Monday, May 20, 2019

Finding Security

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning...”
Eight words, strung together by God, that give man the building blocks of life.
Eight words that provide the foundation for wisdom.
Eight words that are essential to understanding the meaning of life.
Eight words that guarantee a joyous life.
Eight words that lead to fulfillment in life.
Eight words that point the direction for what we must do if we want to please God.
Eight words that prove the faithfulness of God.
Eight words that are the beginning of our obedience to the Lord.
Eight words that eliminate the folly of talk and teach us how to walk before God.
And once we completely and unreservedly “fear the Lord,” we will have confidence and courage to face any obstacle in life because God is bigger than anything and everything else in the universe.
But those words do not end when our lives end. They are generational and, if the believer is faithful, will be passed from generation to generation.
Parents who want to provide safety and security and wellbeing for their children will do so because of their “fear of the Lord.” Scripture provides all the evidence any parent needs to realize the benefits that will come to their children if they - the parents – “fear the Lord” and are obedient to Him - no matter the cost! Not parents? Pass the message on. It’s lifesaving!
Prayer: Lord, may we take to heart the significance and importance of those eight words, “the fear of the Lord” is where life begins. May we recognize Your power and our limits.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:26Amen. Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Strength In Timidity

Entertaining young children often provides moments of enduring joy and memories that last a lifetime. I often think of those days when I played “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” with my sons. We made noises and faces and even built homes out of blankets and chairs. The “big bad wolf” tried to create problems for the three little pigs but was never able to harm those inside their home. They were prepared to face the threats of the big bad wolf.
We often do the same - making preparation to face the threats and uncertainties of life. We feel strong in our own strength and believe without a doubt that we can, no matter what, withstand any temptation in life.
Solomon, however, presents another way of responding to the threat of evil: be cautious or timid! When temptation threatens us and we feel incapable of rejecting it by ourselves, we are to “shun evil.” Looking deeper into these two little words we find that those who “shun evil” or are “timid” because they feel weak or are unable to reject it in their own strength, have a “built-in alarm:” the fear of the Lord! When they realize that they must face God or what could destroy them, they respond in fear and turn to God for His strength.
I often marvel at the countless alarm systems that are available to protect our lives, homes and identities from fraud and theft, danger and destruction. Some provide constant surveillance through an electronic monitoring system. Others can be self-installed and are battery operated. Both are designed to warn of “impending danger.” We have something better, stronger, more certain, and always available: God’s wisdom, strength, and power.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be so fearful of evil that we flee from it in fear rather than standing, fighting and failing. May we look to You to save us by calling on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Difference

It was a heated argument: “Your mind is so closed that no one could get a new thought in there even if they used a sharp wedge.” “Oh yeah,” he replied. “You’re so open-minded that your brain can’t hold anything that makes sense!”
Each of us has developed our own way of thinking about and looking at things. Solomon once said that the way we think falls between two bookmarks “Simple minded and prudent.” Being “simple-minded” means anything from being overly gullible, too hot-headed, arrogant, reckless, foolish or crafty. On the other hand, some people are “prudent.”
The “simple-minded” are so confused that they are willing to believe anything said by anybody at any time. Whatever they hear makes sense to them, and if it is a popular idea that most people embrace, it’s always right. They lack insight, sound judgment and clear thinking.
The “prudent person,” however, has both evil and good intentions. Evil intentions would be using one’s knowledge in a way that is sinister, shrewd, or misleading. Good intentions would be using one’s knowledge to discern the truth, understand people, know what is going on, looking for opportunities to serve others, and how to make wise decisions.
The wisdom of a prudent person comes from “giving thought to their steps,” or, what they plan to do. They carefully consider choices and consequences, weigh every option and opinion, and make their decisions on wisdom they have gained from their teachers. However, not all teachers honor God. So, the Christian must make decisions according to God’s Word.
Prayer: Lord, may we choose wisely those who we allow to influence our thoughts and guide our thinking. May we choose our teachers carefully before we trust them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:15 The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Right Way Or Dead End?

“I wish I could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth. We could both retire!” said a colleague to me after interviewing a potential employee.
Many people lead “presumptuous” lives and never get in touch with who they are and what their strengths or weaknesses might be. They refuse to see themselves as others see them, and will not admit the fact that they may have done something wrong or harmful. “It’s not my fault. It's theirs. They just wouldn’t admit what they did.”
In the final analysis, we all have the freedom to choose what path we will take - even though, as Solomon warns, “... in the end that path leads to death.” We may choose a path, even claim that it was a "path from God and was His will for my life," not admitting that our decision was ours alone, ill-conceived, and even ill-advised. “I certainly prayed about it!”
“Seems right” is a frightening combination of words. It simply means that “I (or someone else) did not know what was right” and went off in the wrong direction and it ended in disaster - perhaps death. “Seems right” is full of presumptions, beginning with sincerity. Although we may be very sincere about most anything we choose to do, sincerity does not lead to fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. “Seems right” can be “surely wrong!”
Those who truly want to live the “right way” will find it in God’s Word. The “right way” is living a life that agrees with the Word of God, choosing to be obedient to His commands, waiting for His guidance, and putting His will before my wants.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we avoid doing what “seems right” by surrendering our lives and will to You. Help us to do right and live right by following You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Paying The Price

Making amends means “I’ve harmed someone.” Not an easy thing to do. First, if I have harmed someone, they “certainly deserved it or had it coming to them.” Secondly, whenever I apologize, I admit that “I did something that is or was wrong - and that simply is not like me to do something like that.” Or, “They are too sensitive - they shouldn’t wear their feelings on their sleeves or shoulders. It’s about them, not me. I know what I’m doing.”
Unfortunately, those options do not agree with God’s Word. First, “All have sinned.” So, I’m not in any position to harm anyone. Secondly, “No one is righteous, not even one.” Well, there goes my reputation. Or, “If you have never committed a sin, pick up a stone and throw it at the first person you see - for they surely have!” So, when I investigate my stone-carrier, it’s empty.
“Fools,” according to Solomon, “mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.” This includes all of us in one way or another. One who “mocks at making amends” would be a person who has no sense of right or wrong or personal accountability for their actions. They turn a “blind-eye” to God’s “ever-present, watchful eye.” That’s not wise!
To feel unaccountable for our sin implies that we will not be judged by God or man. That surely is foolish, for one day we will all stand before God to be judged. On the other hand, “men of goodwill” are those who want to be “approved” by God and others for the way they act. They want their relationships, beginning with God, to be open and beyond reproach. “Do to others as you would have them do to you” is what making amends is all about.
Prayer: Lord, it’s much easier to live in denial than to be a person of honesty and integrity. Give us courage, when we are or do wrong, to seek forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 14:9 Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. 

"If You Really Love Me..."

Corporal punishment of children is not considered to be an enlightened way of disciplining children. Actually, it is in direct opposition to the majority of the theories of psychology and ways to change behavior. But God does, in fact, include it as part of His program of parenting skills that can lead a child to maturity. Parents who choose not to use this form of discipline do not demonstrate that they possess a “higher degree” of parenting skills or that they love their children more than other parents. In essence, according to God’s program of child-rearing, they do not love their children as much as those who “use a rod.”
The words “hate” and “love” in this verse are not to be seen as comparing love and hate in an emotional sense. In other words, to withhold a spanking is not a sign that “I love my child more than you do yours.” It could be a sign that “I am willing to sacrifice my child’s future well-being because I want him to like me,” or “I would rather have the approval of society than God,” or “I know of other children who were spanked and they did not end up so good.” We must always be cautious about whose approval we are seeking: our child’s, man’s or God’s.
Disciplining children is painful - especially corporal discipline which is clear from this passage of Scripture. But if the discipline is associated with breaking the teachings of God’s laws - lying, stealing, and being disrespectful of others - then it is appropriate. Children must be informed that “If you lie to me, then you will be spanked” is in keeping with God’s laws. Discipline is to bring conformity to God’s ways.
Prayer: Father, help us to discipline our children with love and respect when they disregard Your laws and willingly choose evil. But first, let us be their example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 13:24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Watch Where You Walk

One of my mother’s most quoted sayings was, “Birds of a feather flock together.” When I first heard her say it, I had no idea what she was talking about. However, she did. She realized that one of her most important obligations, as a parent, was to guard me from friends who might lead me away from God. She knew each of my playmates, and as I grew older, my friends, personally.
When I became a parent, that quotation grew in its importance. I came to realize that my choice of friends always flows from the values I hold dearest and live before others. People who enjoy softball or golf, cooking or gardening, worshiping God and studying His Word, form relationships with others because they hold things “in common” - their values.
Solomon said, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools will be harmed.” The advice contained in this proverb is significant because it focuses our attention on the “informal learning process” - not what is taught in classrooms or churches. Much of our learning is “absorbed” through watching others, being with others, and having a desire to imitate or be like others, especially those whom we admire or hold up as heroes.
Someone once asked John Rockefeller what he did to become so successful. “I only associate with people who are successful,” he replied. While that might sound trite and an over simplified way of becoming successful, it is profoundly true. The most “life shaping and longest lasting” lessons of our lives come from those that have had the greatest impact on us- lessons that have been “caught” rather than “taught.” Beware of your associates!
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to choose friends who honor and worship You, love Your Word and walk with You daily. May we seek to be with friends who honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 13:20 Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. 

