Greetings on this day of rest! One of the things that we as Christians can rest from is getting even! The competitive spirit that is in our flesh is always looking for ways to get even or make someone who hurts us suffer. The old saying “I don’t get mad, I get even” has caused lots of trouble over the years.
As I read through the Proverbs this week, I noticed several scriptures dealing with this ancient problem of getting even. Proverbs 24:29 warns us not to say “I’ll do to him as he has done to me; I’ll pay that man back for what he did.” All vengeance belongs to God alone. Only He knows the heart of a person well enough to properly reward or punish that person for their wrong actions. God desires to forgive and heal the wrongs rather than judge anyone.
Proverbs 26:21-22 is another difficult scripture for us to understand and apply sometimes. It tells us to act in kindness toward our enemies and try to meet their needs. If they are hungry we are to feed them and if they are thirsty we are to give them something to drink. Our acts of kindness is likened to heaping burning coals on our enemy’s head. This purposeful acting in love will bring the notice of God and He will reward us. It will also possibly produce a repentance and healing with our enemy whereas if we got even, we would only prolong the battle and bad attitudes would continue.
Jesus Christ perfectly exhibited this healthy attitude toward those who hated him. He purposely forgave them and asked God to forgive them. He taught His disciples to love their enemies and do good to those who would despitefully use them. (Matthew 5:43-48) Some of His final words were “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Matthew 23:34) These words exemplify the teaching of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father for those caught in sin and bondage! What love is this toward those who acted so hatefully!
May we be filled with the same love today for those who hate us and would despitefully use us! This kind of love comes from the heart of God by the Holy Spirit! Take time and ask God to fill you again with His love for the lost and for our enemies! God bless you in the coming week! In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for July 11th: Proverbs 25-29
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.” Proverbs 25:11-12
Word pictures help us to grasp and remember sayings of the wise. These word pictures come back to us and we can meditate on them and begin to apply them and pray for God to work them into our lives. This is the process of the renewing of the mind. It involves us reading the sayings and then remembering them and saying them again and again. We allow them to come into our heart and bring understanding.
This proverb tells us of words that are spoken at just the right time and in the right tone. They are not many words but sometimes only a “word”. They are beautiful to look at as fine art and have a good ring in our ear. They bring to mind pictures that can reveal more to us than words. They are the “pleasant words that promote instruction”. (Proverbs 16:21)
The earring of gold or ornament of fine gold reminded the reader of what a “listening ear” might look like if it received correction from a wise man. It would be pleasant to look at and decorated beautifully with richness of fine gold. The wise man receives correction so that he can be wiser still. The fool rejects correction and has no earring of fine gold!
“Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble.” Proverbs 25:19
This proverb uses a painful bad tooth or a lame foot that can’t support any weight because of the pain and brokenness to tell a story to those who will listen. An unfaithful man is just like that tooth that aches and causes discomfort. He is like the lame foot that is of no help moving forward or carrying a load. Faithfulness is a prized character trait of the wise and choosing faithful helpers, counselors and leaders is a wise move for everyone who has an ear to hear this word aptly spoken!
These chapters of proverbs contain many more of these pithy statements and word pictures that carry a picture and a message. Take some time and jot down several that speak to you. Share them with a spouse, friend or fellow-traveller in this journey through life. Your just may put a “gold earring or ornament of fine gold” in the listening ear!
Scripture reading for July 9th: Proverbs 18-21
When we lived in Washington State near Olympia for six years, we experienced slugs for the first time. After a rain, which was almost daily during the 8 month rainy season, the slugs came out, crawling on the sidewalks. They left slimy trails and if you picked them up, you felt slimy too! They did not move very fast but inched along like a snail. I imagine that the sluggard in the Bible is named after that slow and slimy animal!
The Bible talks more about the sin of laziness than that of drunkenness. Proverbs 19:15 says that laziness and sleeping go together and the result is a shiftless man who goes hungry! We are warned in Proverbs 20:13 about loving sleep. It will result in poverty! This lazy man is called a “sluggard” in Proverbs 19:24. This verse accuses the “sluggard” of being so lazy that he cannot even feed himself! He puts his fork in the dish but is too lazy to bring the food to his mouth! Now that’s lazy! The sluggard is always craving but never satisfied because he refuses to work! In Proverbs 23:13 the sluggard is shouting “there’s a lion outside” or “I will be murdered in the streets.” His excuses to keep from working or leaving his bed are ridiculous!
One of my personal favorites is from Proverbs 24:30-34. In these verses, the field of a sluggard is in focus. Thorns, representing the curse of Adam, are growing everywhere. The ground is covered with weeds and the protective wall is in ruin. The lesson is that laziness and too much sleeping instead of working leads to scarcity and poverty. This is the truth in practical terms!
The mocker is the next term dealt with in today’s reading. A mocker is someone who makes fun of God’s Word and ways, preferring to do things his own way. Mockers deserve flogging because they lead others astray. (Proverbs 19:25, 29) Mockers are often involved in drinking and mock when they are drunk with wine or beer. (Proverbs 20:1) Proverbs 21:24 names the proud and arrogant man “mocker”. Mockers are fools because they lack discernment and fail to value God or His Word! God’s Word says to drive out the mocker to remove strife, quarrels and insults! (Proverbs 22:10)
Meddling in affairs that are not yours is also spoken against in this book of wisdom. Proverbs 20:3 states that it is a man’s honor to avoid strife and quarreling. Proverbs 20:19 warns against gossip and meddling as a source of trouble. Guarding your mouth and tongue will keep you from calamity! (Proverbs 21:23) We are to seldom set our foot in our neighbor’s house because with too much of us, he will end up hating us! (Proverbs 25:17) If you want to really get into trouble, meddle in a quarrel that is not your own! It will be like taking a dog by it’s ears! (Proverbs 26:17)
Sluggards, mockers and meddlers are warned against in the wisdom of God! Evaluate your own life and take appropriate action before it’s too late! Poverty, beatings, and a Doberman Pincer by the ears should be warning enough!
Scripture reading for July 8th: Proverbs 14-17
According to God’s Word, there is a definite connection between the heart and the tongue. The heart is the source of everything that the tongue speaks. The heart isn’t just the organ that pumps the life blood of a person, however. According to Jesus the heart of man is the source of “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.” (Mark 7:21) These ungodly sins come from the heart and then the mouth speaks and directs a person into the trouble.
As we read today’s proverbs, there are several that relate to the heart and the tongue. This ancient wisdom of Solomon is relevant for us today. Proverbs 14:3 states that “a fool’s talk brings a rod to his back but the lips of the wise protect them.” “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge but the mouth of fools gushes folly.” (Proverbs 15:2) Proverbs 17:20 talks of a man with a perverse heart and a deceitful tongue. The heart and tongue lead this man into trouble and lack. Punishment awaits those with perverse hearts and lips that speak lies and folly. In fact, the Lord detests all who are proud of heart and He promises punishment! (Proverbs 16:5)
The wise person has a heart that is discerning and lips that promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21) The wise man’s heart guides his mouth and brings forth pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and promote healing. (Proverbs 16:23-24) It is the fear of the Lord that teaches the heart wisdom, and humility brings understanding and honor. (Proverbs 15:32-33) As we think of Jesus Christ and His own life of humility and living in the fear of the Lord, we see how His heart guided his mouth. We are reminded of lips that brought healing and pleasant words of instruction. His parables came from a heart sold out to God. He only said what His father said, and did what His Father did! (John 5:19)
Do you need a new heart and a clean mouth? The good news is that a new heart is available today through Jesus Christ! He is the only one who can help you! He was totally pure in heart and perfectly obedient to the Father in order to give His life as a sacrifice for us to free us from our sins! If you will confess your sins to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive you of your sins and cleanse your heart. Today is a great time to do just that!
“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds.” Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:16-17)
Scripture reading for July 7th: Proverbs 10-13
Contrast is a literary device used in many of the proverbs to help convey truth. One of the contrasts in today’s reading is of the righteous man and the wicked man. The righteous man is wise and fears the Lord and the wicked man is foolish and hates God’s Word and God’s laws. Let’s look at these two types of people and try to evaluate our own lives as we read about them. We can learn from good examples as well as bad examples! I often say that if a person is not good for anything else, he can always be a bad example!
