You Gotta Work For It–Proverbs 6 Part 2

As Solomon continued to advise his son on how to live a successful life, he moved from what to avoid into the category of what one should embrace.  Item one—Good old fashioned work.  As the wisest man in the world, Solomon quickly pointed out the value of labor.  He recognized long before Ben Franklin that idle hands were the Devil’s workshop.  When one is engaged in work, several great things happen. 

 When people are working they do not have to be led as closely.  They have purpose and direction and their lives move forward in a positive direction without having to be told each step on the journey. Next, when one is working they grow to think beyond the here and the now.  They plan and they save for long term life. Finally, as they build a work life, they avoid the need to be dependent on the kindness of others to survive.  They have a stake in their own outcomes and become the person that is kind to others.

 In our culture, we have allowed the policies of our government to grow an entire population that believes it is entitled to not only food and shelter, but to conveniences of life like phones, cable and internet. We have rewarded those that do not wish to work and have allowed others to take the opportunities of those that do.  We, like Solomon, need to embrace work as a gift from God and encourage our kids to do the same. As we do that, the attitude of the nation will be confident and free once again and we will be a part of a nation that produces much and expects little in return—rather than a nation that feels entitled to all and wishes to do as little as possible to obtain it.

God Bless You

Go to the ant, you sluggard;     consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander,     no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer     and gathers its food at harvest.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?     When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber,     a little folding of the hands to rest— 11 and poverty will come on you like a thief     and scarcity like an armed man.

Be Careful in What You Promise–Proverbs 6 Part 1

Sometimes it is simply best to face your choices.  Solomon begins to look at the cost of choices we make.  The first he discusses is the choices we make with our mouths. When we give our word or vouch for others often times we do so based upon love or friendship.  But, when those choices go wrong, we simply do not get to walk away.  Even when we are well intentioned in our promise, if we are left holding the bag, then we must face that choice.

 We must be thoughtful and prayerful in what we say and do.  We cannot simply say things to please others knowing we cannot follow through. But when we do, we have to be willing to be transparent, honest and humble.  Often, that will bring us through difficult choices, but, even when it does not, it squares us with the Lord and allows us to face the choice maturely and with grace.  We are called to be different, and as such, we must walk by faith and trust him to complete the work he has started.

 God Bless You

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,     if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said,     ensnared by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, to free yourself,     since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go—to the point of exhaustion—     and give your neighbor no rest! Allow no sleep to your eyes,     no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,     like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

Your Life On Display–Proverbs 5 Part 2

There was a movie a number of years ago called the Truman Show. In the movie, Jim Carey was unwittingly observed all day every day doing life.  This movie came out before traffic cams, red light cams, web cams and the like—At the time, it was an amazing premise–what if someone was watching all your actions, would it affect your behavior?

 Here is the truth—God is watching all your actions! Solomon tells us that we are idiots if we behave in a manner that is displeasing, because, he sees it all. The great news is that he is patient and merciful.  But, make no mistake, God sees and knows your behavior.  What’s more, as a Christian, Your sin will find you out.

 It is important that, as the church, we live a life worthy of the gift we have been given.  Paul said it best in Romans 6—“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? GOD FORBID—we have died to sin and should not live any longer in it!”

 We are seen and our actions are on display to our Heavenly Father—We need to bring our thoughts, language and actions to a place that meets that standard! Otherwise, we will be ensnared and entrapped in our sin and pay a price that is deplorable.

 God Bless You

For your ways are in full view of the Lord,     and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;     the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die,     led astray by their own great folly.

Live a Faiithful Life at Home–Proverbs 5 Part 1

As a prosecutor, years ago, I learned a lesson that never left me.  It was simply that a man that was unwilling to be faithful to his wife, was usually unfaithful in all his dealings.  In our lives, we make very few covenants—Our covenant with Christ, our covenant with our spouse and if one is fortunate, like me, a covenant to adopt a little treasure like my Molly. Not a simple promise—but a court honored covenant that is approved by Church and State.

Solomon warned that failing to honor such a covenant would destroy one’s life and integrity.  The level of personal destruction is only exceeded by the devastation poured out on the families and others involved. Solomon made clear that nothing good could ever come from it; and, as such–it is not only easier but so much more rewarding to do what is right and love your spouse.

