May 10, 2020

  Happy Mother’s Day!

A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish child brings grief to their mother. Proverbs 10:1

Happy Mother’s Day!  Since its Mother’s Day, I thought it was fitting that the first verse in Proverbs 10 speaks about how children effect their mother and father.  Wise children make them glad and foolish children bring them grief.  As you continue to read through the entire chapter, there is quite a few details of what pleases parents and what grieves them.  Below I have listed some of the qualities mentioned in this chapter so you can see how you measure up as a child that pleases or grieves their parents.

                          Foolish                                                                                Wise

Verse 4:  a slack hand becomes poor                      vs.        diligent hand makes rich

Verse 5:  sleeps in harvest                                       vs.        gathers in summer

Verse 8:  prating (mindless drivel) fool will fall       vs.        receives commands/instruction

Verse 11: violence covers the fool’s mouth          vs.        right words are a well of life

Verse 12: hate stirs up strife                                    vs.        love covers all sins

Verse 14: mouth of the fool is near destruction     vs.        wise stores up knowledge

Verse 19: sin abounds in many words              vs.        the wise restrains his lips

Verse 21: die for lack of wisdom                             vs.        righteous lips feed others

Verse 24: the fool’s fear comes on him             vs.       desire of wise will be granted

Of course, that is not all of them, but as you read the entire chapter, identify which category you fit into.  (hopefully wise)  Notice how the attributes in the “wise” column are intentional qualities.  These are traits that you do on purpose because you are a person of wisdom and integrity.  Just because you want to be wise doesn’t mean it happens automatically. 

Today I want to encourage you to honor your mother in some way.  Whether you are young or old, make a special effort to let your mom know you appreciate her for your life.  Remember, that Ephesians 6:2&3 promises when we honor our parents, we will live a long healthy life.

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 10

May 9, 2020

The beginning of wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  For by Me (wisdom) your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.

Do you fear the Lord?  Not afraid so you run and hide from Him.  The kind of fear I’m talking about it a reverential, awesome fear.  That you know how powerful He is and how His kingdom rules over the just and unjust.  Not even in a bad sense but in a good way.  That you know His goodness is always happening, so you want to stay close to Him to be in it.

Today’s verses are about the fear of the Lord.  It says wisdom starts with fearing the Lord.  The very first place you start when you recognize your need for God and His salvation is fear of eternal separation from Him.  The wisdom that shows you to walk with the eternal heavenly Father is where good is and to reject Him is where evil lives. Its when you hold God in such a high regard that you are afraid to live away from Him.  That you know where your strength comes from.  You know that your protection and well being come from staying close to Him.  You know that without Him, you have no hope, no reason, and no purpose. The scripture says this wisdom multiplies your days and adds years to your life!  Glory to God!

Today I want to encourage you to fear the Lord.  Not the kind of fear that runs away from Him, but the kind that runs to Him.  He is your guard and your fortress.  In Him you have all that you need and in Him, you never need to be afraid of anything else.  Step into a new understanding today of the fear of the LORD and commit to staying there for all your multiplied days and added years of your life.

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 9

May 8, 2020

Wisdom has a voice

Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?  She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.  She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors:

Wow!  I read this chapter this morning and these verses jumped out at me.  Wisdom is crying out.  Its not a secret.  You don’t have to be a member of some secret society or an exclusive club.  She is everywhere you go.  On a high hill or on the way to somewhere or even at a busy crossroads.  In the city or inside a quiet place. So why does it seem so elusive most of the time.  I find I make decisions based on past experience, cost or opinion.  However, there is a way to make decisions based on wisdom and it should be obvious according to this chapter.  We should be able to hear wisdom loud and clear.

What is hindering us from getting wisdom all day long?  What is limiting our ability to hear the voice of wisdom?  According to this chapter, it is the things that we are seeking instead of wisdom that blocks her voice from getting through.  The things that repel wisdom are listed out in this chapter. 

  1. Understand wisdom is worth more than any precious thing (vs. 10)
  2. Wisdom is being able to see beyond the moment (vs. 12)
  3. The fear of the LORD (vs. 13)
  4. Hate evil, pride, arrogance, the evil way and a perverse mouth (vs. 13).

