Sunday, May 28, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 20

Proverbs 20:27 (CSB) - "The Lord’s lamp sheds light on a person’s life, searching the innermost parts."

What is a taboo? One definition I read said that it is a rule against doing or saying something in a particular culture or religion. Today, as we ponder the truths that are in this chapter of the book, see eight taboos that we are warned about.

  • Taboo #1 is Chemical and Alcohol Addiction in verse 1.
  • Taboo #2 is Disobedience to Civil Law in verse 2.
  • Taboo #3 is Violation of the Work Ethic in verse 4.
  • Taboo #4 is Lack of Business Integrity in verse 10.
  • Taboo #5 is Lack of Prudence in Business in verse 16.
  • Taboo #6 is Participation in Gossip in verse 19.
  • Taboo #7 is Disrespect for PArents in verse 20.
  • And, Taboo #8 is Vengeance Against Your Enemies in verse 22.

So, as we read these verses today, meditate upon the importance of God selecting these 8 things. How many do we see in the culture around us? How often do we run up against these each day? And, most importantly, how many of these am I guilty of?

DId you notice #6? God often includes this sin with many of the more hideous sins. Some of my old-timers that I talk with say about a gossip - "A talebearer who will bring a bone, will also carry one." Gossip is addictive. God hates it. Jesus can deliver. 'Nuff said.

Prayer: Holy and Righteous God, give me a heart and mind that seeks to live in a way that pleases You. Help me to leave these taboos behind me, and take up the lifestyle that radiates You to those I come in contact with. May I shine Your light into this world. Amen.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 19

Proverbs 19:1 (CSB) - "Better a poor person who lives with integrity than someone who has deceitful lips and is a fool."

This chapter of Proverbs could be titled "Getting Rid of Bad Habits." It shows the proper attitudes we should have in the areas of business (vss. 1-5), government (vss. 6-10), family (vss. 11-16), the poor (vs. 17), and our personal habits (vss. 18-29).

As we read this chapter today, muse over the habits that you display in each of these areas. I have been convicted in a number of areas. We are all guilty of doing something wrong everyday (and if you feel this doesn't apply to you, well, you just were mistaken). 1 John 1:9 (CSB) reminds us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 

In the realm of business, the writer talks about our attitudes toward integrity, adversity, knowledge, and recklessness. In the area of the proper attitude toward our personal habits, he addresses discipline, self-control, seeking counsel, the sovereignty of God, diligence, and honoring our parents.

God doesn't want us to be negative, cynical, defeated, bitter, or malicious. He desires that we are positive, loving, kind, gracious. He desires us to be instruments of blessing to others around us.

Prayer: Our Father, teach us from Your Word today. Help us to look at ourselves, and see how we can live more like You want us to live. Make me a blessing to others. May You have free course in my heart and life. Amen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Proverbs For Living - 18

Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) - "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

In one commentary I read the following:

The acquisition of friends is dependent upon the ability to demonstrate friendliness toward others. He who is a friend himself will always meet others eager to reciprocate his kindness and interest. Friends, however, will often desert or fail you in the time of need. This reality should not lead to pessimism for there are true friends whose commitments will never waver. The true friend is rare and his devotion even surpasses that of a brother by birth." (Liberty Bible Commentary)

As Christians we understand that the second part of this verse is a reference to Jesus Christ, for Jesus truly is a friend who will never desert us, betray us, or cause deep hurt.

Today, muse over the fact that friendliness is contagious and this is one germ that we should be seeking to spread. Actively look today for someone who you can infect with the "friend germ."

Prayer: Most Glorious Spirit of Devotion and Love, infect me to be a friend that others can see You in me. Help me have open eyes to infect others with this germ of love and friendship. May I be used by You today to introduce someone to You. Amen. 


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 17

Proverbs 17:22 (CSB) - "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."

we are aware that we can affect our health by diet, nutrition, exercise, exposure, and sleep. But are we aware that we can affect it by more than this? We can affect it by our attitude and spirit. A happy and cheerful spirit will improve your health, but a wounded and negative spirit can ruin it. So, as we muse over this verse, consider how is your attitude today? Do yourself a favor! Consider the wisdom here and choose to be cheerful in the Lord! Do it now!