Let’s look first at the foolish or wicked man. Proverbs 10:1 states that the foolish son brings grief to his mother. The foolish man is lazy and sleeps during harvest instead of working. (Proverbs 10:4-5) The wicked man’s mouth is filled with violence and his hatred causes dissension and strife. They speak perverse things. (Proverbs 10:11-12, 31-32) The wicked earn wages of punishment and poverty. (Proverbs 10:15-16) The fool finds pleasure in evil conduct and lives in fear and dread of punishment that is sure to come upon him. (Proverbs 10:23-24) The wicked have no hope! (Proverbs 10:28, 11:23) Their own ways insure judgment and ruin in their lives and in the lives of those around them. (Proverbs 10:27-29) The wicked may gain wealth, but it will not help them in the day of judgment! (Proverbs 11:4, 18) There will be shouts of joy when the wicked perish from the land. (Proverbs 11:10) God detests those with perverse hearts and makes sure they will be punished! (Proverbs 11:20-21)
What a contrast is the righteous man or wise son! He is a joy to his father! (Proverbs 10:1) His righteousness delivers him from death and hunger and lack. He is a worker and enjoys plenty because he gathers the crops during harvest season. (Proverbs 10:3-5) He is blessed and his memory is a blessing to those he has touched. (Proverbs 10:6-7) He is always open to correction and is teachable. (Proverbs 10:17) His mouth is a fountain of life and wisdom is found on his lips. (Proverbs 10:8-11) He is a man of integrity and rests securely. His love covers over many wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12) He enjoys a long and joyful life because his way is the Lord’s way! (Proverbs 10:27-29) He is rescued from trouble and escapes destruction because of his wisdom and faithfulness to the Lord! His life blesses the city he lives in and he prospers! (Proverbs 11:10-11) God delights in the righteous man because his ways are blameless! He is generous and gives, yet gains even more! (Proverbs 11:20,24-25) He is a tree of life and wins souls to the Lord’s way! (Proverbs 11:30)
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which way is the most profitable and blessed! If you are wise, you will enjoy the blessings listed for the righteous! If you are a fool and unteachable, no one can help you! The choice is yours!
Scripture reading for July 6th: Proverbs 5-9
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. for the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Proverbs 5:1-5)
Solomon’s warning to his sons stands as a warning to men of all ages and times. Many have heard these words and read them, but did not heed the warning and experienced the promised results. Headlines blare every day about another famous person, politician, minister, or actor who has committed adultery and brought attention. It is almost a badge of honor to those who are caught up in the world system! God calls it “sin” and it was punishable by stoning to death in the old Testament! Adultery leads to shame, disgrace, and ultimately death. This sin is also a form of idolatry that God sees as “spiritual adultery” in breaking our relationship with Him!
Satan has used women and sexual desires to cause the ruin and death of many throughout history. Solomon’s own father, David, succumbed to the temptation of adultery and his sin has been read about for over 3000 years! Solomon, himself, had over 1000 women in his harem. These wives were his downfall, because many worshiped idols and they brought idolatry into Solomon’s life! Sexual promiscuity is itself related to idolatry. We are setting up our desires as superior to the Word of God and creating an idol out of our own appetite!
Many times, men recklessly believe that they will not be seen or caught in their adulterous forays. Even if the affair is secret to all others, God sees everything ! (Proverbs 5:21) God promises us that the cords of our sin will hold us fast and we will die for our lack of discipline! (Proverbs 5:22-23) Often men blame the women for enticing them. They may also blame their own wife for a lack of sex or affection that drives them to another woman. The truth of the matter is God sees it as their own folly that is at fault!
The Bible is very clear on the consequences of adultery. Death and the grave are both mentioned more than once as a consequence of going in with an adulteress. (Proverbs 5:5) (Proverbs 7:27) Regret, oppression, depression and misery are also mentioned as following this adulteress. (Proverbs 5:9-14; Proverbs 6:33) Possible retaliation by the husband of the adulteress could cost your life and peace! (Proverbs 6:34-35) The verse that talks about taking fire into his lap may be referring to sexually transmitted diseases. Scientists have found that syphilis was common among the kings whose remains were mummified. (Proverbs 6:27) When looked at objectively, there are really no desirable benefits to adultery!
Wisdom will keep us from the adulterous woman. Discretion will guard us and keep us away from her door. The fear of the Lord will cause us to hate this evil and love truth. Jesus Christ has been made to us our wisdom! (1st Corinthians 1:30)
Dear Friends, Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the only wise God! What a day to be alive and learning to know and love God! The signs are everywhere of the last days and God’s Word tells us to live wisely and make the most of our time as we see the Day of Christ approaching. (Ephesians 5:15-16) Those who are righteous will become more righteous and live by the Spirit, following Christ more closely. Those who are wicked will become more wicked, following their own flesh and the evil spirits of this world more closely. (Revelation 22:10-11)
As we begin a study of Proverbs in our daily reading, we are exposed to wisdom for successful daily living in this world. The proverbs were wise sayings and nuggets of God’s truth that would help to discern the right path. These truths were particularly helpful to youth and children who were beginning their walk through life. Parents were to teach their children wise living. They taught by impressing truth on the hearts of the young during daily meals, Sabbath day church gatherings, work, and sharing at bedtime around the fire.
Wise living always centered on loving God and obeying His commandments. This wisdom has it’s beginning in a deep respect for God as Creator and giver of life! The term used in Scripture is the ‘fear of the Lord’. Parents teach the ‘fear of the Lord’ by their attitude towards God and God’s house. Regular church attendance and worship is a good indication of a desire to live wisely. Daily study of the Word of God and prayer are spiritual disciplines that indicate a desire to know God’s will in order to submit to it and obey it. Wise living honors God’s Word as the rule of faith and practice. We treat it with respect and believe it is truth–all of it! When we cut out parts of the Bible because it doesn’t line up with what ‘science’ teaches or with what we want to believe, then we have lost our fear of the Lord and our ability to know truth. This is a dangerous place to be!
In the last days, men will refuse a love of the truth, believe a lie, and end up in damnation. (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12) When we have no fear of God or His Word, a delusion of deception blinds us even further. We lose our ability to discern right from wrong. We end up delighting in wickedness and going to our destruction. Now is the time to press on to know the Lord and live wisely in obedience and faith. Jesus is coming soon! (Revelation 22:20)
Scripture reading for July 4th: Proverbs 1-4
I have personally read Proverbs dozens of times over the last thirty years. For many years I read the entire book of Proverbs each month as a daily discipline. For the past 8 years, I have read the chapter of Proverbs for that day at the bi-weekly men’s accountability breakfast that I am a part of. Even though I have read or heard Proverbs many times, I am still impressed at how they speak freshly to us about our daily lives. Wisdom is a bubbling brook!
Hearing and listening can be two different things. Almost everyone can hear what is being said but listening in order to learn and apply truth is a different process requiring humility and a teachable spirit. As we begin the book of Proverbs, take a moment to check your hearing and listening abilities. Put your mind in a learning mode. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you new insights about successful living and decision making as well as who God is.
Solomon is the author of many of the proverbs. He was David’s son through his wife Bathsheba. Solomon was visited by God and given an opportunity to ask for anything he desired. He asked for wisdom to rule God’s people. God was pleased and the proverbs are some of the written record of the wisdom God blessed Solomon with. Solomon wanted to pass that wisdom on to his sons. These early chapters talk about the benefits of wisdom and how it may be found. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:7) There are those who either don’t want wisdom or are so enthralled with their own way that Solomon gives them names. Simple, fool, and mocker are the three names of those who refuse to listen and learn! (Proverbs 1:7, 22) Thankfully, those names are not descriptive of any of us!
Listening to wisdom has many blessings. It brings knowledge and discretion to the young as well as guidance. (Proverbs 1:4-5) It brings safety to those who listen and they have rest and no fear of harm. (Proverbs 1:33) A person who listens to wisdom understands the fear of the Lord and finds knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) Your soul will find joy and you will rest in God’s protection. You will be kept safe from wicked men who are on crooked paths leading to destruction. (Proverbs 2:12-15) You will also avoid the adulterous woman and her path that leads to death. (Proverbs 2:16-19) Listening and keeping wisdom brings long life and prosperity. (Proverbs 3:2) Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her and they will be richly blessed! (Proverbs 3:18)
Wisdom is to be prized above any other treasure. (Proverbs 3:13-15) We must lay hold of wisdom by taking hold of the words given by the Father. (Proverbs 4:1-5) We must prize it and faithfully esteem wisdom. We must hold onto instructions of wisdom and guard them. Wisdom is our life and health to our whole body! (Proverbs 4:22) Wisdom is to reside in our heart! (Proverbs 4:23) Wisdom sounds a lot like Jesus Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! (Colossians 2:2-3)