The Coolest Part of Following God–Proverbs 13 Final

What is the coolest part of living a righteous life? It is the way God’s plan unfolds and that person sees the order in the midst of chaos.  Make no mistake, we live in a fallen world.  Our culture has worked tirelessly to remove any vestiges of God and righteousness from our lives.  The result, of course is chaos.  Meanwhile, those who diligently seek the Lord, find peace in the midst.  They see God at work in their lives and in the lives of their kids.  While life ad all its evil and deplorable circumstance still hit, they have peace knowing he is still in charge.

Even when the life we lead seems unbearable, we have the confidence of thousands of years of history that God has his plan under control.  We cling to the scripture “All things work together for good for those that love him and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. We cannot see all things or times at once, but, he can! We need only trust him and watch as he meets our needs in the most amazing and unusual ways.  We have to move forward and even if we are living like the Israelites in the desert-with only enough for the day, we still walk in peace knowing he will provide and prepare his kids for eternity.

God Bless You

A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,     but fools detest turning from evil.

20 Walk with the wise and become wise,     for a companion of fools suffers harm.

21 Trouble pursues the sinner,     but the righteous are rewarded with good things.

22 A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children,     but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

23 An unplowed field produces food for the poor,     but injustice sweeps it away.

24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,     but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,     but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Integrity the Protector–Proverbs 13 Part 1

One of the timeless lessons that has passed by current culture, is the lesson that integrity and honesty are the best guards to life.  Living a life of integrity provides stability, it provides security and it prevents the destruction of sin and deceit. People that make their living dishonestly cannot hold on to it.  People that build their persona on a mountain of lies will see it crumble before them,  They allow  their deceit to become their truth and their pride their biggest shield—in the end those things provide no protection or security.

People that live a life of integrity, conversely, build their wealth slowly but carefully.  They give of their time, money and heart.  They put others first and allow themselves a seat in the background.  In return, they build an army of friends and a reputation that is slid and God centered. Try though the world may, it is unshakable. Finally they live a life of peace and joy.  They face trials with peace and confidence that God will walk them through it and in the end, he will triumph.  It is a life of peace guarded by our shield, healer and warrior—Abba Father!

God Bless You

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,     but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.

From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things,     but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence.

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,     but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

A sluggard’s appetite is never filled,     but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

The righteous hate what is false,     but the wicked make themselves a stench     and bring shame on themselves.

Righteousness guards the person of integrity,     but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;     another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.

A person’s riches may ransom their life,     but the poor cannot respond to threatening rebukes.

The light of the righteous shines brightly,     but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

10 Where there is strife, there is pride,     but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

11 Dishonest money dwindles away,     but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,     but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

13 Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,     but whoever respects a command is rewarded.

Make Your Mouth a Tool, Not a Weapon–Proverbs 12 Final

You can tell a great deal about a person by the things they say.  I remember as a child—parents would ask kids, “Do you eat with that filthy mouth?” We learn quickly from listening to the content and veracity of a person’s speech—whether or not they are folks with whom we wish to associate.  Jesus said it best, “It is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out.” Matt 15:11

As the chosen people of God, we have to set the bar on speaking the truth, and speaking with patience, grace and character.  People should desire to converse with us–not dread it.  In practical terms, that requires honesty, selflessness and genuine desire to know other people and allow them to know both Christ and Christ in you. When our hearts and mouths are programmed accordingly, we become transparent, peaceful and wise people—we break the cultural mold of looking out for “number 1” and begin to actually influence the world around us.  That influence makes life much more enjoyable and friends become friends in all circumstances—not just when things are good.  Choose each day to use your mouth as a tool for good not a weapon for evil.

God Bless You

Those who work their land will have abundant food,     but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,     but the root of the righteous endures.

13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,     and so the innocent escape trouble.

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,     and the work of their hands brings them reward.

15 The way of fools seems right to them,     but the wise listen to advice.

16 Fools show their annoyance at once,     but the prudent overlook an insult.

17 An honest witness tells the truth,     but a false witness tells lies.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,     but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

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

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,     but those who promote peace have joy.

The Disciplined Life Proverbs 12 Part 1

God can spot his beloved from a mile off.  They act differently. When confronted with challenging circumstances, the righteous look to the Lord for stability and for leadership.  They love discipline—and while far from perfect, they continue to push forward to become like Christ.  Their character is unmatched.  It shows in how they treat their spouses, family, friends and even pets and livestock.  It is that overwhelming sense of selflessness that guides all their actions.

