Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Proverbs: A Warning to the Nation - June 30, 2010

Proverbs 14:34 (New International Version)
34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

Proverbs 14:34 (New Living Translation)
34 Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

Proverbs 15:3 (New International Version)
3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.

Hebrews 4:13 (New Living Translation)
13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

There used to be a time when "In God We Trust" really meant something in our country. Our forefathers were godly men who placed their hopes for a new Nation in the hands of God, and pledged in our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, the following:

"for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

How far we have fallen, where our trust and reliance on God has become a a curse for some, a joke for many, and a mere motto for others. For decades many in this Nation have been turning their backs on God, removing Him from schools and public places, and cloaking their contempt for Him in the false argument of political correctness.

These days, those who cherish their belief and hope in God are fighting at every turn, from the bombardment of atheists, the ACLU, progressive politicians, ignorant school districts, and false religions. It is scary to think that if things do not change course, that we may someday see Him banished from the very nation that was founded on His principles.

What many in this country forget is that God is God. He will not be shoved into a backroom; "He will not be mocked". We discard Him from our Nation's public life at our own peril. God will hold everyone in this country accountable for the sins of the people. Once He lifts His divine hand of protection form this land, we will never be the same. We are the great country we are, not because of the people, but because God in His grace and mercy has allowed us to be so.

As we approach another Independence Day, let us remember who made it all possible. Let us recognize that "Divine Providence" set the course of events that led to the great country we are. Pray for those in authority that they will learn from the wisdom of the past, learn from the wisdom of God, and take heed from the warnings found in these few verses. Let us do our part, and with the help of God, we will save this Nation for our children and our children's children.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Proverbs: What about tomorrow? - June 29, 2010

Proverbs 27:1 (New Century Version)
1Don't brag about tomorrow; you don't know what may happen then.

Luke 12:16-21 (New Living Translation)
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.

19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

James 4:13-14 (New International Reader's Version)

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city. We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell and make money." 14 You don't even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears.

Well, we are winding down our review of the Book of Proverbs, and before we leave this book, it is important to sum up the wisdom in it. We have looked at all kinds of instruction and warnings, points of character and descriptions of godly living and godly people. All these things are in this book and in the Bible to help us know how to live a righteous and godly life, but as we leave the book, here is a "nugget" that does sums it up.

The verse above warns us against having too much confidence in the things of this world. Many of us work all of our lives building up temporal things and material wealth. We wake up each morning forging ahead on plans we may have for the near future and years ahead. But, we need to be extrememly careful if we "go it alone" without the guidance and help of God. If we leave God out of our plans, there is no telling if we will ever make it to the finish we are planning on.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Proverbs: The Blessing of a Godly Woman - June 28, 2010

Proverbs 31:10-31 (New Living Translation)
A Wife of Noble Character

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness.

28 Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

In these verses from Proverbs, we find the sayings of King Lemuel which his mother taught him. This portion of scripture describes the virtues of a godly wife. It can also be said of all godly and virtuous women, and they serve as a great example of godly character to pass on to our daughters. You can take the characteristics given and translate them to activities of everyday life, whether in a marriage or not.

They may seem a little old fashioned, but in times like these, I am sure that all parents would agree that a little character building is a good thing for our children. Let's show a different example for the next generation of women. Thay are a cherished blessing from the heart of God that need to be treated as such.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Proverbs: God Answers - June 27, 2010

Proverbs 30:4 (Amplified Bible)
4Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if you know?

John 3:13(New International Reader's Version)
13 "No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven. He is the Son of Man.

There is an Old Testament oracle known only as Agur son of Jakeh. He is another contributor to the book of Proverbs, and his wise sayings are recorded and inspired by God. In this passage he asks a very profound question that acts as an understatement and a word of prophecy. Jesus answers Agur's questions himself, as recorded by the apostle John hundreds of years later. And the answer is Jesus Christ himself, God in the flesh, both Creator and Savior.

As you reflect on a new week, seek God and His guidance. Seek the only One from heaven that offers you hope and comfort. May you be blessed in doing so.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Proverbs: God's Retirement Plan - June 26, 2010

Proverbs 27:23-27 (Amplified Bible)
23Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds;

24For riches are not forever; does a crown endure to all generations?

25When the hay is gone, the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountain are gathered in,

26The lambs will be for your clothing, and the goats [will furnish you] the price of a field.

27And there will be goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance of your maids.

When you first read these verses in Proverbs, it may seem a bit confusing. It deals with things that involves farming and raising animals, and you may ask yourself, "what does it have to do with me?". As is with many topics in the Bible, these passages were written many centuries ago and are associated with the culture of that time, but if you examine it closely and apply the ideas to today, these truths from God begin to make a lot of sense. His wisdom is timeless, when you understand what is being said and use the principles for in your life today.

