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.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Prosperity Plus

Sin is sin.
There’s no way around it. Some ridicule those who fear it. Some try to hide it. Some look forward to doing it. Some suffer horrible consequences because of it. Some do their best to avoid it. Some can’t get enough of it.
Some have ways of classifying sins. One sin, to some, may be worse than another sin. “If you do it, it’s a sin! But if I do it, well, it’s a mistake or something that could not be avoided.” Or, “God was testing me, and it was more than even the best Christian could resist. It got me!”
Many consider the rich, wealthy, or prosperous to be devious and dishonest, sinister and sinful, unable to be honest and helpful because they are successful. They cannot believe that what the rich have is a result of clean living, hard work, honoring God and serving others. However, this position cannot be supported by Scripture.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or rich or successful. What makes the difference? “Those who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”
Many who have riches are also very righteous. They recognize that what they have comes from God, and in turn, honor Him from the abundance of His gifts and with hearts that are pure. What we have and do with what we have, proves our motives and what we love.
The Bible clearly states that the problems of the rich do not come from their riches, but from the way they relate to worldly wealth. Thank God for their wealth if they use it to honor and glorify Him. However, it’s not what they do with God’s blessings, but what I do with mine.
Prayer: Father, whatever I have are gifts that come to me from Your love and grace. What I do with them, and how I use them, proves how much I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:28 Those who trust in their riches will fail, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Where Does It All End?

“Be patient! God’s not finished with me yet!” Many of us use those words as an excuse every time we make a mess of things. While I’m not sure it ever worked for that reason, it was comforting until reality set in. There are days when God seems to be shaking us by the nape of our necks to get our attention. There are other days when His grace grants one blessing after another. It cannot be denied, however, that we are all a “work in progress” as long as we are alive. The question we must ask ourselves is: What is progress, and how will we know when God is finished with us?
If the “godly look forward to a reward,” what happens when we falter, fail or fall? Are we doomed? Is godliness or righteousness ever attainable in this life? Or, is it something we are to struggle with and strive for as long as we live?
In this instance, “look forward” is the outcome of those who have “righteousness” or “godliness” as a goal. It is what God’s children focus their heads, hearts and hands on. It is not something that “happens” as a byproduct of life. Righteous living is a core value at the center of all that believers do. Unrighteousness, which is the opposite, must be avoided at all costs!
“The wicked can expect only God’s wrath.” Now, that should get everyone’s attention. Wrath, God’s wrath, is His overflowing anger against the unrighteous. God’s wrath can be compared to a fire that is slowly growing, and, at the moment in time, will be all consuming.
This verse should remind us that the unrighteous face God’s impending judgment and eventual wrath. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the time to repent!
Prayer: May we understand, Father, that our desires determine our destiny. May righteousness rule in our hearts, be the center of our heart, and the work of our hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Even before getting out of bed this morning, I had to make a decision: Would I hit the “snooze” button and rest a little longer or would I turn off the alarm and start my day? It is not possible to go for any length of time without having to make a decision. And although all of us are making decisions most of the time, we rarely take time to think about our “decision-making process.”
Every decision we make affects our lives one way or another. Some decisions last a lifetime and can bring joy and satisfaction or sorrow and guilt. Some can be changed immediately if we see things going in the wrong direction. Others engulf us and seem to squeeze the life out of us. Often we want to blame others for our decisions, but ultimately, we are accountable for everyone.
Solomon provided us with excellent decision-making advice: “For lack of guidance a nation falls; but victory is won through many advisors.” What applies to a nation also applies to an individual. Gathering information from a variety of reliable people will provide guidance, insight and direction and lead to the best decision.
In this verse, an “uncommon” word is used: guidance. It refers to the “tackle” or the “ropes” that enable a ship to stay on course. People are much like ships: where there is no guidance even the shortest journey can be disastrous. Learning the “ropes” that come from God’s wisdom will lead us through the charted course that God has laid out for us before the foundation of the world.
No wonder He is called the Wonderful Counselor!
Prayer: Father, may we always seek Your guidance for each decision we make in life. May we always look to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:14 For lack of guidance a nation falls; but victory is won through many advisors. 

