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Showing posts from March, 2011

A Principled Life

3  The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.   4  A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,    but a principled life can stand up to the worst.   5  Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life.   6  Good character is the best insurance; crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.  (Proverbs 11:3-6) A "principled" life can stand up to the worst life throws at it.  Principles acts as our "rudder" - giving us the guidance for right conduct.  They give us the fundamental truths by which we make our decisions.  Solomon tells us that a life that is governed by the right principles will withstand the toughest conflicts and disappointments in life.  To that he offers moral character and integrity as companions of "principles" - each bringing the balance we need to "stay the course" when the worst is upon us. Over and over again, Solomon has emphasized the importanc

Lessons of Life

3   God  won't starve an honest soul,    but he frustrates the appetites of the wicked.  (Proverbs 10:3) God refuses to satisfy the cravings of the wicked - yet the child of God has every need met above measure.  There is a diligence that is to be part of our walk - the easy way is seldom the most rewarded.  The appetites of the wicked are many - yet each of them has "self" at the center (what is best for me).  The desires of a righteous man have "God" at the center.  Perhaps this is why he satisfies one over the other.   8  A wise heart takes orders;    an empty head will come unglued. (Proverbs 10:8) A wise man is glad for God's instruction - it is better to admit our need for his help, relying on his direction, than to fumble around on our own.  Whenever we are willing to submit to his direction, we find that the end is much better than if we'd relied on our own efforts.  The end of our own efforts is often "awe" - not because things tu

To the victor goes the spoils

Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of- God ,   insight into life from knowing a Holy God.   It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,   and the years of your life ripen.   Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;   mock life and life will mock you. (Proverbs 9:10-12) A man or woman of wisdom understands clearly the value of a rebuke - their response is to embrace it with a desire to learn and to change, if necessary.  There is a desire to leave "foolish ways" behind and to learn how to make wise and learned decisions.  Solomon reminds us that the starting point of such a life is the "fear of the Lord".   Wisdom "benefits" us - it adds to our days, creates opportunities, and opens up new things to us.  When we embrace a lifestyle of "folly", we miss these "benefits".  Folly is simply the lack of understanding, or the "sense" to avoid those wrong turns in life.  There are lots of reasons why we

New Neighbors!

"I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.  The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion—pride and arrogance and crooked talk.  Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out." (Proverbs 8:12-14) God's word is clear to those who want to learn - there is a "plainness" to them that brings understanding when we are seeking him with all our heart.  For the one who seeks, there is revelation.  Wisdom and judgment are not separated concepts - they come together.  When we search for wisdom, we find it because God is open to the seeking heart.  Really, wisdom is found in a person, not in a book.  It is found in the person of Jesus. We don't begin our quest for wisdom by seeking for some "thing" - we begin by searching for the presence of Christ.  Whoever finds Christ finds a life filled with promise and reward.  God promise

Quick is not always better

20-23  Good friend, follow your father's good advice; don't wander off from your mother's teachings.  Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck.  Wherever you walk, they'll guide you; whenever you rest, they'll guard you; when you wake up, they'll tell you what's next.  For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.  (Proverbs 6:20-23) The correction of discipline is not usually viewed as pleasant by most of us - yet, it is the way to life.  God uses discipline to correct our path - not to punish us or get even with us for some wayward behavior.  It is also not intended to break our desire - it is used to purify our desire. One of the greatest issues in life is the struggle we experience in embracing wisdom at its fullest.  We have so much wisdom available to us - knowing what to embrace, when it is the right time to embrace it, and how much is enough for the moment is often d

Hurting God's Heart

16-19  Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Solomon outlines for us six things God hates and adds just one more (kind of like the cherry on top) that God has some pretty serious feelings about (loathing).  Hate carries the idea of intense, passionate dislike of something.  Loathing carries a sense of disgust and gives one the idea that God is repulsed by the type of action he sees. Haughty eyes (arrogant eyes) - pride is a battle we must fight every day.  Any time we have a higher opinion of ourselves than those around us, we are probably dealing with an issue of pride.  Sometimes we need a "pulse check" from another we trust to see how we are doing in this area.  The call is to lay down one's own agenda for the

Consider the ant

6-11   You lazy fool, look at an ant.   Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.   Nobody has to tell it what to do.    All summer it stores up food;   at harvest it stockpiles provisions.   So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?   How long before you get out of bed?   A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,   sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?   Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,   poverty your permanent houseguest! (Proverbs 6:6-11) Here are a few simple lessons from the ant: They have no "over-site" leader, yet they are quite productive.  They don't need a "boss" to compel them to work, but find great satisfaction in their gathering, laying up stores, and being in union with those in their colony who are also engaged in their same work.  There are times today when we find pockets of those in a work environment that simply work when they are watched.  The ants would have nothing

Drinking from our own well

Mark well that  God  doesn't miss a move you make;    he's aware of every step you take. (Proverbs 5:21) This chapter begins again with a warning to pay attention to wisdom and listen closely to the Words of God.  I think Solomon was sharing an important concept - the power of a listening ear and a responsive heart.  He was also repeatedly concerned with the idea that we need to be selective about what and who it is that we are paying attention to.  As we pay attention and learn to listen carefully to wise counsel, we learn to make discretionary decision and to grow in knowledge.  Today, we have various "counsel" that influences our "discretionary" decision - what we hear in the marketplace, the example of leaders, in-your-face celebrities, and the list goes on.  Our youth of today are often influenced more by the examples portrayed in our media than they are by examples right before their eyes in "real life".  Solomon begins with the idea:  Run