What Solomon is talking about in this wisdom given to him by God, concerns our personal or family finances. Here we are encouraged to always examine our financial state of affairs, and our position in our work for the future. It warns that just because we have been able to earn and build up wealth at one time, doesn't mean that it will last forever. We must diligently pay attention to what we have been blessed with and saved, making sure it is invested wisely. If we will do so, we will reap the rewards of our diligence by having provision in our later years.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Proverbs: Overcoming Evil - June 25, 2010

Proverbs 25:21-22 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
21If your enemy is hungry, give him some food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him some water to drink. 22In this way you will make him feel guilty and ashamed, and the Lord will reward you.

Matthew 5:38-39,43-44 (New Living Translation)
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Luke 6:31 (New International Reader's Version)
31 Do to others as you want them to do to you.

Romans 12:17-18,21 (New International Reader's Version)
17 Don't pay back evil with evil. Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 If possible, live in peace with everyone. Do that as much as you can.
21 Don't let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.

We truly live in a vengeful society. If someone wrongs us, it is deep within our culture that we have to pay that person back. Fortunately in our country the way we pay people back for a wrong they have done usually involves words more than actions. There are other societies in the world where "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" is taken all too literally. Nevertheless, much more harm than good is done when we take retribution and vengeance into our own hands.

When it comes to paying back a wrong that has been done to us, God's way is completely opposite from the world's way. God would have us return any evil done to us with good, which is the most difficult way to handle things. We can't do this with our own abilities; it takes God's help, through the Holy Spirit for this to be possible. There is a purpose to all of this, which is that God desires that those who do evil be brought to reconiliation with Him, through the witness of the good actions of those who have been wronged.

The ultimate witness of returning evil for good was the example of Jesus Christ himself. In his gift to us of returning our evil and sin with his personal death on the cross, Jesus gives us the example to follow. If we commit ourselves, with God's help, to always return a wrong for good and leaving vengeance to God, we will not only leave a better place to live and work, but we will find true blessings that only come from following Christ's example.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Proverbs: Raising Children - June 24, 2010

Proverbs 22:6 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it.

Ephesians 6:4(New Living Translation)
4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 (New American Standard Bible)
21Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

2 Timothy 3:15(New Living Translation)
15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

It is unfortunate that children do not come with instruction manuals. Much has been written about the how to properly raise children, and there has always been many opinions and teachings about what you should do. The truth of the matter these days is that the state of children is in such turmoil, and the current generation is so lost, that something needs to be done.

Centuries ago, God gave us true instruction on what needs to be done in the raising of children. The truths He has set aside in His word are timeless. Bottom-line is this, set proper boundaries and correction appropriate for the age, instruct them in the things of God, and encourage them to follow the leading of God in their lives. It really is simple if you think about it when you involve God in everything you do when it comes to children.

As in all things, if you seek God's help in prayer, and you dedicate them to His service, it will be much easier to raise strong confident well-rounded children.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Proverbs: Guidance - June 23, 2010

Proverbs 20:24 (New Living Translation)
24 The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

Psalm 37:23(New International Version)
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm;

Psalm 39:4 (New Living Translation)
4 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 90:12 (New International Reader's Version)
12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are. Then our hearts will become wise.

Jeremiah 10:23(New International Version)
23 I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

Have you often wondered what you are doing here? Am I the only one, but do you sometimes feel that all you are doing is "treading water"? You wake up each and every morning and proceed with that daily grind, looking forward to the weekends to spend a little time with the family or friends, and then you start it all over again. Do you wonder where you are going in this life?

I talk to a lot of people, and especially in this economy, more and more people are frustrated with the whole system. You work harder and longer, and you make less and everything costs more. You hear more and more media types and think that the whole system is rigged against the little guy, or for that matter if you are a big guy the system is against you as well!

God has wonderful news for us, especially if you believe in Him and His word. You and I don't have to worry about any of this! He has it all under control. You see with God in control, why not just go along for the ride? Did you catch that first Proverb, where it says, "why try to understand everything along the way?" I really cling to verses in the Bible like the ones above. Our time on earth is so very short that we shouldn't be concerned and frustrated with the process of living.

What is the solution? Give it all back to Him. Let God take charge of your life and He will "direct your steps". How you ask? Start out with seeking Him in prayer. Get into His word and ask Him to guide you through it, showing you what is going on. Pray for His wisdom and His understanding. And, if you do not already know about His Son Jesus, who gave it all so that you could be forgiven and be with Him forever, ask to get to know Him.

Yes, this life isn't easy and often frustrating, and yes, we are "treading water" much of the time, but if you ask for God to guide you, it sure will be much easier and in the end you will know your destination.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Proverbs: A Friend - July 22, 2010

Proverbs 17:17 (New Living Translation)
17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 18:24(New International Version)
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

John 15:15 (New International Reader's Version)
15 "I do not call you servants anymore. Servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends. I have told you everything I learned from my Father.

Life is difficult to say the least. It's trials and tribulations are enough to try your soul. Each and everyday more and more occurs that adds to the frustration. Isn't it great that you have friends! Isn't it better if you have one or two real friends! Someone that can help you tolerate all the bad and celebrate all of the good. Someone who is for you no matter what, and one that you can count on to always be there. Blessed are you if you have a true friend. The two passages from the Proverbs above, give us great advice about real friends.

