Archive for May, 2007

Some Words on Wisdom – Proverbs 29

Some Words on Wisdom - Proverbs 29Today’s chapter has much to say about “wise” men. I thought I’d list all the verses that had to do with “wise” or “wisdom” today:

3 The man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but if he hangs around with prostitutes, his wealth is wasted.

8 Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but those who are wise will calm anger.

9 If a wise person takes a fool to court, there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.

11 A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.

15 To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child.

Anything strike you as applicable today? I know they did for me.

Read through this chapter and meditate on these verses. Let the Lord speak to you through His Word. Find one or two points that really seem to jump out at you and memorize them. This is wisdom. Hide God’s Word in your heart.

Lord, You say that whoever wants wisdom, they only have to ask. So I ask You, Lord for wisdom. Help me to understand Your Word – and hunger after it. Help me to bring glory to Your Name today. -amen

peace,
e

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Memorial Day 2007 – Proverbs 28

Memorial Day 2007 - Proverbs 28I’m thanking God today for our nation – for the freedom we experience every day. I’m grateful for all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend her, and for those who are currently putting their lives on the line to protect that freedom.

As I read today’s proverb, the following verse jumped off the page:

2 When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability.

Lord, only You know the hearts of our leaders. I pray that our government would once again seek wisdom and knowledge from You so we can regain our stability. Protect and guide our leaders, Lord – so that the sacrifices of the past will not be in vain… – amen

peace,
e

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Iron Sharpens Iron – Proverbs 27

Iron Sharpens Iron - Proverbs 27As I read through Proverbs 27 this morning, I was reminded how important it is to have friends in your life – not just friends, but true friends: friends who have permission to speak freely and hold you accountable, friends you trust with your life and who you would lay yours down for theirs.

I am fortunate enough to be involved in a men’s group in the Tampa Bay area called Wildmen. And, from being involved in this group, I have established several such key friendships. The scripture Wildmen uses in all their presentations and meetings is found in today’s reading:

17 As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.

It’s pretty self-explanatory. We need each other to stay in line – or to stay “sharp” in the faith. There have been many times I’ve needed one of my friends to give me a call or email when I was down or a rebuke when I had gotten off track. We were not made to walk the Christian faith alone.

Wildmen Ministries

I was pleased to see other verses in today’s Proverb that also dealt with friendships like this:

5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love! 6 Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. 10 Never abandon a friend either yours or your father’s. Then in your time of need, you won’t have to ask your relatives for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a relative who lives far away.

I am grateful for the reminder that “wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” I can say that I have friends who love me enough to not leave me stranded in my own sin. If I’m falling, they’ll know and they’ll care enough to help pull me out. That’s the heartfelt counsel that’s sweeter than perfume.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder of how important my friends are. Thank You for my friends because I know You put them in my life just when I needed them most. Help me to always know how to be a friend to others. May I return to others what my friends have done for me in my time of need. – amen

peace,
e

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Heap Burning Coals on Your Enemies – Proverbs 25

Do I Have Enemies? - Proverbs 25How can I pursuade you to read the Proverbs? There is SO much wisdom in each and every chapter! Today several things resonated with me as I read, but I decided to talk about verses 21 & 22:

21 If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. 22 You will heap burning coals on their heads, and the LORD will reward you.

Do you have enemies? I had to think about this – deep inside, I knew I did, but I couldn’t really identify any. I mean, sure terrorists are my enemy and were I walking down the war-torn streets of Baghdad, I’d find out quickly who my enemies were. But what about in my every day world? I have those who would surely walk all over me to get what they need at work. There are those who give me “a look”, a honk, (or a certain finger) if I do something in traffic they don’t approve of. Are these my enemies?

Well, I certainly can “kill them with kindness” by not responding or allowing their actions to cause me to fly off the handle.

But, I got to thinking about the first verse. Who are my enemies? Who are thirsty and hungry around me that I can consider “against me” somehow? Am I even out there in “the world” enough to encounter these enemies? Am I involved in ministry enough to cross paths with those who would oppose Christianity, or am I so shut up in my own little kingdom that I don’t really have any enemies?

I got to thinking that perhaps I should be out there proclaiming Christ as I help feed homeless or volunteer in a shelter. Perhaps I should be in the streets telling the gospel story and following the example of Christ. I bet I’d quickly find out who my enemies are.

Then, I would be able to show them kindness and (here’s the fun part) heap burning coals on their heads – and (here’s the cül part) reap my rewards from the Lord.

I know, I know, it’s not about the reward – or watching my enemies squirm from the heat of the burning ash in their collar. The encouragement for me today is to find out how to be “out there” in the world enough to encounter my enemy. He’s out there. But, if I’m all couped up in my safe little kingdom, he will have no reason to pursue me. I’ve found that when I’m serving and helping in the community, that’s when I get attacked. I’ve become dangerous to my enemy at that point, and I quickly find out who my enemies are.

Lord, fill me with Your compassion for the people who do not know You, and for those who need You in their lives the most. Give me courage to get out in the battle more and make a difference in my community, rather than be “safe” in my own little world. -amen

peace,
e

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Rejoice Not! – Proverbs 24

Have you ever felt a twinge of satisfaction upon hearing the news that someone you don’t particularly get along with has suffered some kind of trouble or pain? Nothing serious or fatal, of course, just a temporary setback. It can be tempting to allow yourself to secretly enjoy the moment, but look what Solomon has to teach us in today’s Proverb:

17 Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble. 18 For the LORD will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.

I understand that the Lord is displeased about this, but I never really considered “and will turn His anger away from them.”

I once heard part of a sermon about “turning the other cheek.” The teacher talked about how that if we carry out our own justice when we’ve been wronged, then the Lord is unable to carry out His loving correction.

I never fully comprehended this, but as I read this verse, I was reminded again how important it is for us to allow God to avenge us – it’s not so much about us, it’s more about “our enemy.” If God is the one to bring correction, His perfect love will bring about healing and restoration.

However, if we choose to lash out or get even for an injustice, our selfish hearts and conditional, small-minded thinking will only bring about a deeper separation. In the end, neither us nor our enemy will be better off. On the other hand, if God brings the correction, the chances for healing and restoration are greatly increased.

Now, not everyone will respond to God’s loving correction, but it’s important to allow Him to carry out His will without getting in the way.

Let’s take another look at Jesus’ famous “turn the other cheek” passage in Matthew 5:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

That’s perfect love.

Lord, this seems so unattainable. But, I believe Your Word. Give me this kind of perfect love for my enemies so that You can bring about healing.

peace,
e

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The Victory Belongs to the Lord – Proverbs 21

Can I just say how much fun I’m having reading in Proverbs? Some days (like today) it’s such a cül thing to read these wise little gems. There was so much I could have chosen to write about today. There is so much wisdom wrapped up in these chapters. I also enjoy reading your comments as well. It’s interesting to see how each of us gets something different. I learn from what God is showing you as much as I do from what He’s showing me. As I read today, I was reminded of the story in 2 Kings that demonstrates Elisha’s trust in how God is always prepared, always victorious:

14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere.”Ah, my lord, what will we do now?” he cried out to Elisha. 16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened his servant’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. (NLT)

I’m typically more like Elisha’s servant – freaking out because the enemy is coming for me. I want to be more like Elisha, sitting there in his lounge chair, sipping a fancy drink under the Mediterranean moonlight. Elisha asks God to allow his servant to see what he sees. The servant’s eyes were opened and he saw God’s angelic army with horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha as far as the eye could see.

Today in Proverbs 21, I was encouraged to read about the faithfulness of our Lord and how He is victorious – no matter how we seem to always get in the way:

30 Human plans, no matter how wise or well advised, cannot stand against the LORD. 31 The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.