The proverb’s simile, “like a medicine,” and synecdoche, “drieth the bones,” should not be perverted to ridicule antibiotics or explain the cause of leukemia. They are not to be taken to mean that we do not need the medicine and medical profession. They are figures of speech teaching the general health and value of a happy outlook and attitude toward life. There is a great lesson here, but understand that the proverb is not teaching a panacea for all sickness.

A merry heart or broken spirit is a choice we can make! They are not results of Fate, temperament, genetics, or health. And they are NOT the result of circumstances, for a cheerful person can choose to be happy in horrible difficulties, and a sad person can ruin a wonderful event. You can have a continual feast through life, if you have a joyful heart; but a person with a negative attitude can find something wrong with every day (Pr 15:15). Stop and ponder this truth.

Sin destroys a merry heart, for a child of God cannot be happy out of fellowship with His Father. So the simple first step to a merry heart and good health is to live a holy, blameless life happy in the Lord. Discontentment will ruin health, for all you can think about is what you do not have, even when you have much. If you allow envy, bitterness, lust, resentment, or anger in your life, you are begging for the judgment of God and serious health problems. These wicked thoughts will pursue you day and night; they will not let you even sleep in peace. If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you, and you will dry up your health by such an evil, wicked disposition.

However, if we are joyful, loving, thankful, peaceful, forgiving, and full of praise, we will find the blessing of God and a therapeutic balm for our body. If we make the Lord the joy of our life, we will have a constant reason to be merry, regardless of circumstances. Our nights will be peaceful and pleasant, because our heart, soul, and mind are relaxed.

There is nothing more refreshing and healthful for us than to examine ourselves, confess our sins in private prayer, and then offer Him the sacrifices of praise and singing, either alone or in the assembly. So, step up and take our medicine today.

Prayer: Great Physician, I come to You to seek Your medicine, Your prescription, Your Divine Guidance to have a body controlled by Your great Power, Love, and Grace. May I walk in Spiritual Health today and every day henceforth. Amen.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 16

Proverbs 16:25 (CSB) - "There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death."

A man recently told me that I am a dying breed. I smiled and replied that I wasn't sure to what he was referring. He said, "You are a dying breed of preachers who truly believe that the Bible is the Word of God. That it means what it says. You are willing to preach and teach it as it is."

As I mused over his comments, I realized that there are many still standing strong on God's Word, but the media and the world try to get us to believe that there are many ways to be a part of God's Kingdom - outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have cults today that carry the name Christian but deny the deity of Christ. We have many theologians today who deny the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. And we are familiar with the many false religions in the world who promote other ways and means to achieve eternal life.

We are told in the Gospel of John that any man who tries to get in any other way than Jesus Christ is a thief and robber. So, it is our obligation to proclaim the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to all. Salvation is by grace through faith in the good news of Jesus Christ. He is the way, and there is no other way. Our society today has been taken captive by the hedonists, the secular humanists, the liberals, the modernists, and the cultists. What we need to do is come back to the simple basic principles of the Word of God, and to allow it to remove the vain and scheming thoughts projected by the world around us.

Prayer: Precious Deliverer, My Savior Jesus Christ, I see You as THE WAY, and that the other plans, schemes, and teachings of many will not bring me closer to You, but lead me to the realm of death, Hell, and destruction. Amen.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 15

Proverbs 15:13 (CSB) - "A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit."

I like the way that Peterson translated this verse in The Message. He writes it as, "A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day." In other words, a happy heart is reflected in a happy face. The children's song reminds us that if we are happy then our face will surely show it. What does your face show?

Now, this is not a promise that everything is going to be the way you like it to go. But, you will have a peace that passes understanding when the Holy Spirit indwells you, Jesus is the Lord of your life, and this, in turn, will radiate from your face. The face is the mirror of what is in the soul.

Think about it for a moment. When you tell someone that Jesus is the answer, that He lives in you, that He can meet the greatest need in their lives - does your face radiate this glorious news, or does it send another message?

As my wife will remind me when I get so caught up in my thoughts about a situation - "Smile, God loves you, and so do I." Can you let your face speak those words to everyone who sees you?

