upright. Ironically, all their morality is based on deep selfishness. They come to God to avoid pain for themselves, not to give honor and joy to him. They flatter him but do not love him (verse 36). Are you living a moral, decent life? Why?

“Prayer: Lord, your Word says that the heart is deceitful and no one can know it (Jeremiah 17:9) without the radical help of your Spirit. Give me that help now. Lay bare the motivations at my foundation. Show me your love and glory in prayer so my obedience becomes more and more a grateful, willing gift. Amen.”

Keller’s comments for July 9 in God’s Wisdom, based on Proverbs 10:19 and 17:27-28, are titled, “Economy of Words”:

“The wise hold their tongues rather than multiplying words. ‘Proverbs consistently teaches that fewer words are better than many words’ (Tremper Longman). Why? The more you say, the more can be used against you (10:14; 13:3). The more you say, the less you get to listen to others and so the less well informed your words will be when you do speak them (18:13). Also, the more you say, the less people will listen to you—they simply won’t wade through it all. Then too, people who talk too much appear to be more interested in themselves than in you, and often it is the case.

“Another reason for keeping words few is that the wiser you are about a subject, the simpler and clearer your explanation. Simplicity lies on the far side of complexity, after we have worked through the issues. If you can’t be brief, you may not know enough about the subject to speak about it. Finally, controlling our tongue is a way to gain self-control in general (James 3:1-2). If we can master the difficult task of controlling our speech and our desire to pontificate about every subject, then self-control in other areas will be much easier.

“Do you talk too much? Ask a couple of people who know you well to be frank with you.

“Prayer: Lord, I often love to hear myself talk.  I can ramble and hold forth but, while occasionally entertaining, that doesn’t build people up. Your words are perfect—never a wasted one. I will never be able to imitate that, but give me the self-control and wisdom to make each of my words count. Amen.”