The Tongue, Tool or Weapon-Proverbs 25 Part 2

It is very important to understand that our words can act as our greatest tools for ministry and friendship; or our greatest weapons for injury and destruction.  Since our tongues are such a powerful tool, we could really impact our culture for Christ.  This political cycle has simply magnified the reality of the use of words in battle.  From Trump’s attacks on fellow candidates to Hillary’s email scandal—there is little doubt that words have meaning and misuse can cause injury.

As God’s ambassadors, our words need to be truthful, kind and uplifting as much as possible.  So little is left in our culture that promotes those traits.  Our words, however, can best reflect our spirit.  Remember the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. If our daily conversation is “Fruitful”, we will stand out from the rest of the culture.

This weekend, take time to reflect on what leaves your mouth—Is it fruit of the Spirit or the remains of a culture gone amuck.  If the former, then praise and thank God for being Lord of your tongue; if the latter, ask him to guide your heart so your conversation matches your ambassadorship! It is a challenge—but, it is one our Lord will gladly assist you with.

God Bless You

Like clouds and wind without rain     is one who boasts of gifts never given.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,     and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

16 If you find honey, eat just enough—     too much of it, and you will vomit. 17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—     too much of you, and they will hate you.

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow     is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor. 19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot     is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. 20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,     or like vinegar poured on a wound,     is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;     if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,     and the Lord will reward you.

23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain     is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.

24 Better to live on a corner of the roof     than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

25 Like cold water to a weary soul     is good news from a distant land.

Embrace Your Place–Proverbs 25 Part 1

Everyone has aspirations in life. It is a great thing to live in a country that truly allows anyone to do anything as long as they strive and work hard. We raise our children with the idea that they can truly pick their career and place in life through education and diligence.  There is however a hard truth that often gets quietly shelved—While we can do anything, we cannot do everything.

God has used our lives, our talents and our life circumstances to prepare us for our journey and a role in other’s lives.  So many times, we become envious of others roles and discount the value each of us brings to our families, friends and communities. Solomon, in his wisdom, broke it down into three areas—Hold your tongue, embrace your place and don’t start unnecessary fights.

Discernment is a mighty tool.  Learning to hold one’s tongue and not simply spew out every free range thought, is critical to being successful in life and in ministry. In this culture of blogging, snapchating and Facebook, we have forgotten that using our mind as a filter for our mouth is invaluable to our lives and the lives of others.

Solomon also stressed the critical nature of taking your place and embracing your role in life. If we can be content with the circumstances we face, then if God blesses us with more, we can humbly accept the gift and be equally content in the new place.  Conversely, if we are unhappy with where we are and always envious of others, we will not have opportunities to use our roles to change lives, nor will we ever truly be happy in any other role we are given.

Finally, Solomon urges us not to be accusers or overly litigious.  We need to be careful and not rush to judgement of others—lest we embarrass ourselves and others because we do not know the entire story.  Further, showing grace and mercy by holding our tongues could make us life-long friends and allies—and we will need them.

It simply comes down to embracing your life and trusting God with your future and its timing. God will honor that and make your journey complete, awesome and life changing—You can be anything, you just can’t be everything!

God Bless You

 

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;     to search out a matter is the glory of kings. As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,     so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

Remove the dross from the silver,     and a silversmith can produce a vessel; remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,     and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,     and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”     than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.

What you have seen with your eyes     do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end     if your neighbor puts you to shame?

If you take your neighbor to court,     do not betray another’s confidence, 10 or the one who hears it may shame you     and the charge against you will stand.

Top Notched People–Proverbs 24 final

There is a common theme—Top notched people have certain like characteristics.  They speak the truth, they work hard and they look out for others and their interests—not just their own.  One of the greatest attributes of our creator and Lord is his use of paradox.  All through the Bible we learn that walking with him is a series of counter intuitive steps of faith that produce a rich, full and meaningful life—one that leaves a legacy beyond themselves and for generations after.