How Much More?

“How much more?” is a familiar phrase. As in, “How much more do you want from me...” or “How much more of this do you think I can take...” or “How much more is there in life...” or “How much more can be done...” And, the list could go on and on.
Those three words appear four times in the Book of Proverbs and the words, “How much less” appears twice. There are several lines of thought about their meaning: Some think they are too good to be true; some think they are overly simplistic; some think their promises are vastly overstated while others think they apply to the spiritual realm alone and are completely “future-oriented.”
“If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner,” writes Solomon. Is there a simple message in these few words that we may try to complicate for the sake of discussion? Perhaps.
There is a popular opinion among many that some sins are not bad, or that they can sin and “get away with it.” But, that opinion is not supported by Scripture. Besides, when we want to know what sin is, where it comes from, and what to do about it, we do not go to psychologists or philosophers: We go to God’s Word!
As far as riches and righteousness, sin and unholy living go, Solomon has some advice: “The righteous do receive their due on earth; how much more the ungodly!” Jesus said: “What a man sows he will reap.” Sow righteousness – reap God’s blessings. Sow evil – reap suffering!
God will reward each of us for the way we live - now and in the life to come.
Prayer: Please, Lord, give me a desire to live a righteous life - a life that is worthy of Your unending blessings! May I walk in Your paths and always follow You! 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!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

It's All Up To God

“God’s gonna get you for that!”
There was little doubt in Sally’s mind about God’s justice. Any time anyone said anything she didn’t want to hear, out would come her famous “threat.” With red hair, a pointed finger and a strong voice, she would continue, “You just wait and see. Maybe not before you fall asleep. But, I’d keep one eye open while I slept tonight if I were you! I know He’s coming after you for that! What you said was wrong.”
Everyone on campus loved Sally. Her enthusiasm for life, her happy smile, the twinkle in her eye. Every time she uttered those words, the receiver could not help but look around for a speeding truck or bolt of lightning. Or both. She was very convincing.
However, justice belongs to God, not Sally. He is righteous. He is fair. He has no favorites. He looks at things differently than we do. Scripture reassures us that “He does all things well.” He will not allow others to destroy His beloved children. His Son died for them.
“The righteous person is rescued from trouble,” said Solomon, “and it falls on the wicked instead.” He knew from personal experience that when the righteous are the objects of schemes to hurt them, God will intervene at the appropriate time. Our God will never allow any injustice to go by without becoming personally involved. Even though we do not know what His justice will bring or when it will come, all of life is in His hands. He will right each wrong.
Isaiah summed it up this way: “For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.”
Prayer: Help us, Father, to trust in Your justice. We are human, and naturally resentful and spiteful. You, however, are loving and fair and will do what is right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,” said Solomon, “and it falls on the wicked instead. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Is It The End Or The Beginning?

“I’m bored with it all!”
Power and prestige, influence and insight, victory and valor seemed worthless to Winston Churchill as he faced death. His final words expressed hopelessness and emptiness as he slipped into a coma nine days before he died. What a tragic statement from a man who shaped the course of history as he was about to face eternity without Christ.
As he was struggling to breathe, a colleague took the hand of Michael Faraday, the brilliant chemist and scientist and asked, “What will be your occupation in heaven?” He replied, “I shall be with Christ, and that is enough!”
Two famous men who lived two world-influencing lives. However, when it came to facing death, one looked backward in despair, the other forward in a faith that was filled with hope and expectation! What a startling difference God made in their lives,
“Hopes placed in men dies with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.” Solomon shared his great wisdom with these words. He clearly stated the difference between a life lived for God, and a life lived for any other reason or purpose: One who does not live for God or know Christ personally will eventually see all of his hopes and dreams die. Living only for this life or living a life that focuses on oneself ends with a sense of hopelessness and insignificance. When this life ends, another begins in the presence of God or the depths of darkness.
What a blessed hope we have if we choose to accept the love and grace and mercy of God. Hope can be ours because of Christ. Choose Christ, find life, have hope.
Prayer: How great is Your love, Lord. As unworthy as we are, we have forgiveness of our sins, a purpose for living, and hope for the future through Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:7 Hopes placed in men dies with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Level Pathways

Recently, I received two fall catalogs from sporting goods companies. Both featured items that anyone who loves the outdoors would be pleased to own. Both had a focus on hiking and the wilderness. The clothes were so attractive that they appeared glamorous enough to wear to a wedding reception.
But the shoes were in a class by themselves. They all had a rugged appearance with built-in safety features: steel shanks for stability, soles with rock-biting “teeth” to provide non-skid traction, comfortable inserts to prevent fatigue, and strong laces that would last for years.
Every picture that featured the shoes “in action” had a person walking up a steep incline with rocks, shrubs, and stones that made the journey difficult. Some of the models had a stick in their hand to provide balance or to protect them from snakes or other animals. All appeared ready for “anything” with canteens of water and first aid kits. Whatever came their way would be subdued! They were prepared to conquer anything at any time. They were ready for their journey into and through the wilderness.
But no matter how wisely they prepared for their journey through the wilderness, it did not prepare them for the journey through life. The journey through life is not about shoes or clothing: it is about walking in God’s righteousness. The only “safe-passage” is with Christ. “The righteousness of the blameless makes their path straight, but the wicked are brought down by their deeds.”
God will grant us a “safe passage” through life. But we must follow His path if we want it.
Prayer: Lord, may we stay close to You as we journey through life, knowing that we will be safe and secure if we follow Your paths. Give us courage to do so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their path straight, but the wicked are brought down by their deeds. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Riches And Righteousness

“I need to come to talk with you,” he said nervously. “I have everything anyone could ask for, but I’m miserable. I think you are the only hope I have. As soon as I get back from this trip I’m taking, I’ll be in to see you.”
“Well,” I said, “I don’t have any answers for your problems, but I believe strongly that God does. And, if you seek Him sincerely and honestly, He’ll give you the right answer for any problem. We have His Word on that.”
The trip is over. He returned safely and had a “good time,” but has found no time to look for God’s answers to his miserable condition. Perhaps the trip was so enjoyable that it has relieved him, temporarily, of his distress. It may also have been a “gentle” forewarning from God that, when his misery returns, he will not escape His wrath the next time.
God does everything He can to bring people to a place while they still have time to make things “right” with Him. Our God is not only gracious; He is patient and inviting. But, as Solomon wrote, “Wealth is worthless in the day of God’s wrath.”
When that “day of wrath” arrives, no amount of this world’s wealth will make any difference. To support this fact, David wrote a warning to the wealthy who have no time for God: “The foolish and the senseless also perish. People, despite their wealth, do not endure.”
Righteousness and right living have their rewards: a life with God’s presence, power and protection now, and a life with Him in eternity. He promised us that He would deliver us from death and destruction, and grant us eternal life with Him in the future. Trust Him today!
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for Your salvation, the assurance of Your presence and protection now, the gift of hope, and the promise of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

One False Turn...

It was a new car with a new navigation system, and we were living near the top of a mountain. We were told that our home was well over 5,500 feet above sea level. To reach our front steps was a major driving project. The road twisted and turned and included several “switchbacks” - instant “U” turns. At times it seemed as though the turns were much tighter than a paper clip.
As we sat and struggled to program our “nav system” before beginning this journey, our hearts beat with excitement. It was a new experience, and we were anxious to learn if it worked. After many mistakes and several minutes, a voice “came from the clouds” and said: “Proceed to the nearest major highway.” It was frightening! What next, we thought.
As we started down the mountain, the little arrow that was intended to point us in the direction started to go around in circles. It was spinning as though it could not determine where we were to go. This was certainly not a “confidence builder.” But, we started down the mountain, twisting and turning, and when we arrived at the highway, that same voice said, “Turn right and proceed 7.4 miles to Highway 16, and left on Highway 21.” It was correct, and our faith grew.
Trust and confidence are the most critical factors when looking for directions - especially our directions for life. Solomon assured us that “the integrity of the upright guides them.” To live with Integrity means that we are obedient to all of the commands and directions in the Bible.
Consider Joseph: He was a man of great integrity, yet suffered greatly for being obedient. In the end, however, he was able to say: “God meant it for good! Look at these results!”
Prayer: Guide us and guard us, Lord, and give us courage to be obedient as we seek and follow Your way. Fill us with Your Spirit who will protect us from evil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Disgrace Or Wisdom: Our Choice

