Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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. 


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Proverbs for Living - 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.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

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.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

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.

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