Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Biggest Giver Of All

Whenever the thought of “sacrificial giving” enters our minds, it’s only natural to think that “there’s nothing left for us.” While that may be true in some instances, it is not true when we give sacrificially to God.

In Proverbs 3:10 we are advised to give sacrificially to God. If we follow that advice, however, Solomon says that the benefits will far outweigh our gifts.

If we give sacrificially, “Then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Giving to God must be done in light of what our redemption cost Him: His only begotten Son. The cost of that gift is far beyond comprehending or understanding.  We have no way to estimate the value of that Gift.

So, when we give “sacrificially,” it is not taking something that is “mine” and giving it back to Him. It is “choosing” or “selecting” some of what is already His and trusting Him with it as He has trusted me with what remains in my possession and is under my control.

When we give sacrificially, it is a supreme act of faith. How can that be true? It proves that we believe that God is willing and able to give us more than He did in the first place. Our responsibility is to trust Him. When we do He is obligated to honor His Word in return.

If we follow the wisdom in His Proverbs, we will be rewarded spiritually, mentally, physically and financially. God will not only come through for us in the future. That does not make sense. He will come through for us now!

Prayer:  Lord, a “God of tomorrow” is of no help today. Give us a “trusting” faith that will free us from ourselves. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Honoring God With What's His

Many, when giving anything to God, are resentful, even outraged. “I earned it, it’s mine - so I deserve all of it and can use it anyway I choose.” And the decision on what to do with it is our choice.

But, between the process of working and receiving the rewards from our efforts is God’s goodness. Think for a moment about thinking. It surely is a gift from God. And so are strength, energy, vision, reflexes, hearing, breath, balance and coordination. All this, and much, much more are God’s gifts to us.
Someone once said to me, “Larry, your ability to do anything is God’s gift to you. What you do with them is your gift back to God.”

Initially, I thought, “That’s rather cute and novel.” But, the more I thought about it, the more it troubled me. If that’s true, and for those of us who recognize God as the Lord of our lives know that it is, we are forced to admit that we’d have absolutely nothing without His grace.

Part of “wisdom” is knowing what to do with what God gives us. So, Solomon made no apologies when he wrote, “Honor the Lord with your wealth.” Seems simple if we run over the word “honor” and say, “Here’s a tip, God. I want You to know I’m honoring You.” However, it does not work that way.

“Honor” means making a sacrifice to the Lord. And, “wealth” refers to “having enough of the goods of life.” So, when viewed together, “honoring” God with the “goods” He has given us, means that our gifts represent a sacrifice.

Prayer:  Lord, what we give You reveals how important You are to us. May our gifts represent a sacrifice to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;

Friday, September 26, 2014

Leaning And Living

It was a dark, cold, windy morning with patches of snow and invisible stretches of ice on our driveway. They were called “black ice” because they could not be seen.
Suddenly, even though I was walking very slowly and cautiously, my right heel landed on a patch of that ice and I slipped and fell. The pain was excruciating and I began to call for my wife. When she saw my situation, she immediately called EMS who took me to the hospital.

After x-rays and an examination, the doctor said I had ruptured my patella tendon and needed to have surgery. Unfortunately, it took more than six months before I could walk on my own. I had to have some “thing” to lean on or I would fall. This was extremely difficult for me because I did not want to depend on anyone or anything. And every time I tried to walk without a walker or a cane, I would fall. Once I lay on the floor for over an hour, waiting until someone came to rescue me. A wise person would have followed the guidance of someone who could teach them how to regain their strength and learn to walk again. But, I refused to humble myself and submit to the instructions of the physical therapist. How very foolish of me.

Yet, is that not how many approach life? We know what God wants us to do, but we do not do it because of our pride. When that happens, we pay the consequences.

Many of us have refused to “lean” on and trust in the Lord when we needed His guidance to make the right decision or His power to resist temptation. But, because of our pride we refuse to “lean” on Him and fail miserably.

Prayer: Father, it must disappoint You greatly when we have Your wisdom yet refuse to accept it and follow it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5b and lean not on your own understanding;

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Abandoned to God

Dogs have always been an important part of my life. As long as I can remember, unless prohibited by policies or laws, I have had a dog in my home. To this very day, I can visualize each of them.
Three of them, however, had one particular trait in common: if they could not see me or sense my presence, they would become extremely anxious. They would run from one location to another trying to find me; sit under my desk while I worked; lay between me and the door, not wanting me leave without them or wait impatiently and bark or whine if I left home without them. I was their security.

