May 29, 2020

I just want to vent

A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.  Proverbs 29:11

Sometimes I just feel like venting.  I don’t want anything to come out of it, I’m not even trying to sway others to take on my opinions.  I just feel like I want to let it all out instead of holding back.  The problem with that is, I don’t feel better after.  In fact, I often feel worse.  I feel like I have release a bad attitude and said things I really shouldn’t have felt, let along said.  Today’s verse says the fool is the one that wants to always let his feelings out.  You could say the fool likes to give others a piece of their mind.  It doesn’t help anything and it never encourages others or builds them up.  Even if you say, I’m not hurting anyone, but I just want my say in the matter, that doesn’t make it any less foolish.

In contrast, the wise person holds back from releasing bad feeling.  In fact, the wise can actually keep their emotions in check by not allowing the bad thoughts in.  Consider this:  If you train your heart (aka guard) to recognize when a wrong feeling or thought is trying to get in, you can stop it immediately.  I now do this instead of venting my feeling.  My secret is to pray for the person that is causing me to have the negative thoughts and feelings immediately when the idea comes.  There is nothing that closes the door faster on those negative, unwanted emotions than lifting others up in prayer.  The best thing about that is God gets the victory!!

Today I want to encourage you to be wise with your changeable feelings.  Take control of your thoughts and words, don’t let them control you.  Whatever the situation is that has you rattled, look for ways to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Lift other up to God that may be frustrating you or coming against you, and don’t be foolish by venting all your feelings, exercise grace and compassion instead!

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 29

May 28, 2020

Confess and forsake    

Whoever covers their sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.  Happy is the person who is always reverent, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity/disaster.                   Proverbs 29:13 & 14

Did you ever try to cover something up?  Maybe you made some excuses for why something went wrong to make yourself look innocent in a matter when the truth was you were caught red handed?  Today’s verse says that when we confess and turn away from our errors, we will have God’s mercy.  Think of it on a grander scale.  Making excuses and covering things up is what criminals do.  They run and hide after committing a crime.  When they do get caught, they have excuses about being a victim of their circumstances.  It is rare that a criminal comes right out and confesses.  Even when they are pronounced guilty in a court of law, many still will try to justify and cover up the real truth.  When we bring this scenario back down to a personal, everyday level, you can see how easy this trap is to fall into.  When confronted about a decision made or an action taken, it is easy to blame the decision on the current circumstances.  It’s been that way from the beginning.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, their first response was to blame others.  In fact, there really isn’t any record that they ever confessed and forsook their sin.  Their lives could have taken a different turn if they had fallen on their knees before God and said ”forgive us for we have sinned”  Instead, they had to be forced out of the garden and separated from the home that God had given them.  God was still merciful, but their hearts were hardened and their lives fell into calamity.

Obviously, this is still going on today.  It is a form of pride in that we don’t like to admit when we have done wrong or missed in some way.  The truth is God is so gracious and will forgive if we just come clean and admit we were wrong, and most people will be gracious too.  Here’s the reality:  covering sin + a hardened heart = calamity, disaster and defeat.  The good news is that confession + forsaking sin + being reverent and respectful = happiness, success and prosperity.

Today I want to encourage you to forsake sinful habits in your life.  Even things as simple as gossiping, complaining and criticizing others.  Yes, these are sinful habits, and yes, they will lead to destruction, especially if you want to hide them and hold on to them.  Get rid of them and forsake them.  Whatever it is that is keeping your heart hard and full of pride, determine to turn away from it right now.  Confess these things to your Heavenly Father and receive His forgiveness and unconditional love!  He has a successful and happy life for you to live, but you have to first turn away from the things that are against Him.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 28

May 27, 2020

Be a sharpener

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.  Proverbs 27:1

Do you have any friends that sharpen you?  What do I mean by sharpen?  Friends that bring out the best in you and inspire you be become greater than you are right now?  I’m not talking about just someone you may know that you occasionally come into contact with that entertains you with stories of great exploits. I’m talking about friends that you go through life with.  Your everyday friendships that are closest and most valuable to you.

Today’s verse is a comparison to how our friends and those we are closest to impact our lives.  It says that it’s just like iron that sharpens iron.  It can actually be explained by saying we become like those we hang out with and are closest to.  It is significant because the iron that is doing the sharpening is made out of the same material that it is sharpening.  So whatever kind of friends we have, they are rubbing off on us and us onto them. 

Now is when we evaluate who we are becoming and who we want to become.  If you consider who you want to become and the goals you want to attain in life, you can quickly assess if you are filling up your time with the right influences.  You do have a choice.  The first choice to make is that you are going to be sharpener.  Become the kind of friend that encourages and inspires others to become the best version of themselves that they can be.  Second, find the people that are accomplished in the things you want to be successful in and spend time learning from them.  Having a mentor is a great place to start.  Someone that can help you to set goals and make a plan to reach them. 

