Proverbs


Proverbs 31 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His love shines through women who reverence Him

Well, I knew the day would come when I would have to address Proverbs 31 and the perfect woman, I mean virtuous woman.  Reading her amazing attributes reminds me of the old perfume commercial with the gorgeous woman singing, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let him forget he’s…” and so on. In defense of all women, everywhere, let’s remember that this woman in Proverbs 31 had help!  She “planned the day’s work for her servant girls.” (15)  I dream of what I could accomplish in a day with help!

“Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?  She is more precious than rubies.” (10)  And that really is the question, isn’t it?  Who can find a woman like this?  Most scholars believe that Proverbs 31 is a composite of the ideal characteristics that a Godly woman may possess.  I’ve known many women in my lifetime who exhibit a great many of these attributes – industrious business women, great homemakers, crafty and generous, but nobody does it all by herself and lives to tell about it.  “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” (29)  She is our model to examine, to study and to emulate.  Bottom Line – Because of her great respect for the Lord, all that she does is selflessly done to bless and help others

We have no idea if the Proverbs 31 woman is always faultless and perfect in all that she does because, after all, everyone needs to rip out a seam or throw out the burnt toast on occasion.  But we understand that in her very busy life, she manages to plan well, give generously and treat others with kindness.  If we will try, we all can accomplish that!

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” (30)  With surgery and cosmetics, beauty seems to be lasting longer than it did in the past, but physical beauty isn’t really how we want to be remembered.  Beautiful women entertain us today and greatly influence the world with their style, but when their beauty fades, we hardly remember them.  One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known worked in my church when I was very young. She had a birthmark that covered a third of her face, but when she smiled and taught me about Jesus, she lit up my world and I will never forget her.

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” (28)  I’ve carried in my Bible a Mother’s Day note I received from my husband several years ago.  On the days when I’m a little discouraged, when my day isn’t so faultless and perfect, I pull it out and read his kind words of admiration, respect and encouragement.  Let me tell you, it is like a shot of adrenaline to my spirit.  I also cherish the kind notes and words from my children that I’ve received through the years that let me know every effort I made was well worth it. Their words challenge me to live a life worthy of their praise.

May verse 28 encourage us to give our praises and blessings to the wonderful women who have enriched our lives through their respect for the Lord, their careful planning, generous hearts and kindness.   We should speak our accolades and write our notes of praise today because I would imagine that now is when they are most needed. 

Moving Forward:  I’m thankful today for my precious mom and all the women through the years who have shown to me the wonderful graces of the Proverbs 31 woman. 

Tomorrow @ Nahum

Proverbs 29-30 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He keeps safe those who trust in Him

One morning a couple of years ago I was sitting in my family room having devotions when the doorbell rang.  It was early, I wasn’t expecting anyone and wasn’t dressed for the day so I decided not to respond.  After repeated ringing, I looked out a security window in the door to see a young man.  Moments later I turned to see him peering in the family room window across the house right where I had been sitting, and when I heard glass shatter, it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was up to no good.

I grabbed the house phone, my cell phone and ran out the front door, robe and all, and started phoning 911 and my husband as well as yelling to my neighbors.  The police arrived in four, I repeat, four minutes and caught the man as he circled around to get his car left in my driveway.  Now, a little advice to any would-be felons out there, it’s not terribly smart to park your car in the victim’s driveway and, of course, even less smart to be a felon.  Although the police said my response was textbook, it was a terrifying experience.  When the doorbell rings, I sometimes feel the chill of fear for a brief moment, but then fear of man comes in a variety of ways. 

@ Proverbs 29
“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” (25)  People who experience a frightening situation like I did often become too afraid to live a normal life.  Others are so afraid of people that they won’t leave their homes.  These individuals are afraid of what man may do to them.  Abraham, the great man of faith, was so afraid of the Egyptian men that he told them that his wife, Sarah, was his sister.  I’ve always wondered how this made her feel – fear makes us do unnatural things.  Peter denied knowing Jesus three times out of fear for his life, and I think we know how his behavior made the Lord feel.  Fear will turn us into something we don’t want to be.

Sometimes we fear what people think of us, and that is every bit as debilitating as fear for our lives.  Moses almost missed his mission in life of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt because he was afraid they wouldn’t accept him, afraid that they would question his authority.  Many of the Old Testament prophets feared that their messages would be rejected and mocked by the people. “Fearing people is a dangerous trap” and may keep us from fulfilling our calling.

Fear may keep us from sharing the gospel with others because we are afraid they will reject our message or laugh at us.  Fear may stop us from using our gifts and talents for the Lord because we are afraid of making a mistake in front of others.  Fear is a tool the devil uses to stop us cold, and that is why it is so dangerous.

However, “trusting the Lord means safety.” To overcome fear, we need to change our perspective and who better than God to help us do that, “I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.  So why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like the grass and disappear?” (Isaiah 51:12)  God is the eternal One, not man, and He holds our eternal souls in the safety of His hand. He is the one who keeps us and protects us.  When we focus on the faithfulness of Almighty God instead of fearing mere humans, there’s nothing left to stop us from pursuing all that God has for us and those things with eternal value. 

Moving Forward: I can pursue all that God has for me today because I’m trusting in Him, not fearing any man. 

Tomorrow @ Micah

Proverbs 28 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He provides all that we need to follow Him with boldness

A man’s conscience can really play tricks on him when he has done wrong.  The imagined scenarios of being pursued and caught for his wrong doing can drive someone to the point of insanity.  Hollywood certainly has cashed in on that plot line through the years and often manipulates us into rooting for the criminals, even hoping they get away with their terrible deeds.  The terror of constantly looking over the shoulder and behind every door and cowering in dark corners is no way to live.  Of course, those who follow the Lord and live a righteous life are also being pursued by invisible forces, but they have nothing to fear.

“The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.” (1)  This verse makes me think of the sad life of King Saul who always feared that David and others were chasing him.  When the Spirit of the Lord left him, his sins tormented him as did the paranoia he had about his own well-being.  Jacob also knew some troublesome days fearing that Esau was coming after his birthright even though he wasn’t.  What a tragedy to live in fear that “your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23)

However, those who follow the Lord should know that they, too, are being pursued. “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6)  Well, in that case, I’ll just stand still and be caught!  And if that isn’t enough to build confidence, “Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.” (Isaiah 58:8)

No wonder Solomon declared that “the godly are as bold as lions!”  With the Shepherd in front of us leading the way, with goodness and unfailing love always pursuing us and with the glory of the Lord protecting us from behind, why should we fear? Sometimes we just forget who is in our entourage!  Unlike the cowardly sinner who is fearful of being caught, we who follow the Lord can boldly move forward and accomplish whatever God intends for us.  And the peace and calm that comes from godly living is extraordinary. 

Moving Forward: I won’t wonder today if I can do what God is asking me to do.  How can I fail with the Shepherd guiding me, His goodness and love chasing after me and His glory protecting me?  Really, how can I fail?

Tomorrow @ Jonah

Proverbs 26-27 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He tests our hearts to keep us pure

I once heard a great preacher say after a grand and glorious introduction and thunderous applause that his greatest troubles would begin if he started to believe the  introductions he received.  Let’s hear it for humility!

Through the years, many books have been written about humility, many of them with an edge of humor, books like, Humility and How I Achieved It, (C.Neale) and How to Stay Humble When You’re Smarter Than Everybody Else. (B.Goode)  Interesting concepts, to say the least!  The definition of humility is “humbleness, modesty, unassuming nature, meekness – a way of behaving that shows that you do not think that you are better or more important than other people.”  I guess most of us could take a dose of that.

@Proverbs 27
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (21)  The original process of testing the purity of gold involved lead, silver and gold heated together in a 2000° F oven until the gold and silver melted and their impurities adhered to the lead.  After cooling, the silver and gold were separated and the final gold product was pure 24 karat gold.  Needless to say, we won’t be trying this at home.  While the testing process of a person’s humility seems very benign in comparison, how we respond in our hearts under the heat of praise and adulation reveals how pure we really are.

Some may feel they are still waiting for the opportunity to be tested by great praise, but most of us have felt the heat. We’ve felt that glow of warm fuzzies reaching all the way to our toes resulting from words of honor, admiration or praise from others at one time or another.  If we survive without arrogance and pride rearing their ugly heads, we are the real deal, pure as gold.

True humility is not exhibited by a self-effacing attitude or by feelings of worthlessness.  True humility is accepting our positions in life as God-given and doing our best with them through His divine help.  With this attitude, should praise from others come our way, we know Who deserves all the glory and how preposterous it would be to assume it for ourselves.  Another great reality check for us from the Proverbs! 

Moving Forward: Once again, it’s all about you, Lord, it’s all about you!  And that fact removes any pressure of determining who gets the glory. 

Tomorrow @ Obadiah

Proverbs 25 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He is our example of patience and steadfastness 

Cool your jets.  Take a chill pill.  Back off.  Slow it down. Take a little time to smell the roses.  Don’t rush to judgment.  Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care. Take it down a notch.  These are all phrases we use when life comes racing at us, when we need to pull in the reins and look before we leap and…sorry, the colloquialisms just keep coming.  Proverbs 25 has its own brand of cautions for us today. 

“Don’t demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great.  It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table than to be sent away in public disgrace.” (6-7)  Promotion is always better when it comes from the Lord rather than our own efforts alone.  Jesus actually provided us with a parable on this very subject in Luke 14:7-11 regarding a dinner guest.  He advised to take a less prominent seat at the table to avoid being asked to move should a more distinguished guest come to the table, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)  Sometimes being first in line isn’t helpful.

“Just because you’ve seen something, don’t be in a hurry to go to court.  For what will you do in the end if your neighbor deals you a shameful defeat?” (7-8)  It’s often said that 20 observers of any criminal act will have 20 different testimonies of what actually happened.  Jesus offered the solution for when we observe or experience something we believe is a wrongdoing in Matthew 18:15, “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”  Don’t rush to judgment.

“A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain.” (14)  Wisdom would say it’s better to count the cost before we promise something we can’t deliver.  Most everyone remembers something promised to them as a child that never came to pass – those moments are hard to forget.

“Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.” (15)  As they say, timing is everything.  Quiet, prayerful patience will do more to get the end result we desire from those in leadership than nagging or yelling.  Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but we always remember it demanded our attention rather than deserved it.  My mom never had to raise her voice to me in quick anger, but she had one killer of a look she would give, without breaking any bones, by the way.

For the laid-back person or someone who look at every angle of a situation and seems to get little done in life, Solomon’s cautions may not be needed.  Perhaps taking to heart Proverbs 24:33-34 would be more beneficial, “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”  In other words, get with it!

However, we all know someone who desperately needs his advice today.  Those Type A’s out there, always moving and clicking away, need to take a few moments each day to read these words of wisdom from Solomon so they will look before they leap, take a step back and punt, remember haste makes waste…enough!

Moving Forward: My prayer today is, “Lord, help me to say and do all that you have for me to say and do, without moving ahead of your plan and without driving anyone crazy in the process.”

Tomorrow @ Amos 5-9

Proverbs 23-24

Discover His heart: God sees our hearts and knows our thoughts

“Women and children first!”  I’ll never forget that phrase called out over and over again in the movie Titanic as survivors boarded the ship’s lifeboats.  It has become the mantra for all disasters, marine and otherwise.  The few men who pushed aboard the lifeboats as if they didn’t know the protocol were considered cowards, but actually, most men were lost at sea in that disaster.

Those in the lifeboats who ignored the cries of their fellow passengers seemed heartless.  What a helpless feeling to see hundreds and hundreds of people perish for such senseless reasons – pride in a vessel that could not sink and apathy towards others – outrageous!  Oh, that we would be even more outraged by the many souls perishing all around us! 

@ Proverbs 24
“If you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter; if you say, “Look, we did not know this”— does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?” (11-12) Some pretty tough words from Solomon, but very significant for us today.  It always amazes me that we think we could fool the One who knows everything.  When we fail to give the hope of eternal life to our friends and neighbors, we may fool them or those who are watching our lives, but we could never fool Him.

How could we not know? Our newspapers and newscasts are filled with stories from around the world of those who are killed because of their skin color, religion, heritage or simply because they are breathing – unjustly sentenced to die.  These atrocities should drive us to our knees with prayers of protection and rescue, they should compel us to give to compassion ministries for their relief and to respond to whatever doors are opened to us.  Our protest must be heard!

And speaking of those who are taken away to death, I can’t help but think of the millions of helpless little ones whose lives are snatched from them while they are growing in what should be the most secure place in the world for them.  We could never excuse ourselves by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”  He knows that we know, yet we do so very little to stop it.

Most consider these verses a call for evangelism, “Rescue those being led away to death…” (NIV).  Rescue those who may not be innocent of sin but run through life unaware of sin and its penalty, ignorantly led to their death. The facts are this – sin entered the world in the garden, delivering a death sentence for all of us.  All those we encounter each day without the forgiveness of sin are on an eternal Titanic, forever lost from God.  Our merciful God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and He sent His Son to save them.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  Everyone who believes in Him will not perish!  It takes so little effort for us to offer a hand into the lifeboat to those who are sinking.  However, we just seem to ignore their silent cries for help at times and look past their struggles to stay afloat.

A song from the old Salvation Army songbook that I heard as a little girl comes to mind.  Yes, the song may seem ancient, but the message is lifesaving. “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.” (F.Crosby) The words and story of this old hymn are all about rescuing those who are being led to their death, rescuing them with the message of Jesus.  A valuable read. (Read them here). 

Moving Forward: Solomon reminds me today that God knows me, and He knows that I know that He has given me a mission. 

Tomorrow @ Amos 1-4

Proverbs 22 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He, the great Counselor, has provided counsel through His Word

When we’re going through a difficult season in life or find ourselves questioning things that have happened to us, we usually find a good friend or counselor to talk to about it.  They don’t always have the answers we need, but it helps to express our thoughts and feelings.  However, the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor, is our greatest listener and leads us into whatever truth we seek through His still small voice and through the pages of Scripture.  Our reading today expresses a way of counseling that is like preventive medicine.

“Listen to the words of the wise; apply your heart to my instruction. For it is good to keep these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips.” (17-18)  Beginning with verse 17, Proverbs shares its wise sayings with a different approach.  Rather than single verses giving wisdom on different subjects, now several verses are combined to reveal wise instruction.  “I am teaching you today—yes you—so you will trust in the Lord.” (19)  And of course, Solomon was writing to us as well, yes us!

I like reading completely through Psalms and Proverbs every month.  Reading just five Psalms and one Proverb each day makes this possible.  Talk about keeping “these sayings in your heart and always ready on your lips!” Taking just a few minutes each day to read these wonderful words of instruction and wisdom can result in life-changing benefits.  The counsel and example of David through praise and worship and the amazing wisdom of Solomon are at our fingertips every day.  They reveal to us in advance how we should respond to the challenges we may face on any given day and serve as preventive counseling.

We may save ourselves a lot of future pain by reading these treasures in God’s Word every day and keeping them in our hearts and on our lips, and I’m all for that!  “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:11-12) 

Moving Forward: So thankful today for the mighty and trustworthy counsel of His Word! 

Tomorrow @ Joel

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