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Difference

“You won’t find me in church! There are too many hypocrites there. So, why should I go? Hypocrites are no better than I am. So, why bother?” Those of us who invite others to church have heard that phrase at one time or another. Most of us, however, don’t go to church because we are hypocrites. We go to church because we’re trying not be one.
Many have “lists” that identify personal differences between being a hypocrite or not being one. For most of us it is a “personal thing.” We use our list to judge ourselves against others. So, our list is always correct, no matter what! We become God’s standard!
However, it was Solomon who established the difference between being righteous and wicked. He removed any doubt that we might have: “Righteousness,” he wrote, “guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”
If we love God, we will love what He loves and hate what He hates. Nothing complicated there. So, if God loves truth and honesty, pure living and obedience to His Word, the righteous will, too. But more than embrace what is righteous, we will avoid what is evil by guarding ourselves against it. Righteousness does not mean Christians live passive lives, but are active in being and doing whatever it takes to avoid behaviors that God hates.
“Wickedness” in Scripture has an interesting meaning. It refers to “being deceptive to the point where the wicked act disgracefully and their behavior causes a ‘stink.’” They see no reason to be concerned about what they are doing, understanding that what they do will finally bring “disaster” to them. God will not allow the wicked or wickedness to prevail!
Prayer: Father, give us courage to stand against that which is evil and harms others. Empower us to do what it right and honorable, just and fair! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 13:5 The godly hate lies; the wicked cause shame and disgrace. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Wise Words Prevent Problems

"Loose Lips Sink Ships" was a widely quoted slogan during World War II. It was part of the US Office of Information’s attempt to limit the possibility of people inadvertently giving useful information to enemy spies. It was one of the several slogans that came under the campaign’s basic message "Careless Talk Costs Lives.” While our talk may not “cost lives” careless words are costly, often harmful, and can cause serious problems.
Years ago, Solomon realized this and said, “Those who guard their lips guard their lives.” It is like placing a boundary around what we want people to know or think about us. Being careful is wise because we will not have to try to explain what we mean if we express an unclear thought or idea. We will not have to apologize or make amends or be fearful for things we might have said that could stain someone’s reputation if we speak unkindly. In fact, later in Proverbs, Solomon said that our “tongues have the power of life and death.”
There is also the person who “speaks rashly.” This person speaks without taking time to think or makes statements that are untrue, intending to hurt, harm, destroy, or take advantage of others. Many of us have endured - even struggled to survive - false stories or outright lies about us as others intended to damage or destroy us. We have been left fearful and unable to trust others because of their unfair words.
But we are to take heart. Our God is a fair and just God and He will, in His own time, make all things right. Those who “speak rashly will come to ruin.”
Prayer: Father, we are grateful that You love us, understand us, and know “who we are.” May we never harm others. May we bring them Your healing and hope, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 13:3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

"Teachable Moments"

There are various ways to recognize those moments when students are “open” to learning. On the other hand, there are many times when students are unwilling to learn no matter who the teacher may be. Recently the phrase, “teachable moments” has become popular. While there are constant opportunities for teaching and learning, many times neither the pupil nor teacher take advantage of the moment.
“A wise son,” wrote Solomon, “heeds (or accepts) his father’s instruction; but a mocker does not listen to rebuke (or correction).” Obviously, Solomon knew something about the teaching process, learner readiness, and pupil attitudes. But that is not enough. Perhaps that is why God inspired him to use the word “instruction.” That word was wisely chosen for its true meaning: “education through correction.” At the heart of each of the Proverbs is the fact that we, in and of ourselves, do not know the ultimate answers to life. We all have the basic need for our Father to teach us His truth and His ways for our lives. And that begins with “the fear of the Lord.”
This proverb places the responsibility of learning on the pupil - the son. But, it also places the responsibility to teach on the father. Yet, to teach the son, the father needs wisdom and fear. We “recycle” back to the truth that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!”
Fathers are both responsible and accountable to God to teach their sons His wisdom. Yes, there are many things that fathers must teach their sons and daughters, but none as important as teaching them God’s wisdom.
Prayer: We pray, Lord, that all fathers will realize their obligation to You: to instill Your wisdom in their hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction; but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

"The Way"

“Yes, we do look forward to the day when we will meet in the sweet by and by,” said the aging evangelist with the volume of his voice rising, “but right now we live in the nasty now and now!” I wonder what he would say today - some fifty years later.
Wherever we look today “nasty” seems to be more and more predominant and the “sweet by and by” more enticing. Evil and wickedness, immorality and indecency confront us constantly. What once made most people blush and gasp rarely causes them to turn their eyes from lewd scenes or pictures. Advertisements and marketing strategies are now designed to exploit what was once pure and sacred, beautiful and honorable. What once was unimaginable is now commonplace and common. But God’s laws have not changed.
“In the way of righteousness there is life, along that path is immortality,” wrote Solomon. He was not writing of heaven as we now understand it from the New Testament. It was a “hint” of things to be revealed as God unfolded His message through the risen Christ.
There is no doubt about the fact that “the way” of the righteous points to the “path of immortality.” Clearly it looks beyond this world and into the next. It reflects the insight of David when he wrote, “And I - in righteousness will see your face, when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” We also have the words of Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth (and) in my flesh I will see God; with my own eyes - I and not another. My heart yearns...” Heaven awaits those who accept Christ!
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, to know that “the way” is Your way and will lead us into Your presence. We are so blest to have eternal life through You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:28 In the way of righteousness there is life, along that path is immortality. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Choose Wisely!