The kind of people you spend the most time with are going to be the ones that you can look at their life and pretty much see what yours looks like.  Take a good look but don’t let your surrounding determine who you will be and what you will accomplish, make that decision for yourself.  You can even become a great sharpener simply by leaving every meeting and conversion better than you found it.

Today I want to encourage you to become a sharpener!  Help those around you to become sharpeners too.  The best place to start is with attitude and outlook.  Encouraging your current friend to be people of grace, kindness and thankfulness will always leave them better than if you spend your time with them gossiping and complaining.  Next make a plan to find someone that can rub off on you.  Someone that is always growing and sharpening their skills and those around them.  Spend some time praying about who you should surround yourself with and then commit to learning and growing from those He leads you to.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 27

May 26, 2020

Don’t argue with fools  

Do not answer a fool according to his foolishness, or you will also be like him.  Answer a fool according to his foolishness, and he will be wise in his own eyes.  Proverbs 26:4&5

Have you ever had an argument with someone that was irrational and even foolish?  Sometimes the argument can be so far out there that you think, “Surely I can help them understand”.  Yet somehow, they just won’t get it.  I have had this type of “talk”.  I was always thinking that I could help the foolish find their way to some kind of rational thought process.  It turns out that foolish and irrational people really don’t want to know.  They just want to go the way of foolishness and take others with them.

Today’s verse is about that person and you, if you have ever pursued that conversation.  It says if you answer or talk to a fool to try to reason with them, you are just as foolish as they are. Not only that, but when you do answer them, they think they are wise because you engaged in their foolishness with them.  So, on both sides, no good comes and there is no change of heart. 

The entire chapter gives wisdom for dealing with the foolish at heart.  The first step is don’t argue or even try to reason with a foolish person.  It’s sad really, because even though you truly have it in your heart to help them and lead them to the truth of God’s love and ways, they only want to be the one that has all the answers.  In reality, the Holy Spirit is the only one that can reach a foolish heart.  The answer? Pray for them.  Ask God to open their eyes to the truth and their heart to be prepared to receive it.  Pray for others to come into their lives that they will listen to.  It’s hard to watch especially if it is someone close to you that you love.  However, God is faithful and when we purpose to keep them before the LORD in prayer, He will answer.  It is His will for all to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), so you can be confident that He will answer that pray because it is according to His will!

Today I want to encourage you to pray for those who are close to you that you see going in a foolish direction.  Ask the LORD to protect them and keep them safe and for just the right person to come along that will help them receive the truth of His unconditional love.  Then ask the Holy Spirit to work on their heart and get it prepared for that meeting to come.  God will help a fool as we give Him access into the situation through prayer.  Don’t argue with a fool, take that foolish loved one right before God and know that God will get wisdom through.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 26

May 25, 2020

Refining time

Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith.  Proverbs 25:5

This verse is so fitting for our current circumstance.  It is talking about removing the impurities of life.  Those not so productive habits that we hold on to in our lives.  The impurities of life can also be attitudes of our heart that may be well hidden but come to the surface when pressure is on.  When silver is heated to a certain temperature, all of it’s impurities are brought to the surface and can be pulled out to bring the silver to its purest form.  The impurities were there all the time, but they were not able to be seen until the silver went into the fire.  As the silver is melted down, the impure parts separate from the precious and valuable part and can be drawn out and thrown away forever.

This is how it is with people.  We may look refined on the surface, but deep down there are impurities that we try to keep hidden.  When the pressures of life come, that’s when the not so nice things come to the surface.  Maybe it is anger, maybe its anxiety, it could even be a habit that is consuming all your precious time.  This is the time we are in right now.  Refining time.  The pressure is on in the form of epidemic.  Maybe it doesn’t really feel like pressure, but the fact is that life as we once knew it has changed, and for the time being, it seems like some changes could stick.  In this time when we have been forced to pull back from the busyness of life, we can see the things that need refining in our lives.  Make this time a time to remove some of the things that hold you back from accomplishing all you want to accomplish in life.