Isn’t it good to know that in spite of our selfish hearts and motives that our plans can’t get in the way of what God is trying to accomplish. He is always prepared, always victorious. It’s less about us that we think…

Father, increase my trust in You.

peace,
e

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Road Forks – Proverbs 20

Ever come to a fork in the road of life without a clue which way to go? Then, you pray to God for Him to show you which way you should go. No answer. You pray some more. No answer. Then, you get others to pray and you fast and you cry out to God. Still no answer.

Faced with this situation, I asked a wise friend who said something that has stuck with me since then. He said, “I believe there are times when God presents us with a choice to make on our own. We just need to pick one and He will bless us.”

I don’t know that this advise is based on any Scripture or age-old sage wisdom, but it makes sense. The important thing is, we need to ask Him and then trust Him for the answer. The road is not easy and is filled with danger and turns and forks.

24 How can we understand the road we travel? It is the LORD who directs our steps.

Two questions come to mind as I read this. 1) Do you ask Him for help when you come to a fork in the road? and 2) Do you trust Him after You’ve asked Him?

I remember reading through Samuel and the story of David. Now, there’s a guy that sought answers from the Lord. Particularly in the early days, it seems like David asked God about every decision, both little and small.

God does not hide the answers from us. But, if you’re like me, we fail to seek Him for the answers before we act.

peace,
e

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The Planning Meeting – Proverbs 19

I have a gift (or a habit?) of making things seem more complicated than they are. I know it’s the way I’m wired up. If you could hear all the thoughts my brain comes up with when forming my words or planning an event, you might be amazed (or frightened!).

My close friends will agree with me when I say I have an “enhanced ‘what-if’ generator” that can come up with dozens of reasons why or why not to do or say something. It’s quite complex, really. But as I read the chapter this morning, Proverbs 19, something so simple stood out among the other verses:

21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

I don’t know about you, but as I read that again, I breathe a sigh of relief. I often get bogged down in planning for worship services, men’s group curriculum and activities, family events, work schedules and projects until I can barely even think. But to know that the Lord’s purpose is going to prevail – if I plan it or not – helps to takes all that off my shoulders.

I don’t think this is telling me to stop planning, but it’s telling me that God already has the plan. All I need to do is listen better at the planning meeting (prayer).

Thank You, Lord, for the simple truth found in Your Word. I am blessed by reading it. Please continue to teach me through my own reading and the thoughts of my brothers who are also seeking to know You more. Inspire my thoughts and guide my ideas so that I can be effective at home, at work, and in ministry. – amen

peace,
e

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On Temper & Charity – Proverbs 19

On Temper & Charity - Proverbs 19Two main topics seems to catch my attention as I read chapter 19 of the book of Proverbs. That’s just how God works, isn’t it? You can read a passage over and over at different times in your life, yet get different emphasis or meaning from what you read. That’s the living nature of God’s Word:

11 People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.

19 Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.

The book of Proverbs has quite a bit to say about anger and tempers. I like verse 11 where it says, “they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” This is so contrary to our human nature when in the midst of a potentially angry moment. Our first reaction is to lash out or get even. But in order to earn esteem (which can be defined as “favorable opinion or judgment; respect or regard), it’s best to overlook wrongs of others.

On Temper & Charity - Proverbs 19There’s another verse that jumped off the pages in today’s chapter:

7 If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD and he will repay you!

I have never seen it this way before. This really spoke to me and reminded me of Jesus’ words from Matthew 25 concerning the day of judgment when the King will reply, “I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Thank you for the reminders about temper and charity today, Lord. Help me to always honor you with my actions and words, and with my resources. -amen

peace,
e

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Advice on Friendships – Proverbs 18

Advice on Friendships - Proverbs 18

As with all the Proverbs, there is so much to choose from in today’s reading. For me, two verses about friendships jumped out at me:

19 It’s harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars.

24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Ever had a “friend” destroy you? Real friends are hard to find – so this is a good reminder for me to make every effort to stay in touch. As I write this, I’m reminded of several friends I need to call or email.

And, there’s my friend, Jesus – the friend that laid down His life for me. There is no better friend.

peace,
e

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