Prayer: Spirit of Peace and Comfort, shine through my face for all to see that You live in my life. I have given you my soul, my spirit, my life - may they reflect the glory of Your presence in all that I do, and in my face. May I radiate Jesus! Amen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 14

Proverbs 14:4 (NKJV) - "Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox."

When my children were small, my wife claimed this verse in regard to her housekeeping. My wife is meticulous in maintaining a clean and organized house. She was that way from the time we were married, and she is that way today. However......

There came a point in time with three small children in the house she found it almost impossible to keep the high standards of order in the house. Toys seemed to sprout everywhere. She would pick up one room only to find the next in disarray. Cleaning it only led to finding the first room "well lived in again." After many stressful months, she came across this verse in the Bible. And it didn't take her long to realize that this fit her situation.

In wisdom (seeing things from God's perspective) she realized that there were many more important things she needed to be doing with her young inheritances from the Lord. She could stress over everything being perfectly in place, or she could spend those precious moments with her charges. She wisely chose to keep things clean, but to focus on the "oxen" she was raising. And, in hindsight, we both agree that she made the correct choice.

Today, all her children call her for advice, they seek to talk with the one who was so special to them. We are blessed with three daughters who made wise choices for husbands, made wise choices on what's important in life and made wise choices in what they are doing. Our one daughter has 4 young children and understands that they are more important than every piece being in perfect place. And, she is raising four of the greatest grandkids around. (By the way, that statement is made with no bias on my part.)

Prayer: Spirit of Life, thank You for being available to disperse to us wisdom in even the smallest matter as well as the greatest decisions. Thank You that Your Word holds true and if I continue to choose to wisely choose Your Way, I will see such blessed results. Amen.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 13

Proverbs 13:12 (HCSB) - "Hope delayed makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

One of the hardest lessons in my life has been learning the principle behind this verse. Basically, we can see that God makes us wait to truly bless us. And by this, He develops HOPE in our lives.

Hope is a precious and wonderful thing. Here is a helpful and important proverb, if you will consider it carefully. Without hope, men get desperate and will do most anything to escape their hopelessness. With hope, men can endure most anything, no matter how desperate their conditions become. Wise men will appreciate the great value of hope.

Hope is the confident expectation of something desired. If the thing you desire is not obtained in the time expected, your heart and soul are grieved and pained by the delay. But when the desired thing finally arrives, it is a tree of life: your heart and soul are encouraged and revived. These two aspects of hope are true in all matters, both spiritual and natural.

Hope can be pleasant if fulfilled on time. But it can also be painful if there are delays or difficulties in obtaining your desires. Let us consider hunger for an example. Food delightful, when you eat on time. But it can be quite torturous if you are kept from eating on time. Hopelessness is one of the most destructive and painful feelings in the human experience. A wise man sets his hope on sure things. He avoids any desires or expectations for the vain things of this world that lead to despair or frustration. 

If we place our hope and expectations in wisdom - seeing things from God's perspective - we will never be disappointed. Our wise desires will be a fruitful tree, ever bringing us joy and contentment.

Prayer: God of all Wisdom, give me the wisdom to see the things that You desire and make them my desires also. I am assured that all that You desire will come to pass, and I will find great joy and contentment in my life. Amen.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I kept hearing these same 6 words.......

Recently, I was a Chaplaincy Volunteer at the tornado damage in Eden, NC. We were able to minister to many folks who had been survivors of this storm in their lives. There were six words that we were hearing over and over. What were those six words? “I didn’t know what to do.” 

They came from an elderly woman who was homebound where a tree needed to be removed from her yard, as the other Chaplaincy volunteer and I talked with her, she concluded our visit with those six words. She couldn’t express her thanks enough for the chainsaw team sho came and removed the tree.

We spoke with a retired school Principal in a wheelchair who shared his story with us. He actually slept through the storm and when he opened his blinds in the morning and saw the trees down, he said those same words. With some tears in his eyes, he expressed his gratitude for the men who with chainsaws and skid-steers removed the numerous trees.

We spoke another time with a Viet-Nam vet who started his conversation with those six words. He told us that the crew who worked tirelessly to clean up the debris and downed trees in his yard were fantastic. He said that he went in after they left and, “even though it might not be a lot, it was all I could do. I left a donation on the NCBM website.”

A church south of Eden, Gethsemane Baptist, had a massive tree down. The Pastor said that he had received a bid for almost $10,000 to cut up the tree. Then he said these same six words. He was so appreciative that the crew came and cut up the tree, removed it off his van, and stacked the brush back in the woods behind the church – all for free.

Each of these, as well as several others, all felt the strain following the storm of how to relieve the situation. The trained volunteers of the NCBM Disaster Relief teams came in and made the situation a little better for many folks. God allowed us to move them from “I didn’t know what to do” to expressions of relief and joy. They were given a ray of hope in a very troublesome situation.

Prayer: Father, as You have given to each of us, may we be willing to reach out to those around us hurting and having needs. We praise You for Your watchcare over us. May we be used by You over and over to minister to those we come in contact with. Amen.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 12

Proverbs 12: 24-25 (CSV) - "The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor. Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up."

Again, chapter 12 deals with many areas. Today, let us consider these two verses.

God blesses diligence. The greatest cure for discouragement and depression is productivity. Do something worthwhile. Help Somebody. Build something. Go out and find your place of ministry.

The New Testament deals with depression. Consider the words of Paul in 2 Cor. 1:34, and the words of our Lord in John 16:33 (CSV) - "You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” Most of us have the wrong view of trouble. Trouble is a basic need for our spiritual growth. God does not give us overcoming life - He gives us life as we overcome.

So, ponder these principles on troubles in our lives:

  1. We will never completely get out of trouble. Churchill is quoted as saying - "Success in life is often nothing more than going from one failure to the next with undiminished enthusiasm.
  2. We are not the only one to suffer. 2 Cor. 10:13.
  3. Trouble is not always judgment from God. Heb. 12:6.
  4. Trouble does come from God - either directly or indirectly. Spurgeon reminds us that God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken, and when we cannot trace His hand, we can trust His heart.
  5. Wishful thinking and false optimism are detrimental. 
  6. Bottom line - don't quit.
Most people don't work themselves to death - they worry themselves to death. So, today, learn to meet these trouble head-on. You can be victorious by having a powerful prayer life. Develop a life-long vision for what God can do with you. Discipline your life to walk in wisdom. Continually learn. Seek to revive your spirit each and every day.

Prayer: God of All Comfort, take my life and train me to walk in the midst of my troubles. Help me to see Your heart in all that I face each day. Fill me with Your Vision and Plan for my life, and let me grasp it and run with it. May I seek You in Your fullness today.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 11

Proverbs 11: 3 (CSV) - "The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them."

This chapter of the Proverbs is laden with topics to guide and direct us. There are several key verses in this chapter:
  • Verse 14 -"Without guidance, a people will fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance."
  • Verse 19 - "Genuine righteousness leads to life, but pursuing evil leads to death."
  • Verses 24-25 - "One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water."
  • Verse 30 - "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and a wise person captivates people."
Also, as you muse over this chapter today, consider these vital topics:
  • Verses 1-8 - If we are going to be successful in serving God, we must know the spiritual attribute of honesty.
  • Verses 9-13 - We all have influence, either good or bad. We are to use our influence for the glory of God.
  • Verse 14 - We have a responsibility to be leaders in our sphere of influence.
  • Verses 15-21 - We are to show mercy in our relationships with others.
  • Verses 22-23 - If we want to be successful, we must live by God's moral principles.
  • Verses 24-28 - We are responsible to use wisely all that God has placed in our hands.
  • Verses 29-31 - We are responsible for sharing the message of the Gospel with those we come in contact with. 
Today. as we read this chapter, there is much to take away from it and use. Seek God for what He wants you to apply today to your life.

Prayer: Father, there is so much in this precious chapter that I need to apply in my life. I can't do it myself. Come, take control and lead me into the wisdom of living my life the way that You designed me to live. I want to be in Your Will all the time. Guide me and direct me. Amen.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 10

Proverbs 10: 3-5 (CSV) - "The Lord will not let the righteous go hungry, but he denies the wicked what they crave. Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches. The son who gathers during summer is prudent; the son who sleeps during harvest is disgraceful."

I believe that God will not allow a person who is living in godly wisdom to starve to death. we could lose a little weight, we might suffer, but God will see us through and provide, unless it is His time to take us home. However, this is not a promise that if we are lazy and not working because of our choices that He will just spoon it out free and clear.

In this passage, it is a reminder that a hard-working diligent believer can make it in this world. Someone who gets up early, stays up late, works 5 or 6 days a week, will be able to provide for himself and his family. God is basically saying here - "Make hay while the sun shines." We are to work (if physically able) while it is the day, because at night it is time to rest.

And, from the Scriptures, it is evident that when God does bless us with things, we should also share with others who truly has needs. Not under force or duress, but under the love and grace that He has provided to us. Following the plans and the Scriptures given us, we will live under the Will of God. And living in the Wisdom of God brings blessings. Are you wanting to be blessed? Then put yourself into the hands of God, live in the Wisdom (Jesus) that He has provided. Walk in the ways that He places before us.

Prayer: Father, may I walk the walk that I so easily talk about. May I submit to Your Will and Way in my life. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 9

Proverbs 9:1 (CSV) - "Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars."

The keyword wisdom means to see things from God's perspective. Yesterday we saw that Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 1:30 that Jesus is wisdom personified. Jesus was made by the Father into our "our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." One of my mentors would refer to this verse as "Wisdom has built a palace upon seven pillars." The number seven in Scripture means perfection or complete. This house of God is a perfect place, a place where you and I will spend eternity, it is perfect because it is built upon the pillar of Jesus Christ. This perfect place is where perfect people (through Jesus Christ) will spend a perfect eternity together.

The number seven could conjure up many different ideas. Some have tried to make it mean such things as truth, holiness, justice, judgment, etc. But, that is purely conjecture and guesses on our part. Placing it in the context from the Bible as a whole, the picture of wisdom being Christ personified, I believe we are safest in seeing this number representing the perfection that comes in, by, and through Him.

I couldn't help but think also of the words of Christ in John 14: 3 (CSV) - "If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also." He left over 2000 years ago to prepare the eternal dwelling for all those made perfect through His salvation. If God has prepared a dwelling place for us, be assured it is built on the seven pillars of His Son. If God is building a Christian family, it is built upon the seven pillars of HIs Son. If God is building a nation, it will be built upon the seven pillars of His Son.

Over the years, we have slowly been kicking God out of areas in our country. We have been taking down the pillars, and the roof teeters on collapse. We kicked Him out of our schools. We kicked Him out of our homes. We kicked Him out of our government. We kicked Him out of our entertainment. We even kicked Him out of many of our churches. And we can see the consequences that are beginning to happen.

God is preparing a dwelling, and also a banquet (verse 2-6) for those who make wisdom the basis of their lives. Will you make Wisdom (Jesus) the basis of your life?

Prayer: Jesus, today as I ponder over my life, I seek to make you the center of all that I think and do. I seek to have my "house" built upon those seven pillars. May I truly seek to live a life of Godly wisdom in all I do. Amen.   

Monday, May 15, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 8

Proverbs 8:32-36 (CSV) - "And now, sons, listen to me; those who keep my ways are happy. Listen to instruction and be wise; don’t ignore it. Anyone who listens to me is happy, watching at my doors every day, waiting by the posts of my doorway. For the one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but the one who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

We are going through the book of Proverbs and seeing how God teaches us about successful living. We saw that this entails living in the will of God. Wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective, God's point of view. 

In 1 Cor. 1:30 (CSV)  we learn that Jesus is wisdom personified. Paul states there "It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Therefore, He is all I need and just what I need. We understand that Jesus is truth personified (John 14:6) and thus all truth that is in the Universe is Jesus Christ. Also, in verses 22-31 of this chapter tells us that wisdom (Christ) is eternal. He was, is, and ever will be. The child was born in Bethlehem, but the Son has always been with the Father since before time (John 1:1-14).

We can enjoy the continual blessings of God on us as we "keep His ways" (vs. 32), as we listen to instruction (vs. 33), and the bottom line is in verse 35 - "For the one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but the one who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

Prayer: Jesus, the Wisdom of God personified, teach me Your Word, Your Truth, Your Way. May I continually grow in the knowledge and understanding of You. Amen.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Seven Marks of a Great Mother

Matthew 15: 21-28 - "When Jesus left there, he withdrew to the area of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.” Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples approached him and urged him, “Send her away because she’s crying out after us.” He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, help me!” He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.” And from that moment her daughter was healed."

The first Mother’s Day was celebrated 100 years ago in West Virginia in 1912. 

A familiar mother’s day poem written in the early 1900’s is:

M is for the Many things she gave me,
O means only that she's growing Old.
T is for the Tears she shed to save me,
H is for her Heart of purest gold.
E is for her Eyes with love-light shining,
R means Right and Right she'll always be.
Put them all together, they spell MOTHER. 
A word that means the world to me.

God created families and gave mothers a unique place in that unit. They can love, give of themselves, cook, clean, wash clothes, put Band-Aids on scrapes … be the first one up in the morning or the last one down at night. They juggle a lot of things including raising children, working at jobs, managing a home, and sometimes finding time for themselves.

Today we are thinking about 7 Great Marks of a Mother as shown by this mother in Matthew 15.

 I asked God, Lord why you did not even reveal the name of this great woman of faith. Isn’t it unfair for her? Then God spoke to my heart.... 

I did it so that whenever you are reading this story, you can put the name of your own mother on her behalf... 

Then God reminded me all the sacrifice of my own mother so that I become what I am today....

Mothers make up a crucial part of our lives. It is so important to give our love to these dedicated women in our lives and don’t take them for granted. 

1 John 3: 18 – “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

Prayer: Father, today I stop and thank You for my mother. She has meant so much to me. She loved me, trained me, corrected me, and set the stage for what I would become. I also thank You for my wife - she is such a great mother to our three daughters and our four grandchildren. Without mothers, our world would be missing so much. Thank You for creating mothers. Amen.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 7

Proverbs 7: 1-3 - "My son, obey my words, and treasure my commands. Keep my commands and live, and guard my instructions as you would the pupil of your eye. Tie them to your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart."

In our previous studying of this great book of the Bible, we have seen how these first seven chapters contain advice of godly parents to their children. Wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective, instructions for moral discipline in one's life, and understanding the difference between right and wrong. These three terms are used frequently in this book.

We must be obedient to God's law. Through this, we will develop and strengthen our spiritual maturity and wisdom. We need to learn and memorize God's Word. Why? Because it will keep us from stumbling and falling into sin. The majority of this chapter is a story about a young man who did not keep God's law, who did not have divine wisdom, and lacked an understanding of God's Word.

If you are reading these devotions see as we go through these chapters, everyone needs to have a mentor - a person whose influence profoundly impacts the views and actions of others. And, as believers, we must understand that every person is a mentor. Actually, every person (beleiver or not) is a person of influence to others. We influence others either positively or negatively. Which way do you influence others?

Consider this about mentors - Moses was a model for Joshua, and Elijah served as the role model for Elisha. Paul mentored many people in the New Testament. So, some traits of a mentor include being a good student, spiritually strong, tough and well-conditioned, and most of all focused on God's perfect will. We must live by God's rules.

So, today as you consider these verses, also pause and look intently into your heart and soul. What kind of mentor are you? Do you influence those who come into contact with you to grow them? Do you display godly qualities? Do you show others how to live successfully in God's eyes? Remember, many we are not aware of are looking at us to see if Christianity is real, if God is really able to live in a person.

Prayer: Father, may I be the kind of influence in my sphere of the world that is pleasing and acceptable to You. May those I come in contact with leave in a better relationship than when we crossed paths. Amen.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 6

Proverbs 6:16-19 (CSV) - "The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers."

In our study of this book, we come to an interesting passage. Seven things that God hates. For some people, they can't accept that God hates. After all, isn't He a God of love? How can a loving God hate something? It is things that cause the problems that we face, the basis of sins that we commit that separate us from Him. Solomon states that these seven hateful items are: (1) A Proud look. God hates pride. In fact, pride is at the root of all sin that man commits. (2) A Lying tongue. God is truth and thus cannot abide with any dishonesty. (3) Hands that Shed innocent blood. God hates violence, and we know our nation is becoming more violent and lawless. (4) A Heart that Plot wicked schemes. So many games and "entertainment" of today train us to devise ways to do what is wrong. (5) Feet eager to run to evil. God wants us to be eager to do what is right, not what is wrong. (6) A Lying witness who gives false testimony. People can be bought to bring a false testimony. Gossips and slanderers can figuratively kill a person or their testimony. (7) One who stirs up trouble among brothers. We are called to love one another. Consider before speaking - Is it true? Is it kind? Does it need to be said?

These verses set the foundation for all the rest of the chapter speaks about. Verse 1-5 speaks about making bad financial decisions. Verse 6-11 talk about having a bad work ethic. Next, verses 12-15 deal with having a bad character. and verses 20 -35 cover having bad morals.

Spend some time reading and re-reading these verse and see what God is saying to you today.

Prayer: Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus. Show me from what I am reading, studying, and learning where I need to make corrections. Where I need to get right with You. Amen. 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 5

Proverbs 5:9-14 (CSV) - "Otherwise, you will give up your vitality to others and your years to someone cruel; strangers will drain your resources, and your hard-earned pay will end up in a foreigner’s house. At the end of your life, you will lament when your physical body has been consumed, and you will say, “How I hated discipline, and how my heart despised correction. I didn’t obey my teachers or listen closely to my instructors. I am on the verge of complete ruin before the entire community.”

We are seeing that God wants everyone to be successful. However, this is not what the media preachers often distort. The success in the eyes of God may entail obscurity. Consider that our Lord was laid in a borrowed cradle (manger) and ended up in a borrowed tomb. Paul died a martyr in a Roman prison. Proverbs reveals to us God's plan for a successful life, successful family, home, church, and society.

The family is under attack. The idea of the traditional biblical family is being ridiculed and destroyed in our society. When I refer to the traditional family, I am speaking of a man and woman (with or without children) legally married living together. It could include a widow or widower, it is a family established and set apart in God's way.

In our verses above, we see the high cost of low living. When we live contrary to God's direction, we will pay a price. We can lose our health. Our lives can be shortened. Our honor, self-respect, and possibly even our testimony as a Christian. Verse 10 speaks about losing our money. In verses 12-13, we see that rebellion leads to pain. In other words, why didn't I listen. By listening to God, the chastisement and disaster could have been avoided. 

Maybe you are thinking, it's too late. I have already failed. My life is wrecked.  Well, the best message is that we have a God of forgiveness. You are thinking, I have already ---- we have a God who forgives. When God forgives, He forgets. If you have fallen, come to Him. He awaits with open arms to forgive, clean you up, and set you on the right path. If you haven't fallen, take heed to this message. God is watching every act, deed, word, and thought that we have.

Only one life, twill soon be passed. Only what's done for Christ will last. Take heed to our study in Proverbs, it will guide us to live successfully.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, today I am pausing to make sure that everything between You and me is right. I look closely at my heart, my mind, and my actions. I come confessing where I have failed. I come to receive Your forgiveness and cleansing. I come renouncing all that I have done contrary to Your Word. In repentance, I seek restoration. Amen. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 4

Proverbs 4:1-2 CSV) - "Listen, sons, to a father’s discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, for I am giving you good instruction."

The first seven chapters of Proverbs are letters of instruction from a father to his children. We have noticed already that success as defined from Proverbs is getting into the will of God as early as possible and staying there. It may not be riches, fame, prestige, or power as the world seeks, but it will be the grandest form of success ther is. In this chapter, verses 7-9 tell us - "Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. She will place a garland of favor on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.”

We are bombarded with the PC concept that it takes a village to raise a child. According to God's Word, it takes godly parents. The rapidly expanding epidemic of school violence, teen pregnancy, drugs, and other juvenile crimes can be reduced and removed - by godly parents. Youth guidance begins in the home.

We need to teach them God's Word. Teach them a love for Jesus. Teach them true doctrine from God's Word. Teach them to love God and one another. But. above all else, parents - set a good example for them. As one of my mentors would say, "What is allowed in moderation by the parents, will be accepted in greater degree by the children."

Verse 7 (Wisdom is supreme—so get wisdom.) could be called the main thing. As John Maxwell says, "Always keep the Main Thing, the Main thing." Learn God's wisdom. Know His Word. Seek out Divine understanding. And must importantly, APPLY IT.

Prayer: Spirit of Divine Wisdom, help me to not only see, read, learn, and study Divine Wisdom, help me to apply it in all that I do. Your Word challenges us in 1 Cor. 10:31 - "whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." Today, may I make the first steps toward walking the walk as well as just talking the talk. Amen.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Proverbs for Lining - 3

Proverbs 3: 5-8 (CSV) - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones."

God is offering wisdom to anyone who asks. He is giving us training in this book of Proverbs. It is an excellent book for parents and grandparents to raise godly children. Christian Counselors must be a student of this book. Pastors need to spend time feeding upon the wisdom of God.

In chapter 3 the divisions that I have are: learn the rules of life (verses 1-4), learn to live by faith (verses 5-8), learn to be a good steward (verses 9-10), learn the discipline of the Lord (verses 11-12), making wisdom your constant companion (verse 13-26), and learn to love all people (verses 27-35).

In the passage we have above, learn to live by faith, we can understand that as the Scriptures tell us, it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6).  As a believer and we learn the truth of living by faith, it makes all other parts of the successful life easier. Notice the verbs for us in this passage - trust, rely on, know, fear, and turn away. Then also notice what God does - make your paths straight, heal your body, and strengthen your bones.

The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) and the second is for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).

Ponder over what this chapter challenges us to do. Prepare our hearts to receive the teaching. Proceed to accept the truth. Put the truths learned into action today.

Prayer: God, I know that my faith often is weak. I say I will trust You but then return to trying to trust my own instincts. Father, may I walk in steps of faith today and every day. Amen.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 2

Proverbs 2:10-11 (CSV) - "For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will delight you. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you."

I pray that you spent time reviewing and musing over Proverbs 1 yesterday. As we continue this short look at each chapter in this book, today we can see that the 2nd chapter of Proverbs deals with 3 basic divisions (I am sure you can divide it in many other ways). The writer deals with Biblical instruction for earthly living in verses 1-9. He continues with Divine wisdom for making right and eternal decisions in verses 10-17, finally, strong warnings to those who disregard His Word in verse 18-22. 

Prayerfully muse over these verses, however, consider the second division I gave. Divine wisdom is the only way to have true success and skill in living. We get this wisdom from reading God's Word (Rom. 10:17) and then taking our experiences and the inworking of the Holy Spirit to develop this ability. There are no shortcuts, it takes time to develop holiness and maturity in God's Kingdom. Consider all the areas that God's Word develops within us: how to be sexually pure, to be financially free, to have a work ethic, maintaining right attitudes, controlling our emotions, overcoming defeat and depression, and how to finish our race with dignity and victory.

In the last three verses, He tells us - "So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will inhabit the land, and those of integrity will remain in it, but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous ripped out of it." (verses 20-22). 

Meditate upon this chapter today. Muse over what He is telling us. Make a point of taking some truth away with us.

Prayer: Spirit of Wisdom, I seek to be successful in this life. I can see that following the truth and instruction that You provide in the Bible, I can finish the race of life victorious. I can stand before God with dignity and honor. May I learn from You and apply what lessons You teach me. Amen.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Proverbs for Living - 1

Proverbs 1:1-6 (CSV) - "The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man— let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance— for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles."

A long time ago, I spent a month in the book of Proverbs, and then I did it again the next month. From this, I prepared a series of sermons to teach the value of what God teaches in this Book. I want to summarize some of what I learned and pray it speaks to you also. There is so much more than what I will share in these short devotions than you can glean. I can guarantee you - that if you spend time each day for a month with this book it will speak to your heart on how to live.

The Book is written primarily by Solomon, David's son. Wisdom is the keyword and can mean "skill in living." Instruction and understanding are also used frequently. The first deals with the moral and spiritual disciplines in our lives, and the second deals with understanding the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, and what matters and what doesn't matter.

The purpose is to teach us how to live successfully according to God. It has the potential to strengthen and stretch even the wisest and strongest of believers. God offers His wisdom to everyone - the simple, the mockers, and even fools (vs. 22 - "How long, inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge?")

As we leave this study today, consider verse 7 as a prime point to ponder - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline."

Prayer: Father, as You promise in Your Word over and over, You are willing to give anyone wisdom on how to live life successfully. May I take this time to learn from You, and not only read this book, but to apply it each day. Amen.

Bible Gateway Scripture

Lookup a word or passage in the Bible
Include this form on your page