The word “pride” seems to be closely connected to those who are arrogant or who have an unreasonably elevated opinion or value of themselves. It presents a picture, in our minds, of one who looks down on others with an attitude of superiority or condescension. Often, we look at those whom we consider “full of pride” as also being “full of themselves and their abilities.” They cannot see God as the giver of every gift they have. In Hebrew, “pride” comes from a word meaning “to boil” and when water boils, it must be channeled or there will be an explosion.
A person of “humility” is one who is seen as being submissive to authority, compliant and willing to listen, observe, and learn. A humble person does not attempt to keep others from being recognized or rewarded for what they have accomplished. Their modesty gives God credit for what He has done through them. And, they also understand that all things come from God and, in all reality, belong to Him.
Is it any wonder, then, that Solomon says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.” If we see ourselves as being above and beyond others, as possessing more ability and knowledge than others, more of anything and everything that others have, we find no room for growth and our need for wisdom, especially God’s wisdom. We “have it all together.” No wonder the proud end up in disgrace – they cannot see who or what they are.
But the humble? They are open, honest, able, and willing to recognize their need for God’s guidance and His wisdom. They desire to know Him and be like His Son!
PrayerHelp us, Father, to realize our limitations, temptations, and failures, and to depend on You to meet our needs for wisdom and guidance. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Double Standards

There is a theme throughout the Old Testament that needs constant attention: God will not tolerate business practices that are dishonest, false, or even questionable. It has its roots in the Law, is emphasized by the prophets, and has a place of prominence in Wisdom Literature.
In Biblical times the phrase “dishonest scales” was used and meant “scales of deceit.” Also used was the phrase “a just weight” or “an accurate” or “perfect stone.” Merchants used “stones” as measures in place of coins and conducted their businesses by using balances and weighted stones. It was common knowledge that merchants had two sets of stones: one for selling and one for purchasing goods. When purchasing products for selling, they would use the heavier stone to gain an advantage over the person who was selling them goods to be resold. When selling their product to others, they would use the lighter stone, which resulted in the customer getting much less than what was paid for. Each stone was labeled, so the merchant knew he had the advantage.
Doing business like this was an “abomination to the Lord,” was unacceptable to Him, and one He would not tolerate. On the other hand, “an accurate weight” found “favor with Him.”
This comes as no surprise to His faithful. God will honor and bless those whose life is consistent with His ways, His Word, and in agreement with His teachings. He will “favor” them.
Remember, the lives of those who profess to be His followers are always under His surveillance. He will honor their faithfulness to Him for the way they honor and treat others.
Prayer: Convict us, Lord, when we are less than honest in any of our ways. May we live lives that honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Focusing On The Future

“The way of the Lord” is a phrase that appears quite frequently in the Bible - most often in the Old Testament. Each time it appears, it is to be viewed as a “path” that God has laid out for His followers, or a path that winds through history as God deals with an individual, a nation or all of mankind.
Solomon wrote that “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but is a ruin of those who do evil.” It is important for us to understand that “God is a refuge” only for those whom he holds blameless - or those who walk in His way! With great trust, we accept Him and believe that only in Him, with Him, and through Him can we find a place of refuge, now and throughout eternity.
God deals with each of us individually and as nations united by a common government. So, those who walk in His righteousness will always find a place of refuge in His grace and mercy because of His love. Evil and evil ones may surround and govern us, but as long as we remain faithful to Him, He will remain faithful to us. We have His Word and His record of faithfulness that His peace, security, and comfort will always be our refuge.
The key to the promise of this verse is strictly an if/then. If we walk in the way of the Lord and have as our primary goal in life to be blameless or righteous, we can then be confident that He is and will be our refuge. We can count on Him at all times, under any condition for His peace and protection. However, if our ways are evil, we are then warned well in advance that His judgment awaits us.
Prayer: Father, Your Word is clear: we can only expect You to be our refuge if we are faithful. Give us strength! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but is a ruin of those who do evil. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