The unwise, the worldly and the selfish affect all aspects of their lives as well.  Their marriages are hell on earth, their dealings with others while initially see promising end in chaos and destruction due to lack of trust and good will.  They may acquire wealth, but nothing that either satisfies or lasts.  Their treatment of others, even pets is deplorable.  They are known for their self-absorption and it drives all they do and destroys all they touch. The contrast is stark and the outcome life altering.  Help me, Lord—to live the disciplined life and honor you with all I do.

God Bless You

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,     but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Good people obtain favor from the Lord,     but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

No one can be established through wickedness,     but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,     but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

The plans of the righteous are just,     but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,     but the speech of the upright rescues them.

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,     but the house of the righteous stands firm.

A person is praised according to their prudence,     and one with a warped mind is despised.

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant     than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,     but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Kindness Is Key–Proverbs 11 Part 2

What the world always misses is understanding why people who do not seemingly fit their mold for winners—are still happy.  God gets it though! God has designed us to seek him and peace as the most fulfilling things in one’s life.  The two are conjoined and one cannot truly have one without the other.  So when the world sees God’s chosen living peacefully and fulfilled despite the circumstances they face in their lives.  For some it is a source of encouragement and hope, while for others it is a reminder that they are missing something and that makes them envious, jealous and adversarial. 

It is clear—When one seeks the Lord, they bring a richness and a fullness to those around them.  They are not perfect, but, somehow they have become comfortable in their skin and can focus on the needs of others, rather than on their own needs.  They bring to their community a desire to bring better things to their community.  In contrast, those without the Lord are self-seeking.  Their desire to seek their own needs overpowers any realization of the needs of others.  In their community, they are loathed and hated and drive wedges rather than bring unity.  So when living day to day—we need to stand up and stand out so that we can bring communities together and bring Christ to them.  Then our peace will be a point of light in a very dark culture.

God Bless You

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;     when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,     but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,     but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,     but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,     but victory is won through many advisers.

15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,     but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,     but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,     but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,     but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19 Truly the righteous attain life,     but whoever pursues evil finds death.

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,     but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,     but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout     is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,     but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;     another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;     whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Integrity is the Key–Proverbs 11 Part 1

It is not only God that blesses and admires a righteousness life. Communities and the people that one values most are the ones that are blessed by righteousness. People truly admire the upright and the honest.  Our culture teaches and tries to demean the idea that people that are virtuous  truly succeed and bring up those around them. But, one need only think of the people that have greatly influenced their lives, to remember it was their Character—not their accomplishments that changed their words.

As one looks at their the character of influential people, they see honesty, selflessness, kindness, true compassion and the ability to bring those around them up to God’s standard, rather than allow the world to lower them to its standard.  The ability to stand apart without an air of judgement is both uplifting and life changing.  If we, as a church, would champion God’s model for life—and not cower to the world’s pressure, then we too would be heroes in our community and could truly change the world.

God Bless You

 

The Lord detests dishonest scales,     but accurate weights find favor with him.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,     but with humility comes wisdom.

The integrity of the upright guides them,     but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,     but righteousness delivers from death.

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,     but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,     but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

Hopes placed in mortals die with them;     all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,     and it falls on the wicked instead.

With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,     but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;     when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,     but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed

What You Say Matters–Proverbs 10 Part 2

From Solomon’s perspective, next to the analysis of one’s heart, the most obvious sign of wisdom is what leaves their mouth. Wise people hold their tongues.  They have no need to talk filthy, to gossip, lie or to simply say things that are hurtful to others.  Wise people understand that their mouths can be weapons or they can be tools to show wisdom and improve the lives of others.

It is important that we speak the truth—in love. It is equally important that every word out of our mouth be measured and when weighed meet a standard that honors God.  If not, then we become tools for the enemy.  We cause dissention, we stir up hatred, we hurt others unnecessarily and what we say loses its usefulness to others. Our very tongues label us as fools and common.  People stop listening and start avoiding conversations. 

So, what is the answer.  Speak as though what you say is being watched by those you wish to most define yourself.  That is, after all, what is happening.  If your mouth is labeling you as a fool, then change you speech.  If a liar, then quit lying. If your mouth is filthy, pick new words—Your tongue can be your greatest tool or your most lethal weapon—God calls us to make it the former not the latter.

God Bless You

Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,     and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,     but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,     but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,     but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge,     but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,     but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,     but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,     but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips     and spreads slander is a fool.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,     but the prudent hold their tongues.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,     but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,     but fools die for lack of sense.