Today I want to encourage you to identify some of the areas that need refining in your life.  Maybe it isn’t necessarily bad things, but just something that isn’t moving you forward in your walk with God.  Use this time to refine yourself to your greatest potential.  Don’t come out of this pandemic the same as you went into it, become a better parent, a better spouse, a better child, a better employee and a better friend.  Use this time to become the best version of you that God created you to be.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 25

May 24, 2020

Pray for the king

My child, fear the Lord and the king.  Don’t associate with rebels, for disaster will hit them suddenly.  Who knows what punishment will come from the Lord and the king?  Proverbs 24, 21&22

Here is another scripture that backs up the law that the “king” works for God.  It also gives instruction not to associate with rebellious people and to consider/submit to the consequences that will result from standing against authority.  This includes conversations disapproving of current restrictions that are being imposed.  It doesn’t mean that the king, president, governor, mayor or any other leader is always right, but as it says in Romans 13, these are in position for your good to uphold law and order in the land.  So again, I want to reinforce the importance of praying for those who make the laws and decision for our towns, our country and our world.  As we pray for them, not only does our heart change toward that authority, but we become thankful for our leadership and our land.

The scripture only gives one exception to this principle, it is when laws are made that you worship other gods.  God gave the law that we are to have no other god before Him and we can see examples of people in the scripture that were being forces to worship images to the point of death.  When king Nebuchadnezzar issued an edict that everyone was to bow down and worship his golden image, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused.  However, they did maintain their respect and honor for the king.  They didn’t go off talking behind his back saying:  “who does he think he is telling us we have to bow down to his image?”  When they were brought before the king, they didn’t take on a rebellious and prideful attitude fighting all the way.  They spoke to the king with respect and humility.  They actually were submitting to the law because they were willing to pay the price.  They said  “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  They maintained their honor for the king and submitted to his law that they would have to be thrown into the fire because of who they worshiped.

Daniel was also faced with a similar dilemma when there was a law that the people could only pray to the king or face the lion’s den.  Daniel still honored the king, and submitted to that law that if he prayed to His God, he would accept the decreed consequences.  Here’s the thing about submitting to authority, submission is only required when you don’t agree with the authorities.  When you agree with everything that is going on, you have no need to submit because you are in agreement.  However, when there are laws that you don’t agree with, such as driving 55mph or social distancing, that is when you can clearly see how submissive your heart is. 

Today I want to encourage you to submit your heart not only to the local, state and federal authority, but mostly to God’s ways and laws.  This is where true submission starts.  If you say, “I’ll submit to God, but not to the laws that are in this world right now”.  This is not submitting to God because He said to submit to authority.  Make a decision and commitment to your Heavenly Father today that you are not only going to submit to authority but also pray for them.  Not just the ones you like and agree with, but for all of them.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 24

May 23, 2020

    Set your mind on things above

Do not overwork to be rich, because of your own understanding, cease!  Will you set your eyes on that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.  Proverbs 23:4-5

I need a constant reminder not to focus on what is temporary in this world.  To not be running after more.  More things, more money and more entertainment.  These things are a distraction from my purpose here in the world.  Yes, finances are important, not only to sustain life, but also to support the ministry I have been given and to build the kingdom of heaven.  However, my part is to trust God to provide and to supply every need.  He leads me to the right employment; He gives me the hours that I need.  I don’t need to be thinking how I can earn more or increase my wages.  I ask Him and He provides and leads the way.  If I need to make adjustments in my course, it is my responsibility to take time to listen to His direction and then follow it.  It is the faith life and daily walk.  Sometimes I think if I just had a little more, I would be happier only to realize that riches fly away quickly and true happiness is only in the peace of God.

The problem is that I tend to get distracted when I look at all the world has to offer.  Even though I know it can never satisfy or fulfill the desires of my heart.  I often have to stop and remind myself that beyond today is eternity and only investing my time and resources in that will last,  Proverbs 23:17&18 says,  Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day;  For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.

God’s not against us enjoying this life and He’s not disappointed when we have nice things according to the world’s standard.  He only wants what is best for us and to protect us from the deceptions of this life.  He never planned for us to gain the whole world but loose our soul and He didn’t bless us so we could consume it all on ourselves.  We are blessed so we can reach the world with God’s love and bring hope to a people that have no hope.

Today I want to encourage you keep your mind set on things above.  Make a plan to spend a portion your time and resources on eternal things and let them be your focus and mission in life.  Set a goal to encourage and impact at least one more person each day.  This is not difficult or overwhelming.  Then ask God for help and to lead you to that one who needs His love today.  Don’t worry that its not enough, it will be a little more than you did yesterday and that’s progress!

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 23

May 22, 2020

A good reputation

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.      Proverbs 22:1

A good name!  it’s better than great riches!  What does it mean, a good name?  Is it a good strong name like Jones or Smith?  Is it a family name like John Jr. or William the second?  No, a good name is the name you have made for yourself.  It’s your reputation.  Your good name is the conduct you live your life by.

