Are You Growing?
(Prov 19:8 NLT) To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.
This morning we get back to our “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God” series. I started this series almost three years ago now and it has taken us this long to get to chapter 19. The last verse we covered in this series, before taking “Warrior Spirit” detour was 19:7. So, let’s pick up where we left off.
The Good News Bible translation of this verse reads: “Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper.”
Here Solomon emphasizes two things:
1. You love yourself when you do what it takes to acquire wisdom: Our God makes His wisdom available to all His children (see James 1:5). However, a great many believers never truly access and benefit from the wisdom of God because of laziness and lethargy. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that God’s wisdom will leap from the pages of His Word into your heart by osmosis or that His Holy Spirit will pour the precious and eternal truths He knows into your spirit without provocation. No, the pursuit of God’s wisdom must be intentional and persistent. But while it will cost you something, the cost pales in comparison to the benefit. If you love yourself, Solomon says, you will pay the cost, you will make the investment in yourself, you will do what it takes to tap into God’s invaluable wisdom. Once you develop in His wisdom – and His Word and ways become the foundation for your decision-make-process – you will be well on your way to experiencing God’s best for your life. Pursue divine wisdom with all your might. Put in the work it takes to acquire it and you will never be the same. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Stretch your mind and spirit daily.
2. You put yourself in a position to prosper when you properly esteeming understanding: How many times have you heard an awesome sermon that was chock-full of divine wisdom, only to forget about it a week later? Or how many times has God spoken a powerful Word to you – whether it was in prayer, through someone else, through a situation, etc. – only for you to forget it a few days later? You properly esteem divine understanding when you do all you can to retain the wisdom, hold fast to the instruction, keep it before you day and night, commit to applying its lessons, abide by its doctrine, adhere to its standards, keep its ordinances, and use it as the ruler by which you judge your decisions. Learning a truth and then forgetting it is no better than never having learned the truth in the first place. As a believer you must be committed to lifelong learning and especially to retaining what you learn so that it can have the maximum effect on your life.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that God has already done His part in providing You His wisdom. The rest is now up to you. You can either put in the time, energy, and effort required to grow in God and in His Wisdom or your can lazily meander your way through life, without truly growing, developing or doing anything of any significance with and for God. President Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Would he think much of you? Are you growing daily? If not you are hurting yourself and all the people you could be influencing.
Closing Confession: Father, I love You and myself enough to do what it takes to grow and develop in You and in Your Wisdom. You have made Your wisdom available for me and I refuse to allow laziness and lethargy to keep me from becoming all that You have destined, designed and desired for me to be. I acquire wisdom and I also do all that I can to retain what I learn. I keep it before me daily. I speak it from my lips repeatedly. I hide it down in my heart. And I apply all that I learn. I grow in grace in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Slanderers and Liars
(Prov 19:9 NLT) A false witness will not go unpunished, and a liar will be destroyed.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Yesterday Solomon told us that we basically do ourselves a favor when we learn all we can and then retain what we learn. In this verse Solomon goes back to a reoccurring theme of his teachings: telling the truth and avoiding lies, deceit, and slander. Let me give you just a few of the previous mentions. In chapter two Solomon said this of God: “He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity” (2:7). In chapter eight God said this through Solomon: “For I speak the truth and detest every kind of deception. My advice is wholesome. There is nothing devious or crooked in it. My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge” (8:7-9); and “I walk in ways that are honest. I take paths that are right. I leave riches to those who love me. I give them more than they have room for” (8:20,21). It’s not hard to figure out the fact that our heavenly Father is completely honest and that He expects us, as His children, to be the same. Furthermore, honesty and truthfulness directly contrast satan’s characteristics. Not only is the devil a liar, but he is the father of lies; lying is his native tongue (see John 8:42-44). You don’t want to be associated with satan and his ways.
In this verse and in 19:5 Solomon lists bearing false witness and lying separately. To explain why I will quote something I said previously in this series: “You, like God, are a tri-partite being; meaning that there are three parts of you. You are a spirit, you possess a soul, and you live in a body. If your spirit desires one thing, but your soul another, and yet your body is pulling you in a third direction, then you are not fully integrated. This inward struggle will eventually lead to a conflict and hence, a violation of your integrity. If you can learn to control your tongue then you will literally learn to control your life, because what comes out of your tongue is an outward representation of what is going on inside of you. Believers who lie are people who are losing the battle on the inside.” God is against lying because He wants us to walk in integrity (to be fully integrated). Walking in integrity is a matter of controlling yourself and overcoming the inward struggle. However, bearing false witness is different because it involves someone else. There are three main categories of faults: Iniquity (inward), transgression (outward), and sin (upward). When you bear false witness – when you intentionally lie about the actions of another – you are committing all three at the same time. You are sinning (upward) against God, you are committing a transgression (outward) against man, and it is all because of your inward flaws. It is one thing to lie and violate yourself, but quite another to lie on someone else and attempt to bring them down. Slander is an attempt to defame someone’s good name. Jehovah hates this because it shows that you clearly don’t value the life of the other person. You are not the creator. You don’t know what God wants to do with that person. You don’t know their destiny. You don’t know the plans that God has for them. When you speak lies against someone you may very well be coming up against God’s purpose for their life. When you come up against them, you are coming up against all that God wants to do in and through them.
So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you are called to walk in integrity (which will benefit you) and truth/honesty (which will benefit all those around you). If you don’t, this scripture promises that you will pay the price!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for the reminder this morning. I declare, by faith, that I will use my tongue to build up and never to tear down. I take control of my thought life and I bring all wayward thoughts into subjection. I force my entire being – spirit, soul, and body – to align with what You desire to accomplish in my life. In so doing I make myself a person of integrity. Furthermore, I refuse to violate others. I will not “put my mouth” on anyone. I will use my words to bless and not to curse. I am not the Creator, You are. I don’t know what You want to do in their lives, You do. Therefore, I will be careful to not negatively interfere with Your plans and purposes for others! I speak the truth in love every day and in every way! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
The Right Person – The Right Time
(Prov 19:10 CEV) It isn’t right for a fool to live in luxury or for a slave to rule in place of a king.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Two verses ago Solomon said, “To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.” While discussing that verse I brought out the fact that divine wisdom and understanding are available to us, however we must put in the time, energy, and effort to attain it. God is not going to give it to us by osmosis. We must put in the blood, sweat, and tears involved in diligent study so that we can properly reap the rewards of it. This is partly because if we don’t we will not adequately esteem what we receive. Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Mat 7:6). Jesus’ point was that if you give something that is precious to someone who does not properly estimate its value, misuse is inevitable. Hence the emphasis on earning your way to success.
This brings me to today’s scripture. When I first read it I did not know how to take it. I had to read it from several different translations and then read what the scholars had to say about Solomon’s statement before I was able to get anything from it. What really helped me was jumping forward to the 30th chapter, after Solomon is done with his proverbs and Agur, the son of Jakeh, is writing. Agur repeats what Solomon says, but he adds two more things and he calls them “The four things the earth cannot endure.” They are: 1) a slave who becomes a king, 2) an overbearing fool who prospers, 3) a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, and 4) a servant girl who supplants her mistress (30:22,23). What Agur and Solomon are both speaking of is the danger of putting a person in a position that they are not ready for. If you give a fool a million dollars, then he is still a fool with a million dollars. You might have changed his financial status, but you did not change him; and since he is not changed, it will only be a matter of time before he foolishly mismanages the million dollars. Solomon’s other example was that of a slave being placed on the throne. In modern terms that would be like making the kid in the mailroom the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Sure, you can give him the position, but it is only a matter of time before he mismanages the company and more than likely the people as well.
Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute Rick. What about Solomon’s father David? He was appointed king at 17. Or what about Joseph? He went from prisoner to prime minister over night.” Yes, you are right. However, both of these examples are of men who God promoted and who had the grace for the assignment. Solomon and Agur are referring to people who are placed in positions that they cannot handle and that they do NOT have the grace for.
So what does this mean to you today? Two things:
1. Do the work: Make sure you are learning all you can at your level so that you will be ready for the next level when it comes. The Father is not going to promote you until you are ready. If He gets you there too soon you can ruin the company and the people. So DO THE WORK!
2. Celebrate diversities without jealousy: You may not have the grace for a certain assignment while the next person does. But remember that they do not have the grace for your assignment. This frees you to be you and it allows you to celebrate others as they maximize their own gifts. There is enough to go around. Don’t allow jealousy to rob you of your joy.
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for this revelation. I know that I have a part and You have a part in my progress. I also know that You will not open the door to promotion until I put in the work at my current level. So I declare, by faith, that I will diligently seek to maximize every level so that You can be free to promote me to the next. And while I am going up the ladder of success I will celebrate those who are also progressing. I will not allow jealousy to rob me of my joy. I celebrate the diversities of gifts without jealousy. I do those things that I have a grace for and I celebrate with those who do what I do not have a grace for. It takes us all to make up Your Kingdom! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Love and Patience
(Prov 19:11 NIrV) A man’s wisdom makes him patient. He will be honored if he forgives someone who sins against him.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon brings out two key characteristics that can and should be developed in the believer as they grow in the wisdom of God: patience and love. I have taught several series on both topics, because both are key to Christian maturity. The New Living Translation of this verse reads: “Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” What Solomon is alluding to is the fact that they way we treat and deal with others is a direct reflection of our maturity in God or our lack thereof. John really brings this out in his first letter. John wrote: “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both” (1st John 4:20,21). That is about as plain as it can be. We ought not say that we love God if we refuse love others. Jesus Himself said, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples–when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:34,35). Not only did Jesus command us to love, but He brought out the fact that love is supposed to be our identifying characteristic. The only way the world will truly identify us as followers of Christ is when we operate in His love.
Patience is the other key characteristic. While the presence or absence of love is an indication of whether or not we are Christian, the presence or absence of patience is an indication of our maturity in Christ. James said, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance (also translated “patience”) has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance (or patience) is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (1:2-4). How can you say you are a mature believer is you throw in the towel of your faith at the first sign of any opposition? Or if you ‘fly off the handle’ whenever anyone does something you don’t like? No, as you grow in Christ you must learn to control your emotions and not allow them to control you. You are not always gong to “feel” a certain way, but as believers we cannot live by how we feel, we must live BY FAITH!
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have been called to develop patience and to walk in love as you seek to mature in Christ. Today many Christians are confused. They think the size of their bank account, or their house, or the type of car they drive are indicators of their Christian maturity. But don’t mistake the presence or absence of material things to be a true indication of your maturity in Christ. If you really want to know if you are growing, then check how you treat others. Are you slow to anger? Are you more patient today than you were last year? Do you have more tolerance for the mistakes of others? And are you quick to forgive? Do you treat others the way the Father treats you, by forgiving and NEVER bringing it up again? Love and patience: these are true indicators of Christian maturity, grow in each and you will be growing in Christ!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for this reminder this morning. I needed it. I am reminded of the importance of love and patience. I need both and I declare, by faith, that I will develop in each. I control my emotions and I refuse to allow my emotions to rule over me. I am slow to anger and quick to forgive. I treat others the way You treat me. I forgive, I move on, and I never bring the transgression up again. Your love, flowing through men, is the identifying characteristic that others are looking for and they WILL see it in me! I am a conduit of Your love in the earth. I walk in peace with all men. I seek to bless and not to curse. I shine as light in the midst of darkness, peace in the midst of chaos, and love in the midst of selfishness. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
What Type of Leader Are You?
(Prov 19:12 NLT) The king’s anger is like a lion’s roar, but his favor is like dew on the grass.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon contrasts the anger and favor a sitting king. Understanding the king’s power, especially in Solomon’s time, was extremely important because it was absolute. If the king was unhappy, in general, everyone could suffer. If the king was unhappy with you, in particular, he could have you put to death. There were no checks or balances, no restrictions of power, and no term limits. A king was a supreme ruler of his territory – period. This power could be used positively or negative and in either case the results would be dramatic.
Solomon made a similar comparison back in chapter 16 when he said, “An angry ruler can put you to death. So be wise! Don’t make one angry. When a ruler is happy and pleased with you, it’s like refreshing rain, and you will live” (14 & 15). Every leader is NOT going to be humble, loving, caring, compassionate, and peaceful. We will encounter leaders who are irritable, short-tempered, and moody. While dealing with leaders like this is bad enough today, in Solomon’s time it was an even bigger issue because they could have you killed. It’s dangerous to deal with someone who yields exceptional power without constraint or control. So if you have to deal with one like this, then walk cautiously and carefully, pray BEFORE you deal with them, and also pray FOR them. Remember, at the end of the day, their poison will not stop God’s purpose in your life. But if you allow Him, God can use you to bring about a positive change in your environment.
On the other side of the token, just like an irritable, short-tempered, and moody leader can bring down the atmosphere that he or she oversees, an upbeat, positive, and pleasant leader can establish a encouraging environment that will benefit all those under their sphere of influence. A positive leader, with a positive countenance, is like rain in the spring; refreshing and nourishing. Never underestimate the influence you can have as a leader. Whether it’s at home (over your family), at work (over your subordinates), or at church (over the LORD’s flock), the countenance of the leader will set the environment for the led. In the military we call this the “Command Climate.” The Commander sets the climate for those under his or her command, and if the climate is negative, rest assured the command will be negative and people will be apprehensive about presenting new ideas, in fear of being ‘shot down’ (or in Solomon’s time, killed). Once you stifle creativity, it’s just a matter of time before your organization’s productivity decreases or even comes to a standstill. However, if your climate is positive and you foster an environment where creativity is welcomed and rewarded, you will have an organization that is imaginative, industrious, and ever evolving towards greatness.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you should set the right climate everywhere you go! If you are a leader, you must remember the importance of preparing yourself to lead. Spend time in prayer BEFORE you spend time with your people (at work, home, church, etc.). This way you will be able to stand before them with a smile on your face, a spring in your step, and a song in your heart. If you do, you will help bring them UP to your level. If they see expectation in you, their expectation will be elevated! If they sense excitement in your voice, their excited will be ignited! Don’t underestimate the impact that you can make as a leader.
Closing Confession: Father, I thank for Blessing me to lead and influence others. I do not take my position lightly. I will spend time with YOU BEFORE I spend time with those I lead. As I spend time with You in prayer You give me insight, revelation, wisdom, and understanding, so I am able to be the exceptional leader You desire for me to be. Furthermore, in my time of prayer, I am able to CAST my care upon You. I give you my CARE and You give me your peace. This way I am able to enter the environment I lead with a smile on my face, a spring in my step, and a song in my heart. My genuine care and concern for my subordinates come across in my words and disposition and my countenance establishes a positive climate every day! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
Foolish Children and a Nagging Wife
(Prov 19:13 NLT) A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” I will provide you a quote from Matthew Henry to help set the stage for this lesson. Henry said, “It is an instance of the vanity of the world that we are liable to the greatest grief in those things wherein we promise ourselves the greatest comfort.” If you stopped 100 men on the street for an impromptu survey and asked them: “What are the top 5 things you need to have to consider yourself successful?” I am convinced that ‘a great wife’ and ‘great children’ would be towards the top of the list, if not 1 and 2. What greater comfort can a man have (outside of salvation in Christ) than a thriving marriage and responsible children who make good decisions? Hence Henry’s quote, just like our children and spouse can bring us some of life’s greatest joys, they also capable of causing some of life’s greatest pains. Let’s look at each individually:
Your children: The Hebrew word used for “calamity” in this text is plural and seems to express multiplied sorrow caused by the foolish son. Children can cause parents immeasurable grief. Countless parents today are adversely affected by the foolish decisions their children have made; paying the cost with visits to prison, the hospital, or even the morgue. That is why parents go to the lengths that they do in order to properly ‘parent’ their children. Dr. Mark Hanby said, “A Father must do more than just have children. He raises his children to become mature adults. It is a painful, costly, time consuming, life draining, “stay up all hours of the night” type of relationship. It is not always a joyful experience for the Father or the Son. The cost is everything a Father has within him. The benefit is a son who will honor his Father.” If you are a parent you have a Godly responsibility to do all you can to pour into your children all that the Father expects you to, so that they will be prepared for the rigors and challenges of life. And then again all of us are children. As children the Father expects us to honor Him and our parents by making wise decisions; decisions that will bring glory to our heavenly Father and our family name.
Your spouse: Another translation of “quarrelsome wife” calls her a “nagging wife.” Later on, in chapter 21, Solomon says, “It’s better to stay outside on the roof of your house than to live inside with a nagging wife” (21:9). The Hebrew word used for quarrelsome or nagging is a words that means: a perpetual annoyance, a wearing out of patience. If this was not clear enough, Solomon goes on to compare the perpetually annoying spouse to the irritating and unrelenting drop after drop of an unwanted and unwelcomed leak. Have you ever had a leaky roof? The drips keep coming and there is not much you can do until you physically get up on the roof to address the issue. You can get buckets to catch the water, but the containers only hold but so much. Because the leak is unceasing the buckets offer but a temporary solution. You never get peace until you can actually STOP the leak. Wow, what a picture? As a believer you should never do anything to cause your spouse to compare you to this. You should be a source of comfort, strength, and support for your spouse; not a source of annoyance, aggravation and frustration.
So what does this mean to you today? It means you should walk in love – towards your parents, children, and spouse – and seek to honor God and your family name in all that you do.
Closing Confession: Father, as a son/daughter I seek to honor my parents, my family name, and You in all that I do. My thoughts, decisions, and actions will be birthed from my prayer life and they will be aligned with Your Word. As a parent I honor You by pouring into my children all that has been poured into me. I do not take my responsibility lightly. I parent with diligence, dedication and discipline. My children will be raised in the fear and admonition of my Lord. Lastly, as a spouse I seek to build my spouse up and never to tear them down. My words are words are comfort, edification and exhortation. I love my spouse and I create and environment in my home that my spouse will always look forward to coming home to. My marriage personifies Your Love. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
A Godly Marriage
(Prov 19:14 NLT) Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the LORD can give an understanding wife.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In the last verse Solomon reminded us that those things that promise us the greatest comfort are also capable of causing us the greatest grief. No man (in his right mind) wants to live with a nagging with. Later in Proverbs Solomon tells us that it is actually better to live alone on the roof of your house, than to live inside the house with a nagging wife (21:9). While a nagging wife is a tremendous pain, an understanding wife (or spouse) is a continual source of comfort, strength, and support. The pleasure of a thriving marriage cannot be overstated. Marriage, when done right, is awesome and amazing. This is something that is not talked about much today. We live in a time when people change wives like they change watches, but just because the trends have changed it does not mean that God’s standard has been lowered. Let’s agree that the pattern is right, even though the material may be flawed. In other words, let’s agree that God’s Word is still true, even though people may not always adhere to it. Our God still wants to be involved in marriages.
Our creator (Elohim) created the world is six days. At the end of every daily account the Bible says that God saw what He did and said, “It was good.” At the end of the sixth day the Bible says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” To this point (in Genesis) the only descriptive words God had used were “good” and “very good.” However, in the second chapter of Genesis God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him” (2:18). Adam had purpose (to work the garden), power (to name animals), provision (all he could eat), and parameters (he knew what tree he could not eat from), but he did not have partnership and God said it was NOT GOOD! While he had an excellent UPWARD relationship with God (God walked with him in the cool of the day), Adam did not have an OUTWARD relationship with another human. God rectified the situation by giving Adam a wife and the two became one flesh. It’s still not good for man to be alone and it is God’s will that men and women connect with Him and each other in holy matrimony. A Godly marriage is a relationship between husband and God, husband and wife; and wife and God, wife and husband. This is NOT a relationship with just two entities, but rather with three: God, husband and wife… a triple-strand-cord that is not easily broken (Ecc 4:12).
This takes us back to our scripture for this morning. While a father can (and should) leave an earthly inheritance for his children, houses and earthly wealth are nothing to be compared to the joy one can experience in a healthy, loving, caring, and thriving marriage. While many earthly parents would love to, they cannot leave thriving marriages as an inheritance. They can, however, do their part in preparing their child to be an active and Godly member in the marriage. And it will take His involvement because, at the end of the day, for a marriage to be what God intended He must be part of it. Therefore, only God can give an understanding wife (or spouse). Only God Himself can work IN a marriage in ways that earthly parents simply cannot.
So what does this mean to you today? It means you must look to Your Heavenly Father for involvement and assistance in your marriage. He can help in ways your earthly parents never could and He wants to. If God is not the center and circumference of your marriage, then you must get Him involved TODAY!
Closing Confession: Father, I see my marriage as a three-sided relationship between You, me and my spouse. I thank You for giving me an understanding and loving spouse. My spouse loves me and we both love You. Since You are involved in our marriage You bless it and cause it to prosper. You are the center and circumference, the base and the boundary, the balance and the beauty of our marriage. You are involved in every aspect and you cause our marriage to be an example of Your goodness in the earth. In the Jesus’ name, Amen!
The Dangers of Laziness
(Prov 19:15 NIrV) Anyone who doesn’t want to work sleeps his life away. And a person who refuses to work goes hungry.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” To say that Solomon was not a fan of lazy people is an understatement. His writings are riddled with calls to diligence, dedication and hard work. In the sixth chapter Solomon said, “But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? 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” (9-11). Those words were preceded with a lesson from the ant. Solomon said that ants, “Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” The point is that we should be self-motivated, hard working, representatives for God every day. And I cannot overlook the fact that Solomon made a connection between laziness and poverty. He makes it clear that if you are too lazy to work, then you will find yourself with scarcity, lack, and poverty, and it will NOT be God’s fault. In the New Testament, in Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica, he said, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2nd Thes 3:10). Paul had received word that some of the members of the church in Thessalonica were more focused on being busybodies, than being busy. He went on to say, “Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living” (verses 11,12).
If that was not enough, in the 10th chapter Solomon said, “He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth” (v.4). In the 12th chapter he said, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense” (v.11) and “If you are lazy, you will never get what you are after, but if you work hard, you will get a fortune” (v.27). And finally, another translation of our verse for this morning reads: “Lazy people sleep soundly, but idleness leaves them hungry.”
What’s the overall message here? Simply put, it is that we, as believers, should be diligent in and dedicated towards the things of God and His overall plan for our lives. Becoming a Christian does not give you the right to spend the rest of your life sleeping and resting in the presence of God; or even worse, idly sleeping your life away. No! The word diligent (in some form) appears over 60 times in the Bible. If you want to end up where God wants you to be at the end of your life it is going to take WORK. If you are lazy you will never get there and you may very well fall into the grips of poverty because of your laziness.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. Walking with God does not exonerate you from work.
2. Diligent work is honorable and expected from God. You are not called to sit, you are called to serve and you serve Him by DOING all that He leads you to DO!
3. If you decide to maximize your opportunities you will reap the benefits of hard work.
4. Diligent work leads to prosperity, laziness leads to poverty.
5. Laziness will cost you. If you fail to move forward – by having a daily routine of personal development – you will eventually go backwards. In other words, if you don’t choose to progress you are choosing to regress.
Closing Confession: Father, I understand the dangers of laziness and I declare, by faith, that I will not fall into its trap. I refuse to idly sleep my life away. I am active, inventive, inspired and industrious in all that I put my hands to do. I am committed to doing my part in Your provision for my life. I know it is not just about me, but I also know that it is not just about You either. You have a part and I have a part and I am committed to fulfilling mine. As I do, I know You will fulfill Yours and bless the work of my hands. You are a God of progression, not regression, and I choose to actively progress every day of my life! In the Jesus’ name, Amen!
(Prov 19:16 GNB) Keep God’s laws and you will live longer; if you ignore them, you will die.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this text Solomon goes back to a reoccurring theme of his teachings by contrasting the length of life of those who keep God’s laws with those who choose to ignore them. I have actually taught on this topic (long life) before and I was quite surprised when I first researched it. The Bible has a great deal to say about God’s desire for us to live long and prosperous lives. The Father desires that we maximize our purpose and potential in the earth. He has plans for us (Jer 29:11) and He is dutiful to do all that He can to help us to fulfill those plans. But since He has made us free morale agents, we have a say in the matter. He wants to operate in our lives, but He seeks our cooperation. If we fail to cooperate with God we hinder Him from giving us His best and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Getting back to the focus of this lesson, in chapter 3 God, through Solomon, said, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity” (verses 1,2). That is about as plain as it can be. The Father’s teaching, when properly applied, will add length and quality to our lives – period! He went on to say, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold… Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor” (verses 13,14, and 16). Long life is in the hand of Lady Wisdom. When we receive, believe, and apply her teaching, we will enjoy the benefits of living long and strong! In chapter 9 Solomon said, “Respect and obey the LORD! This is the beginning of wisdom. To have understanding, you must know the Holy God. I am Wisdom. If you follow me, you will live a long time” (verses 10,11). What’s the insinuation? If you follow Godly wisdom – God’s way of doing things – you will live a long time. But what if you don’t? Then you obviously will not and it won’t be God’s fault. In chapter 10 Solomon went on to say, “If you respect the LORD, you will live longer; if you keep doing wrong, your life will be cut short” (v.27). I am convinced that countless people have cut their lives short because of the foolish decisions they have made. And finally, let’s look at the 91st Psalm. I love this Psalm. I call it the Psalm of Protection. The last few verses say, “The LORD says, I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16). A long life is a reward for them that trust in the Father; who live their lives by His instruction. Isn’t this what we all want?
So what does this mean to you today? I hope the message is clear. It means the Father desires for you to live long and strong! However, you have a say in the matter. He has given you His instruction and if you apply it, you will enjoy the benefits of it. But if you don’t, if you ignore Him, if you choose to reject His wisdom, then you will have to deal with the consequences. Either way, you will reap what you sow. The choice is yours!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for this revelation. I make the right choice today. Your Word gives me insight for living and Your Spirit leads me in the way that I should go. I declare, by faith, that I listen and obey. I choose to keep Your commandments. I choose to live in according with Your Word. I receive Your counsel concerning what to eat. I get sufficient rest and sleep. I am quick to forgive and I do not harbor bitterness or hatred in my heart. I love, I pray, I commune with You. I seek to be a blessing to others, I commit my ways to You, and I trust in You to bring to pass Your best in my life. I shall live long strong! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
Giving to the Poor
(Prov 19:17 GNB) When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the LORD, and the LORD will pay you back.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” As we close out this week Solomon gives us something to think about over the weekend: money! The Bible actually has a great deal to say about money and how we are to manage our personal finances. Not only does the Father want us to have enough to meet our needs, but He also desires that we support ministry and the less fortunate. In our family we observe four categories of giving with our personal finances: 1) Tithes: which goes to our local church and is a tenth of everything that comes into our home, 2) Offering: which also goes to our local church and it is whatever we are led to give above and beyond the tithe, 3) Supporting Ministries: which are ministries that are not our local church, but ministries that we believe in, and 4) Giving to the Poor: which is what we are discussing today.
For one reason or another there will always be poor in this world. Jesus Himself acknowledged this. One day a young lady poured a very expensive perfume over Jesus’ head and the disciples reaction was: “What a waste! It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to Me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me” (see Mat 26:9-11). Without getting into the context of that passage, the simple point is that Jesus acknowledged the fact that we will always have the poor among us. If that is the case, then those of us who are more fortunate, should give to the poor and when we do, the Father Himself will ensure that the act of kindness will not in vain. To me, giving to is three things:
1. Right: What is the purpose of discipleship, if not evangelism? Likewise, what is the purpose of financial prosperity, if not generosity? Government Welfare was not God’s idea. God’s plan is much more simple than that. The Father simply looks for a man whose heart is full of compassion towards the poor, and whose hands distribute to their needs, in sincere love; this man will continually be blessed. Once you prove you can be trusted to be a conduit through which God can bless others, the flow will never stop.
2. Necessary: We have already established the fact that the poor will always be with us. That being the case, the will always be a need for willing vessels who will cooperate with God to meet their needs. Are you willing? Once you start giving you will never regret it!
3. A Temporary Solution: When Jesus’ cousin (John the Baptist) was in jail he sent his disciples to ask Jesus the following question: “Are the one he said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus’ response was: “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind can see, the lame can walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf can hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Gospel is preached to the poor”(see Luke 7:20-22). What is the answer to being blind? Seeing. What is the answer to being lame? Walking. What is the answer to being a leper? Clean skin. What is the answer to deafness? Hearing. What is the answer to death? Life. And so, what is the answer to poverty? Is it money? NO! It’s the Gospel! While giving money to the poor is definitely necessary, it is NOT addressing the real problem. The true answer to poverty is mind renewal. Once the Word gets down inside of a person and the Word starts to come alive in them, it is only a matter of time before they get out of whatever bad situation they find themselves in; poverty included.
So what does this mean to you today? Honor the Father with your finances. Give from a willing heart and your life will never be the same!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for blessing me to be a blessing. I give, save, and spend (in that order) for the rest of my life. I want to be a conduit through which You bless others. Use me as a distribution center. The more comes in, the more will go out. I am focused on much more than just my household and me. You give me the wisdom to manage my finances in such a way that I can help finance our needs and Your kingdom purposes in the earth. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Correcting Your Children
(Prov 19:18 CEV) Correct your children before it’s too late; if you don’t punish them, you are destroying them.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” God never ceases to amaze me. Jehovah knew, before the foundations of the world, that I would be teaching on this verse this morning. On a personal level this Word is very timely. My wife and I have three children at ages 17, 15, and 4. Those of you that are parents know that parenting is not an easy task. While parenting is very rewarding – because you realize the Father has entrusted you with the well-being and developmental responsibilities of other human beings – it can also be a time consuming, emotion stirring, and heart draining experience. This weekend I took my family on a trip and while we were on the road I had many “long” conversations with my children, especially my teenagers. I went to sleep last night knowing that my wife and I are doing part to pour into them all that has been poured into us. And then this morning I had a good laugh when I read the scripture I would be dealing with for Today’s Word. I know my children will also enjoy the timeliness of this message when we discuss it over dinner. This is the first day of school here in Virginia and I could not think of a better topic to discuss today. With that in mind let’s break down this verse into two parts and look at it from both the CEV and the NLT. The New Living Translation of this verse reads: “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.
Correct your children before it’s too late or Discipline your children while there is hope: As parents we train our children to grow UP (in wisdom and stature) and OUT (of the house and into the world). While it is true that our children are our children for life, it is also true that we only have a limited number of years to make a significant impact in their development. While our children are still young and living under our roof we have a golden opportunity to help shape their belief system, educate their conduct, inculcate God’s Word into them, and to provide the proper level of correction when they go astray. I cannot overemphasize the importance of correction – we all need it! Every one of us inevitably gets off course from time to time and without a correction we will stay off course. God expects us, as parents, to provide “course corrections” for our children, so that they stay on His desired path for their lives. Without these “course corrections” they might wind up somewhere we (and God) don’t want them to be. As a Christian parent God expects you to correct your children and to do it in love. Back in chapter 13 Solomon said, “Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to train them” (v.24).
If you don’t punish them, you are destroying them or Otherwise you will ruin their lives: In the 22nd chapter Solomon says, “Foolishness abounds in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (v.15). Children are not born wise. Wisdom is transferred by association (Prov 13:20) and as parents must do all that we can to place our children in environments where they can glean positive characteristics and to shield them from unrighteous influences. Furthermore, the language the Bible uses puts the onus on us, as parents, to do our part. Read this again. If “we” don’t punish them, then “we” are destroying them. If “we” don’t discipline them, then “we” are ruining their lives. This is strong language and it is not mistake. Children are foolish and they will do foolish things, but WE have a responsibility to discipline, correct, instruct, inspire, and lead them out and away from their foolishness. If we fail to do our part as parents, one day we will have to give account for it.
So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means that you must take the time to parent your children, no matter the cost. In the end your labor will not be in vain!
Closing Confession: Father, thank You for giving me the wisdom and insight to provide my children the teaching, training, correction, and discipline they need to develop into the men and women You have called them to be. I love my children too much not to correct them when they go astray. I declare, by faith, that you give me creative ways to reach my children and to pour into them. As I do, I declare that they will be equipped to make good decisions, that they will be prepared them for their life’s assignment, and I will be able to stand before You with clean hands. I will not neglect my part in their development! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
The Pain Associated with True Change
(Prov 19:19 NIrV) Anyone who burns with anger must pay for it. If you save him, you will have to do it again.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon teaches us a lesson that is a hard one to learn for parents, Pastors, and loved ones to learn. When you love someone and you see him or her in trouble your immediate reaction is to help get him or her out. However, Solomon teaches us here that there is a level of goodness in allowing someone to deal with the repercussions of their actions. See, God has created a system of laws and principles – like sowing and reaping, cause and effect, and the free will of humans – that governs the earth. So, not only WILL we be judged some day, but our actions are regularly judged and we are either rewarded or punished accordingly. Good or bad, we are supposed to reap whatever we sow. That’s why I often say, “If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.”
The issue comes when we want to step in and rescue someone from the consequences of bad decisions, because we love them and we don’t want to see them experience pain. The Message Bible paraphrase of this verse reads: “Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger; if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.” Our base translation tells us that we have to allow them to pay for what they have done, because if we do not, they will find themselves in that situation again and we will have to continue to rescue them. What it comes down to is this: If you get someone out of a bind, but you fail to change their mind, then it is only a matter of time before they do it again. Mind renewal is the key. Solomon is talking about hot-tempered people, but the same holds true for anything else. If someone has an issue with something their mind must be renewed, by the Word of God, concerning it, if they are ever going to experience Christian progress.
In “Mental Toughness for Success” Dr. I.V. Hilliard shares what he calls the “DARE Method for Change.” DARE stands for:
- Decide: Decide what you want to change and what you want to look like after you have changed.
- Associate: Associate real pain with your old behavior. To me, this is the key. If someone does not associate real pain with their old behavior, they will never truly want to change. And if we always rescue them from the pain, then we are actually helping them stay in their flawed state. We must allow them to experience the pain, even though it is painful, so that they can develop the DESIRE to change.
- List the worst possible thing that could happen if you do not change.
- List the best possible thing that can happen if you do.
- Recall: Recall the experiences that have kept you down in the past. Until you deal with your past defeat, you may never change.
- Envision: Envision yourself as the “totally new” you; like your mentor or model. Who do you want to be like?
So what does this mean to you today? It means that if you love someone, you must love him or her enough to allow them to experience whatever they need to experience to bring about true change. Don’t rescue them from every mistake. The sting of real pain may be what they need to get to the point where they desire true change!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for changing me and for leading me concerning those I love. Just like it took mind renewal for me to change, it will take mind renewal for my loved ones to change as well. I commit them to You and I trust You to work in and through them to bring about the change You desire in their lives. I am ready and willing to do all that You need me to do, but I do not want to stifle their progress. If You lead me to pull-back, I will, even though it might pain me to do it. My concern is their ultimate well being and Christian progress. True change starts today in me and in those I love! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
(Prov 19:20 BBE) Let your ear be open to suggestion and take teaching, so that at the end you may be wise.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon admonishes us to remain humble and hungry for continued learning. The truth is that none of us were born knowing. We all had to open our minds and our hearts to learn whatever we have learned to get to this point. And if we want to continue to grow and develop we must never close ourselves off to the learning process. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Lincoln was a strong believer and God was able to use him mightily because he was committed to lifelong learning. If Lincoln had ever gotten to the point where he thought he had arrived – that he thought he knew it all – he would have closed himself off to future insight, wisdom, revelation, knowledge, and understanding. Like Lincoln, God can use you mightily as well if you commit to the process of developmental growth in every area and aspect of your life.
In this series we are walking through one of the books of the Bible that is considered wisdom literature. As we study it we have a golden opportunity to learn and apply what we are learning, so that we can develop into the men and woman God has called us to be. Wouldn’t it be a shame to do a verse-by-verse study of the book of Proverbs, only to complete the study with nothing to show for it? Well, that is exactly what can happen if you fail to truly receive what God says in His Word. I know people who attend church Sunday and Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday with little to show for it, because they go without a true willingness to learn. Like most things, you will get out of the Word whatever you put into it.
The Good News Bible translation of this verse makes it very clear; it reads: “If you listen to advice and are willing to learn, one day you will be wise.” God wants to give us His counsel. He actually left us 66 books full of it, but we must be willing to read it, learn from it, and apply it, so that we can be transformed by it and see significant results.
Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” This brings up a good point. I have already pointed out the fact that you will not be open to learn something you think you already know. What Churchill points out is that even if we know we actually DON’T know the material, some of us simply do not like to admit our ignorance. But whether we like it or not, we must be willing to acknowledge our ignorance so that we can address it and grow.
I will make one last point before we close: don’t be afraid of making mistakes. You will never hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat; but even when you miss, when you actually make a mistake, you can still learn from it and if you do, even a mistake can work out helping you in the long run. Zig Ziglar said it this way: “If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must make every effort to learn today and every day. Learn as much as you can, from all that you can, while you can. If you do you will develop into the person God has destined, designed, and desired for you to be.
Closing Confession: Father, I declare, by faith, that I am committed to lifelong learning. I will learn today, tomorrow, and every day of my life. I walk with You and You walk with me. As we walk together I am continually being discipled and developed into the person You desire for me to be. I am transformed daily into Your image and likeness. I learn from superiors and subordinates alike. I will not allow pride to keep me from acknowledging my ignorance and attacking it, so that I can erase it. And as I grow I will step out in faith to apply what I have learned. I will not allow the fear of making a mistake to keep me from trying. Even if I do make a mistake, I will learn from it and make it a positive experience. By the end of today I will know more than I know right now and I will repeat this process daily! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Your Plans and God’s PLAN
(Prov 19:21 NIrV) A man may have many plans in his heart. But the LORD’s purpose wins out in the end.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon contrasts the constantly shifting purposes of man with the unchanging and righteous purposes of Jehovah. Back in chapter 16 Solomon said, “Mortals make elaborate plans, but GOD has the last word” (v.1) and “We plan the way we want to live, but only GOD makes us able to live it” (v.9). This reminds me that we started out this year with a mini-series on receiving God-given vision and laying out the vision as the ruler by which we would judge our decisions for the year. This vision should inform our plans. I am a planner, I believe in planning, and I believe God’s Word teaches us that we must be deliberate in our pursuit of purpose (which will include planning) if we are going to arrive at God’s desired destination for our lives. However, when someone reads verses like these they often think, “If the final outcome is in God’s hands anyway, then why plan? Why pray if God is going to do what He wants to do in the end? Why seek His direction if we are puppets and He is the puppeteer?” You should know by now – from God’s Word and life experiences – that that is not true. God has a part and we have a part. In this verse Solomon speaks to God’s sovereignty, but in this book he has also gone to great lengths to highlight our responsibilities in God’s plans. God’s sovereignty does not alleviate us of the weight of our decisions, but rather adds on us the additional task of seeking God’s will and of aligning our decisions with it.
Jehovah’s sovereignty is tied to His foreknowledge. Of course, God does not have to wait until Monday to know what you are going to do on Monday, but don’t mistake foreknowledge with absolute predestination. You and I are free morale agents and Jehovah, in all His sovereignty, will let us fail, if we choose to. He will watch on the sidelines as we go astray, if that is our choice. As a loving Father and reigning Lord He will send people our way to help get us back on track, and He will make every attempt to speak to us directly by His Spirit, but if at the end of the day we stubbornly choose to walk in disobedience, He will allow us, albeit painfully, to reap what we sow. So herein lies the partnership Jehovah seeks. He wants to reveal His plans and purposes to us, SO THAT we could align our decisions and actions accordingly. If we do, we will experience God’s best. It basically comes down to is this: our plans will not experience Godly success, unless they line up with God’s plans and purposes, which are unchangeable. While man’s plans are constantly wavering and are often absurd and unjust, God’s plans are wise, holy, steady and uniform. And thankfully, God’s plans can never be frustrated by the shiftiness of ours. The Bible in Basic English translation of this verse brings this out well; it reads: “A man’s heart may be full of designs, but the purpose of the Lord is unchanging.”
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you owe it to yourself, your family, and your future to seek God – in His sovereign wisdom and eternal love – for continual guidance. Once you have what you believe is His direction, then it will be up to you to make plans and to put in the work required to fulfill them; with the assurance of knowing that where He leads, He feeds and where He guides, He provides!
Closing Confession: Father, I know that ultimately You will have the last Word. The shiftiness of my plans will not force You to change Yours. You sit on the circle of the earth. You are infinite, eternal, and completely sovereign. It is Your sovereign wisdom that I seek. I know that You will allow me to reap whatever I sow, so therefore I want to make sound decisions; decisions that line up with Your Word and will for my life. As You reveal to me Your purposes for my life, I declare by faith, that I will line up my plans with them. Life is much easier, and more enjoyable, when I cooperate with You and Your plans for my life. With that in mind, I will make sure that my plans support Your plans! I am excited about today, this year, and the rest of my life, because I know I will be walking with You and You will be walking with me! In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Walking in Integrity
(Prov 19:22 MSG) It’s only human to want to make a buck, but it’s better to be poor than a liar.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon addresses another common topic in his writings: integrity in business. Pursuing wealth is OK, but it must be done the right way. Many pursue money at all costs. Their endless pursuit of money often causes them to wind up with money, only to realize they have lost everything else along the way. Many lose their families, their integrity, and even their health in a tireless pursuit of the buck. Jesus once asked the question, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mat 16:26). What good will the money be if you lose everything that matters to get it? Especially when it comes to your integrity. Growing up in Brooklyn my mother knew that many of my associates sold drugs. She is a woman of strong integrity and personal character, so she told me countless times, “Son, I would rather we eat dirt than for you to bring one dollar of drug money in this house.” My mother was a single parent, we were on public assistance, and money was tight, but no matter how tight money was she was clear that we would never violate our integrity to get it. In my neighborhood the motivation to do right was scarce and the temptations to do wrong are plenteous, but my mother’s voice kept ringing in my ears and I chose to give her instruction more weight than the offers from the streets. Why? Because my mother was very well respected and I wanted to honor her name. When adults saw me they did not see just me, they saw my mother. Most of the adults in my neighborhood did not even call me by my name. They called me, “Nelcida’s son;” and I never wanted to do anything that would dishonor her name. Solomon actually talks about this later in Proverbs when he says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (22:1).
Solomon’s point is that the poor man who is honest is to be esteemed above the rich man who is dishonest, but not because of the size of the bank accounts. This has nothing to do with whether or not you have wealth. The person writing this proverb (Solomon) was the wealthiest man in the land; he was the Bill Gates of his time. So this is not an indictment against those with money. Wealth, or the lack of it, has nothing to do with righteousness and integrity. The point of this proverb is that it is better to poor and have your integrity, than to gain riches by losing it. A person with ill-gotten gain hasn’t really gained anything. As believers there should be something different about us. People should know us as honest, industrious, and hard-working men and women of integrity. Once your integrity is in question, most people of integrity will make every attempt to avoid doing business with you.
So what does this mean to you today? It means that God must be the LORD OF ALL or He is not LORD AT ALL! Don’t think that God is going to accept your praise and worship on Sundays when you violate His instruction all week long in your business dealings. Back in chapter 11 Solomon said, “GOD hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard” (v.1) and in chapter 16 he said, “GOD cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business” (v.11). Think about that for a moment. Many don’t make the connection between the Lord and their business. They see God as someone who they interact with at church, on Sundays, but not daily or throughout the week. But God wants to walk with you daily and He wants to influence every aspect of your life. So never violate your integrity, especially not for money. Whatever you compromise to gain, you will wind up losing in the end.
Closing Confession: Father, I know that You desire to be part of every area of my life and I declare that I welcome You to do so. I want You involved in my family, my friends, my relationships, and my business. As I seek to manage my finances well, I declare by faith, that I will do it in a way that is pleasing to You. I will never violate my integrity for a quick buck. I honor Your name and my name too much for that. I shall be known as a person of integrity who honors his Lord every day and in every way! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
The Fear of the LORD
(Prov 19:23 NLT) Fear of the LORD leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon brings up something that is not talked about much today: the Fear of the Lord. The type of “fear” Solomon is referring to is not fear in the sense of terror or fright; this is a reverential type of fear. Many want what the “b” clause this verse promises (security and protection) without fulfilling the requirement of the “a” clause (reverential respect). That is exactly the type of world we live in today. People want to get things FROM God without first having a relationship WITH Him. But we should not expect His supernatural protection if we are not first submitted to Him. We are called to fear the Lord. Once again, not to afraid of Him, but to show Him a reverential and respectful fear. This fear runs the gamut from a mild respect that simply acknowledges God to a deep and powerful respect that seeks to obey Him wholeheartedly. Whether your fear is deep or mild this morning, you must seek to cultivate it if you are to continue to grow in God.
The Contemporary English Version translation of this verse makes the message very clear; it reads: “Showing respect to the LORD brings true life—if you do it, you can relax without fear of danger.” That’s it in a nutshell! If you want to experience true life, show respect to God, thereby proving to Him that you truly acknowledge Him as LORD of your life. Remember, either He is LORD of all or He is not LORD at all! Show Him the respect He deserves. Consider Jehovah BEFORE you make any major decisions. Consider His Word BEFORE you succumb to the temptation of sin. Consider His ways BEFORE you openly violate them. Consider His love BEFORE you operate in hatred. If you do this, if you deliberately choose to show Jehovah the respect He is due as the LORD of Lords, you will experience true life, security, and protection.
This protection comes in many forms. In one respect, when you fear the LORD and You use His Word as the ruler by which you make decisions, your decisions will keep you from many of the dangers others simply get themselves into. In other words, living in accordance with God’s Word produces healthy habits and Godly success. Nevertheless the fear of the Lord does not necessarily guarantee freedom from challenges. I would love to tell you that once you fear the LORD that nothing bad would ever happen to you again. The truth is, however, that bad things still happen to people who love God. In that sense this verse is not a universal promise but a general guideline. In general, when you walk with God and He walks with you all things seem to work together for your good (Rom 8:28) and you experience angelic protection that is supernatural and powerful (Psalm 91).
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must get back to the basics and ensure that you are giving God the respect He rightfully deserves as your God and your LORD. If He is your LORD then it means that His rule, His ways, His law, and His desires take precedence over your own. He is in charge, but He wants you to work with Him to make a difference in the earth. Jehovah does not want you to be some type of puppet. He wants you to make your own decisions, but when you fear Him – giving Him reverential respect – your decisions will be decisions that bring glory and honor to His name!
Closing Confession: Father, I acknowledge You as my God and my LORD. I acknowledge no other deity, and I recognize no other gods. You alone are LORD and I declare, right now, that You are the LORD of my life. I give you the reverential respect You deserve by including You in my decision making. As a matter of fact, I honor You so much that I am willing to submit my entire life to You. I give myself over to endure a mind renewing process so that my decisions will line up with Your desires. As I do I know I will live a life that is pleasing to You and You will reward me with security, protection, peace, and long life! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
No Lazy People Allowed!
(Prov 19:24 CEV) Some people are too lazy to lift a hand to feed themselves.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon goes back to another reoccurring theme of his writings: a call against laziness! In this verse Solomon expresses his disdain for laziness with a bit of exaggeration. It would be hard to find someone who would rather allow themselves to starve than to eat the food that is right in front of them. But the point is that we should not be lazy. Our God expects us to work hard and once we do, He will bless what we have done.
Have you ever met someone who wants lots of things? I know quite a few people who spend countless hours a day daydreaming about the person they would like to be or the things they would like to have. Daydreaming, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. I believe God wants us to dream big dreams. But just know that it will take time, energy, and lots of effort to see the dreams manifested. God is not in the business of giving lazy people freebies. If God rewarded laziness He would be giving sluggards motivation to remain in their lethargic state. No! God will work with you and bless the work of your hands, but that means you have to give Him something to bless.
This truth is taught over and over again. Solomon also said: “Work hard, and you will be a leader; be lazy, and you will end up a slave… If you are lazy, you will never get what you are after, but if you work hard, you will get a fortune” (12:24&27). “People who refuse to work want things and get nothing. But the longings of people who work hard are completely satisfied” (13:4). “He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth” (Prov 10:4). And Jesus said, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17). And believe me, there are many, many more.
So what does this mean to you today? It means you should get back to the basics:
1. Be self-motivated: When David was in a terrible situation and he had no one to encourage him, he “Encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (1st Sam 30:6). Learn how to tap into the Joy of the Lord, which is your strength (Neh 8:10). If you are a Born-Again believer, then God is with you 24 hours a day. He should be all the motivation you need to get done all that you need to get done every day. Walk with Him and allow Him to lead you as you work diligently daily!
2. Don’t allow rest to turn into laziness: You need rest. I have learned that rest is spiritual. If you are not careful you can get burned-out. So rest long enough to get rejuvenated, restored, and revived, but then get back to work. Rest too long and you will lose your passion and drive.
3. Remember you represent God: Paul said, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1st Cor 10:31). We are walking/talking billboards for Christ. We are called to represent Him daily. But when you are lazy, slothful, and a procrastinator, you are sending the wrong message about God and His people. Instead of drawing others to God you might actually be a stumbling block. Remember this as you start this day. You may be the only Bible someone reads.
4. Remember the law of sowing and reaping: Ants work hard in one season so they can enjoy the fruit of their labor in another season. Everything in the Kingdom of God works by sowing and reaping. No farmer plants today with an expectation to reap today. There will be a period of time between sowing and reaping, so even if it looks like your hard work is not being noticed or rewarded, don’t get frustrated, your harvest is coming. Just remain diligent, dedicated, and faithful. Our God (the Lord of the Harvest) will see to it that you reap what you sow.
Closing Confession: Father, I declare, by faith, that I am motivated from the inside out! I thank You for the many mentors, teachers, instructors, preachers, Pastors, family and friends You have blessed me to learn from. But I declare that I have the internal motivation to get things done daily, even in the absence of external motivation. I overcome laziness, slothfulness, and procrastination. You provide me with all the motivation I need! In enter this day with an unwavering determination to glorify You in all that I do! Use me Lord as an example of Your Goodness in the earth! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Are you Wise or a Childish Fool?
(Prov 19:25 CEV) Stupid fools learn good sense by seeing others punished; a sensible person learns by being corrected.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon, while driving home the fact that we all need to be corrected, contrasts the difference between how the foolish and the wise respond to correction. As a quick recap, in this series we have already learned that:
1. We all need correction because all of us get off course from time to time. Without correction we would stay off course.
2. God corrects us because He loves us. He loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way.
3. The faster we hear, receive, and apply the correction, the faster we can be restored to God’s best for our lives.
That last point is really the crux of today’s lesson. The New Living Translation of this verse reads: “If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson; if you correct the wise, they will be all the wiser.” Solomon is giving us two methods of learning and they relate to the level of maturity in the person being corrected. What it boils down to is this:
1. Childish people need to see someone get severely punished before they wise up: Have you ever seen a bunch of kids behaving badly together? You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but once they have gone down the path of foolish activity it seems like they need to see someone get punished before they snap out of it. As soon as one parent steps in and punishes one of the kids, the others see the punishment and calm down. While this is bad enough for a group of 3 or 4 years olds, the sad reality is that the same can be said for many teenagers and young adults. Sometimes it takes someone getting arrested to ‘wake up’ a group of deviants from the error of their ways. While their parents, friends, Pastors, and etc. go to great lengths to talk to them, in and attempt to provide oral correction, unfortunately it is not until the fool sees someone get into serious trouble that they associate real pain with their actions and seek change.
2. When the wise are in error all they need is a simple word of correction: Unlike the childish fool the wise are willing to hear and accept correction, because they know that without it they will never truly mature and develop into the person God desires for them to be. The truly wise actually welcome correction. Why? Because they are wise enough to know that they don’t know it all and they have a sincere desire to grow. Their wisdom teaches them to learn from as many people as possible and to especially learn from the mistakes of others. Publilius Syrus said, “From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.”
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you need to decide which type of person you want to be? Are you going to be the childish fool who has to see someone get into serious trouble before he makes a change or will you be the wise man who accepts and applies a simple word of correction? I have been both and I can tell you that the latter is much better!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for loving me enough to correct me. You correct me directly through Your Spirit and Your Word and also indirectly, by sending others to me. Whether directly or indirectly, I declare, by faith, that I receive the correction, because I realize I need it. I get off course from time to time and Your course corrections help me to get back on Your desired path for my life. Thank You for caring enough about me to see to it that I hear what I need to hear. And I also declare that as I hear it, I won’t fight against it, but instead I will receive it, apply it, and be changed by it. I welcome correction! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
This is Today’s Word! Apply it and Prosper!
Honor Your Parents!
(Prov 19:26 NLT) Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Solomon has already taught us that we, as parents, have a Godly responsibility to teach and train our children in accordance with God’s Word, to pour into them all that has been poured into us, and to manage our finances well so that we can leave them and our grandchildren an inheritance. The children, however, also have their own set of Godly responsibilities. They are to obey their parents, submit to the Godly instruction, and cooperate with the developmental process God and their design offer to them.
My mother may not have received an advanced formal education, but she received wisdom from her parents and grandparents. She passed that wisdom on to me. She taught me things that were not popular in Brooklyn, amongst the deviant nature of my neighborhood; things like: integrity, dignity, respect, loyalty, honesty, and hard work. To this day I highly respect my mother and I honor her every chance I get. We will talk more about honor in a minute.
The first part of the verse deals with children who waste their father’s substance. In other words, these are kids who don’t give a care about their parents’ money. Their parents work hard to give them things, but they don’t take care of them. Their parents give them money and they waste it as fast as it comes into their hands. These children have no regard for the hard work their parents put into getting where they are. Wasting their father’s money also wastes his emotional state, breaks his heart, brings unwelcomed gray hair to his head, and expedites his path to the grave. The second part of the verse tells us that these same children shun their mother. They reject her affection and disregard her instruction. To make bad matters even worse these children are rude, insolent, and disrespectful towards their mother in public, which leads to embarrassment, shame, and disgrace in public and incessant frustration in private.
The sad reality is that this verse is a direct commentary of the state of our nation. Many of our children fall into this category. Many kids today talk back to their parents, openly argue with authority, disregard instruction, and disrespect God, their parents, and all forms of authority. To me this comes down to an issue of honor. Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Ex 20:12). The Hebrew word for honor here is one that connotes “weight.” Children that honor their parents are those that give weight to their instruction. These children weigh the temptation to do wrong with the instruction their parents gave them to do right and they choose to give their parents’ instruction more weight, therefore choosing to do the right thing. When you give your parents and your God the weight they deserve (on your decision-making scales), you are actually honoring them.
So what does this mean to you today? It means you must give your parents the honor (weight) they deserve – in public and in private, in their presence or their absence. Remember that your parents have a Godly responsibility to parent you. Don’t fight against them. If you do, you are actually fighting against God as well. Submit to the process. Don’t talk back. Don’t argue. Humble yourself long enough to allow your parents to pour into you all that has been poured into them. And if you are parent, then make sure you are doing your part to fulfill your Godly responsibility today and every day.
Closing Confession: Father, as I child I honor my parents, I give weight to their instruction in their presence and also in their absence. I don’t fight back against them and I will never disrespect them in private or in public. I love my parents and I want them to pour into me all that has been poured into them. As a parent, I will take my Godly responsibilities seriously. You work with me Father, to parent my children in accordance with You Word, so that they can develop into the men and women You desire for them to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
NO DAYS OFF!
(Prov 19:27 GNB) My child, when you stop learning, you will soon neglect what you already know.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” God, through Solomon, urges us as His children to commit to life-long learning; especially as it relates to the things of Him. We live in a fallen word. Simply put, sin is prevalent in the earth. This means that we must make a conscious effort to strive towards righteousness. Any slack in our pursuit of God will quickly result in us sliding backwards away from Him. That’s why God wants us to pursue Him daily, in order to continually develop in Godliness. If we relax our desire to learn we run the risk of neglecting and eventually even forgetting what we already know.
This reminds me of something Jesus taught in Mark chapter four. It is what I call the “Mother of all parables;” the parable of the sower. In this parable Jesus talks about a man who sows the same seed into four different types of ground, and He goes on to explain how each ground produces different results. Each type of ground is symbolic of a type of person. The wayside person is one who hears the Word, but does not understand it, so satan comes immediately and takes it from him. Satan knows that if this person could ever get understanding of the Word that he heard, that it could actually take root and produce a harvest in his life, so he comes as quickly as possible to steal the Word. The second type of person is the stony-ground person. This person hears the Word with gladness, but since he is not rooted, as soon as a little persecution comes (because of the Word), he simply throws in the towel and gives up. The third type is the thorny-ground person. This person hears the Word and actually has some level of understanding of it. However, the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things quickly distract him and choke out the Word, making it unfruitful. This person simply gives more importance to worldly things than to Godly things, making the Word ineffective in his life. And lastly, Jesus talks about the good-ground person. This person hears the Word, receives it in his heart, believes that it can come to pass in his life, and then works it (in faith) for a harvest. The Word works for this person because he works the Word. These type of people bring forth a harvest – some 30 fold, some 60 fold, and others even 100 fold.
Now, whenever I teach from this parable I ask the question: which ground are you? Invariably the audience replies: GOOD GROUND! I would venture to say that if I asked you this question the answer would be the same. Ok, that sounds good, and I truly hope you are good ground today, however, the question is: what type of ground will you be tomorrow? And the next day? And the day after that? Being good ground today – receiving, believing, and then working the Word for a harvest – is no guarantee that you will be good ground tomorrow. If you choose to slack off tomorrow it might lead to a desire to slack off the next day. A couple of days away from God can lead to a few more, and before you know it you are neglecting what God desires to do in your life. It does not take long to find yourself longing for the relationship you once had!
So what does this mean to you today? It means that you must be committed to God and to your personal development daily. You cannot take a day-off from being a Christian. And there is no retirement plan for the believer. God expects you to grow every day – period. We serve a God of progression and not regression. If you commit to daily progress, for the rest of your life, you will arrive at God’s desired final destination for your life.
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for this revelation! I cannot afford to take any days off in my pursuit of You. I am committed to life-long learning and my commitment is to daily progress. I get in the Word daily. I open my heart and my mind to read, hear, receive, believe, apply and work the Word. As I do, I will be the good ground You desire for me to be and the Word will bring forth a harvest in my life. I will do this today and then repeat the process tomorrow, and then the next day, and then the next day after that! I am committed to arriving at Your desired final destination for my life! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Speak the Truth and Avoid Sin
(Prov 19:28 CEV) A lying witness makes fun of the court system, and criminals think crime is really delicious.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Here Solomon describes the devious nature of the ungodly witness, who openly lies in the face of justice, and the sinner who is so committed to sin that he drinks crime like a glass of water. Everyone sins, but these are people who truly enjoy it. They live to sin, to sow discord, to disrupt justice, to cause havoc, and to attempt to make a mockery of God and His standards. But no need to worry, God will see to it that justice is done (Prov 2:8) and that the wicked (along with the righteous) reap what they have sown.
Telling a lie is bad enough, but doing so under oath is even worse. We should speak the truth whether we are under an oath to do so or not, but after taking such an oath – after publically vowing before God to speak the truth – to then lie is to break the oath, disrespect the court, disregard the judicial system, and dishonor God. And the people Solomon is describing are people who know exactly what they are doing. Their sin is calculated and premeditated. While this may seem like a major offence to you and me, modern society seems to have lowered its standards to the point where lying is “no big deal” anymore. But let’s be clear, God HAS NOT lowered His standards. The Father expects us to say what we mean and to mean what we say. Whether in a court or in common conversation, under an oath or just hanging out with our friends, our words matter to God and they should matter to us.
Jesus had some pretty strong opinions about lying. First of all, Jesus never lied – not even once – and He expected His followers to be completely honest. In John chapter 8 Jesus had a confrontational conversation with a group of Jews that were coming up against Him. Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you?” I know that we like to think of the nice, compassionate, and loving Jesus, but Jesus was also bold, strong, and confrontational when He needed to be. He spoke against sin and He rose up against unrighteousness. He did not cut any corners when speaking to this group. He was clear that God was not their Father. He went on to say, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:42-44). Wow! Jesus made it plain. The devil is a liar and the father of lies. Lying is satan’s native language, so when you speak lies you are lining yourself up with satan, not Jehovah. Is that where you want to be?
So what does this mean to you today? A couple of things:
1. You must speak the truth. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you want your words to matter to God and His angels (when you pray), and to others (as you seek to do business), then they must matter to you. If you build a reputation for being a liar no one will trust you with anything.
2. Take no pleasure in sin. Being a Christian does not mean that you will be sinless, but you definitely should sin-less! Sin should not be pleasant or desirable for you. If you still have a hunger for sin, in some area, then spend time in the Word and fasting and prayer so that your mind can be renewed concerning it and so that the taste of it can be purged from your mouth.
Closing Confession: Father, I speak the truth in love. I don’t want to be associated with satan in any way. I refuse to allow lies to flow from my lips. Your Word is in me so strong and Your Spirit has so much influence in my life, that I am immediately convicted when I even have the thought of speaking a lie. I respond to the conviction quickly by simply refusing to allow the lie to be spoken. My Word is my bond. My yes means yes and my amen means amen! I take no pleasure in sin. My mind is renewed to think like You think, love like You love, and like what You like. Father, You can use me today because I am fit for Your use! In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Learning from Your Mistakes
(Prov 19:29 MSG) The irreverent have to learn reverence the hard way; only a slap in the face brings fools to attention.
This morning we continue our series entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” Why do some people have to learn the hard way? Some are so irreverent, disrespectful, and indignant that they defiantly ignore or flat-out reject every attempt to help them become productive citizens in our natural society and in God’s Kingdom. Back in Solomon’s time the remedy for such insolence was corporal punishment. Actually, corporal punishment is still commonplace in the Middle East, but it is not as brutal as it once was. During Solomon’s time flogging (or scourging) was a standard form of punishment. When someone committed an act that warranted punishment, but not necessarily prison, the offender would be publicly disciplined with either a whip or a rod. Inevitably, the punishment would leave scars on the person’s back. Whenever they took their top off, people would know that they had – at some point in their lives – committed an error that warranted the rod or the whip. This was a lifelong reminder of the error of their ways.
Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behavior deemed unacceptable. While corporal punish is not in-vogue today (in the United States), it did serve its purpose in Solomon’s time. Many of those who endured the public humiliation and physical pain of corporal punishment soon acknowledged the error of their ways.
The Contemporary English Version of this text reads: “Every stupid fool is just waiting to be punished.” Whether immediately or ultimately those who make foolish decisions will reap the reward of such decisions. At the end of the day your life is a grand-sum-total of your decisions. You are where you are today because the decisions you have made in the past and you will be where you will be tomorrow because of the decisions you make today. If you lack wisdom you will make foolish decisions. If you make foolish decisions, you will inevitably experience undesirable results. If you continue down this path you will eventually (at least that is the hope) get to the point where you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Your decisions are like seeds that are sown into the soil of your life. If you make good decisions – decisions rooted and grounded in the counsel of God – those decisions will produce a good harvest. This will be a harvest of peace, progress, and prosperity. But if you make poor decisions – decisions that go against the counsel of God – then you are going to reap a disappointing and distressing harvest. This harvest will cause you nothing but pain, turmoil, and strife; and the worst part is that you will have no one to blame but yourself.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. Sometimes a truly painful experience is required for someone to see the error of their ways.
2. If you keep making poor decisions you will keep getting poor results.
3. If you don’t like the harvest you are reaping, check the seed you are sowing.
4. If you are still alive then there is still hope. The time for change is NOW! Stop causing pain for yourself and every around you. Sober up and ask God to help you change!
Closing Confession: Father, I thank You for teaching me Your wisdom through Your Word and Your Spirit. I declare, by faith, that I will hear, receive, believe, apply, and walk in Your Word and Your way daily. When I am wrong I will not need public humiliation or physical pain to get me back on track. I welcome Your chastisement and I make the necessary course corrections in order to get on, and stay on, Your desired path for my life. I have made my fair share of mistakes. I have sown bed seed. I have reaped bad harvests. I have gone down that road and I will not make that mistake again. My future is bright because I have learned from the licks I have taken. My back may be scarred, but I am still here and I am still pressing on towards You Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen!