Monthly Archives: April 2018

Proverbs 25-31; Can You Hear Me Now?

I love how God speaks to His children through the words He inspired men to put to paper thousands of years ago. I hope you aren’t squandering this precious pipeline to God’s heart.

These last chapters of the book of Proverbs have a lot to say about a lot of topics. But honestly, as I read them today I found myself skipping over some of the verses without much consideration. The topics of those don’t apply to my life as much right now. Work ethic, honesty, material possessions, alcohol aren’t things God is dealing with me in 2018.

However, anger is. Quarreling is. Relationships in my life are challenging today, this minute, and God nudged me every time I read those verses that speak to those things. I hear you loud and clear, Lord.

Once again, I was tempted to point fingers. I’d think, “Boy, So and So should read this verse.” Or, “Yeah, that describes So and So.”

And once again, God reminded me that I need to take care of the plank in my own eye before I worry about a speck in someone else’s.

I believe, according to what I read in Scripture, there may very well come a time when I need to address that speck in the eyes of my loved ones. But not before I have a clean heart, pure motives, and God’s leading first.

Not that I’m a “Proverbs 31 Woman,” by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like verse 26 to describe me:

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Speak, Lord. I can hear You.

 

Proverbs 21-24; Poverty-Stricken

It’s kind of hard to read these proverbs and not think about people other than myself. I mean, I don’t drink so you couldn’t say I’m a drunkard. I worked for 37 years, and am busy these days serving at my church so I wouldn’t be described as a sluggard. I’m honest most of the time. I’m not a jealous person, and my friends are upstanding, God-fearing people. So these proverbs must be talking to someone else, not me. Right?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“So read it again, Connie,” God seems to be saying. “I’m talking to you.”

So I read these chapters a second time. And a third. I looked at what a couple of people had to say about these proverbs, but mostly I just let God do the teaching about my walk with my Savior.

Which leads me to share my thoughts on the end of chapter 24. At first glimpse it seems to be talking about farming, about making a living. And if that’s all you get out of it, it’s still a good lesson. But when Solomon says he applied his heart to what he observed, I did the same.

What does this passage have to do with me? How can this passage be profitable to me, to correct and instruct me in righteousness so that I can be better equipped to do the good work God has for me to do?

When I take a good look at my relationship with my Savior, I wonder if it is well manicured, or if there are thorns and weeds allowed to grow. Have I neglected to root out sin in my life, am I ignoring the signs? One thing I know about gardening, if you don’t take care of the weed problem the minute it raises its ugly head, the harder it is to get rid of. Once those roots have taken hold, once it spreads, it’s a nightmare, and can take over your whole landscaping.

The same can be said of sin. If I allow sin to exist in my life, even just one more day, it doesn’t stay stagnate. It digs its roots in, and can take over my life. I don’t want Solomon’s vineyard in these verses to be a picture of my relationship with God.

The walls around the vineyard Solomon describes are tumbling. And God would have me look at the wall I’ve built around my heart. Am I really guarding my heart against the enemy? Or have I allowed it to crumble one thought, one TV show, one sin at at time? Is my heart exposed to the enemy due to my lack of care?

I’ve looked today at the land God has given me, this thing called salvation, and considered my care of this precious gift that is mine through the blood of Jesus. God would have me consider the time I spend in His Word, not just reading the verses, but letting the verses speak to me, to meditate on it, memorize it, ingest it so it becomes a part of me and crowds out any of the weeds Satan would try to plant before they take root.

God would have me consider how important is guarding my heart, taking a look at the wall that would keep out my enemy. Is it strong and healthy because I’m praying, being intentional about my walk with the Lord?

Or, and this is what convicted me this morning, am I too lazy to make an effort to make this relationship with God something really beautiful and fruitful?

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. (24:33-34)

The picture of a poverty-stricken soul makes me sad. If I’m thinking my walk with the Lord isn’t what it could be, if I feel a bit removed from Him, if I’ve allowed sin to grow like a weed, I need to get up and get to work.

Proverbs 17-20; Relationship Advice From Solomon

Maybe it’s because I have a couple of challenging relationships in my life at the moment, but these proverbs spoke to me today about how we are to treat each other, who we are to be in relationships. I would challenge you to read these chapters and look for examples, even if there is no discord in your life right now. Because there will be before long. No one is immune.

17:14 jumped out at me first:

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

It just seems that, in our modern society, people look for reasons to be upset. Someone has stepped on my “rights” or hurt my feelings, so I’m going to do what’s best for me and make a big deal out of it, no matter who I hurt. Solomon seems to be advising against that.

Then I backed up and read verse 13:

If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house.

Never is a long time, my friend.

There are other verses that spoke to me, like 17:27:

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Then Solomon goes on in the next verse to say:

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

‘Nuff said.

18:2 says:

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinion.

I don’t watch talk shows for this very reason. I don’t enjoy debating with people whose agenda it is to get their point across, without trying to understand another’s. But if I read verses like this and think of that opinionated person who is making my life difficult, I need to read it again. God’s not talking to me about SuzieQ down the street. God is speaking to me, about me. And I certainly don’t want to be the one who is guilty of being opinionated without understanding. I need to read all of these proverbs and remember that I’m not responsible for another’s behavior. I am responsible for mine, however.

These chapters have me asking myself, on what do I base relationships? And are those people closest to me encouraging me in my walk with the Lord?

Can people recognize the wisdom which comes from God in me? Or do they recognize me as a fool because of my tongue, my attitude, my dealings with all kinds of people?

I’d like to repeat my challenge to you today, and encourage you to read these proverbs in light of your relationships. Sometimes relationships are challenging because WE aren’t being the people WE need to be.

May God bless you as you seek wisdom, as you grow in knowledge, and as you apply these truths to your life. And may God be glorified in all our relationships.

Proverbs 13-16; How Do You Know?

The proverbs repeatedly differentiate between wisdom or righteousness with foolishness and sin. Many proverbs speak of gaining wisdom and understanding, acting out of knowledge, holding to this truth.

But how do you know what is true?

I am convinced, as I read these verses, of the absolute necessity of Bible study for each of us. There are so many made-up definitions of truth out there, so much advice that tells us to look out for number one at any cost, so many ungodly examples of people treating one another with anger, dishonesty, violence, and hatred while we call it entertainment.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (14:12)

There is a flip side to that verse. There is a way that is right, and in the end it leads to abundant life here in this life, and everlasting life when we leave this earth.

What is right? What is true? What is advice you can bank on every time?

Read your Bible. It’s in there.

 

Proverbs 10-12; Only A Moment

So I’m reading these proverbs this morning and listening to what God has to say about those of us who wear Jesus’ righteousness. We are blessed, and a blessing to others. We have joy and peace. God is our refuge. We reap a harvest, and receive eternal life. God delights in blessing us!

Then I got to 12:19 and heard myself say, “That’s not true.”

Did I really just say that? Here’s the verse:

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Has anyone ever lied about you? Did the lie only last for a moment before the truth came out? Or did you live with people believing the lie for years?

Then God impressed in my heart to look beyond the immediate. Didn’t Jesus say HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? It’s not always about you, Connie.

This verse, like so many others, points to Jesus. The Truth that is Him will endure forever. That’s a fact I can build my life on.

Oh, it may seem like the lies are out of control, that evil is winning over good, that wrong is right and right is wrong in our society. But Matthew Henry reminded me that the Truth of Scripture, Jesus Himself, will last forever. And in the light of eternity, the lies will last only a moment.

 

Proverbs 5-9; The Dead Are There

Oh, that all of us would read these chapters and really hear what God would have us know. Solomon, in chapter 4 verse 23 tells us to guard our hearts. In the chapters I read today he tells us how and why. It’s really important information.

Solomon calls sin an adulteress, a prostitute. He warns us to stay as far away from her as possible. As far from sin as possible.

Sin, and the champion of sin, Satan, doesn’t care about you. Sin has one goal. To destroy you. Why dabble in sin? Why take a chance with sin, Solomon seems to be asking. It will only lead to ruin.

And don’t think saying, “I’ll just try this once,” doesn’t come with serious consequences:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (6:27-28)

You get burned the FIRST time. EVERY sin comes with a consequence.

Solomon tells a story of a young man who lacked judgment. (What young man, or woman, doesn’t?) In Solomon’s story the young man heard a prostitute (sin) calling and went with her “like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose…” (7:22)

Dear one, it DOES matter what kind of music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, the books you read, the internet sites you visit when you think no one is looking. It DOES matter if you begin to tolerate sin in yourselves and others. You’re a fool to think none of it effects you.

Solomon talks about wisdom in chapters 8&9. If you read them, and I hope you do, I think you’ll see that is a much better way to live. “…wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Nothing you desire can compare. Nothing.

9:13-18 ends this section of Scripture with a solemn truth. Please listen to what God would say to us. Folly (foolishness) is loud, undisciplined, and looking for company. In other words, sin is looking for you.

I can’t help but think of our entertainment business. Blatant sin is lauded, and applauded, isn’t it? Here’s what Solomon says to us who watch and laugh at Modern Family and shows like it, who spend hours playing video games with graphic violence and sex, who listen to music that raps about rape and murder as though it was normal, or sings about the pleasures of adultery and drunkenness. This is what Solomon would say to anyone who thinks that sin looks fun:

(Folly) sits at the door of her house, calling out to those who pass by. She says to those who lack judgment: “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”

Please guard your heart. Please take this seriously. Satan is seriously calling out to you because he hates you, and wants to destroy you. And he’s not stupid enough to be honest. He can make sin look and sound really good. But it’s still sin.

God is calling out to you, too. Listen to His voice. Because He loves you, He died to forgive your sins, He wants to give you life.

He’s asking you not to play around with sin. Pay attention to Him. That is wisdom.

Proverbs 1-4; A Wisdom Litmus Test

How aware are you of God’s Presence in your day-to-day? How often during your day does a verse of Scripture come to mind? Are the truths in God’s Word evident in your life, His commandments known and obeyed, His thoughts as recorded in Scripture your thoughts?

The answer to those questions reveal your level of wisdom, according to Solomon. A wise person knows and cherishes God by spending time studying His Word (2:1-11). A wise person walks with God in an intentional way (2:20-22). And a wise person places all his faith, his finances, family, and future in God’s hands and trusts Him to do all things well (3:5-10)

The litmus test of a wise person can be seen in his sleep (3:19-26). When worries and burdens are thrown off and given to God, when a conscience is clear from a right relationship with God, sleep comes sweetly.

As we read the book of Proverbs together, let’s seek wisdom that begins with a healthy fear, a reverence of God. Let’s approach this book with open hearts and minds. Let’s soak up the wisdom of Solomon and make it our own.

It would be foolish not to.