In our culture, we do not honor covenants.  We consider marriage a simple contract that is between whomever for however long that is convenient.  We have even developed terms like starter marriages to lighten the idea of ripping lives apart.  Like anything else God has designed, Marriages work when we follow God’s plan. If we remain faithful, and love and respect our spouses—then we will enjoy a full and meaningful life together-with a legacy of kids that understand covenant relationships and what “For Better or For Worse” really means.  It is rare in 2016—but, we can be the real 1%ers—the ones that still cling to a lifetime of being one person—One that loves both God and the priceless gift we call our Spouse!

God Bless You    

My son, pay attention to my wisdom,     turn your ear to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion     and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,     and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall,     sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death;     her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life;     her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me;     do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her,     do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others     and your dignity to one who is cruel

 

Your Choices Will Determine Your Fate–Proverbs 4 Part 3

It is every parent’s dream—a child that follows his leadership.  No good parent wakes up in the morning thinking, “How can I lead my child to destruction?” Parents want to train their kids to be successful and wise, making good choices with their lives. Proper diet, proper dress, appropriate respect for adults and authority are all things parents try to pound into their kids so they will function in a meaningful way when they become adults.

 Sadly, the counter influences in their lives push kids away from traditional values, norms and attitudes about adults and authority.  The result is an increasing mistrust and mistreatment of all types of authority including their own parents.  History teaches us (at least those of us that study history) that each generation starts its deviance where the last generation left off.

 That is why, as parents, it is incumbent on us to lead our kids toward Jesus.   Reverence for God helps build a reverence for authority, a selfless heart and a spirit of wisdom and humility that will bring us and our kids head and shoulders above the world standard.  From that vantage point they can see clearly and shape the generations to come; and maybe even save our civilization. It would be a bold effort, but it would end very well.

 God Bless You

 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

The Wisdom Road is Safe and Complete–Proverbs 4 Part 2

Clearly this devotion series has always had an overriding theme—The Amazing Journey.  The theme came from 2 Timothy 4:7—“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have kept the faith…”  But the first clear parallel to the path comes from the Proverbs.  In chapter 3, Solomon reminds us if we turn the control over to God he will make our paths straight.  Here, in chapter 4, Solomon compares journeys for those that follow God and those that do not.  Solomon lays it out like a roadmap—if you trust God and live a humble and righteous life, then you will experience long life and peace.  If you choose to take short cuts and make your own way, you will live a chaotic, and destructive life. 

He makes clear that the path of the unrighteous always seems shorter and easier.  They always spin it to ask who better to captain your journey—than you!  The answer is simple—The creator and master of the universe—God! Like any architect or manufacturer—he knows how to do this better than anyone! He designed and built it.

In our lives there is a lot of noise! The volume is overwhelming and the message is simple—Trust no one and especially not God! As in Solomon’s day, that is a roadmap to destruction. Don’t take the bait and fall prey to the lie.  Trust God and follow him humbly and expectantly—Then you will be safe even in chaos, and you will be able to join Paul in fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith—That IS the true model of success.

God Bless You

Dear friend, take my advice;     it will add years to your life. I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,     I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road. I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys,     or wasting time making wrong turns. Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip.     Guard it well—your life is at stake! Don’t take Wicked Bypass;     don’t so much as set foot on that road. Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.     Make a detour and be on your way.

16-17 Evil people are restless     unless they’re making trouble; They can’t get a good night’s sleep     unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody. Perversity is their food and drink,     violence their drug of choice.

18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;     the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—     travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

 

David’s Advice to the Young King–Proverbs 4 Part 1

The words of a Warrior King.  When Solomon wrote the Proverbs for his son, few knew that the man and king that he had become was in great part due to the teachings of David.  David, the warrior king—the slayer of Goliath and the killer of thousands in battle—sat with his son and made clear the priority of a great King.  GET WISDOM AT ALL COST!!! What??? David, the King that loved God so deeply that he became known as the man after God’s own heart; knew that it was the knowledge and reverence for God—Not the power and fighting skills—that would transform a man and a nation.

 All through Bible history, God used those that had a heart for Him not those with the best strength and fighting skills.  David was a kid carrying rocks when he defeated Goliath—but he had absolute faith in God’s deliverance.  Daniels friends were thrown in the fiery furnace, bound head to toe—when they changed the heart of an arrogant King.  Samson (Once the strongest warrior of all) was blind and vanquished when he defeated the Philistines in their colosseum. It was never about their strength, it was always about their hearts for God, and their knowledge of his greatness.