The secret is in taking time to listen and be open to an answer that is beyond our simple understanding.  Wisdom is bigger than we are and sees the big picture always.  It doesn’t take short cuts or settle.  Wisdom is always talking.  Like a beacon, it pings for all to hear.  Verse 17 says, I (wisdom) love those who love me (wisdom), and those who seek me (wisdom) diligently will find me (wisdom).  So, wisdom is always out there, but only those who love it and seek it have it (wisdom).

So, what about you?  Are you seeking wisdom?  Do you love wisdom?  Is it more precious to you than fine gold or choice silver?  Or are you like verse 36 that says, But those who miss me injure themselves.  All who hate me love death.

Today I want to encourage you to seek and desire wisdom above all!  Take time to listen for wisdom.  In this time of retreat and distancing from others, get quiet before the LORD and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to hear the voice of wisdom. Wisdom causes those who love her to inherit wealth and fills their treasures. (vs.21)  Fill your treasury today, so you can help spread the good news of wisdom around the world.

Today’s scripture reading:  proverbs 8

May 7, 2020

Flirting with the world

Keep My commands and live, and My law as the apple of your eye.  Proverbs 7:2

I look at this verse as God speaking to me.  He says if I keep His commands I will live. Then He wants me to keep His ways as the apple of my eye or the most precious thing I own.  What about that?  Keep His commands and live, make them (God’s words) your greatest possession?

Chapter 7 of Proverbs is about staying away from a seductive woman, but the meaning goes far deeper.  It is a warning to keep your life pure and not be seduced by the things and ways of the world. The first 5 verses are the very heart of God saying to treasure His commands and make wisdom your closest friend.  Your “go to” for all your decisions.  It seems like such a no brainer.  We have the wisdom of God accessible to us and with that the ability to make the right decision and do the right things for successful living.  God’s not trying to keep good from us, He trying to get it to us.  He knows where it is and that’s why He gave us an entire book of His will and His ways.  When we not only follow His directions in life, but also treasure them by making them the most important part of who we are, that’s where His blessing, goodness and protection is.  He also knows that when we get sucked into the world’s ways, we make ourselves vulnerable to being lured down the wrong road and into the traps of our enemy. 

Listen to the heart of God as you read verse 23-25.  Notice how He gives warning of the worldly ways that lead to destruction.  Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, Till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life.  Now therefore, listen to Me, My children; Pay attention to the words of My mouth:  Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, Do not stray into her paths;

Today I want to encourage you to desire God’s ways and words above everything else in life.  Recognize that all your success is in His wisdom.  Evaluate where your heart is now and make the adjustments so that His way is the apple of your eye and top priority.  Not only because it is good for you, but also because He is good. Fill your heart up with love for Him as your Heavenly Father!  Next, assess any of the world’s ways that may have crept into your life, especially in your thinking and attitudes.  She is very subtle and sneaks right into our homes through media, internet and even our words if not guarded against.  Even things as seemingly harmless as criticizing and complaining. Hear my heart.  I have nothing to gain by how you live your life.  My only motive is that I was lured away and I know the destruction that waits for those who are pulled in to the clutches of the world.  I want that for no person!  God is after your heart, but only because He wants to nurture, protect and bring you to successful living.

Today’s scripture reading; Proverbs 7

May 6, 2020

True contentment

These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him Proverbs 6:16

As I went through the list of things that God hates, it was easy to look at them at face value and say.  “well, I don’t do those things. I’m doing pretty good.”  However, I believe the point of this scripture is not so much in the actions as it is a matter of the heart.  God is looking at the intent of our heart and it is the part of each one of us the shows who we really are.  1 Samuel 16:7 says, man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  These seven things spoken of in the Proverb are heart matters and truly identify who or what is at the core of a person, whether it of God or sin.  I want to contrast in this dose the things that God hates with the opposite concluding that this is what God loves.

So the first thing in this list is a proud look.  Since the opposite of pride is humility, it is safe to say that God loves a humble heart.  Philippians 2:3 says, Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  We are to consider others even before we concern ourselves with our own needs.  This is not natural and is something that we must intentionally do if it is going to be done at all. I have said it before, but it bears repeating.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  When you put your focus on others and how you can bless and impact the lives of those around you, this is true humility and definitely an attribute that pleases God.  He is all about people and wants us to be too.

The next thing that God hates is a lying tongue.  This leads me to believe that He loves truth and honesty Ephesians 4:5 says put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  Later on in the same chapter of Ephesians, verse 15 says when we speak the truth in love, we grow up in all things. What we are speaking is truly what is in our heart.  Our Heavenly Father has given us a standard in His Word, so we can truly know what truth is.

God hates hands that shed innocent blood, but He loves the hands that reach out to others with the love of God.  Matthew 10:42 tells us whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

God sees a heart that devises wicked plans but the heart that follows God’s plan is the life that blesses Him.  Ephesians 5:17 tells us not be be unwise, but to understand what the will or plan of the LORD is.  By spending time with Him and acknowledging Him in all our ways, He places the path before us and empowers us to complete our assignment.

Feet that are swift to run to evil are feet that are running away from God. God receives the heart that is quick to repent and consistently turns their life in His direction. James 4:8 tells us when we draw near to God, He draws near to us. I love this passage so much. To know that I can press into God at any time, and He will come close to me is such a great comfort especially in the days we live in.

A false witness who speaks lies sounds a lot like a lying tongue, however, I believe this is a little deeper and speaking of how our words effect others.  Instead, lets be a people who encourage each other.  

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to comfort each other and edify one another.  This is the heart that God is looking for, that we build each other up.

Lastly, one who sows discord among brethren.  Brethren is not speaking of brothers in our natural family, but of God’s family.  Jesus told us in Matthew 5:9 that we are to be peacemakers.  Bring peace into every situation you encounter in life.  Peace is the fruit that quickly identifies God’s Spirit is present.  Especially when you are with other believers, peace should always be the atmosphere.

I know this seems like a lot to consider, but these things are plainly spelled out in this chapter not to just quickly read over, but as a guide to line our lives up with.  Certainly it is worth the time to understand the heart of God in all these attitudes of the heart.

Today I encourage you to take a look at your own heart and honestly consider if it lines up with God’s.  Use this list as a guide to discern the thoughts and intents of your heart.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us to use God’s Word to discern our thoughts and intentions, and this passage is an excellent place to start.  Be that child of God that quickly runs to Him each day in full surrender and line up your life with everything He has planned for you.  It is where true contentment is.

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 6

May 5, 2020

Avoid traps

Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation. Proverbs 5:8 & 14

I selected these two verses out of Proverbs 5.  The entire chapter is a warning against going after the wrong things in life. The focus is on sexual purity within marriage.  However, I believe it can be applied to any of life’s struggles with sin.  It says do not go the way of temptation, in fact it says in verse 6, don’t even think about it.  This makes sense and is very good advice.  Especially in areas of your weaknesses.  Do not go where the things you may be tempted with are.  Whether its sexual or substance abuse, avoid the places that cause you to stumble. It really is easier said than done in today’s world.  Even in this time of pandemic, many (including myself) are struggling with simple addictions such as eating or tv and social media binging.  With so many restrictions, I find myself determined to enjoy eating as comfort because of so many other activities in life being off limits right now.  It is a struggle for sure, and it is wise to come up with a plan to combat these traps.

Verse 14 talks about being on the edge and what really stands out in that verse is this is someone that is a part of the congregation, the body of believers.  How many people are we sitting right next to in church services not even knowing they are struggling with some form of addictive behavior in life.

So, what is the solution when struggling with life’s temptations, lures and even bad habits?  Well, wisdom of course, but that doesn’t come automatically.  It comes back to spending time with God and His Word.  Getting to know Him and spending time growing closer and knowing Him personally.  Replace those addictive habits with activities such as exercise and reading God’s Word or books on personal growth.  Verse 21 in this chapter say: For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.  God sees all these things and He has the answers.  He knows what we face from day to day and has a plan in place for us to escape temptations and traps.  The first place to start is to surrender every area of your life to Him and ask for His strength to empower you to overcome weakness. After you do that, don’t expect things to be perfect.  You still may not get it completely right, but that’s ok.  Like all things in life, in order to get good at something, it requires practice and consistency.  Get up and do the same thing tomorrow and it won’t be long until you become a pro.

Today I want to encourage you to not go the way of temptation.  Avoid traps that you easily fall into.  Take a stand in your life with the power of the Holy Spirit against the things that draw you away from your relationship with God and purpose to spend more time with Him and His wisdom.  Use this “distancing” time as a spiritual workout.  Press into God and grow up in Him like you never have before.  Connect with friends that you walk through life with and encourage each other through whatever you are struggling with. Do not isolate yourself, but become accountable to others.