We Have Our Limits

Solomon makes no apology when he writes: “The blessing of the Lord, it makes one rich.” That is the literal translation of the verse: “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth.” When he wrote that powerful statement, he made it abundantly clear that our resources - no matter how abundant they may be - are “limited” by God. It is the Lord who is faithful and who has the final word on riches, who gets them and when they will get them.
No matter how hard we try, how many hours we work, what we do or the skills we possess, we - in and of ourselves - cannot produce wealth. All the wealth in the world cannot make one “rich.” If God does not add His blessing to whatever we have we are, in His sight, poor. On the other hand, one may have none of this world’s goods, yet be rich. How can this be? Rich but not rich? Poor and yet rich? It certainly seems to be contradictory.
But it isn’t. Rich is in the eye of the beholder.
Throughout his Proverbs, Solomon warns us that if we get the “riches” of this world through methods that are dishonest or deceitful, unfair and unjust, many problems will come with them. These problems may range from psychological to physical, legal to financial, personal to interpersonal or relationship issues. Godly living, God-honoring work, and God-centered practices bring joy and satisfaction, peace and true prosperity with them to those who live for the Lord and live righteous lives.
God’s riches come with God’s blessings. And, His blessings are readily available, worry-free, come without guilt or fear of being exposed and shamed from having harmed others.
Prayer: Father, may all that we do, bring blessings, honor, and glory to Your name. May we seek Your “riches.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Heart Health

“If it works, don’t fix it!”
Most of the time our heart works well, and we rarely pause to think about it. Each day our hearts beat about 100,000 times. It sends 2,000 gallons of blood surging through the veins of our bodies, nourishing our organs and tissues. Although it is no bigger than our fist, it keeps blood flowing through 60,000 miles of vessels that wind through our muscles and flesh, and is held together by our porous skin. It is the controlling force of our lives. When it fails, life ends.
The heart, in the Bible, is recognized as the center of our emotions, rational and irrational thoughts, our wills and desires. In the Bible, the heart is the “seat” of the entire personality.
And, the heart, as described in the Bible, can be our most fundamental problem. What we store, keep or hide in our heart, is what we become and who we really are.
So, as long as we “keep our mouths shut” we can deceive others. But, unfortunately, that does not seem to be possible. In the blink of an eye or a moment in time, we “let our guard down” and our true “self” becomes exposed to the world. We are “found out.”
Solomon wrote that “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” Jesus said, “How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
We hear amazing stories about surgeons who are skilled at “heart transplants.” But a heart transplant does not correct the problem of evil. Only Christ can correct that problem. So, He does not transplant hearts. He transforms hearts. When that happens, lives change.
Prayer: Lord, come into and rule our hearts so others will know that Your Son, our Savior, rules our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Who Are The "Real" Heroes?

It is fascinating to walk through any community or mall - or even down a city street - and noticing the vast number of football jerseys that people of all ages and sexes wear. The names and numbers of their “heroes” vary as much as the sizes and shapes of the persons wearing the jersey.
And, the dollar amount of this way of “identifying” with an athlete is growing. In 2015, four years ago, the total amount of money spent on sports clothing was more than six billion dollars.
Sadly, many of those names and numbers represent felons, drug addicts, wife or child abusers, murderers, and violent criminals. Yet, their names and numbers are held in high esteem, even worshiped, because of their accomplishments in their area of sports.
Walk through a mall or down any street and count the number of individuals wearing a T-shirt that has the name of Jesus or Paul or Stephen or Jeremiah written across the front or back. Only now and then will a T-shirt appear with some reference to something Christian on it. Sadly, too, its message is usually unclear or confusing to the non-believer.
Solomon talked about “heroes” who “walked” Godly lives. “Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to a godly life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” What a timely, challenging verse to identify the criteria for a hero. People look for, want, and even need heroes. Where can we find “heroes for Christ?”
Hopefully, in His disciples. “By their fruits you will be able to identify them.”
Prayer: Lord, we can’t hide who we are or what we believe or our values. May our lives represent You well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to a godly life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