Knowing that, we have to fight the urge to be like everyone else.  We have to stand strong and live a life that is selfless and substantial.  As we do, we will reap the blessing of the Lord and we will change lives daily.  Never give up, never give in—stand firm in the Lord and allow him to shape your life for his glory.

God Bless You

To show partiality in judging is not good: 24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”     will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations. 25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,     and rich blessing will come on them.

26 An honest answer     is like a kiss on the lips.

27 Put your outdoor work in order     and get your fields ready;     after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause—     would you use your lips to mislead? 29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;     I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,     past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; 31 thorns had come up everywhere,     the ground was covered with weeds,     and the stone wall was in ruins. 32 I applied my heart to what I observed     and learned a lesson from what I saw: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber,     a little folding of the hands to rest— 34 and poverty will come on you like a thief     and scarcity like an armed man.

Showing God’s Character–Proverbs 24 Part 2

We are not our own, we were bought with a price.  That is as foundational of a truth as lives in scripture.  Still in this world it is difficult to remember that the salvation we received was given to us at the cost of Jesus sacrifice of relinquishing his Godhood and becoming a servant whose torturous death brought redemption for those who choose to follow him.

Knowing this, we should walk through our days showing God’s character. Simply put, we are not like everyone else.  We do not snicker when others fail.  We do not celebrate when others experience misfortune.  Instead, we show class and empathy when those around us—even our rivals, fall into hard times.  In addition, we do not exercise our power and authority simply because we can.  Instead we rule with grace and wisdom and make decisions that honor God.

Finally, we live a life that shows our respect for God.  We work hard, we love our family and we do our best to show as many of his character traits in our lives. If we live that kind of life, at the journey’s end—we will be able to part with joy and few regrets—leaving a legacy that lasts for generations.

God Bless You

Do not gloat when your enemy falls;     when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the Lord will see and disapprove     and turn his wrath away from them.

Saying 29

19 Do not fret because of evildoers     or be envious of the wicked, 20 for the evildoer has no future hope,     and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Saying 30

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,     and do not join with rebellious officials, 22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them,     and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Don’t Envy the Wicked! Proverbs 24 Part 1

It is inevitable.  The longer we live life, the harder it becomes to reconcile the thought that God takes care of his kids with the seeming success of the Godless.  Many that follow God faithfully struggle as they see the wicked prosper—while their lives are filled with trials and travesties that are a direct result of sin and Satan in the world.

The truth is simple, as we have posted our flag in the ground to follow Christ all the days of our lives, we have entered into a journey fraught with spiritual warfare.  Some of that warfare is direct, some is emotional propaganda.  The enemy likes to show the most selfish and Godless with their toys and bobbles.  He loves to give them media exposure so the world can see that they have it good.  But, the enemy fails to show the literal billions of broken lives and empty spirits.  He fails to show the absolute and intense fear of death since without Christ death is eternal separation from all that is good.

He certainly hides the peace and order that lives within the lives of his chosen. He also forgets to mention that even in trials and horrid tribulation, God is with us and walks with us through the fire. We are never alone, never without hope and always eternally secure in his love.  We have nothing to envy—for, while we may not have the bobbles and trinkets, we have an abundant life on earth and eternity with him in peace and power.

God Bless You

Do not envy the wicked,     do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence,     and their lips talk about making trouble.

Saying 21

By wisdom a house is built,     and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled     with rare and beautiful treasures.

Saying 22

The wise prevail through great power,     and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Surely you need guidance to wage war,     and victory is won through many advisers.

Saying 23

Wisdom is too high for fools;     in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.

Character and Legacy Go Hand in Hand–Proverbs 23 part 3

I USED to be a great deal smarter.  When I was young, I had the righteousness and spiritual maturity of Moses, Joshua and Paul combined.  I was very humble and extremely proud of it! I was a legend in my own mind! But, fortunately, God thought enough of me—a self-righteous, pompous jerk to break, remold and remake me. He is still hard at it, by the way, It is like being in a “WILDERNESS TRAINING CAMP”.

As foolish as I was, and as broken as I am, I am still incredibly grateful that God loves me enough to continue to prepare, protect and provide for me and my family. One of the greatest windfalls in the process, though, has been the legacy he is building in my kids.  While, as a husband, I am clearly the weaker link, as a dad—no competition, my kids are far and away the best of God’s work in me.  As I look at each of my four young warriors, I see his thumb print on each. From the Birthday Girl-Madison, to my nurturing animal advocate-I see his hand on each.  While none are perfect, they each are amazing.

As a parent, we have to accept that we have demonstrated all the wrong things to do as an adult to them.  But, if we can show them God’s grace and his love; then, that very grace and love will guide them into a personal and lifelong relationship with him. That, then, becomes by far, the greatest gift they can give to us and to our Heavenly Father.

Never give up and never give in—Love your kids, pray for them and help them to recognize that even though they are brilliant and bullet proof now, someday, when the smoke clears, God will make them wise, gracious and grateful—if they let him.

God Bless You

not let your heart envy sinners,     but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. 18 There is surely a future hope for you,     and your hope will not be cut off.

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,     and set your heart on the right path: 20 Do not join those who drink too much wine     or gorge themselves on meat, 21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,     and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Saying 17

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,     and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—     wisdom, instruction and insight as well. 24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;     a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. 25 May your father and mother rejoice;     may she who gave you birth be joyful!

Saying 18

26 My son, give me your heart     and let your eyes delight in my ways, 27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,     and a wayward wife is a narrow well. 28 Like a bandit she lies in wait     and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Proverbs 23 Part 2–His Way, not Mine

One of the great saddnesses in life, is the moment when you are older and wiser that you realize you spent way too much effort trying to please those who are unpleasable and trying to obtain that which is unattainable.  We are brought up in a great country—one where there is no preset cast system that relegates you to a life without choices. As such, from little league on we are taught we can do and be anything.  At age 53, I can attest this is true.  Sadly, we often mistake that axiom with the mistaken one that we  can be everything. 

God has formed us—he also has used our family and life circumstance to mold us.  All the effort was to equip us to complete a plan he has designed for us. journeyWhen we waste our time trying to live independent of that plan, we often become focused on pleasing others, and abandoning our role as his chosen to somehow attain our desire.  The ones that suffer are our families, friends and ourselves.  We live a lie and miss the glorious truth of his plan and his path for our lives. Like any dad—his plan is designed to give us a full and meaningful life.  Our efforts to deviate from him—are always counterproductive and bring emptiness.  Even when we sometimes achieve our desires, we find they were not fulfilling. We are just as empty as when we left his path.

The great news is that he awaits our return. He will set us back on track and even use our deviation to prepare us to minister and complete his plan.  He is that dad that takes what we have broken or what others have broken in our lives and mend, reform and restore them to his ultimate plan. The joy and goal for him–as with any daddy, is us collapsed in his arms snuggled in and under his protection.  His only desire is that we do it his way and avoid the pain of emptiness of doing it our way.  Thanks Lord, for loving me and desiring that I complete your journey–joyfully and peacefully.

God Bless You

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,     do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person     who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you,     but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten     and will have wasted your compliments.

Saying 10

Do not speak to fools,     for they will scorn your prudent words.

Saying 11

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone     or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Defender is strong;     he will take up their case against you.

Saying 12

12 Apply your heart to instruction     and your ears to words of knowledge.

Saying 13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;     if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 14 Punish them with the rod     and save them from death.

Saying 14

15 My son, if your heart is wise,     then my heart will be glad indeed; 16 my inmost being will rejoice     when your lips speak what is right

More Sayings- A Cultural History-Proverbs 23 Part 1

Traditions and History are two critical pieces of our countries ability to survive.  As a 50+ guy, I have learned through the years that each generation has a need to put their thumb print on History.  It manifests itself through cycles of behavior and the rewrite of the story of the past—to conform to the generations relative view of right and wrong, good and evil and the basic tenant of family, commitment and marriage.

Our culture has all but erased the foundational truths of liberty.  We have not only moved the boundary stones, we have obliterated them. Our nation has abandoned crime for “Poor choices”.  It has abandoned roles for “How one identifies” on an given day.  We run from God and chase riches.  We seek to control life and are ultimately controlled by its many comforts.

