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Proverbs

Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31

Written by Jackie Davis

That dreaded Proverbs 31 woman: so easy to love and to hate. Early on in my marriage (thirty one years ago: how coincidental is that?), I became fascinated by this woman found at the end of Proverbs and spent many months studying her. Through the years, I have cycled back around to visiting with her like an old friend. You know the one: the chick who is always put together with every area of her life running on all cylinders and at peak efficiency and productivity. The friend you like being around in the hopes that some of that excellence will simply rub off on you but, at the same time, exhausts you with her perfection.

The P31 woman is truly one of excellence who models for us godly traits that God highly esteems. She seems like the perfect woman, and God has preserved her portrait in the last chapter of Proverbs for us to refer back to again and again. She's there for us to emulate, to admire, to inspect, to study, and yes, to despise at times. That's why it is a love/hate relationship. Guess what? I will never measure up to her and neither will you. But I don't have to. The good news is, thirty one years later, I am a lot more like her than I used to be. Will I ever get there? Emphatically, NO. But, my friend, I want you to know that, in His strength and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I am a lot closer to looking like her than I have ever been.

Well, what does she look like, what does she stand for, what is important to her? Let's take a brief look at some of her qualities as outlined in verses 10-31 of the last chapter of Proverbs. She was an extreme woman of faith. She served God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She saw His will for her life and she followed hard after Him. She deeply respected her husband and "did him good all the days of her life" and he trusted her deeply. She taught her children the ways of her Father in heaven and she nurtured her children with the love of Christ. She disciplined them with care and wisdom and trained them in the way they should go. 

Was that all? Oh no! The P31 woman cared for her body and prepared healthy food for her family. She worked out and kept her body strong. She probably went all the way to Greenwood for healthier options (bringing her food from afar) and she grew a garden (okay, so it was a vineyard). She got up early and planned her day. She served her husband, her family, and others with a gentle and loving spirit. She didn't spend money unwisely and she talked to her husband before making big purchases. She only purchased quality items that she and her family needed. (Dave Ramsey would've probably had her on his talk show as an example).  She was very industrious and worked hard with her hands. She had her own career (her own earnings), but her family clearly came first. She had the gift of hospitality and created an inviting home full of love and warmth for her family and guests. She used her time wisely and she worked diligently to complete her daily tasks. She often stayed up late getting everything done and she still had time left over to help the poor and needy. In the south, we would say she wore her "big girl panties" and didn't whine, grumble, and complain about everything. She didn't spend a lot of time dwelling on things that did not please the Lord. She had limited time for the Internet, Facebook, and television. Okay, I added that last part, but you get the picture. 

Finally, she was full of great worth and beauty. She demonstrated strength, dignity, wisdom, and kindness. She had inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She used her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in herself, her life, home, and the lives of her loved ones. Her husband and children loved her dearly and were very proud of her. 

Will I ever look just like the P31 woman? No. I get tired just typing about her. I am completely human and quite subject to sin and failure. But, should I throw up my hands and quit striving to look more like her? Should I say, "This is unattainable...so I give up?" Absolutely not! God has her strategically placed in this book of wisdom for a reason. Is she a work of fiction or just hypothetical? Probably. She is simply a reference point not for the EXACT person I should be, but the TYPE of person I should be. I want to be someone who takes wisdom and uses it to the best of my ability in the power of Jesus Christ. Women AND MEN can learn that from her. However, let us not lose sight of the truth that Christ's work on the cross and perfect life is applied to us as His children and we are perfectly acceptable covered by His grace and mercy. The Proverbs 31 woman is simply what we may look like when God conforms us to the image of Jesus, who "has become for us the very wisdom of God."

When I study her life, I am encouraged and energized to be better today than I was yesterday. Personally, I want to be ever growing into the woman He fashioned me to be and not becoming stagnant and complacent. The P31 Woman can help me get there. She is a mentor and someone I want to resemble. In a world full of Kardashians and Desperate Housewives, she is my American Idol. As we come to the end of this Proverbs journey together, I hope she inspires you to be all Christ intended as much as she does me.