The two most familiar verses in Proverbs begin with then word trust. “Trust in the Lord,” writes Solomon. And this word trust far exceeds what comes to mind when we normally think of having trust in someone. It represents a trust in someone that brings us a deep sense of security, a type of safety that is impenetrable and a belief that there is no one or no thing that can get to us or ever harm us. It is a trust in someone who is much more conscious of our every need and who is completely competent and capable of taking care of us - more so than we are of ourselves.

Life is filled with uncertainties. When we awaken in the morning, we have no guarantee that we will see the sun set or make it home safely. No one has any assurance that their investments will be there when it comes time to retire. We have friends that we thought we could depend on - and then find ourselves abandoned. But trusting in the Lord is different. Our lives and our future are secure.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, for granting us Your peace, presence, power and protection as we travel through life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:5, 6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If You Do, Then He Will...

Have you ever met anyone who wanted to be a failure? Someone who looked for ways to be unsuccessful or rejected? A person who would wake up in the morning and say, “Well, I wonder what I can do today to mess things up?”

Probably not. In fact, most are just the opposite. They want to succeed, to be accepted, to make a positive contribution to themselves and others. Millions of dollars are invested annually by people who want to get ahead of others, make it “to the top of the corporate ladder,” attend training seminars or get a promotion.

If they knew a proverb or two from Solomon, they may have an edge on others: “My son,” he wrote, “do not forget my teaching. But keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” Here, once again, we find a negative and a positive statement together: “Do not forget” and “keep my commandments.”

This is one of the many “if/thens” found in Scripture: “If we do what God asks us to do, then He will guarantee us success.” It’s not about forgetting a verse of Scripture or not knowing the details of a particular event. Rather, it is to know and disregard His commandments, worship other gods, not to honor Him and not to live in fear of Him.

If our hearts are centered on God’s Word and, and if we are faithful to Him in all things, then He, in a very real sense, is obligated to reward us. We can hold Him to His Word. If there is any one we can trust, it’s God.

Prayer: Lord, increase our faith to trust You and Your Word, knowing that You will honor us if we honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1, 2 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"I'm Sorry, But I Forgot About..."

"I'm sorry, but I forgot about..." Sound familiar? It’s an often used phrase that most of us have used on many occasions. There are times when we really do forget some things. And there are times when we use that phrase when we did not forget “anything” – we just did not want to do what we had agreed to do.
Forgetfulness is a way of life for many. Rather than doing what they said they would do, they use it as an excuse for an unpleasant task. For some, it “just happens” every now and then. For all, however, it started as part of a promise or agreement that was at one time important. And, some promises are, indeed, more important than others. Especially the promises we make to God. Actually, our very life may depend on the promises we make to Him.

Solomon reminds us of this fact when he wrote, “My son, do not forget my teaching…keep my commands in your heart…for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” Notice the two approaches to the same issue – one is negative: “Do not forget” and the other is positive: “keep them in your heart.”

“Forget” in this instance is more than allowing an obligation to escape our memory. It involves disregarding the commandments of God, replacing Him with false gods and idols and a lack of faith and trust.

Notice where God’s teachings and commandments are to be kept – in our hearts. The heart, in Scripture, is the center and seat of our inner life, including our mind, our emotions and our will. Submitting our hearts to God is a declaration to Him that His Word rules our lives.

Prayer: Lord, grant each of us a willingness and desire to enthrone You in our hearts and never waiver. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Desperate Call

“Larry,” he said to get my complete attention, “don’t go next door and play with Richard. He’s not good for you to be around.”

“OK, Dad. I won’t.” At least not while you're looking, I said to myself, under my breath.

Not long after the warning, I heard his penetrating whistle that could be heard throughout the neighborhood. However, I was next door, on the roof of Richard’s garage with some other friends having a great time. Now, the “good time” was over. I looked down from the roof, and there he was standing at the foot of the ladder. I knew I was busted. He spoke, I refused to obey, and the party was over.

“How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?” wrote Solomon. Or, if he was talking to me today it would mean, “Larry, why were you so careless to allow yourself to drift into temptation. Don’t you remember I gave you a warning? Why didn't you follow my advice?”