Aching Muscles

Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up & take notice so you'll know how to live.  I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other.  (Proverbs 4:1-2) Mom used to use this phrase quite often when she'd remind me of the importance of "paying attention".  She'd remind me that what I was hearing should not "go in one ear and out the other" because she hoped I'd embrace what she advised.  Wisdom comes through a process of learning and good judgment is something that must be developed.  We'd like both to be "instant", but they only come in the process of time.  They are a result of exposure to learning opportunities and time investment. Ever see someone limping around after they have done some type of activity that they are not "used to doing"?  It is like when I spend a day out in the garden, then feel it in every bone and muscle the next day.  I try to bound out of bed, but instead

Say good-bye to the booby prize

3-4  Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.  Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.  5  Trust God from the bottom of your heart;    don't try to figure out everything on your own. (Proverbs 3:3-5) Solomon's words remind us of the importance of "storing" God's commands in our heart - so that we will be assured of a long and satisfying life.  We look all kinds of places to find satisfaction - I bet we never really considered that it could be linked to who "authors" the words we hold closest to our hearts!  As a matter of fact, Solomon goes on to say that even renewed health and vitality is found in a closer walk with God (not at the health food store or the gym).  Four repeated themes emerge over and over in these first three chapters of the Proverbs - 1) Remain loyal to your God; 2) Trust him with all your heart; 3) Learn to live with kindness

Tune up time

1-5  Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life.  Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding.  That's right—if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for an answer, searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you'll have come upon the Knowledge of God.  (Proverbs 2:1-5) Two key elements of living a disciplined life are the ability to "listen" and to "treasure".  The ability to listen may be hampered by the life choices we have made.  The clarity of what is heard becomes crystal clear when we learn to treasure the relationship we have with Christ.  We won't want to miss what he says - the advice he gives. Solomon uses a term here to describe this "listening" process - it is like "tuning" into a radio station.  You have

Wisdom & Discipline

7  Start with  God —the first step in learning is bowing down to  God ;    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.  (Proverbs 1:7) The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to teach people wisdom and discipline - in turn, this will help them to understand wise life choices.  Wisdom's basis is the Word of God.  The teacher of wisdom is the Holy Spirit.  The work of wisdom is right decisions, correct paths, etc.  Discipline comes through what we experience, what we are exposed to, and the choices we make in those places. Solomon was used by God to teach what is right, just and fair.  Good conduct will proceed from the man or woman who has learned these things.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge.  This is not a tremulous fear of the Lord, but a reverential awe of his person.  God opens wide our ability to understand and walk in safety as we submit to him in reverence and awe. Solomon goes on in the next verses to explain that the teaching

Lifestyles of the Righteous - Part II

  11-12  You know I've been aboveboard with you; now be aboveboard with me.    I'm on the level with you,  God ; I bless you every chance I get. (Psalm 26:11-12) Yesterday we began to explore the lifestyle characteristics of a man or woman of God - one that has determined to take a stand for Jesus.  Today, we continue with those character traits picking up with the sixth verse of this Psalm in which David outlines the company he keeps - joining hands with others around the altar of God.  He spent some time in the previous verses outlining that he did not have the same type of relationship with those that were in a position of being enemies of God.  Instead, he makes his company with those who have a broken spirit, yearning for the fellowship with God that he has come to desire by separating himself unto service for the King of Kings. It is interesting that he begins this passage with the idea of cleansing:   6-7  I scrub my hands with purest soap, then join hands with the o

Lifestyles of the Righteous - Part I

  12  My feet stand on level ground;    in the great congregation I will praise the LORD. (Psalm 26:12) In some translations, this passage begins with "I have taken a stand" - indicating that David has made a heart determination to be on the Lord's side.  There are certain lifestyle characteristics of one who has determined to stand with the Lord - unyielding in their commitment or allegiance.  It has been said that if we don't stand for something, we will stand for nothing - pointing us to the important fact that what we "stand for" both determines our course and leaves a legacy for those that follow. The lifestyle characteristics are outlined in the other verses of this chapter.  Beginning with the first two verses, David's asking God to test him and try him - examining his heart and his mind. The desire to be tested by God is not something for the weak!  David is not looking for the judgment of men here - he is not seeing if he measures up to some

Believing is not the same as following

11-14 God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. (Titus 2:11-14) New life in Christ is available to all - the simple fact is that we must choose to avail ourselves of what is right in front of us.  God stands ready to both give us his gift of grace and for forgive us in his mercy.  There have been periods of time in our growth as a society when that message came through loud and clear.  I am not so sure that God's message of salvation is as clear, or as loud as it once was - it has been drowned out by the m

Enlarging your vision

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves...and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good . (Romans 8:26-28) I used to think that this passage was like a blanket statement that everything would come out all right - nothing bad would happen to good people because God makes everything work together for their good.  It came as a surprise to me that bad things still happen to good people!  What I failed to recognize is that God often takes us through periods of "adjustment" in order for his vision to be accomplished within us.  He sometimes has to "enlarge" us enough to see what it is that he intends for us.