So what is your “good” name?  What are you known for?  When people speak of you do they use words like kind, generous, godly?  Or do the words gossiper, stingy, or selfish come up?  Whatever words people say about you good or bad, it can change over time.  For instance, you could be a gossiper today, but if you decide from now on (and ask God for help) that you are going to speak kind words about others and not talk about other people’s business, (even if you do see it on FB) in just a short while other will begin to say better words about you.  Your reputation will improve.  Likewise, if you are kind and generous, but suddenly you begin to be afraid of losing or get offended, your reputation can change almost overnight.  Especially if you fall into sinfulness.  One devastating act of indiscretion can ruin your name in an instant.

The first church selected disciples to serve and the requirements were a good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.  Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; (Acts 6:3)  This was not a quality needed for salvation, in fact, most come to salvation from a bad reputation.  However, to be placed into a position of leadership your good reputation is necessary for the confidence to lead and for others to follow.

Today I want to encourage you to celebrate your good reputation.  Choose to have it over great riches and favor.  If you are in a place that your rep isn’t the greatest, begin today to take steps toward changing it.  The best place to start is to surrender and submit to the plan of God on your life.  By taking steps of faith in the things that God leads you to, you will become known and trusted by those around you.  If you are not sure what to do next, follow the examples of integrity and wisdom in today’s Proverb.  In it there are many insights that will lead you into a good reputation.  When you listen to and obey God’s Word, you will never go wrong.

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 22  

May 21, 2020

Pray for the king

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wills.   Proverbs 21:1

This is a powerful scripture and one I think of often when things are looking a little dicey politically these days.  The heart to the king/political leaders is in the hand of the LORD.  That is really good news.  Even though it doesn’t always look like it, we can be confident that God knows what is going on and actually has His hand in matters of politics.  It even says He turns the king’s heart whatever direction He wants to.  Amazing!  It often makes me wonder, what God is up to?

In the new testament we are commissioned to pray for our leaders and civil authorities. For he is God’s minister to you for good.  The second chapter of 1 Timothy is an exhortation to pray for all men including kings and all that are in authority.  If God has his hand on the king’s heart, why do we need to pray for them.  Could it be that our prayers of faith are the force behind the hand of God to turn the hearts in the direction He wants them to go?  I guess that depends on how we are praying for them.  If we know the will of God, (and we can) we are then able to pray in agreement with what God’s will is and therefore see the hand of God moving the heart of the king.  So to continue to read in 1 Timothy 3 verse 2 says God’s will is for us to be able to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  We also know that it is God’s will for the leaders to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth as stated in verse 4 of that same chapter.

As you read through Proverbs 21, you can also identify God’s will by what is good and wise vs. what is evil and wicked.  These are also things we can be praying over all those in charge.  Whether Christians or not, prayer is the only way to change things and praying God’s will is a sure thing for getting an answer.

Today I want to encourage you to pray for our leaders.  From our president down to our local first responders.  Pray the goodness and wisdom of God on them and that God is turning their hearts to hear His direction and plan. Pray for their salvation and to come to the knowledge of the truth of God’s Word. In the days we are living in, we know that our only hope is from God.  Wouldn’t it be a good thing if the leaders of the world were in agreement with Him.  Even if you don’t believe anything would change, It is still better that criticizing and complaining about everything going on in the world.  At the very least, you will ensure that you are in line with God and His plans and that you are doing the right thing by becoming part of the answer not part of the problem.

Today’s scripture reading: Proverbs 21

May 20, 2020

God’s light

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.  Proverbs 20:27

I see this scripture in two different “lights”.  It says a person’s spirit is what God shines His light/lamp on to search the thoughts and intents of our heart/spirit.  What are our motives for what we do each day?  Only God our Father knows what motivates and inspires us to do good or not so good.  Is it fear or faith, panic or peace, grief or grace?  He can see if you are responding to feelings or moving forward led by His peace, faith and grace.

The second view I have of this scripture is kind of the same but different in that it is God’s lamp that is in us (our spirit) and shines out to the outside world.  The acts of love and kindness we show to others each day is the lamp of God shining through our lives into the lives of others.  When our heart and life is fully surrendered and submitted to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, it comes out of the heart and chases away the darkness of the world. It is also reflective and shines back on those around us exposing their motives and deceptions.

As you read through this Proverb today, make note of the motives and intents that are mentioned in it.  Things such as wrath, anger, quarreling, understanding, integrity, judgement, deceitful gain, mercy and lovingkindness.  As you notice these acts and feeling, identify how they relate to your life and daily walk.

Today I want to encourage you to shine the light of God into the dark world by showing acts of mercy and lovingkindness.  Live a life of integrity and walk by faith not by sight/feelings.  Let peace lead you not anxiety and put away feelings of grief for showing the grace of God in all your conduct.  Not because it is a requirement for your salvation because it isn’t, but it is God’s ways and His desire is for us to act like He does by shining the light and loving one another!

Today’s scripture reading:  Proverbs 20