God created us to live in relationships with others. In fact, it is difficult for many to go through a day without speaking to someone about something. Friends are very important and can bring “good things to life.” However, the opposite can also be true. Some friendships bring healing, help and hope into our lives while others bring us trouble, turmoil and tragedy.
No doubt Solomon had his share of friendships that were not what he expected and brought the unwanted and unexpected into his life. So, he issued us a warning: “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
“Righteous” in the Old Testament always refers to meeting God’s standards of what is right and just. If our relationship with God is as He wants it to be, then we must be “cautious” about our relationships with others. Unfortunately, being close friends with a person whom we admire and respect, but who has no time or concern for godly things is very dangerous. The influence that person has on our life can lead us astray and destroy us. That is why we must be “cautious.” Our relationship with God is more important that any relationship with any other person.
But how “cautious” are we to be? Very! The meaning of that word includes “duties” like instigate, spy out or search out. “How foolish,” some might say. Not really. If we want the best God has to offer us, we must be cautious.
Prayer: Lord, may we guard our relationship with You and strengthen it through reading Your Word and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Words That Harm - Words That Heal

We often hear of damage done by those who “speak before they think.” Their damage is harmful, “piercing like a sword,” leaving broken hearts, troubled minds and sleepless nights as a result. I know of no one who has not been damaged, in one way or another, by careless words from calloused hearts. Unfortunately, for some, speaking harshly is a way of life. Kindness does not reside within them.
People who destroy others with their words are not new. Solomon recognized the pain they caused others when he wrote, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
“Reckless words” are words that come from resentful hearts and minds filled with evil thoughts. For whatever is in our hearts is there because we gave it a home. “Out of the abundance...” If it’s in there, we allow it to be there because we do not realize the damage it does to ourselves and others. And, it will remain there until we ask God, in humility and sincerity, to remove the rage.
And when He does, we can do great things for those hurt by the “reckless words” of others: we can bring them His healing. Imagine this wonderful opportunity that is available to us to take the healing grace of God to those who have been harmed by hatred and wounded by words.
“The tongue of the wise brings healing!” How? Heed what Paul said: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” – God’s love through us.
Prayer: From our own experience, Father, we know the pain of “reckless words.” Help us to realize the power of our words and use them to help and heal others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"Makes Sense To Me!"

That’s the problem. It may make sense to the person making the decision, but no one else. So, Solomon warns, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” And, that’s not always easy!
Taking advice from others is a statement, to some, of being inadequate or incomplete. It is a public admission that “You, of all people, could actually keep me from being wrong? You, keep me, from making a mistake? How dare you think I don’t know everything!”
It is sometimes difficult to admit our limitations. No, perhaps most of the time it is difficult to admit we cannot handle things by ourselves and have limited information about choices that confront us. We think and reason, talk and ask questions, but if what we hear does not agree with what we already have in mind, we readily dismiss it, whether it could keep us from disaster.
Closed minded, stubborn, insecure and threatened individuals who refuse advice, or counsel, are usually very defensive. They are quick to argue and anger, usually impatient and insecure, closed and lonely people. They are self-destructive, and in the process usually destroy others because every decision impacts the lives of others.
Looking to others for insight and understanding, for knowledge and information requires humility. And that may be the real problem. To be humble is to admit that “I don’t have all the answers! Only God does.”
If after searching His Word and praying, we do not have His peace, He’ll send the right “advisor” if we ask.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to be strong enough to become weak, wise enough to seek advice, and then trust You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Our Daily Bread

There can be no doubt about the significance of work in the eyes of God. It is a theme that we find throughout His Word. Work glorifies God and is a way to demonstrate our obedience to His plan for our lives as well as a way to worship and honor Him.
Consider Paul. He was a tentmaker by trade but a minister of the gospel, theologian, philosopher, warrior, legal expert, missionary and author of Scripture under the direction of God. In fact, he instituted a “rule” with “the church of the Thessalonians.” This rule was blunt and to the point: “For when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work he shall not eat.’” One does not need a degree in Biblical exegesis to understand that.
Solomon addressed two points of view about work: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” Willing workers will be blessed and have all their needs met. God will see to that. God, however, has another rule: if we know of someone in need, who honestly cannot work or find work, we who are Christians are obligated to help them.
Those who “chase fantasies lack judgment” referring to “delusional” thinking. They are the ones who chase an easy way of living by devising schemes to take advantage of others. They want to receive life’s rewards without hard work and riches from “rackets” not righteousness.
And, yes, they may have “their day.” But, in the end, they “lack judgment” that comes from following God’s way and His wisdom, and ultimately, face His judgment.
Prayer: Sound judgment, wise decisions and eternal rewards, Lord, come from obedience to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:11 He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Wickedness Vs Righteousness

Solomon makes no apology for the wicked and their lifestyle. In fact, his choice of words leaves no doubt about what they do and how to recognize them.
For example: “A man cannot be established through wickedness; the advice of the wicked is deceitfulness; the words of the wicked lie in wait for blood; wicked men are overthrown and are no more; men with warped minds are despised.” And, in the end: “The Lord condemns a crafty man!”
However, the righteous: “cannot be uprooted; the plans of the righteous are just; the speech of the righteous rescues them; the house of the righteous stands forever; the house of the righteous stands firm.” And ultimately: “A good man finds favor with the Lord.”
It is most interesting to note that the wicked have a completely different approach to life than the righteous. They have a single focus. Whatever they do begins with the question: “How will what I am doing benefit me?” This opens the door to being deceitful and dishonest, being cunning and waiting for the right moment to take advantage of the weak, uninformed, less educated, those looking for someone they can trust to help them, the vulnerable.
When we look at the righteous, we see the exact opposite: what they do is steadfast, open, will stand the test of time and God’s scrutiny, and they want to be just and fair as God is just and fair. Whatever they do, ultimately, will be right and just in the eyes of God and man.
The final reward? God’s blessings or condemnation. What are you living for?
Prayer: Lord, how we live and how we get what we have reflects our attitude toward and our relationship with You. May what we do always honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:7 The wicked die and disappear, but the family of the godly stands firm. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

A Husband's Crown

Crowns have a fascinating role in history. In the ancient world, crowns came in many shapes and forms and were made of the costliest materials available. They symbolized royalty and sovereignty. When David fought and conquered the King of the Amorites, he took his crown to celebrate his victory. It was made with precious stones and gold, and the gold in that crown weighed one hundred ten pounds. In today’s market the gold in that crown would be worth $3,004,870.00. The power and might of the king were represented by the size and value of his crown.
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,” wrote Solomon, “but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” We read in Genesis that God created woman to be man’s helper. As God reviewed His creation, He realized that Adam could not do what He wanted him to do by himself. He needed help. So, God created a “helper” for him: Eve.
The word “helper,” however, does not capture the depth of the meaning of that word. A “helper,” as used in this verse is one who assists another to reach their full potential, to fill up or complement the other person. Eve, Adam’s wife, was created to make him “complete!”
A wife of “noble character” can bring her husband esteem and honor, recognition and respect. But he must first earn it! If the husband does his part in becoming the man God created him to be, then the wife can do her part and represent him well. She will be able to complete and complement her husband and receive her “crown.”
Prayer: Bless, encourage, and empower those wives, Father, who compliment and complete their husband’s calling. And, may husbands love, honor and respect their wives always. Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Life's Alternatives

“There are three sets of alternatives,” our professor of ethics once said. “They include ‘either/or, neither/nor or both/and.’” We often tend to focus on one of them when we face certain situations, never bothering to consider that the one we have chosen may or may not be the right one. We often make a decision without thinking it through completely or wanting to get it over quickly because we don’t see other “alternatives.”
But God’s Word is very clear when choices are to be made. There are times when one has no options: so it is “neither” this “nor” that. For example, “You shall have no other God except or before me!” It’s neither this god nor that god, because, “I am the Lord your God!”
There are also times when it is “both/and.” For example, we read, “Do this and you will live.” This alternative is a win/win approach to life. When we follow the rules of God, we will live and live well because we are assured of His blessings and the prosperity that comes from being obedient to His laws and commands.
Solomon said, “A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be moved.” Stability in life comes from following God and being obedient to His Word. “In the beginning was the Word,” said John. God’s Word has been, is and always will be the ultimate test! His truth cannot be negotiated. The one who builds his life and ways on the Word of God will never have to question what is right or wrong, good or bad, honest or deceitful.
Prayer: May we have the courage, conviction, and commitment to follow Your ways, Lord, and enjoy Your blessings now and eternal life with You when we die. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:3 Wickedness never brings stability, but the godly have deep roots. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Where Do You Stand?

There’s not much “middle ground” when it comes to attitudes about “teachers’ pets” in the classroom or for those who are “the bosses’ most trusted friends.” If a student has found “special favor” with a teacher or an employee has gained “special recognition” by someone in authority at work, the rest of the class or workforce often resent the attention they receive or the benefits they get. And, why not?
Often there seem to be “secret” or “hidden” paths to such status. How they got there, or what they did to get “rewarded” is not always obvious. At one time it was an “apple” or “box of candy” for the teacher. Perhaps it was a “cup of coffee” to begin the day or a “special gift” on a holiday for “the boss.” But the way to gain this status is not published in a student handbook or organization’s policy manual.
With God, it’s very different. He has no favorites. There are no hidden secrets if anyone wants Him to recognize them at any time or from any place. He is always waiting anxiously for us to call on Him. His ears can hear the faintest whisper from the weakest voice.
Solomon gave us some great advice: “A good man obtains favor from the Lord; but the Lord condemns a crafty man.” A “good man” in the “eyes of the Lord” is one who lives to honor God; one who does what he does because he is motivated by God to serve Him and help others. A man who is “crafty” is one who “devises evil” or hides the facts, is not open and honest, nor truthful in his dealings with or service to others.
Want God’s favor? Follow Solomon’s advice! Honor God, serve others, and be rewarded!
Prayer: Lord, Your instructions for success are always direct, easily understood, though difficult. Give me Your strength to be faithful to Your teachings in all I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:2 A good man obtains favor from the Lord; but the Lord condemns a crafty man. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Natural Or Normal Or Neither

There are certain words that seem to “ignite” our emotions. When we hear them, we react without thinking, take positions that are rigid and resolute, deep-seated feelings surface causing fear and frustration, and may or may not cause problems. These words are usually attached to memories from our past but impact our actions and attitudes the moment we hear them.
A good example would be the words “love” and “discipline.” On one occasion, Solomon used these two words in one verse: “To learn, you must love discipline.” The word “love” in this verse means “to hold dear or to desire actively.” So, if we want to learn God’s wisdom, we must give it a priority in our life and pursue it actively, believing that it will become a positive influence and assure us of God’s blessings.
“Discipline” in this verse means “to instruct,” or “to willingly be taught the truths of God’s Word.” And, for some this may be a problem. Often God’s instructions – His wisdom – are contrary to our selfish interests and ambitions. When it comes to learning and following God’s instructions, we choose not to “hold them dear to our hearts” and “have a desire to actively pursue them.” We look for moments of happiness and the immediate gratification of pleasures that quickly pass and leave painful memories.
In the final analysis, it’s “neither natural nor normal” to “desire” instruction that goes against our sinful “nature.” But, it is essential if we want the peace of God in our hearts and His presence in our lives and if we want the truths of His wisdom to guard us and guide us throughout life.
PRAYER: Help us, Lord, to be willing to open our hearts and accept Your truths. We know that they are the way to eternal life and the assurance of Your peace and protection. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:1 To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Now Or Later Or Both?

It’s really rather obvious: the “righteous” will receive rewards while living. It’s also obvious that the sinner and the wicked will receive “much more repayment” for their lifestyle.
While not stated quite so obviously, it is clear that someone will pass judgment on both, and both will be compensated for what they have done or not done, and how they have lived. And the “judge” will “compensate” both of them.
While in court recently, I was careful to watch the proceedings and the actions of the judge. To some, he said, “Your behavior has surprised me, and I’m going to reduce your sentence as a reward.” To others, he said, “You have broken the law once again. Therefore, your parole is revoked, and you are going back to prison.”
Judges have the power to sanction those who are under their control or jurisdiction. A sanction can be a reward for exceeding expectations or requirements. Or a sanction may be given as punishment for disobeying or breaking the law or regulations.
Some look at the Proverbs as being too simplistic or too good to be true. For example, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner.”
Take note of “on earth.” This is a bold statement that God is active - here and now - in rewarding or punishing - everyone - righteous or wicked. Also, these sanctions are both positive and negative. Finally, rewards from God will be handled judiciously - today and in the future!
Prayer: Father, help us to realize that You, our Judge, are watching us constantly, continuously, and, carefully. Help us to live godly lives and please You Always! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:31 If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Sure Sign Of Wisdom

“Dr. Guido,” she said rather timidly, “how do you see yourself? All of the teachers we have are different. But tell us, what makes you different from all of the others?”
My first thought was to explain how my world view differed from most other professors because of my faith in Christ. That would have been a safe, standard answer. But I wanted to say something that made the way I taught distinct from other professors. As I reflected on the importance of her question, I realized how critical my answer would be.
After a few moments, God brought a word to my mind that I had never associated with teaching before. I looked at the young lady and said, “I see my role as being similar to the role of a midwife. I believe that it is my responsibility to bring in to your life, and the lives of others, what God has planted or will plant within you. My role is to work with God to bring what He plants in your head and heart to life, and to prepare you for the life He has for you.”
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives,” wrote Solomon. What we do in our relationships with others is a matter of life and death. We are responsible, with the opportunities and guidance that God gives us, to bring others into a saving relationship with Him. We are to use whatever gifts, talents, skills, influence or position God has given us to bring His message of “life” to others.
A “tree of life” will grow in the life of one who has been redeemed by Christ. And, that “tree” will also bear fruit and bring “the tree of life” to others by its fruit. By this we will be known.
Prayer: Lord, we plant “seeds” continually by what we do and what we say. May we constantly plant Your “seeds,” bring “life” and “near fruit” wherever we go. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

If And When

The Bible was not written to teach psychology. But, the Bible is psychologically sound and correct.
Consider Proverbs 12:25: “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” The writer does not profess to be a diagnostician, but he certainly is insightful.
Recently a study on “anxiety disorders” concluded that 40 million Americans, or 18.1% of our population, are plagued with fears that, from time to time, trouble them deeply. It is also a known fact that anxiety can lead to depression.
From wisdom that came from God, Solomon made the same “diagnosis.” Notice that he said, “Anxiety weighs down the heart.” The words “weigh down” imply a state of depression. Our author, with God’s guidance and insight, described people whose anxiety is coupled with fear or worry – which as I mentioned earlier, can lead to depression.
All of us, at one time or another, have had those moments when we feared that something horrible was about to overtake or destroy us. When those feelings came to the “surface,” it was natural to feel “weighted down,” either “oppressed” or “depressed.” And, when this happens, it is normal and natural to look for encouragement and support. How tragic if no one was there to help us or share a “kind word to cheer us up” and “lift the weight.”
Notice, however, that Solomon was not talking to a behavioral health specialist. He was talking to people like us who have the ability to recognize the lonely, the sad, the worried, the anxious, and depressed. Often people, also like us, only need a “word” of grace, comfort, encouragement or ... simply a smile, to bring them hope, health, and happiness.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for giving us Your love to share with others. May we be alert to those around us who need Your love and kindness and offer them hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Right Way - Wrong Way

“I may not always be right,” he said as though he believed it, “but I’m never wrong. Never!” Impressive!
We sat there wondering if he knew what he was saying, trying to convince himself of such insanity, or wanting to create fear in our hearts about his power. It really did not matter. All of us, including him, realized the folly of his speech.
However, there are many who believe as he believed: they are incapable of being wrong. They refuse to accept the counsel of anyone and after making a decision become even more resolute and stubborn. Solomon had something to say to people who hold that opinion of themselves: “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
Ultimately and finally, those who have that attitude about themselves are on a path to self-destruction. When looked at from a biblical point of view, they refuse to accept the role of sin in their lives, their need for a Savior, or the reality of God’s judgment that awaits them. Their world view is completely distorted.
The wise, however, “listen to advice.” Even though they may be embarrassed or disappointed when someone who loves them corrects them, or points out a “flaw,” they know that it is for their good. Those who listen to the advice or counsel of someone with spiritual insight and wisdom will be rewarded. Listening to and accepting the advice of our “elders in Christ” is the “wise” thing to do before making any decision.
Prayer: Lord, break the hardness of our hearts when we think we “know it all.” Lead us to those who are spiritually mature, love You deeply, and are biblically wise. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Friday, April 26, 2019

"You Need To Change Her Name!"

“Larry, you need to change Bella’s name to ‘Lucky,’” said my friend Bruce. “I can’t imagine anyone who would take better care of that dog than you. It’s plain to me she’s not Bella. She’s ‘Lucky’ - really lucky she found you.” Here’s the backstory…
One dark, stormy, cold, foggy night I opened the door to our carport. Sensing something at my foot, I looked down. There, looking up at me, was a small, unkempt dog wagging her tail nervously, and wiggling all over as if to say, “I’m home!”
For weeks Mary and I searched for her owners but were unsuccessful. Then, we tried to find her another home. That didn’t work either. Every time we thought we found a new home for her, we failed. So, we decided to keep her and named her “Bella,” which means “beautiful.”
When reading through Proverbs several months ago, I noticed a verse that had never registered in my mind: “The righteous care for the needs of their animals.” Please understand that I am not claiming to be righteous, though I try desperately to live right, nor am I elevating animals to the level of humans. But notice this:
A distinct contrast is made by the author between a person who is righteous and one who is not: the one who is righteous has a gentleness that the wicked do not have. And, if one is truly righteous, it becomes obvious: if we as believers willingly give our hearts completely to God, He will remove every trace of “cruelty” from us - even to the way we treat animals. He will control us and bless us and enable us to demonstrate how much we value every gift He gives us - even animals. We expose who we truly are by the way we care for each gift God gives us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, implant within us a gentle, gracious and loving heart. May we respect all of Your gifts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Why Character Counts

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”
That little phrase has been used by many parents and teachers to comfort children who have been harassed. Words used to describe another person are important because they form the foundation of one’s reputation. And, like it or not, everyone has a reputation.
Age is almost irrelevant when we talk about another person. Opinions are formed, decisions made, and often opportunities or limitations are placed on another individual because of what is said about them. Never mind “who said what,” an opinion is formed. Even first impressions or a few words shared about another person can last a lifetime. What is said and heard about someone can build them up or tear them down.
If the words are praiseworthy, they can bring honor to that person. If they are mean- spirited, they may result in a life of torment to the one defamed. Words stick and sometimes shatter hopes and dreams. What we do and what others say about what we do is critical!
“A person is praised because of their wise choices, and one with a warped mind is despised,” wrote Solomon. This “warning” reminds us that we are responsible for what others believe about us based on our behavior. “Prudence” describes the choices we make and are observed by others. If our choices are “honorable,” we will be praised. Otherwise, our reputation for having a “warped mind,” or being a person “with a crooked heart” will come to light.
What a challenge this presents to Christians. We must walk our talk!
Prayer: Lord, You, as well as everyone else, observe everything we do. May we live honorably, righteously, and always in agreement with Your teachings! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:8 A person is praised because of their wise choices, and one with a warped mind is despised. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Choosing A Wife

“Clothes make the man!” was a popular saying years ago. Solomon, however, would strongly disagree. To the contrary, he would say that “A worthy woman enhances her husband’s reputation and well-being and status in the community.” He does not imply, even slightly, that a wife “exists” only to “serve” a husband, but to do him “good.”
This “worthy woman” is more thoroughly described in Proverbs 31, and it is not by accident that in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Ruth follows the book of Proverbs, a living example of what he is teaching. This wife of “noble character” stands as a “model wife” for the young man who one day will become a husband. A wife of “noble character” is the “crown” of her husband because she brings him esteem, honor, and worth in his community.
It stands in direct contrast to a wife who “shames her husband.” The wife who “shames” her husband, lowers his status and brings shame on him with her “lack of good judgment.” Her influence on his reputation is like “decay in his bones” - the “rotting” away of his life because he is never able to “rise above her reputation” or influence in the community where they live. No matter how successful he may be, she “brings him down” because she lacks the character that God will honor and bless! She does what displeases God!
When we look deeply into the importance of this verse, we discover the importance of a “noble wife.” We are warned about the seriousness and importance of choosing a partner for life. A partner is not to be chosen because of beauty or glamour or wealth. Godliness and character must come first. Then, the things God blesses, will follow.
PrayerThank You, Father, for this warning and the truth it contains. Thank You, also, that change is possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

God's Favorites?

It’s true! God has favorites!
It’s also true that He offers all of us the opportunity to become one of His favorites. And, it’s not that difficult, either. “Good people,” wrote Solomon, “obtain favor from the Lord.” It’s rather obvious that those who want “His favor,” as well as those who receive “His favor” are those who are “good people.”
Since most of us have our own definition of “good,” it is important to understand God’s definition of “good.” If we know His definition of “good,” we then have a choice: we can either meet His requirements and receive “His favor” or decide that “His favor” is not worth the effort.
Throughout the Old Testament “good people” are the ones who are motivated by a Godly-love to do Godly-things. They willingly set their own needs and desires to the side while they serve the needs of others. Doing “God-things” is the driving force in their lives. The “good” are those who are able and willing when they see someone in need, to do something about it - even if it means they willingly sacrifice something. The “good” are those who work with God to bring honor to His name when one of His children is being treated unfairly or unjustly, is in need or is suffering. The “good” are those who follow the examples of Jesus: His life was about doing “good.” The “good” have God’s “seal of approval” on their lives.
“Those who devise wicked schemes” are the opposite of the “good people.” Their lives are about self, not sacrifice; their “schemes” are unfair, unjust, unholy; they lack decency, honesty, integrity or kindness. God’s wrath awaits them. Live well, and receive God’s favor!
Prayer: Lord, convict me, challenge me, discipline me, and burden me through Your Holy Spirit, until I become one of Your “good people.” And revive Your favor! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:2 Good people obtain favor from the Lord, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Knowledge And Discipline

It was obvious to Solomon.
People who want wisdom are willing to pay the price to get it - because they “love” it. There is even a willingness, by some, to be disciplined, if necessary, to obtain wisdom.
People who “hate correction” or discipline, on the other hand, are considered “stupid.”
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid,” wrote Solomon. There is a price to be paid for everything: even knowledge. In this verse, the author uses two interesting words to describe the attitude of one who wants “knowledge” or one who is content to be “stupid” - love and hate. Here, however, they are not connected to an emotional state. They focus on the priorities of an individual. If a person wants knowledge, it must be a lifelong priority. If a person wants to be stupid, the only requirement is to refuse to learn or be corrected.
Knowledge and wisdom have very similar meanings in the Bible. In fact, they are almost synonymous, life-giving, life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and require one thing in common: the person who wants them, must at all costs, embrace “discipline.” To “get” one, “wisdom,” we must endure the other, “discipline.” In other words if I want to be wise, I must accept discipline.
Interestingly, the word “stupid” is found five times in the Old Testament. It is used to portray a dense, dumb animal as well as a man who is unkind and runs roughshod over people.
To refuse discipline, then, lowers the status of a person. To accept discipline opens the door to successful living.
Prayer: How blest we are, Father, for the opportunities You give us to achieve great things. Help us to persevere. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.