Jesus said a lot about what it was to be a friend, and he counted but very few as such. His disciples spent almost the entire three and one-half years of his ministry with him, and they accompanied Jesus day and night. He shared many close and personal times with them, and as he says above, he told them everything that his Father told him. But even though he was surrounded by the twelve disciples, at the end of his earthly life, all but one deserted him. Only John was at the cross alongside the mother of Jesus. In the end though of his time on earth, he allowed the disciples to reconcile their frienship with him, and like a true friend he forgave them.

If you haven't said so lately, tell that special friend what you feel about them. If you have spoken lately, give them a call. If for some reason you feel wronged or hurt by that true friend, forgive them and be reconciled with them. A true friend is a wonderful and rare thing. Count your blessings and be one as well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Proverbs: Gossip - June 21, 2010

Proverbs 11:13 (New Living Translation)
13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

Proverbs 13:3 (New International Version)
3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Proverbs 16:28 (New International Version)28 A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 18:8 (New Century Version)8 The words of a gossip are like tasty bits of food. People like to gobble them up.

Proverbs 20:19 (New International Version)
19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

Proverbs 26:20 (New Century Version)20 Without wood, a fire will go out, and without gossip, quarreling will stop.

We all like to "stir it up". From the time we were in school we all have been involved in talking about other people. Now as adults we all take part in the what goes on in the office. Maybe not maliciously, but a "juicy" and "scandelous" story is sometimes too hard to resist. Some of us though say things about those we want to hurt.

Maybe they took our position, or they attained a something we wanted very hard to get. Maybe they even hurt us before, and we feel it is "high time they got what is coming to them". This thing can really burn, and it can do extreme damage. It can even ruin someone's life. And I am sure that we do not want to be the center of it.

God has a lot to say about that little "fireball" gossip. Here are just of few statements about it from Proverbs. God calls this destructive activity by its more revealing name "sin", and as believers in Jesus Christ, we are supposed to avoid this like the plague. We are to run as far from gossip as we can. And if we find ourselves in the middle of a malicious conversation we should pretend like we haven't heard a thing.

The key to putting out the "fire" of gossip is to be the end of it. Don't let it spread any further, and encourage others not to go there. Your life will be much happier and you will have many more friends if you become known as the "firefighter" rather than the "arsonist".

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Proverbs: Fathers - June 20, 2010

Proverbs 23:22,24 (New International Version)
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
24 The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.

Proverbs 1:8(New Living Translation)
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

Psalm 68:4-6a (New International Reader's Version)
4 Sing to God. Sing praise to his name. Lift up a song to the One who rides on the clouds. His name is the Lord. Be glad when you are with him.

5 God is in his holy temple. He is a father to those whose fathers have died. He takes care of women whose husbands have died.

6 God gives lonely people a family. He sets prisoners free, and they go out singing. But those who refuse to obey him live in a land that is baked by the sun.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (New International Version)
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Being a father is a huge reponsibility. There is no greater impact on the life of a child than the example of a good father. God has set up the earthly father as His example of His love for the jewel of His creation. He tells us who do not have fathers that He will take the place of the earthly father. With that responsibility from the Lord, we need to mindful that we are always to be godly men of integrity, humility, and love. We set the course of the life of our family.

As we celebrate godly fathers today, let us give them the honor and respect they rightly deserve, and at the same time let us lift up all fathers in prayer, that God will direct their paths and help them as they lead their families. May God bless and guard their hearts, and keep them in His loving care. Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Proverbs: Going Gray - June 19, 2010

Proverbs 16:31 (New International Version)
31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

Proverbs 16:31 (New Century Version)
31 Gray hair is like a crown of honor; it is earned by living a good life.

Proverbs 16:31 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
31Silver hair is a beautiful crown found in a righteous life.

Proverbs 20:29 (New Living Translation)
29 The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

As we approach Father's Day, I thought it was only fitting to discuss this major problem we all end up focusing on eventually. For many, "au natural" is just fine when it comes to hair color. For others, settling for the texture of a pool ball is preferred. And then for some, "a Touch of Gray" is all that gives anyone a hint. What I am talking about is a common problem for us "old men". What goes on North of our foreheads tells alot about what we have been through, and it can be the proud reward for a life rightly lived.

Thank God that in His word He sheds a positive light on our graying hair. When we are young, it is all about our biceps, but now as we advance in years, it is all about the top of our heads. So wear it proudly men! Every single gray or silver hair carries with it honor and splendor earned from living for Him. And for you younger Dads that still have a full head of blonde, brown or black, be sure that you are living your life focused on God's word and God's guidance, with the goal of pleasing Him in all you do. You might just end up with the gray hair to prove it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Proverbs: Getting On Track - June 18, 2010

Proverbs 16:3,7,9,17,25 (New Living Translation)
3 Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.
7 When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.
9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
17 The path of the virtuous leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe.
25 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (New International Version)
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For many of us it took many years and alot of heartache before we finally submitted to God's guidance and direction for our lives. What we find out is that God's ways are much better for us than the world's ways. We end up getting many scars that show us how far we have come, and they serve as reminders of where we ought not to go.

When we come to the saving knowledge of the work of Jesus Christ, we are renewed and more able to commit ourselves to God's plans for us. He sends His Spirit to inhabit our lives and gives us wisdom and peace about where we are going. If you have not turned your life and your plans to God, surrender your life to Him. His promise is that when you do He will take care of the rest.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Proverbs: Discipline - June 17, 2010

Proverbs 13:1,13,18,24 (New Living Translation)
1 A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.
13 People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.
18 If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.
24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

Proverbs 19:18(New Living Translation)
18 Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.
Proverbs 29:15,17 (New Living Translation)
15 To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.

Hebrews 12:7-11 (New Living Translation)
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

The hardest thing for any of us is to receive discipline. No one likes it and no one appreciates it when it is happening. We have long heard the old adage, "spare the rod an spoil the child". That comes straight out of the 13th chapter of Proverbs, and God wants us to know that we are showing love to those we discipline. Our children may not agree with that, but every child will eventually agree with our own experience, that proper boundaries and discipline that is administered by parents is essential to the proper development of our character.

The New Testament takes the example of discipline one step further. It likens the trials and corrections we receive as Christians, as divine and spiritual discipline we receive from a God who loves us. The comments here are actually praising the discipline of a godly parent as a sign that a child is a true son or daughter of that parent. Good parents lovingly correct and discipline their children because they care about them. In turn our heavenly Father is cares about us, and He lovingly disciplines us along the way, so that we become sons and daughters of the King.

It is truly our "Next Worth" that God is concerned with, and He will guide, correct and discipline us, molding us into what He desires for us for eternity.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Proverbs: Words - June 16, 2010

Proverbs 12:14,17-19,22-23 (New International Version)
14 From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.
17 A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly.

Proverbs 21:23 (New International Reader's Version)23 Anyone who is careful about what he says
keeps himself out of trouble.

James 3:9-10 (New Century Version)
9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself.10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen.

How many relationships have been ruined by the tongue? There are very few of us that have not been damamged in some way from words that have been spoken, whether in anger or deceit. The damage doesn't just end with the individual. There have been entire societies and peoples that have been destroyed by lies and falsehoods that have stirred others to do the most horrible crimes against others. Even today the work of "lying lips" throughout our society, in the media, the government, and schools to name a few, wreaks havoc across many many lives.

Unfortunately, it is often difficult to correct the wrongs of the tongue after it is too late, but we all can do our part before it is. In our personal lives, we need to always be aware that what we say can damage those we love and bring harm to a friend. Always be on guard, whether we are at work or at play, that what we say is making an impact on someone. In the society around us, we need to always hold those around us accountable for what they say. And when it comes to those who govern, teach or are otherwise in authority over us or our families, we need be sure that they are either accountable for what they say, or they are asked to find a different vocation.

Study the verses above. Meditate on them and consider how what you say carries a lot of weight in how you conduct your daily life. Counter act the evil and lying words, with the good and truthful words of love and concern. Get involved in the lives of your children and be aware of what they are being told. Get involved in your schools and communities, and make sure that everything is always filtered through the truth. Make sure that you are always truthful and caring as well, and remember that God is always aware of the words you say.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Proverbs: Generosity - June 15, 2010

Proverbs 11:24-26 (New Living Translation)
24 Give freely and become more wealthy;
be stingy and lose everything.

25 The generous will prosper;
those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

26 People curse those who hoard their grain,
but they bless the one who sells in time of need.

Proverbs 11:24-25 (New Century Version)
24 Some people give much but get back even more.
Others don't give what they should and end up poor.

25 Whoever gives to others will get richer;
those who help others will themselves be helped.

Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)
9 A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (New International Reader's Version)
6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn't give if you don't want to. You shouldn't give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. 9 It is written,

"They have spread their gifts around to poor people.
Their good works continue forever." —(Psalm 112:9)

10 God supplies seed to the planter. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works. 11 You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God.

Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? God has created a wonderful circle of generosity: He gives to us, so that we can give to others, and in turn He continues to bless us, so that we can further bless others...and on it goes.

We serve a very generous God, and He constantly gives to us freely. Our lives, relationships, work, income, joy, music, everything we have has been generously given to us by Him. He has even given His only Son,Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins, and give us the opportunity to be eternally with Him. And Jesus, gives us the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in our hearts, and instructs us how we are to be generous to others around us.

The wonderful thing about having a generous heart is this principle, the more generous we are with what God has given us, the more generously He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us. But we need to be sure that we adhere to the key to this principle of generosity, which is our attitude in giving. We are never to give just to receive, but we must be directed in love to freely give as generously as we can in thanks and gratitude to God.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Proverbs: The Goodness Effect - June 14, 2010

Proverbs 11:5-11 (New Century Version)
5 The goodness of the innocent makes life easier, but the wicked will be destroyed by their wickedness.

6 Doing right brings freedom to honest people, but those who are not trustworthy will be caught by their own desires.

7 When the wicked die, hope dies with them; their hope in riches will come to nothing.

8 The good person is saved from trouble; it comes to the wicked instead.

9 With words an evil person can destroy a neighbor, but a good person will escape by being resourceful.

10 When good people succeed, the city is happy. When evil people die, there are shouts of joy.

11 Good people bless and build up their city, but the wicked can destroy it with their words.

Proverbs 11:10-11 (New Living Translation)
10 The whole city celebrates when the godly succeed; they shout for joy when the wicked die.