Proverbs 30

Proverbs 30

Written by Gabe Ross

Proverbs 30 opens up by talking about how people who don't believe try to give reason to their position on faith. Having skepticism because of the lack of physical proof to tell them that Jesus Christ is the son of the one true God. As human beings we have an insatiable need for knowledge to help us navigate this difficult world. We find comfort in knowing the world around us and, to us, seeing is believing. Not knowing our surroundings scares us. That's why horror movies use suspense and dark rooms to tap into that fear. 

People say "why should I believe in something I can't prove?" or "I'm smarter than that to put my faith in something I can't see." But believers know that our proof IS in the world around us and shown through scripture. 

"Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection."- Proverbs 30:5

In other words, those who seek Him find protection from the earthly storm. Proof of His majesty is in the world around us. In the waters of the sea to the winds of the sky and the birds who ride them.

The wonders of God are in everything. All we have to do is look and have faith!

Chapter 30 also states that, if we ask Him, He will provide us with everything we need in this life. Wisdom in times of poverty is vital or we can question Him. Wisdom in times of abundance is vital or we will forget the One who blesses us.

His wonders are all around us and are for us to enjoy by having faith in Him!

 

Written by Gregg Erickson

As I read Proverb 30, the verses 7-9 kept standing out to me. 

7 O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.

8 First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.

9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.(NLT)

Agar wisely asked God for help to not tell a lie, knowing that our full integrity will be restored on one fine day. He also prayed for a neutral state of being. By being in this state, it gives wisdom and discernment a chance to react. This state could be called contentment for being content and trusting the Lord to provide whatever we need,when we need it. The Father will always provide. God will not suffer us anything that is not for the greater good. 

Our Heavenly Father; We lift up our prayers to You in thanksgiving for Your grace and mercy. We ask that you grant us these two favors as well. Help us to be the sons and daughters that will shine with the integrity that You have showed us Lord. 

Also Lord we ask that you answer our prayers for contentment. May we always feel that we have all we need at the time we need it… But don’t let us be  confused with complacency. Socrates described by probably saying "He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." Father, Abba, We lift this prayer with outstretched hands. Please bless those, Lord that are reading this now. I know that you have reached out to all of us during this shared experience of Proverbs.

I lift all this up into the mighty name of Jesus, Amen

        

Proverbs 29

Proverbs 29

Written by Michael Elliot

VS 1. Starting in Chapter 1, again proverbs warns against rejecting wisdom.  Verse 1 speaks of those who are stiff necked or stubborn.  It tells us that they will suddenly be destroyed without remedy.  We can go back to 1:22-27 to see how we Solomon describes those you reject wisdom will be destroyed.

VS 2.  This verse is repeated several times through Proverbs (11:10 & 28:12).  Each time repeating that when the righteous prosper there is great celebration amongst the cities and the people.  When wickedness rules, people cower and run and hide.  Looking back at Judges 2:18 the word tells us that the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.  I love these verses, I think it shows that if we choose God's wisdom we can live righteously, but even where the wicked rule our LORD is going to be there to lift us up.

VS 3-5. These speak of wisdom and righteousness.  Chapter 16:12 says that a King detest wrongdoing and their throne is established upon righteousness.   Breaking this down further we learn in 25:5 that if we remove the wicked from our lives then like the King's created a throne based on righteousness we also can create our own life filled with righteousness.  

VS 6-12.  These verses are filled with wisdom over wickedness and anger.  Verse after verse we are instructed about the traps that we can fall in if we follow the way of anger and wickedness over following the wisdom that God provides us.  If we eliminate the wicked things from our life greed, anger, jealousy, hate, etc. and follow God's word and wisdom we can live a life of happiness unlike in vs. 6  that speaks about the evil man that is snared by his own sin because the evil man follows the wicked path that lies with thorns and snares (22:5).  Vs 10 tells us about what we will become if we follow the path of the wicked.  It will only make our hatred for those who are righteous grow.  In Chapter 1:11-16 Solomon depicts the schemes of what these bloodthirsty men will go to in efforts to tear down a man of integrity.  Vs 12 tells us that if a ruler (leader) listens to the lies of wickedness all of his officials will become wicked.  I know I can relate to this, and I am sure most can, we see this all the time in places of work and in public.  To many people follow those who do "wicked" things, a lot of the time for acceptance and because they do not want to be embarrassed.   

VS 13-21. This grouping of verses are teaching us wisdom that we need to teach and train others the wisdom that we have gained from God.  In vs 14 we hear of the kinds and his throne again, if we judge those that are poor in spirit fairly, our throne of righteousness will always be secure. In vs 15 & 17 we are instructed to correct those without wisdom.  Vs15 "The rod of correction imparts wisdom" and vs 17 "Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul".  Just as raising any child, we have to discipline them so they know right from wrong.   A child in faith also has to be disciplined to learn what the path of wisdom leading to a righteous life.

Vs. 21 explains that if we do not discipline and teach and pamper them from youth, that it will us grief in the end.

VS 22-27.  Proverbs again warns us of the traps an pitfalls that come with the wicked lifestyle.  Anger in vs. 22, stirs up dissension which breeds more anger which leads to hatred.  Vs 23 A battle that myself and many fight is pride.  It is hard for us to swallow our pride and admit we are wrong, apologize for something we did wrong.  If we humble ourselves to the LORD he can take that pride and show us humility and wisdom.  Vs 25 "FEAR" As I am learning in my men's group, fear is a leading contributor to our idols and pitfalls in our Christian life.  As I have learned fear causes a fork in the road in our lives, we can choose two directions.  We can choose to turn and run to ourselves for the answers, or we can choose to turn and run to GOD and his truth and grace.  We have to replace fear with trust in GOD.  Look back in 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."  

If we turn our Christian lives to GOD and we trust in him and follow the path that he has laid out for us, and we accept his grace and wisdom, we can live a life of so much happiness and and great celebration as vs 2 said.  If we choose not to, if we choose the wicked life, instead of the righteous life then Proverbs 29 gives us plenty of description of the struggles we will face in our life.  My prayer for myself and all those that I love and care for would be that they make the easy choice of accepting GOD's grace and wisdom.  I pray that you and I may have the strength of GOD to not have fear of man and to not let our pride be in the way that we can show through our actions and lifestyle what GOD's grace and wisdom has done for you and I.  

Proverbs 28

Proverbs 28

Written by Mark Farnsley

    “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13

    This proverb covers some topics about which I might ask“do I really need to be reminded about that?” As I thought about that uncomfortable question, I remembered a unique experience I had many years ago when I was testing to get my CDL license.  One part of the test was parallel parking a tractor trailer.  The parking spot was marked with lines and cones and the tractor trailer had to be inside the marked box, within a certain number of moves, without any part of the vehicle extending over the lines of the box.   It was ridiculous.  Who needs to do that?   I needed to do it, or else I could not get the license I needed.  But there was one provision that really helped:  The “get out and look”.  Up to three times, I could set the brakes and walk around the space and see how I was doing.

    We were cautioned early in this Proverbs series about the dangers of pride.  That problem can slip in so smoothly that we don't recognize it's power to deceive us.   Letting go of pride means I “get out and look”.  I set the brakes on my own story and thoughtfully admit that finding my way to God's wisdom each day is the only goal that really matters.  I need reminded about the things God knows are really important, and I need the ongoing willingness to admit my real situation is that without God's help my thoughts aren't good!  Translation:  Without God's help my thoughts are bad! 

     Many years ago I made a note next to Proverbs 28 verse 13 in my Bible.  It said “I John 1:9”.   Verse 13 in this Old Testament proverb reminded me of the New Testament 1st John passage I had previously memorized.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”    

When I looked again at the 1st John verse I saw the preceding thought in verse 8 “ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”   

    Without my admission of self-centered thoughts and my need for God's forgiveness and wisdom, I'm living in denial of sin.  Not just sin in general, my sin.  And when I do confess my sin and need,  his grace fills my mind with peace as I delight in his mercy,  and wisdom rules my thoughts.    

    The details of the sequence to park that semi really mattered.  I needed exact turns of the steering wheel combined with careful movements a certain number of feet using specific reference points, or it just wasn't possible to pass the test. The details of the Bible matter, too.  God's shared thoughts on any topic we encounter in this proverb:  rebellion , rulers, the law, justice, faithfulness, parents, generosity... all are the reference points, the signals for us to “get out and look” at ourselves and the story we think we are living, and see things the way they really are!   His ways and his thoughts are the story and nothing else really exists in any meaningful way.

     “Do I really need reminded about that? ” Yes.  I definitely need reminded about that.

Prayer:     “Lord, you are completely aware of how quickly my thoughts can stray and pride creeps in.  You know exactly what I need to keep my thoughts and actions true to your best ways, so I admit again how much I need you and I thank you for the gift of your guiding wisdom.  Amen”     

Proverbs 27

Proverbs 27

Written by Carrie Rhodes

As I turned my Bible to Proverbs 27 I noticed I already had 3 verses underlined-most likely verses that stood out to me during prior readings or sermons. I underlined one other verse that really spoke to me this time as I read it again. To me, there seems to be three underlining themes in this chapter that also appear frequently in other proverbs and throughout the Bible.

    The first theme is pretty self-explanatory and it’s how Solomon starts the proverb in verse 1 “Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  Honestly, my first reaction when I read this again was Jesus said a similar thing. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus instructs us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The difference is Solomon tells us not to “boast” and Jesus tells us not to “worry.” These verses have brought much peace to me over the years as I, like most of us, can tend to want to have control over the events of my life and also worry about the future. These verses prompt me to remember whose I am and who holds everything under creation in His hands. God has a plan with how events in our lives unfold and we are to honor Him and seek His counsel as we are living out today and not miss opportunities He gives us today to grow with Him because we’re focused on tomorrow.

    The second theme that appears is welcoming discipline and hardships that ultimately would mold us more into the image of God.  This is a tough one because it means hearing others tell us when we are wrong as well as admitting our own sins and faults. I can easily see errors in those around me but it’s much more uncomfortable to respectively listen to others telling me what mine are and owning up to them. Proverbs 27:5-6 says “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses,” and Provers 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” As brothers and sisters in Christ we are encouraged to help one another grow in our walks with Christ and sometimes that entails having the courage to tell a friend, out of love, when we see sin in their lives. It also involves being receptive to hearing it about ourselves. I believe the application is helping one another stay away from sinful attitudes, temptations, and behaviors will help promote repentance and spiritual growth with the Lord.

    The third theme relates to ensuring Christ-honoring hearts and behaviors. Proverbs 27:19 states “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Throughout this proverb Solomon tells us not to engage in self-praise; don’t be provoked by fools; don’t have a heart that’s consumed with anger, fury, and jealousy; and don’t forsake a friend in need.”  On other hand he tells us to give earnest counsel; be wise & prudent; look after our “master” or I believe submit well to those in higher authority, and be attentive of what is going on in and around us. This list is not all inclusive but I know I can already identify room for improvement  in my own life…and when I have confessed sins and made strides in living in accordance with Godly wisdom I feel so much better even if my circumstance haven’t changed.

    I believe God included this proverb in the Bible because our Triune God is a God of love, and He doesn’t want us engaging in behavior that will damage our relationship with Him and what He wants to do in our lives. Today is such a special day as it's Easter!  Today we celebrate God loving us so much that He sent His son to earth to show us His loving character and how to live in unity with Him. Jesus loved us so much he chose to sacrifice Himself in our place so that all of our sins could be forgiven, and through accepting Him as our Savior we can be restored with God. Thank God Jesus didn’t just die on a cross but He conquered Satan, sin, and death and is alive! Through His Holy Spirit, which we receive when we accept Him as our Savior, we get to live each day with Him forever! I urge you to celebrate the new life that is made possible through Him and use Proverbs to help ensure we are growing with Him each and every day.

Thank you Jesus for giving us your Word to guide us how to live every day in ways that would honor you until we get to be with you forever in Heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 26

Written by Susan Kent

Rods, Dogs, Fire, and More!

Like my friend Brooke, I was asked to write a blog on a chapter of Proverbs that didn’t ring any particular bells for me in the moment. But, being eager to serve and loving to write, I immediately agreed. When I first read the 26th chapter of Proverbs, I was overwhelmed with its richness. I did my best to break it down, so let’s get started. This chapter is chock full of examples of futility, impossible outcomes, and waste. The first four verses tell us this:

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    honor is not fitting for a fool.
2 Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the backs of fools!
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.

At first I was pleased to know that an undeserved curse would be fleeting, and that it was okay to smack a fool with a rod (just kidding!), but verse 4 made me wince. Dang it. How many times had I done that? How many times had I responded to anger with anger? How many times had I returned bitterness with bitterness? I don’t often think of myself as a fool, but here it is in black and white. And we’re only on verse 4! This blog thing is going to be a little tougher than I thought. Maybe my ego would recover in the next section. Or maybe not. Here’s what the NIV translates in verses 26:6-10:

 6Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
7 Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
8 Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.
9 Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.

Hold it right there! Didn’t God call me to share the message of His love and salvation? If I’m a fool (and we’ve already established that I am at least some of the time), I have the effectiveness of someone without feet and faint from poison in my veins. My foolish ways, whether I know it or not, are stunting my ability to share my love for God with others. Yikes! I had never thought of that before. His words in my mouth are lame when I behave like a fool. I don’t want that to be true, but it is. When others see me behave in ways that God calls foolish, why in the world would they listen to me? I’ve got to clean up my act if I want the full force of God’s grace and love to be seen in me by others. Otherwise, I’m a stone that goes nowhere, a weapon in out of control hands, and I hurt people without cause or concern. 

At this point in chapter 26, I’m getting pretty uneasy then WHAMO! I read this…

11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
    so fools repeat their folly.

AS A DOG RETURNS TO ITS VOMIT. I remember reading that long ago when my bible study decided to spend a year reading the bible cover to cover. I’ve thought of it many times since first reading it, and I’m disgusted by it each time. Actually, the verse doesn’t disgust me as much as knowing how true it is in my own life. When life seems uncertain, I return to worry rather than faith. When someone hurts me, I return to anger rather than forgiveness. When someone cheats me, I return to revenge rather than mercy. When someone withholds kindness, I return to bitterness rather than grace. My earthly options are nothing more than vomit. They are something I shouldn’t have in my system in the first place, but there they are. Then I chuck them up and dwell on them. Pretty gross, isn’t it. You know, when my little girls are sick, I’m the nurse. I make chicken soup, fluff pillows, read stories, etc until they are back in the saddle. Unless they puke. Then I tap out and Jeff, my husband, jumps in. I just can’t do it. I grew up on a hog farm scraping afterbirth out of stalls and carrying dead pigs to the haul pile, but I can’t handle puke.  In my spiritual life, however, I spend a lot of time around vomit. 

Okay, enough about bodily fluids. Let’s check out verse 12.

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

I took this to mean that if a fool knows they’re a fool, there is hope for them. It’s when a fool thinks they’re wise that they’ve (I’ve) got real problems. Here’s how this usually plays out for me: There is a problem. It makes me mad/impatient/scared/confused. I think I’m smart enough to handle it without praying and seeking Godly counsel/biblical teachings. I mess it up royally. Rinse. Repeat. When I think of the times I’ve acted with wisdom, it always includes prayer and guidance. This proverb is a great reminder to me that I have no real wisdom on my own. Real wisdom comes from the love and guidance of my Heavenly Father every single time.  And here’s some of that wisdom now:

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

I would love to say that I’m not a gossip due to my spiritual fortitude, but that’s not exactly true. See, I really don’t get into gossip for two reasons. One, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with friends, and most of my friends don’t know each other anyway. Two, I have a mind like a sieve. Your deepest, darkest secrets are safe with me because I’ll forget everything you told me within 15 minutes. Even so, I should keep my guard up because God tells what our gossip and quarrelsome ways are; they’re kindling for a fire. And how many times have we been told not to play with fire? A million! Put the matches down. Our foolish ways lead to destructive and uncontrollable fires. And we don’t have to be the gossip to feel the negative effects of one. Verse 22 warns us that listening to a gossip will affect our innermost parts. No thanks! I’d like my heart and mind to be whole and healthy, thank you very much!

The final verses of Proverbs 26 leaves us with this valuable nugget:

28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Do you ever think of lying that way? I don’t, but it sure does make sense. When we lie, we are spreading hate.  I don’t think of myself as a hateful person, and I’m sure you don’t think of yourself that way either. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that white lies come out of my mouth from time to time. Usually for convenience (rather than tell a long story) or to spare someone’s feelings, but they are lies none the less. And often the receiving person is someone I love very much. If I think about those lies as showing them hate, I feel ashamed and anxious. It’s time to see those lies for what they are and be the loving person I desire to be.  I’ll also need to keep my eyes open for flattery. It’s not just the flattery that’s sent my direction, but the flattery I use to get my way or gain someone’s favor that’s a problem. As a follower of Christ, I need to be on guard for when I’m being a fool AND when the enemy is using me to make a fool out of someone else. Neither are pleasing to God. That last verse, short and sweet, packs quite a punch. Looks like I have plenty to keep me busy in my desire to be a better follower of Jesus.

Now that we’re at the end of Proverbs 26, you might be feeling a little humbled and a little ashamed. If you are, that’s okay – I’m right there with ya! Thank goodness for a Heavenly Father that will never give up on me and loves me beyond my comprehension. He gives me hope that I will grow in His wisdom and be a better follower of Jesus. Pray with me:

Dear God, show me clearly where I have been a fool. Convict my heart and mind to seek your wisdom and apply it in all ways in my life. Let me be a wise child, looking to you for guidance and correction. Lord, call to me loudly when I forget to pray and seek your wisdom. Give me discomfort when I’m far from you and fill me with joy when I’m fulfilling your plans. Lord, don’t let me be a dog who returns to my vomit. Teach me to be a teacher and a student of your wisdom and goodness. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Proverbs 25

Proverbs 25

Written by Jim Johnson

Right out the gate verses 1-7 reminds us about the posture we should approach our day to day walk in God’s presence and the key to doing it right. It reminds us of who holds the knowledge and wisdom. It then immediately calls us to examine and seek to remove unrighteous things from our spirit in order to be a useful vessel for what God would use us. Then it gives us the key to true success; humility & wisdom! We should always carry an attitude of a servant; just like Jesus did. Do not seek attention or position! This is our daily prep work! It might have something to do with placing ourselves under, not only God’s, but the authority of others.

Verses 8-14 

Knowing that we will encounter others and knowing that we might find ourselves in difficult situations. We are provided with simple direct instructions on how to deal with others; not only when there’s a problem but how to avoid them in the first place.

If we paid attention to our prep work in verses 1-7 we should be adequately prepared to go directly to anyone that we might have a problem with! We don’t really know if there’s a problem until we actually approach the situation directly and honestly. When we take on Jesus’ (true wisdom) example we are going to approach everything better. 

We are told to avoid court by first settling our differences privately; he wants to also spare us the embarrassment of being found wrong or guilty in a very open way. Do you think that there is a possibility of us being wrong about something?

Then there’s the gossip thing! I find it interesting that God started so early in the scriptures addressing this relationship killing virus! Our reputations depend on how we handle these situations. Proverbs is so good about not only telling us what not to do but then turning right around and telling us exactly what we should be doing or how we should be doing it. Words are powerful and we should be aware of the benefits of good and timely advice! It really truly is a beautiful thing when we encourage others.

Verses 15-28

God knows that some of us just don’t get it, right away! So he provides plenty of examples for those of us who need him to draw a picture!

The strength of gentle and timely words, don’t eat more than you need, don’t overstay your welcome, again with the gossip, don’t trust someone with a bad reputation, encourage others, love your enemy too and be blessed, spread the gospel, don’t give in to the pressure to be like the world, do not seek the glory of others, and lastly, exercise self-control; so that you won’t be vulnerable to the enemy and the attacks which will continue as long as we are part of this life on earth. 

You might have noticed that I might have missed verse 24; I see the problem…

You see, it really is simple; just not easy! You can and should do all that you do for God, then others, and you will experience great joy, peace, and contentment! The order in which you process these things makes all the difference!

Lord help each of us be all that you created us to be according to your will and purpose!!!

Proverbs 24

Proverbs 24

Written by Celi Taggart

Here’s the truth- I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I even looked up the definition of the word blog (didn’t help).  I’m pretty intimidated, but here I go, anyway.  I can get a little into words and their definitions, as you might already have guessed, and so I’ll give you the perhaps over-simplified definitions of knowledge and wisdom that I’m working from.  

Knowledge- information
Wisdom- Holy Spirit empowered knowledge and understanding

There is so much in this chapter, that I am zeroing in on my current favorite verses:

            A wise man is strong,
            Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;
            For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,
            And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

                            Proverbs 24:5-6 NKJV

I want to be wise.  I want to be in the center of God’s will, hearing and obeying His voice- that seems like wisdom to me.

Several years ago Jason Chenoweth taught on “knowing the will of God”.  He talked about three inter-dependent ways that when agree, help us to be confident of God’s will.  These include:

  1. The Bible, the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God
  2. God in us, as believers (the Holy Spirit who is incidentally referred to as the Advocate, Comforter, Helper, or Counselor by Jesus in John 14:16)
  3. Wise counsel, which would be another mature believer who is rooted in God’s Word and in an active relationship and dialogue (prayer) with God

Any one of these, when taken alone, or even in combination with one of the others, is still very good, but incomplete.  As a firmly established introvert, my two clear favorites of the three are the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in me.  When it comes to wise counsel from another member of the body of Christ, I naturally resist.  It seems that when I really need wise counsel the most, I do everything I can to figure it out without that piece, sometimes because I believe the lie that I shouldn’t “bother” someone else with my problems (we’re all busy, right?), or maybe because I’m embarrassed by the battle I’m facing, embarrassed by my thoughts or actions, embarrassed by my lack of maturity.  

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that “…your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  He preys on my fear of man, my fear of rejection, shame, or anything else that can keep me from walking in the fullness that God has for me.  When these verses in Proverbs talk about me waging my own war, this is the enemy I’m fighting against.  They emphasize not only the importance of wise counsel in the war, but the safety or victory that comes from a multitude of counselors.  Time and time again I have struggled in the battle until that moment when I finally face my fear, and call in one or more of the wise counselors the Lord has put in my life- and not once have I regretted seeking such a counselor.  

I love James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses (sins) to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  Whether I’m dealing with a sin issue or not, the “effective fervent prayer” and wise counsel of other believers in my life has always availed much.  So I set my heart and my mind to pursue wise counsel, in conjunction with the study of the Word of God and prayer, rather than to cower from it.  I serve an amazing God- when I grow up I want to be a whole-hearted lover of Him, and I need help from my brothers and my sisters in Christ to get there.

Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23

Written by Marsha Apsley

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

There are so many concepts before and after this verse in chapter 23, and it all seems to sum up my life’s story.  

There is caution against gluttony and this concept of an unhealthy focus on food.  And then there is a call out to parents to instruct and to children to listen to their parents.  My testimony starts as a Jesus-loving young girl consumed with how she looked.  I watched my mom struggle with her weight, and she desperately did not want me to deal with the same issues.  Unfortunately that made me (and her) hyper-focused on it, and I began to believe I was fat, ugly, not good enough, and would never find anyone to love me.

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

I struggled with what the doctors would call a “nervous stomach”.  I was just painfully shy and introverted and worried about everything. I worried about what people thought of me, of how I looked to others, if anyone would ever love me enough to marry me.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

By the time I was in 6th grade, I was following Weight Watchers and eating pretzels and drinking milk for my lunch.  All because I thought I was fat and would never catch the eye of someone who would want to love me.

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

Fast-forward to college, more feelings of not good enough, not thin enough, not fit enough.  (Yes, the focus was solely on my looks!)  I dabbled with forms of purging (laxatives and over-exercising) to try to lose weight.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

Finally found a man to show some interest, and I married him.  For nearly 5 years we struggled to make it work, but I still had all the baggage of my worth and my own identity.  We weren’t able to make the marriage last.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

As stated in the beginning, I’ve followed Jesus from my early years.  I cried and struggled through all of this.  I laid it at His feet and picked it back up more times than I can count. I prayed and prayed that He’d make me beautiful and that I’d see that reflection in the mirror, but I just would never let His message of true love penetrate my heart.

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

As my adult life went on, I managed the insecurities, sure I’d cry over numbers on the scales and the reflection in the mirror, but I got better at living with it.  I sorta resigned myself to the fact that this would be my life….unrest, unsettled, dissatisfied with my physical body.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

But then I hit a fork in the road just as I was about to turn 40.  I read the book “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst.  In one section she quoted a verse when God told Moses “You have circled this mountain long enough”.  Hmmm…..40 years in the desert.  I was about to turn 40.   God was telling me it was TIME.  Let’s turn north.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

Oh, it wasn’t like flipping a switch and now I knew and believed everything written in His word about how I’m “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “loved with an everlasting love”.  But it was the catalyst.  Slowly, I began to let go of my insecurities.  Slowly I began to take the chance at believing that maybe I was okay.  Slowly the thoughts in my heart began to change.

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

What’s in your heart?  Are you believing God?  Are you taking Him at His word?  

From a young age, I knew I was a child of God.  I knew it in my head, but it took me many years to get it in my heart and to know that I was perfect just the way I was.  

Let His word penetrate your heart today.  Take Him at His word.  

For as (s)he thinks in his(her) heart, so is (s)he.

I am a fearfully and wonderfully created daughter of the King.  

 

Proverbs 22

Proverbs 22

Written By Tony and Lisa Gahimer

Proverbs 22 starts by saying that it is better to be a good person showing that we are believers in the Lord through our daily actions and words than it is to obtain material goods. We are reminded how God is ruler over the rich and the poor (vs 2) and does not favor one over the other. To show Gods wisdom in our daily lives we need to be humble and show love to the rich and poor alike.

It says in verse 7 that the rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender. As we go through life we get caught up in wanting worldly possessions. Sometimes we put gaining those possessions above how we treat others. This verse reminds us that as long as we are in debt that we will be a servant to that debt when we should be focusing on being servants to the Lord. Verses 22 & 23 remind us that the Lord will defend those that are treated unfairly and we will be held accountable for exploiting others for our personal gain. 

I wonder why, we as humans, think that if we have this or that we will be better off in life. In reality we are just setting ourselves up for being a slave to something that ultimately doesn't even matter.  Verses 26-27: “Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.” This also warn us of how we should not put our desire to have material goods above our means to pay for them. 

Verse 11 says it all - “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.”  Wow that really is simple!  We just need to focus on letting our words and actions show that we believe and love the Lord. We cannot be concerned with what others think of us, but what our God and Lord Jesus thinks of us!

SAYINGS OF THE WISE

“Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise: apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you.” - Proverbs 22:17-19

These verses tell us that we are to be ready to answer when asked. This means having God's words memorized in your heart to be able to give a wise answer. Sometimes we don't want to give the wise answer because we don't want to hurt others or we don't want to appear different.  God is saying to apply his teaching that he has given to us and we should allow that teaching to overflow to others around us. 

We should also be careful of the company we keep.  Verses 24-25 “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one who is easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”  It is easy for us as humans to get caught up in the behaviors of others and the desire to fit in.  It is natural human behavior to want to fit in especially with people that we consider to be our friends.  We do not have to give up our friends, we just have to stay true to behaving in ways what we know our Lord Jesus deems appropriate.

If you cannot be a Godly example around those friends, and you resort to their un-godly behaviors when you are with them, you need to cut that friendship off. It will become toxic.