 The same holds true in our lives.  Our strength, wealth and our influence is so tenuous and fragile.  But if we fear the Lord—recognize Him as the author and perfector of our faith; then we will see him do great things in our lives and the lives of those we know and love.  God says it best—“Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit says the Lord!” Zachariah 4:6.

God Bless You

“Take hold of my words with all your heart;     keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding;     do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;     love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.     Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you;     embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head     and present you with a glorious crown.”

Don’t Be Mean and Evil–Just Because You Can–Proverbs 3 Part 2

It’s sort of sad when you consider it, but adults should not have learn this lesson.  It should not naturally occur to any of us to do mean and evil things to others—just because we can.  Imagine a culture where people just act civil.  They help each other instead of prey upon each other.  They encourage one another instead of harass.  They reach out and give instead of sneak in and take.  Sadly, one can only imagine such a place—because in current culture, no such place exists.

In a society where there is no Godly influence, its population becomes self-absorbed.  In such a society, it is little better than the law of the jungle.  The strong survive and the weak become prey. In government, in business and in schools the basic order of civil society disappears and anarchy and chaos become standard.  Basic definitions of what is a family, what is a gender and what is a marriage become confused and destroy all things sacred.

America, the great experiment, has become what it abhorred.  It was a land of the free and the home of the brave.  But, without God it has become the land of the mean and home of the weird. Doing what is good kind and selfless exposes one to danger or at least economic ruin.  Acting bravely is considered right wing or radical.  Worshipping God is frowned upon, while worshipping deviance is considered entertainment. 

As a church, we must pray and stand firm on being selfless, being kind and doing the right things for the right reasons.  If we will do that—even at risk of death or destruction, We can bring order and goodness back to our nation.  Join me, please.

God Bless You

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,     when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor,     “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—     when you already have it with you. 29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,     who lives trustfully near you. 30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—     when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy the violent     or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse     but takes the upright into his confidence. 33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,     but he blesses the home of the righteous. 34 He mocks proud mockers     but shows favor to the humble and oppressed. 35 The wise inherit honor,     but fools get only shame.

Roadmap to Wisdom–Proverbs 3 Part 1

So, what does it mean to be wise—if one was to draw it out on a whiteboard, what factors are included in the life of the people that embrace wisdom? In Solomon’s mind there were several factors.  First—listen to your parents…there are no people in your lives that are more unconditionally in love with you and want you to have a good life.  Often their ways seem antiquated or irrelevant, but, as we grow older we learn to spot the traps of life and can save our kids from falling into them. They truly want for you to have a great life—listen to them.

Next, allow your defining traits to be love and faithfulness.  If you are remembered for those traits, you will be universally loved and favored by both God and others.  So few people focus on loving and caring for God and others—when they do, they stand out and literally change the course of the world they live in.

Third, trust God to define your path and lead you.  Allow him to call the shots—He knows all, sees all and is the author and creator of your story.  If you allow him to lead—he will do so with such joy that your journey will be remarkable.  It is like touring a city with a local historian—they bring out the nuance and beauty like none other.

Finally, Trust God with your stuff—give the best of your time and money. Like any father, he will not allow you to outdo him.  He will bless you in ways that are amazing.  He will make your legacy both wonderful and beautiful—and despite your circumstances, you will be considered rich beyond belief.  That, is the body of Wisdom.

God Bless You

My son, do not forget my teaching,     but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years     and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;     bind them around your neck,     write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name     in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart     and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,     and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;     fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body     and nourishment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth,     with the first fruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,     and your vats will brim over with new wine.

God’s Gifts to His Faithful–Proverbs 2 Part 2

While it may seem a bit supernatural, God actually loves and protects his own.  In this passage, Solomon simply lays it out.  God gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding! He holds success in store for the upright. For those that follow him he is their protection and shield.  He runs interference and guides his followers. God enlightens those that will simply seek him out.

With this amazing insight, why would anyone ignore Gods love and leadership.  The wisest man in the world would wonder that himself.  Yet, he was one of the worst offenders.  Most who follow Christ, like Solomon, know the truth—yet, we still act independently of God’s leadership and make decisions that put us at risk and makes our lives miserable.  The great news is that we can always turn back and follow God.  As we do, he provides the knowledge and protection to continue the journey with confidence and peace. 

Help me Lord to do so with Love.

God Bless You

For the Lord gives wisdom;     from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright,     he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just     and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just     and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart,     and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you,     and understanding will guard you.