11 Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.

Do you know what is missing in our society today is "goodness"? When was the last time you heard that your child's school was teaching about "goodness"? When was the last time you had a seminar at work about "goodness"?

Moral charater, righteousness, right-living, "goodness" is all relative these days, meaning that it is in the "eye of the beholder". You can especially see and hear that in our media and in the orations of our politicians, but I don't only site them. We need only to observe what happens in our normal day, to see how "goodness" is lacking in much of what we do.

What has caused our world to abandon "goodness" for the most part is an unknown, meaning that in society's terms, you can't point to a single factor. Is it because of political correctness that has robbed us of our sensibilities? Is it because what was considered vile and vulgar in the past, is now seen as acceptable? Is it because we have developed a tolerance for wrong and now call it right? Is it the fact that we relegated God to take on a very minor role in our lives? Or is it something else?

I maintain that with good people, there is still alot of room for "goodness", and the result of "goodness" is a better world to live in. The problem is that in the past we did not have to wonder whether or not "goodness" and good things were being passed on to our children. Today, we need to first teach "goodness" at home, by living it out in our families, and extending that to the communities we live in. At the same time we need to hold our educators and our politicians to emulating "goodness" in their teaching and governance.

It is time for good people to stand up for "goodness", and expect it in everything we do. If we set a new standard for a society based on "goodness", we can expect that the world around us will change.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Proverbs: Living Billboards - June 13, 2010

Proverbs 10:9(New International Version)
9 The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

Proverbs 11:1(New International Reader's Version)
1The Lord hates it when people use scales to cheat others. But he is delighted when people use honest weights.

Proverbs 11:3(New International Version)
3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Proverbs 13:6(New International Reader's Version)
6 Doing right guards those who are honest. But evil destroys those who are sinful.

Proverbs 13:11(New International Version)
11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.

It is often been said that "character is what you are in the dark". We live in a society today where character, integrity and honesty have become a very precious commodity. It has led to a world where you had better be sure that any arrangement you have in business, or in life for that matter, had better be in writing. Even then, it is questionable whether or not you can keep someone at their word, or trust anyone.

Character, integrity and honesty matter, and God expects us to always be "upright" in all our dealings, whether it is in our relationships, finances, work, or business. The proverbs above highlight this fact. God calls everyone of us that have been radically changed by His love, through the acceptance of the work of Jesus on the cross, to live lives that are "billboards" to the world.

For many that are lost in the world, we will be the closest they come to the living breathing Jesus Christ. Our integrity and honesty in how we deal with those around us, will be our witness to the world of what God has done for us.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Proverbs: The Wise and the Foolish - June 12, 2010

Proverbs 10:1-10 (New Living Translation)
1 The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise child brings joy to a father;
a foolish child brings grief to a mother.

2 Tainted wealth has no lasting value,
but right living can save your life.

3 The Lord will not let the godly go hungry,
but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy people are soon poor;
hard workers get rich.

5 A wise youth harvests in the summer,
but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.

6 The godly are showered with blessings;
the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.

7 We have happy memories of the godly,
but the name of a wicked person rots away.

8 The wise are glad to be instructed,
but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

9 People with integrity walk safely,
but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

10 People who wink at wrong cause trouble,
but a bold reproof promotes peace.

As the wisest and richest man that ever lived, King Solomon was reported to have written over 3000 proverbs at the direction of the Spirit of God. These "Proverbial Sayings" written by him span from Proverbs 10:1-22:16. To explain and comment daily on all of them would probably take almost a year, and if we added those written by someone else on behalf of Solomon, we would be well into the half of another year.

These godly proverbs have been used for instruction for thousands of years, in Jewish and then Christian households. Today, they carry as much relevance, wisdom and good sense as they have since their writing. It is interesting that the first proverb in this section is comparing and contrasting a wise and foolish child. This serves to frame the comparisons and contrasts of right and foolish living in the many proverbs to follow.

I have posted but the first ten, but we will take a look a little closer at a few specific ones over the next days. If you have never done so, this would be a good time to grab your Bible and share these proverbs with your children and grandchildren, no matter what age. As you begin reading, you will find many gems that will help resolve everyday problems, or bring encouragement in times of distress. God has blessed us with these "pearls of wisdom". It is time we revive them in our hearts, our homes and our nation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Proverbs: True Wisdom - June 11, 2010

Proverbs 9:9-12 (Contemporary English Version)
9If you have good sense, instruction will help you to have even better sense. And if you live right, education will help you to know even more.

10Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of wisdom. To have understanding, you must know the Holy God.

11I am Wisdom. If you follow me, you will live a long time.

12Good sense is good for you, but if you brag, you hurt yourself.

Proverbs 9:10-11 (Amplified Bible)
10The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

11For by me [Wisdom from God] your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.