All Seeds Are Not The Same

“What are you planting?” asked the salesman of the elderly gentleman.
“Seeds,” said the old farmer, rather nonchalantly.
“Of course they’re seeds. I can see that. I’m not dumb or blind,” he said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
“Well, if you are so interested, hang around for a few months and see what comes up. You might be surprised. Might even be something you like,” came the reply.
Planting seeds and gardening is a craft. It is done with care and concern. Nothing is left to chance, and the only uncontrollable aspect of farming is the weather.
“The wages of the righteous is life,” wrote Solomon, “but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.” The word “wages” in this verse comes from the agricultural world and describes the crop or yield that is gained at the time of harvest. Earnings are the result of work. But both have a similar meaning: Our lifestyle and way of living have implications far beyond the moment. Righteousness brings a fulfilling life now, and after this life - eternal life with God. The alternative lifestyle, unrighteousness, is one of sin and leads to death - eternal separation from God.
Our God is a just God and will reward each of us for the “seeds” we plant. Our old farmer knew what the crop would be from the seeds he planted. He didn’t have to wait and be surprised at harvest time. Neither do we.
God’s Word leaves no doubt about sowing seeds and the coming harvest. “Do not be deceived,” is God’s warning, “for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.”
Prayer: Father, may we examine our lives in light of your Word and plant “seeds of righteousness” each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:16 The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Is The Word "Love" A Cover-Up?

“Do you know what today is?” Mary, my wife, asked.
“Of course. It’s Tuesday,” I replied.
“Well, is it anything more than Tuesday? Does it have a number and is there a month that goes with that particular number?” she asked with a faint smile.
Looking at my watch, I said, “It’s October 24. Almost time for Halloween.” And that did it.
First, came tears. Then, a few more words about forgetting important things - like birthdays. Then more tears. Not only was I embarrassed, but I was also humiliated that I forgot such an important date and event.
“But, I do love you. And that should make up for it,” I said, thinking of the words of Solomon: “Love covers all wrong.” But does it?
Love, God’s love, is the center of every relationship - beginning with loving Him. And when we learn to love Him as He loves us, it will have a preeminent place in our lives. It will be visible to all who know us - especially those in our lives that are special to us. They will be more than a name or number: they will be blest because we love them.
The love that Solomon describes here is a love that “draws in and unites.” It invites people into our hearts and then bonds them to us as closely as two pieces of Velcro.
We cannot use the word love as a “cover” when we do something wrong - as though we want the other person to feel guilty. True love, God’s love, anticipates a need long before it surfaces. It remembers the needs of others – because we all have similar needs. However, true love - God’s kind of love - reaches out to others as God reaches out to each of us.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to be sincere and honest and pure when we say, “I love you!” May our love match Yours, in our deeds as well as words. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Why Live A Life Of Integrity?

“Why” is a question that most of us try to avoid. It usually makes us focus on what we are doing, demands careful thinking, choice responses, and clear reasoning. It makes us refine our thoughts to give us the assurance that what we are doing or thinking is right.
Solomon makes a profound statement when he says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.”
It is normal to want to feel “secure” as we go about life. “Secure” implies that we are able to face life as it comes, knowing that God is present in our lives and will provide whatever we need. Being “secure” eliminates fear and the anxiety that accompany it. And, if we want that feeling of security that only comes from God, Solomon says that we must “walk in integrity” or “live without compromise or corruption.”
For some, that sounds impossible. We think about our past attempts to honor God in all things. We want to be an example to others as Jesus was: a witness of God’s grace, a helper to those in need, a friend to the lonely, and an encourager to the sick and suffering. But we allow things to get in our way and we “fall short” of who God wants us to be and who we, in fact, want to be. And, therein lies the secret: it’s all about what we desire.
If our innermost desire is to bring all of our life into harmony with God’s Word, His will, and His ways, and if we consciously submit our lives to Him and live for Him, He will give us His security. We have nothing to fear if our deepest desire is to know Him and make Him known.
Prayer: Father, the world makes many promises it cannot keep. But we have Your Word that never fails. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture For Today: Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.