Our kids would rather live in the virtual outdoors—than play outdoors.  We have become mindless, gluttons—who are content to be controlled as long as we can have our creature comforts.

We are better than that! As the king so eloquently wrote—don’t move the boundary, don’t dishonor the King. Don’t seek lies, comforts or chase their riches-CHASE God—he will provide all that one needs. My parents lived that, I know it–but struggle to do it.  The next generation—barely knows the concept—their history is vastly different.  We must reintroduce them to the foundational principles of a healthy culture so that the cycle can once again rebuild our one nation, under God. 

God Bless You

Saying 5

Do not move an ancient boundary stone     set up by your ancestors.

Saying 6

29 Do you see someone skilled in their work?     They will serve before kings;     they will not serve before officials of low rank

Saying 7

23 When you sit to dine with a ruler,     note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat     if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies,     for that food is deceptive.

Saying 8

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;     do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,     for they will surely sprout wings

Let the Sayings Begin–Proverbs 22 Part 3

Prioritizing the sayings of the wise—The First Priority, do not exploit those that are exploitable. The poor do have a protector, it is God.  He keeps score and will not soon forget those that mistreat the vulnerable.  It is sad to think how so many use their power to exploit.  They feel invisible and invincible. They believe they are above selflessness, that is for everyone else.  They use the phrase-it’s not personal, it’s just business.  One need remember—when dealing with persons, it is ALWAYS personal.

Second—Realize there is truly guilt by association.  We have to choose to associate with those that honor God.  As we do, we grow closer and stand taller.  The converse is true, if we stand with the loud, angry and rude—we will be seen as the same.  In addition, we will be drawn into the drama and ultimately  the consequence of such a person; even when we are not.

Finally, live within your means and do not extend yourself beyond that either–for yourself or for others. It exposes you to entrapment and enslavement and does so without any real benefit for those exposed. The more we trust in God’s timing—the more amazing the journey becomes.  Live wisely, humbly and peacefully—then God can lead us to the land he is promised.

God Bless You

Do not exploit the poor because they are poor     and do not crush the needy in court, 23 for the Lord will take up their case     and will exact life for life.

Saying 3

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,     do not associate with one easily angered, 25 or you may learn their ways     and get yourself ensnared.

Saying 4

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge     or puts up security for debts; 27 if you lack the means to pay,     your very bed will be snatched from under you.

The Thirty Sayings of the Wise–Proverbs 22 Continued

In the middle of Proverbs 22, Solomon makes a shift.  After thoroughly exploring life from his vantage point, he compiles some of the most profound thoughts for people in his culture and for his time—funny thing though, wisdom continues to be timeless.  The people have not changed much and the principles that make their lives either great or poor really have not changed much either.  When men face life and its challenges, it is safe to say that each journey has its fair share. Some deal with financial crisis, some with health issues.  Many families experience pain and loss outside their control; while others see grief due to the choices of children or parents. Natural disaster, violent crime and stubborn and selfish attitudes were as prevalent in Solomon’s time—as they are today.

 The difference, in large part has to do with how one responds to the attacks of the day.  Make no mistake, we face an enemy—his single purpose is to neutralize and ultimately destroy any and everyone who chooses to trust God and not the world culture.  Like any bully, he will hit hardest those who refuse to comply with his wishes.  The more determined the opposition, the more despicable he becomes.  He attacks health, family and everything one holds dear.  If, when under such heinous attack, we remain faithful; then God will provide and prepare us for the rest of our journey—and he will see us to the end so that he can glorify us–at his side, as his chosen and his beloved.

 To survive, we must listen to the wise—the ones who have gone before.  We must also relinquish all we have to the lordship of God.  When we can finally release everything to his care—nothing held back, then he can begin to restore, protect and lead us to the finish line as champions and victors in a culture that would, otherwise, never allow us to finish the race.

 God Bless You

Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;     apply your heart to what I teach, 18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart     and have all of them ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,     I teach you today, even you. 20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,     sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,     so that you bring back truthful reports     to those you serve?