This verse contains a certain sadness: “How long...” will it take to get your attention? I warned you, didn’t I? When will you ever “grow-up” and accept the wisdom I offered you? I offered you my best: wisdom that would last a lifetime and you rejected it.

But rejecting God’s wisdom is very costly. In verse 25 there are some tragic words to describe the end results of disobeying God: “Since you rejected me when I called...and ignored my advice...and would not accept my rebuke, I will laugh at you." God’s grace has its limits.

Prayer: Lord, how blest are those who hear Your Word, accept it and follow it. Rejecting it has its consequences. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Warning! Danger Ahead

Years ago, I was invited by some friends to visit a desert in Arizona. I was fascinated by the many varieties of the cactus plants. They came in almost every size and shape. Some had beautiful flowers, some contained water, some even had fruit – the “cactus pear” – but all of them had “needles.”
One of my friends warned me and said, “Please do not touch them or you will have painful needles piercing your hands.” But, like Adam, I decided to “taste” the fruit of a cactus pear, and immediately I understood what my friend’s warning about “painful needles” meant. Though difficult to see, the sting of the needles was extreme and seemed to affect every part of my body. I was left with the sting and never enjoyed the fruit.

Solomon offered “the young” a warning: “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” Perhaps he was speaking from personal experience.

Or, maybe he saw others “enticed” by sin, fall into its attractiveness and the damage it did to them. But the importance of his “words of warning” is true: sin gives more than pleasure and popularity. “Young” in this verse applies to any age or sex.

Sin is “enticing” because it offers a fast lane to short-lived pleasure. Those who entice us to sin never say, “Oh, by the way, I want you to know that if you gain things illegally, the gain you get, sooner or later, will one day cost you your life. So, be sure to remember this, my friend, the only ‘gains’ worth getting come from God.”

Falling into temptation is easy. Escaping it is not.

Prayer: Father, these words of wisdom provide a shield of armor that will protect us all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Help, I'm A Parent

Throughout the Bible, being obedient to parents is always connected to being submissive to and following the teachings of God. And if we consider God’s character to be important and the foundation of His role as our Father, parents will strive to “imitate” His characteristics if they want to be effective representatives of Him.
We often speak of the characteristics of God in high and lofty terms: He is “omniscient, omnipotent, immortal, and omnipresent!” But, Jesus presented the character of God in behaviors that could be seen, and, most of them imitated. Consider such important behaviors as loving, kind, caring, compassionate, forgiving, accepting, helping, healing, encouraging, honest, thoughtful, sensitive, open, available, authentic, a disciplinarian, knowledgeable, wise, a craftsman, a caring Son, student of the Law and Prophets, a model to be followed, submissive to and respectful of the laws and a close obedient relationship to His Father.

Quite a list, indeed. And when I review and think about them, I wonder how often I failed my Father as the parent He wanted me to be as they grew up – even now.

When we consider the important role that parents are called to fulfill, spiritual, moral and ethical examples and authorities to our children, it is easy to cry out, “This job is far beyond me!” And it is if we attempt to do it on our own. But, if we are humble and dependent on Him we have His Word to guide us, and guard us, His Son within us to empower us and the Holy Spirit to lead us.

We also have Proverbs when we want His wisdom.

Prayer: Father, we parents who love and believe in You are blest to have You and Your Word as a “parent’s guide.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Obedience

The Ten Commandments appear to be divided into two sections: four of them teaching the importance of honoring God, and six of them teach us to honor mankind. The fifth commandment would logically appear at the bottom of the first tablet. It is the first commandment that contains a promise: “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long (and in peace) in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” These words are echoed in Colossians: “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this pleases God.”

Perhaps it would be “wise” to clear up the phrase, “My son,” in verse eight. If we acknowledge that Proverbs was written for all mankind who acknowledge God as their Lord, and follow His teachings, then all children would be included in “My son.”   Yes, and…

Since this is written to “children,” it would be good to remind ourselves that a main characteristic of “youth” is vulnerability. The young would disagree with parents who would say that they are ignorant of the ways of the world and have no foresight or insight to see the results, or consequences of their behavior. They need stern, loving advice and warnings from parents who “walk their talk” and have their best interests at heart. 

No one has more responsibility for the “young” than a parent.

But there are other “parents” who are also guilty of neglecting children: the new Christian. This verse is an indictment on all of us who have allowed the young in Christ to face temptation, unarmed with the Word of God.