All of us can use a little wisdom, but true wisdom comes from God. If we are to live lives worthy of our calling, we must always seek Him without reservation. Many of us lack wisdom because we do not ask for it. We need to continually seek God's wisdom in everything we do, and not rely on our own knowledge of things. If in the busyness of your work week you have failed to take all of your questions to Him, it probably was not as productive as you would have liked.

Read this from Solomon's life, as He asked God for wisdom and understanding: 1 Kings 3:7-12 (New Living Translation)

7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!

Next week, try something a little different. Seek Him in prayer over the weekend and dedicate your first few minutes each morning to seeking His wisdom for the week. You will be amazed how much better your next week will be.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Proverbs: Be Like the Ant - June 10, 2010

Proverbs 6:6-11;10:4;13:4 (New International Reader's Version)
6 You people who don't want to work, think about the ant! Consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander. It has no leader or ruler. 8 But it stores up its food in summer. It gathers its food at harvest time.

9 You lazy people, how long will you lie there? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 You might sleep a little or take a little nap. You might even fold your hands and rest.

11 Then you would be poor, as if someone had robbed you. You would have little, as if someone had stolen from you.
Proverbs 10:4
4 Hands that don't want to work make you poor. But hands that work hard bring wealth to you.
Proverbs 13:4
4 People who refuse to work want things and get nothing. But the longings of people who work hard are completely satisfied.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (New International Version) 11Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Okay, today I would like to reflect on these proverbs about working from a very spiritual and personal side, and a very personal and political side.( I will apologize in advance for taking on a political tone in my devotional post for today.) It is clear in the passages above that God is does not like people that are lazy, although being a little lazy is probably the favorite passtime of teenagers. He has made us to work, which began with Adam in the garden. The different verses above call us to work diligently and to avoid laziness.

It is important for especially the men reading this that you work to provide for family and as the passage in 1 Thessalonians says, "to work with your hands that you will not be dependent on anybody." The pursuit of a God-given vocation in my opinion is a way that we worship the God who created us to do it. When we fully use the gifts and talents that we are blessed with for the benefit of our families and others around us, then we are truly worshiping the God who made us. I truly believe that we will spend eternity doing some kind of work for the Lord, and what we do now with all our heart, has alot to do with what we will do for eternity.


Now is where politics comes into my comments. Our forefathers came to this country and established our nation so that they could work freely for the benefit of their own families, and for the benefit of each other, and not for the state. I believe this is refelected in the Declaration Of Independence where it states that, "they(Men & Women) are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We are free in this country to choose and pursue our vocation, our work, without hinderance as long as it does not violate the law or the rights of others. Unfortunately, we are on the verge of creating a society where many will work for to support the few; where the "ants" will be required to work to support the "lazy people". How will this be done? Through the votes of those who live on the hand-outs from the government and pay no taxes, that are served by those who work hard and pay all the taxes. Now is the time to change the mis-directed course of our nation by electing only politicians that support our founding principles.

Our country does not owe someone a job or a living. It is up to the individual to utilize their God-given abilities to be responsible and provide for themselves. Our government whould be required to protect us from those outsiders who choose to harm us, and to provide order and organization for the benefit of a civil society. It is up to us, to not only follow the admonition of these verses from the Bible, but to also be sure that we pass them on as instruction for our children and those who come after us.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Proverbs: Peek-a-boo! - June 9, 2010

Proverbs 5:21-23 (New International Reader's Version)
21 The Lord watches a man's ways. He studies all of his paths.

22 A sinner is trapped by his own evil acts. He is held tight by the ropes of his sins. 23 He will die because he refused to be corrected. His sins will capture him because he was very foolish.

Job 31:4;34:21(New International Reader's Version)
4 Doesn't God see how I live? Doesn't he count every step I take?
21 "His eyes see how people live. He watches every step they take."

Jeremiah 16:17(New International Reader's Version)
17 My eyes see everything these people do. What they do is not hidden from me. I always see their sin.

Hosea 7:2(New International Reader's Version)
2 But they do not realize that I remember all of the evil things they do. Their sins pile up and cover them. I am always aware of those sins.

John 3:19-21 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
19This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil. 20People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed. 21But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen.

All of us that have had young children have played the game of "peek-a-boo" with them. Nothing is cuter than our little loved one covering their eyes to hide from you, only to move their hands and suddenly seeing you, when you say "I see you". In their young minds they are hidden from you and you cannot see them, but in actuality you are there the entire time, seeing everything that they do.

As little children this game is fun, and it is just as fun for us as we play it with them. But as adults, this game is not so fun anymore. As lost human beings, we try to hide many of the bad things we do, thinking that no one is watching us. We fool oursleves into believing that we can live like "hell" and get away with it. Sooner or later though, all of our sins will catch up with us. God sees everything we do, and eventually He will expose everything to the light of day.

The wonderful thing about God is that even though we try to hide our sins there is no need, because God has already provided us with a way to "come clean" and bring everything into His light. If you find yourself trying to hide from God, come into the light of His mercy and grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You will find that there is no reason to hide from Him ever again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Proverbs: Warnings - June 8, 2010

Proverbs 4:20-27 (New Living Translation)
20 My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. 21 Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, 22 for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.

25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. 27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Matthew 7:13-15 (New International Version)
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

As I have said earlier in our study of the Book of Proverbs, the purpose of this book of wisdom from Solomon was meant for instructing the godly person. As we look through these many passages, many will give us warnings of what to avoid and what not to do. At the same time it will also give us many things that we should be doing.

The key to the passages above are warnings about keeping on "the straight and narrow", watching what we say and what we do, to keep ourselves focused on living the way that is pleasing to God. We do this not just to please God, but to also equip ourselves against the inevitable temptations and deceptions that will come our way when we try to do what is right.

Most of all we need to "guard our heart", meaning we need to be sure that we have a strong confidence in what we have from God. We cannot let our emotions lead us away from God, especially when we are encountering difficulty. We need to hold tight to the understanding and knowledge that He truly loves us. We need to be sure that we always cling to Jesus Christ as we go through the storms of life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Proverbs: Serving Others - June 7, 2010

Proverbs 3:27 (New Living Translation)
27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.

Galatians 5:14 (New International Reader's Version)
14 The whole law can be found in a single command. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."—(Leviticus 19:18)

Galatians 6:2,9-10 (New Living Translation)
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Alot is made these days of being independent and taking care of yourself, but as a society, I think that we have grown quite callous in taking care of others. Too often we look on the plight of those who are hurting and say to ourselves, "It's not my problem. I have enough on my plate to worry about." This is especially true with our young people. They are more apt to do something to "save the whales" or some other over-exagerated and over-hyped environmental cause, than they are willing to help their fellow man.

For a Christian and follower of Jesus Christ, this is totally opposite of what we are called to do. We are called to love those around us better than as we love ourselves. That means to go out of our way to help someone in need. This is counter to our culture, but we need to start being living examples of the "hands and feet" of Jesus, and we need to pass on this example to our children and others around us.

I even take this a step further when I reflect on the proverb alone. I believe that we "withhold good" by not telling others that they are perishing; that they are lost to their sins without Christ. As we go through our daily lives as living, earthly, examples of the "faith that is within us", be sure that we let those we help know, that it is not in our own power that we do these things we do, but it is because of the power of God that is within us.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Proverbs: God's Correction - June 6, 2010

Proverbs 3:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11 My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t be upset when he corrects you.
12 For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Hebrews 12:5-7(New International Reader's Version)
5 You have forgotten that word of hope. It speaks to you as children. It says,

"My son, think of the Lord's training as important.
Do not lose hope when he corrects you.
6 The Lord trains those he loves.
He punishes everyone he accepts as a son." —(Proverbs 3:11,12)

7 Put up with hard times. God uses them to train you. He is treating you as children. What children are not trained by their parents?

Revelation 3:19(New International Reader's Version)
19 'I correct and train those I love. So be sincere, and turn away from your sins.

If you are a believer in Christ, but you are going back and forth between God's plan and the world, you may be in for a bit of a problem. There is nothing you do that escapes the eyes of God. There is nothing that remains hidden, for He will bring whatever you do in darkness into the light. There is no way that you can claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and continue to live your old lifestyle that you followed as an unbeliever.

The great thing is that God works in your life to bring you back into His good graces. The passages above and the teaching from the Book of Proverbs, tells us how God brings His children into righteous living. He will not let those He loves stray too far, before He sets us back on the right track.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Proverbs: Money - June 5, 2010

Proverbs 3:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth(your money) and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Deuteronomy 26:1-2 (New Living Translation)
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, 2 put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest(the first of the income, money you earn) into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.

Malachi 3:10(New Century Version)
10 Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn(your income, your money) so there will be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord All-Powerful. "I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour out all the blessings you need.

Notations in parenthesis mine!

Whenever you place money and Christianity in the same sentence, you usually get very mixed opinions. Some of the loudest criticisms of the church are about the misunderstanding about money. Many often say that the only reason that churches want your attendance is for your money. In my opinion the teaching that God offers about money and income has been vastly distorted and misused by both those who take advantage of the unsuspecting, and those who have only a worldly perspective on the subject.

When God talks about money, income and what He blesses us with, as noted in the proverb and other passages above, He only requires one thing from us; our love. Our love? Yes, He ask us to show Him that we love him. That is what "honor" and "worship" are all about. His desire is that we think of Him first in all things, which includes the produce of our work. It is the un-conditional love of His creation, and we demonstrate this by our obedience and our gifts back to Him. He asks that we return but a small portion of what He blesses us with, to show our love for Him.

A human analogy best demonstrates this. When two people genuinely love each other, they will do things to show the other that they love them, and they are obedient to one another in order to build a closer relationship. So it is with God. How we handle what He blesses us with in giving it back to the Giver, exhibits our love. In addition we exhibit our love for God in our obedience to His requests. What God asks for is for us to show Him by our actions.

The beautiful thing is that God shows us His love in return. Each and every time He asks for an action from us, a demonstration of our love for Him, He returns that action by a promise of pouring out a blessing that shows His love for us. Take a few minutes and meditate on the promises above. It might just give you a whole new perspective on what you think about money.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Proverbs: Trusting God - June 4, 2010

Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

Psalm 37:5 (New Living Translation)
5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.

Earlier in the year, we took a look at this proverb on trusting God. This is probably the most difficult proverb to follow. You might wonder why I say that; the reason is that very few of us have the ability to surrender our entire being and lives to God. It is very hard for us to fully trust everything we have, and every thing we are to Him.

Let me give you an example. How many of us fully trust God to supply our every need? When things become difficult financially, do we remain calm, joyful and peaceful, confident that God will work things out according to His will, and that we will ultimately benefit? Now that is a difficult one! As things start going bad, I would venture to say that many of us become very uncomfortable and anxious with God.

It is a great thing that He knows we are only human, and He makes sure that we eventually understand what He is doing. We need to be sure that we keep our end of the promise by turning it all over to Him.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Proverbs: Wisdom's Benefits - June 3, 2010

Proverbs 3:1-4 (GOD’S WORD Translation)
1My son, do not forget my teachings, and keep my commands in mind, because they will bring you long life, good years, and peace.

3Do not let mercy and truth leave you. Fasten them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. 4Then you will find favor and much success in the sight of God and humanity.

These days you can't watch television or surf the internet without coming across people selling all sorts of ways of extending your life or gaining success. And if your e-mail is as bad as mine, you are being bombarded daily with the same kinds of offers. On top of that, people are even selling offers to block offers, and selling how to be successful selling offers to block offers! I am from the old abacus and slide-rule days, before there were computers, and all of this at times can be overwhelming.

It is great to know though that over 3000 years ago, God had the answer to a long and successful life. For me it makes alot of sense, because when I was younger and followed after the world's wisdom and ignored God's, I sure had alot more confusion, disappointment, grief and times that I surely thought I would die! It would also be hard to define those times as successful. I am sure that I am not alone in what I went through.

Thanks to the grace and mercies of God, and my rescue thorugh Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit now helps me in gaining God's wisdom and direction in all things. He has made me a new person, with a different character and new desires, and He has blessed me with new friends and new opportunities. I do not know the number of days on earth He will bless me with, but I know that with salvation in Christ, I will have a long life that will last forever.

What about you? Have you taken hold of the benefits God offers in His wisdom? Have you grabbed hold of His mercy and truth, fastening them around your neck, and written them on the tablet of your heart?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Proverbs: Getting Started - June 2, 2010

Proverbs 1:7 (New Living Translation)
7Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7 (Amplified Bible)
7The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.

Psalm 111:10 (New Century Version)
10 Wisdom begins with respect for the Lord; those who obey his orders have good understanding. He should be praised forever.

With anything you have to have a starting point, and it is important in our study of the wisdom found in Proverbs that we start from the right place. What we are told in these passages is that you cannot understand or gain knowledge from the reading of these proverbs without first believing in God. We cannot know the mind of God unless we first believe that the words found in the Bible are the inspired words of God.

There are many other beliefs and religious texts that compete for the beliefs of mankind, but in my opinion no other texts are living and breathing. What I mean is that when you meditate on the Word of God, praying and seeking God's wisdom, the words speak with special meaning to the reader. Just reciting religious words does not bring knowledge. You have to ponder them in your heart and your mind, and with the Bible, they "speak" different things at different times and circumstances. Try it and you will know what I mean.

So, what if you do not believe that what you read is the actual Word of God? What if you do not believe that these Proverbs contain wisdom from God? King Solomon makes it clear; only "fools despise skillful and godly wisdom, instruction, and discipline". Make sure that your beliefs and heart, and mind are in the right place, and you will be able to gain the most from our study of the Proverbs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Proverbs: A Manual for Living - June 1, 2010

Proverbs 1:1-6 (The Message)

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
David's son, Israel's king—
Written down so we'll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it's going;
A manual for living,
for learning what's right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There's something here also for seasoned men and women,
still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

During the course of our lifetime, we accumulate alot of knowledge; some of it is good and some is not so good. In fact these days, we are accumulating knowledge at such a rapid pace, that it is difficult to sort out what is good or not. During the month of June, since school is out for those of us that have children and grandchildren, I felt it was good for us to continue our education. We will explore knowledge and wisdom from the wisest man in the Old Testament of the Bible. As we do, we will explore eternal truths that many of us already know, but it is also my hope that we will learn something new, or in a new way.

The Proverbs were written by David's son, Solomon, who reigned in Israel from 971 to 931 B.C. and was the builder of the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It is interesting that King Solomon is recognized for his wisdom in both the Bible and the Quran, and his noteriety is shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is interesting to note in the description of him in the passage below that Solomon was known as a songwriter as well as a Botanist and a Zoologist. Since his wisdom is considered without equal, we will take a look at a few verses during the month and learn how we can best apply them to our own lives.

I would hope that with the living Word of God, that these proverbs and sayings will breath new life into our Next Worth Living.

1 Kings 4:29-34 (New Living Translation)
29 God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. 30 In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 32 He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. 33 He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. 34 And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.