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 5

May 4, 2020

Promotion

Exalt her (wisdom), and she (wisdom) will promote you; She (wisdom) will bring you honor, when you embrace her (wisdom).  Proverbs 4:8

Have you ever wanted a promotion?  Maybe at work, a position of authority or social standing of some kind?  Today’s verse teaches that promotion is found in the wisdom of God.  Proverbs says promotion is found in pursuing wisdom, not in your connections, not in your education and not in kissing up to the boss.  The way to promotion is simply going after God’s wisdom and keeping your sights on it.   A pursuit of wisdom rather than the promotions is where success is found.

A couple of examples of wisdom bringing promotion in the bible that come to my mind are Joseph and Daniel.  Joseph never sought out promotion, though it followed him wherever he went.  He did, however, have a good attitude despite all the negative circumstances surrounding him.  He simple maintained his core beliefs and displayed them through his attitude.  Even though at one point, he was put into prison for not caving under the pressure of his outward circumstance, he just continued displaying the wisdom of God.  Through his consistent posture of wisdom, he was promoted into the top leader of the entire country.

Daniel also had plenty of opportunities for a bad attitude, but he chose to walk in wisdom by holding to the things that had been put in his heart at a very young age, the wisdom of God.  He was taken away from his home into captivity as a young man and more than likely the rest of his family was slaughtered in the siege of Jerusalem.  As soon as he was in his new living quarters, he immediately had the favor with those in charge.  So much so that he was given an audience with the king when the command was given to kill all the wise men and advisors.  Daniel prayed in chapter 2 and thanked God for giving him wisdom. (Daniel 2:23) “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.”  Daniel also pursued wisdom continually and was promoted to the top of the country.  Second only to the king.

Lastly, James 4:10 says, Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. Humility is one of the attitudes of wisdom that was discussed yesterday.  When you humble yourself to the wisdom of God, He will promote you and lift you up.

Today I want to encourage you to pursues wisdom.  Look to the wisdom of God to take you through everything you come up against in life.  Verse 23 of this chapter in Proverbs tells us that all the issues of life are within our heart so we should keep our heart with the wisdom of God!  Take on the attitudes and heart that wisdom exhibits.  Study them, pursue them and the favor of God and people will follow you all of your days of wisdom.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 4

May 3,2020

            Attitudes

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.  Proverbs 3:3-4

As I read over this chapter in Proverbs, a recurring theme of attitude jumped out at me.  The truly amazing part to me is that even though this book was written centuries, even millennia ago, it is still relevant and true in today’s world.  Our attitudes determine where we are in life and our quality of life.  You could be the wealthiest person in the world, but with the wrong heart and attitude be the most miserable.  In contrast, you could be the poorest person in the financial world, but have the most joy simply because of your outlook in life.

Below is a list of attitudes that are pointed out in this proverb and the benefits that come as a result of the attitude.  As you read each one consider where your attitude is and also if the results are evident in your everyday life.  Also consider areas where you can improve because there is always room for improvement.

Verse 1 – An attitude of obedience/submission Verse 2 – the result = many years of peace and prosperity.

Verse 3 – An attitude of compassion and honesty Verse 4 – the result = A good reputation and favor with God and man

Verse 5 – An attitude of trusting the LORD Verse 6 – the result = be on God’s plan and path for your life

Verse 7 – An attitude of humility, not pride Verse 8 – the result = healthy flesh and strong bones

Verse 9 – An attitude of honoring God Verse 10 – the results = plenty and abundance of resources

Verse 11 – A teachable attitude Verse 12-16 – the result = happy, understanding, long life, honored, pleasantness

Verse 21 – An attitude of discretion Verse 22 – the result = grace, safety, no fear, sweet sleep

Verse 27-31 – An attitude of giving Verse 32-33 – the result = receive God’s secret counsel and a blessed home

Going through this list reminded me of how God’s Word is so timeless. Although these attitudes are not popular in today’s society, they will always produce true success.  These are the God’s attitudes and although this is not a complete list, God’s heart and attitude  are what makes us different from the rest of the world.  We have the answers that can be clearly seen in our attitude. 

Today I want to encourage you to live by the attitudes in this chapter and the whole book for that matter.  Obedience, submission, compassion, honesty, trust, humility, honor, be teachable, discretion and giving.  Your success in life depends on them.  As you line up your heart and life with these attributes, you will notice a change in those around you.  The negative influence of the world will lose its pull on you because you have made the decision to live your life in the success of God’s attitudes and ways.  Your influence with those around you will become stronger and before you know it you will be helping others to find success in adjusting their attitude too.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 3

May 2, 2020

                                          Hidden treasure

. . . and if you look for it (wisdom) as for silver and search for it (wisdom) as for hidden treasure,  Proverbs 2:4

This verse in Proverbs 2 reminds me of an old movie where a group of people have gone on a quest away from their normal day to day activity to look for a great treasure.  You can pick which movie comes to your mind.  Of course, there are countless stories, books and shows that the plot involves seeking “great treasure”.  In fact, it doesn’t even have to be fiction.  This is what people of the world are mostly about.  I think we all would love to find a buried treasure, so we didn’t have to live our life in the “normal” routine. 

Today’s scripture suggests that finding wisdom is like finding hidden treasure.  In fact, it says to look for it and seek it continuously.  The truth is that if you learn to live your life by the wisdom of God, it would be like your life was sustained out of a hidden treasure.  Wisdom brings the untouchable treasures into this physical world.  Things such as peace, insight, grace and faith.  These things are priceless and worth every effort to secure in your everyday walk.  They can all be attained simply by pursuing wisdom, God’s wisdom.

So, what is wisdom?  Wisdom defined in the Biblical sense, is the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.  However, there is so much more to it.  Wisdom is knowing the right steps to take at the right time.  This kind of wisdom comes by following the leading of the Holy Spirit of God on a daily basis.  It is not something you can learn by taking classes or earning a prestigious degree.  You cannot receive it at the school of hard knocks, and it is not even something that can be passed down through the generations. (although the Word of God can be)  Wisdom is gained by walking step by step, day by day in a personal relationship with your heavenly Father.  Wisdom is a benefit of your salvation in Christ Jesus, but it does not come automatically.  This is the reason today’s scripture tells us to be search for it. 

James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  By asking for wisdom each day as you surrender your steps to the LORD, wisdom will flow right from His Spirit to yours.  Later on, in this same chapter of Proverbs, it says, wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. (Proverbs 2:10-11) Again as pointed out yesterday, wisdom guards and protects you.

Today I want to encourage you to pursue wisdom with all your heart.  Go after it like a hidden treasure.  Ask your Heavenly Father and listen to that inward witness, but also pursue His Holy Word.  This is the best place to start.  God will never contradicts His Word, so as He guides you through His Spirit, he will back that wisdom with His eternal Word.  Be like those in the movies who step away from your day to day activity and pursue the hidden treasure of wisdom.  Spend time with God today and discover great treasure in His wisdom.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 2

May 1, 2020

. . . but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Proverbs 1:33

The book of proverbs.  It is one of the five books of wisdom.  If there is anything in life that you need answers to or wisdom for, undoubtedly your answer is in this book somewhere.  In fact, there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so if you read one per day, you will read through the entire book in one month and then start all over the next month.  The wisdom is endless. 

I find today’s verse fitting for the day we live in right now.  These days, there is fear all around us and although we hope nothing bad will come near our home or our family, do we have a guarantee?  This scripture says we do.  It says whoever.  That starts out talking to anyone.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you are a whoever.  So, anyone who listens to wisdom, that is the wisdom of God and His Word, will live in safety and not only that, they will live at ease, far from fear and oppression.  In fact, the next part of the verse says without fear of being harmed.  These are not just pleasant words or a nice passing saying, this is a promise from the Holy Spirit of God, Wisdom Himself!  You can depend on wisdom if you listen and live by it, you will be safe.  I don’t know about you, but that is a promise I am ready to release into my life.  No more wishing and hoping that pending danger will pass, I can know for sure that if I listen to and follow God’s wisdom, He will keep me safe.

Today I want to encourage you to seek and listen to the Wisdom of God.  In fact, this month of May I am going to select one verse from the Proverb of the day.  We will learn from God’s wisdom and be safe together.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 1