Prayer:  Lord, forgive us for being negligent in instructing the young at home and in church. We need forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How To Recognize A Fool

No one that I know wants to be called a “fool.” But, this term is used fifty times in Proverbs so God must want us to know who qualifies for this title and how those who are “fools” can develop a new identity.
To begin with, the word used here for “fool” has nothing to do with one’s mental capacity. It would not be God-like to call someone a “fool” if they had no control over their thoughts and behavior. Instead, it has to do with a person’s chosen outlook on life. This person’s view is set and nothing or no one will ever be able to change it.

This “fool” is one who has no desire to invest any time in searching for wisdom. It’s thought to be some type of product that can be purchased in a book store.  Solomon makes this clear when he wrote, “Why does a fool offer the sage a fee, when he has no mind to learn.” We can’t buy wisdom!

Since true, reliable and dependable wisdom comes from God, it must then be spiritual and not mental. A fool has no reverence or respect for truth. Unfortunately, the “fool” is very comfortable with things as they are. This person refuses to “fear the Lord” and rejects His counsel. The “fool” is satisfied to live life without God.

Whatever we know of God, think of God, understand about God and believe about God comes to us from God revealing Himself to us. Atheists deny God and agnostics say they are searching for proof of God. Until a person is willing and open to see God as He has revealed Himself in His world, His Word and His Son, he will remain a fool.

Prayer: Lord, open the eyes of those who refuse to see, and the ears of those who refuse to hear Your Wisdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:7 Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Look At It This Way...

“One thing for certain about you, Guido,” he said as he looked at my messy desk, “you don’t have OCD!”

“What do you mean, I don’t have OCD?” I asked.

“Well, if you had an obsessive compulsive disorder you would be arranging and rearranging your desk to make it neat and orderly. Then you would do it over and over again. But, it’s not neat, never has been and probably never will be. I’ll bet that your drawers are the same.”

Realizing that he was right, I decided not to argue with him. He was a psychologist and I was embarrassed.

Many people do arrange and then rearrange things. Some people do things over and over again to make sure that everything is perfect, or as close to perfect as it can be. They check and then recheck what they have already checked. Being around people who have habits like that make me feel guilty. They have to do things right!

But there is a vast difference between doing things right and doing the right things. We can waste an entire day arranging and then rearranging food in our homes while our neighbor goes hungry. Or, we may arrange and then rearrange our cramped closets when we know there are people who are cold and have no warm clothes. We may be doing things right but we are certainly not doing the right things.

Righteousness in God’s Word is a combination of both behaviors. Not only do we want to do things right as He commands us to do in His Word, but we also we want to do the right things that will please and honor Him.

Prayer: Help us, Father, to be aware about how we do “righteousness.” May our lives meet Your expectations. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair;

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Right Choices

“When you come to a ‘fork’ in the road, take it,” is an oft quoted bit of advice from Yogi Berra. It has brought a smile to the face of many when they first heard it. But if you listen to what he is saying, it’s rather dangerous.

“Wherever you want to go, is OK. Just follow your own path and enjoy life,” is what I think he is suggesting. But, is following our own self-designed path the best thing we can do with the life God has given us?

God gave us His Proverbs for us to have His understanding to know right from wrong. In fact, if we go back to a conversation between God and Solomon, his first request was for the gift of insight to discern right from wrong. Solomon, at that time, wanted to honor God with his whole heart. He knew that honoring would be difficult without God’s insight to guide him. What a wise request.

Perhaps he saw his father, David, struggling with his humanity when he had to choose right from wrong. Perhaps he saw his father grieve over a poor decision that cost someone their life. Perhaps he saw his father deal with guilt when he did not ask God for guidance. There was something deep within him that challenged him to “be insightful, or discerning.” So, he asked God for this gift, and when he understood and applied it in his life, he recognized its value and wanted to pass it on for us to use in our lives.     

God has given us the only resource we need to be discerning: His Word. If we choose to honor Him we can find directions in His Word. Life is safe with Him, within.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we know that You will guide us and guard us if we are obedient to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Attention!

There are very few pictures of “attention” that can rival a US Marine standing tall after hearing that word. As soon as that “word” is shouted by the appropriate person, heels come together, muscles tighten and faces freeze as though they were carved in granite. Persons who have served in the military know the significance of that word: that external rigidity that is so visible to the onlooker represents an internal attitude of concentration that is waiting for a command to be obeyed and followed with no hesitation.

Throughout His Word, God uses many different ways to get the “attention” of His children. There are times when He speaks directly to a person. There are times when He speaks through a person. But when God wants the attention of His children, He has many options.

We read in Job that one of His options to get our attention is through suffering: “For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hand also heals.”

Proverbs 1:2 has a word that can be translated instruction, discipline, training and chastened. But, in this instance, there is no doubt that it means “to teach by discipline” or “punishment.”

We often hear stories about people who “have to hit bottom” before they are willing to do something about the problem that is destroying them. God uses suffering to get our attention by “raising the bottom” because He loves us.

“...the Lord disciplines those He loves.” God uses discipline to get our “attention” when we abandon Him.

Prayer: Lord, we know You love us. Do whatever is necessary to keep us in Your will - even if we must suffer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Always Room For More

Whenever I hear the word “gain” I think it is related to “weight.” Especially my weight. There are very few mornings that I do not step on the scale to get my “daily report” on what I ate yesterday. Most nutritionists do not recommend such a program. But my hope to see the arrow pointing downward remains steadfast.
A gain or increase can be good or bad, exciting or depressing, encouraging or discouraging, depending on what the gain refers to. If we depend on the stock market, a gain can be a good thing. But, if we see a gain in our personal debt, it can be disturbing. Our gains or losses, for the most part, are usually in the physical realm.

Solomon, however, speaks of a type of gain, or being able to attain some “thing” as long as we live. Educators speak of “life” valuable and available to and offered to us in Proverbs. Our “attaining” more of God’s wisdom is very important for all Christians. We are constantly challenged to “grow” throughout Scripture and Proverbs provides the path!

The word used for wisdom in this verse also means skillfulness – applying knowledge that comes from God to our lives every day so we can do “things” right.

As we go one step further, we come to the fact that it is possible to develop decision making skills that are God honoring and enable us to establish life-principals that will bring us success. God’s proverbs can guide us through life, help us in our relationships with others, lead to good practices in business, enrich our homes and bless God.

Prayer: Lord, You’ve left us “no excuses” on how we are to live life if we are Christians. Thanks for the directions! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight;

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Importance of Words

“What’s a nanosecond, Keller?” I asked my ten-year-old grandson.

“Papa, everyone knows what a nanosecond is,” he replied with a wry smile across his lips, as if teasing me.

“Well, not quite everyone. If I knew, I wouldn’t ask.” I felt like I needed to go back to school. Immediately!

“It means one, one billionth of a second. It’s used to measure the speed of light and other stuff,” he replied casually. Not having any need to measure the speed of light, I thought it was a good time to end the conversation. I realized how little I knew about some things.

But there is one thing I do know without any doubt: God took great care to choose the exact words He needed to clearly transmit His message of redemption. No second guessing about what He wanted us to understand. No hidden meanings for a special class of people. Nothing is left to our imagination that could cause us to make an error in God’s intended message or directions for our lives.

This is very obvious in Proverbs 1:2-4. God, through Solomon, let us know that there is a right way and a wrong way to “live life.” Each of us has choices to make about the way we will live: a life of righteousness with God’s power that will honor and glorify Him, or a sinful, self-centered life that leads to death and damages others.

Ten of the approximately forty words in Proverbs 1:2-4 provide different aspects on ways to understand even see and apply God’s wisdom for daily, God-centered, living.

God leaves nothing to “chance.” He wants us to succeed!

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for the “God As My Helper” successful living guide book. May we follow it carefully. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 1:2-4 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fatherly Advice

There is no shortage of advice in today’s world. We find it in the exploding number of self-help books and magazines, radio and TV shows. No matter where we look or what we listen to, someone has some formula to solve our problems, enrich our lives, make us more attractive, even add years to our lives and make us wealthy.

Solomon, apart from his Proverbs, offered insight on how to live life well in some of his other writings. At the end of his life he wrote, “Of making many books there is no end...all has been heard and here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments.” In these few words, he went back to the beginning of his reign when his father, David, gave him some “fatherly advice” – “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires.”

There are, as mentioned earlier, many sources and recourses on how to live life. But the advice we find here is different. After reflecting on his life and reflecting on his successes and failures he summed up the essence of life: “Life, apart from God, is meaningless.”

David, “a man after God's own heart,” offered his son, Solomon, a man who would one day be recognized as “the wisest man who ever lived” a formula for success.

Wisdom, however, only has value if followed. As long as Solomon followed the advice of his father, David, God honored and blessed him. And, nothing has changed.

If we follow the advice of our Heavenly Father as we are presented in His Word, He will honor and bless us, too.

Prayer: To understand Your requirements, Father, is easier said than done. But with Your power, it is possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 1:11-14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where Did The Proverbs Come From?

No one has ever asked me to answer a question that had no limits. Sometimes, I have been asked questions that have encouraged me to “think big” or to “go beyond what you have thought of in the past” or to “think into the future for what could be.” Those questions have been very challenging. However, no one has ever approached me and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” At least, no one who had the power to give me a “whatever.”

But that happened to Solomon. And the one who asked him that question was not his father whom he replaced as king. It was one who was much more powerful than his father and one who, indeed, could grant Solomon the “whatever” he wished for. It was God Himself!

He admitted to God that he was not really qualified to be a king. In his own eyes he saw himself as “a little child.” And he asked God to “give Your child a discerning heart” – (not mind) – “to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?” The very next verse begins with the words, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon asked for this!” Then said, “I will give you what you asked for and what you have not asked for: wealth and honor, and in your life time you will have no equal!”

What an interesting question: “Ask for whatever you want” – and what a humble answer: “Nothing for myself. My only desire is to have a discerning heart.”

God granted his request and through him gave us His inspired, infallible, inerrant Proverbs as “life guides.”

Prayer:  Father, in Your wisdom, You gave Your servant wisdom to offer to Your children so they could “live well!” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why The Proverbs Of Solomon?

Wisdom was a very important matter to those living during the time of Solomon. In fact, the Bible recognizes the wise men of Israel’s neighbor, especially those in Egypt, as well as Babylon and Phoenicia, Arabia and Edom. The Old Testament also refers to Gentile “sages” with a certain degree of respect - although it does not mention the Gentile priests and prophets.

It’s important for us to remember that there were many during those days that were very intelligent even though they did not speak as one having a “special revelation” from God. Individuals throughout the ages, even today can think, speak and write wisely within many different fields of knowledge and yet not speak on behalf of God. It is this simple, significant fact that makes The Proverbs of Solomon different. Solomon spoke on behalf of God, the truth of God, to guide the people of God into “paths of righteousness for His sake.” Then as now, following the teachings and instructions of Solomon, God's children have God's “filter” to see God’s world through God’s eyes.

We often talk about “hindsight” and “foresight” but God’s Word gives us insight for the way we are to live. We may have wisdom from various sources, but wisdom that comes from God enables us to live victoriously and let the world see and understand the value of submitting to His teachings. We are, of all people, most blest!

But one thing more: We, as the children of God, have access to the power of God, to live lives that are pleasing to God, through the strength and power of God.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, may we know, understand, accept and live Your Words of Wisdom every day we live! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
 

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What's A Proverb?

Little Ruby was saying her bedtime prayers. “Dear God,” she prayed, “please help bad people to be good and good people to be nice.” Whether Ruby knew it or not, she provided a simple way of describing what the book of Proverbs is: “a guidebook for living a life that pleases God.”

Over the years, various cultures and societies have established different criteria to describe whether or not one is “successful.” Many have put “wealth” at the top of the list. And money, to some degree, is important and necessary if one is to have the basic necessities of life. Others would speak of power, prestige and one’s position in society as being critical. Those words express the core values of individuals who want to be recognized for what they have accomplished on the world’s stage in politics, the military or banking and finance. No doubt some want to be remembered for doing some “thing” that no one else has done – like discovering a medicine that extends life or setting a record in a particular sport, inventing a product or procedure that makes life better or is useful, valuable or delightful.

But those whose lives are guided by the lessons that we find in The Proverbs are those who fear God and allow Him to guide them, guard them and give them His gifts.

We often talk about hindsight, sometimes we wish we had foresight, but Solomon’s Proverbs give us insight to make decisions based on God’s laws. Proverbs provides the believer with God’s wisdom that is underwritten by God’s power that we may live godly lives.

Prayer:  Grant us willful hearts, Lord, to obey Your laws. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 1:1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: