Proverbs Chapter 10

by Rick

(10:1) A Wise Son

(Prov 10:1 GNB) These are Solomon’s proverbs: Wise children make their fathers proud of them; foolish ones bring their mothers grief.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  We started this series several months ago and I pray you have been blessed by it thus far.  It has taken us a long time to get here, but believe it or not, we have just covered the introduction.  The first 9 chapters of the book of Proverbs is considered Solomon’s introduction to the book.  From here on out we start to get into the traditional proverbs – the short sayings with powerful meanings.  In the case of the Book of Proverbs, they are eternal truths, captured for us to read, apply and benefit from.  In chapters 10-16 we find verses that are mostly antithetic; meaning that they contain a parallel arrangement of contrasting ideas.  In our text, the first of the antithetic proverbs, Solomon says, “Wise children make their fathers proud of them; foolish ones bring their mothers grief.”

In his introduction (chapters 1-9) Solomon made it painstakingly clear that our lives are a grand-sum-total of our decisions.  We are where we are today, in life, because of the decisions we have made.  As he goes on to lay out a series of parallel choices, he offers to us opposing truths with opposing consequences.  In this text the choice is made by children (sons and daughters) and the consequences are either good or bad for the parents.  However, this does imply that the parents did their part.  They trained their children in the way that they should go (Prov 22:6), they instructed them in righteousness, and they lived their lives as godly examples before their children.  Having done their part, they have every right to believe and expect their children to walk in the way of the Master.  The children, then, must make their choice: to walk in wisdom and make their parents proud, or to ignore Godly counsel and cause their parents grief.

I did not know this scripture growing up, but I lived the principle daily.  My father was not a part of our lives and my mother worked hard to raise me, to live a righteous example before me, and to be a blessing to our family in the Dominican Republic who had less than we did.  She taught me the value of hard work, of making an honest living, and of abstaining from all vices.  When I was a teenager most of the kids I grew up with got involved in selling drugs.  They repeatedly offered me jobs where I could earn $10,000 or more a week, but I rejected their offers.  Instead I went to High School from 7:30am to 2:20pm, came home, did my homework, hung out for while, then went to work from 5pm to midnight from Tuesdays through Thursdays at a restaurant.  On Friday and Saturday nights I worked from 5pm to 2am.  I did this for a few hundred dollars a week and although I could not buy what my friends bought, I could come home every day, look my mother in the face, and know that I had not violated what she taught me.  I was around all sorts of drugs and other vices, but I am proud to say that I have never even taken a puff of a cigarette; all because of my mother’s teaching and because I never wanted to cause her grief.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as a son (or daughter) you have a choice to make.  You can either bring honor or dishonor to your parents.  You can either submit to or reject what they have taught you.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether or not your parents are still alive, what you do today can either be a tribute to their legacy or a disservice to their name.  Make the right choice.  Honor your parents; it is the right thing to do! (Eph 6:1).

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for teaching me Your Word in many different ways.  I receive the preached Word from the pulpit.  I receive the taught Word in Bible Study and via the internet.  And I read Your Word for myself for instruction, inspiration, and edification.  Your Word gives me wisdom and Your wisdom enables me to be the son (or daughter) that You desire for me to be.  I bring honor, not dishonor, to my parents.  I make them proud and I never cause them grief.  What I do today is a tribute to their legacy and I pray that You bless them for the sacrifices they made for me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(10:2) Tainted Wealth

(Prov 10:2 NLT) Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God,” by continuing with our antithetic (a parallel arrangement of contrasting ideas) proverbs.  Here Solomon contrasts the lives of those that seek wealth through unrighteous means and those that seek to live upright.  Honestly, when I wrote yesterday’s message I had not read this verse and it is interesting how clearly they flow together.  I shared with you yesterday how many of my childhood friends decided to go the drug-dealer route.  What I did not tell you was how their lives turned out.  I won’t mention names, but it is sad for me to think about the group of guys that grew up with me on the corner of New Jersey and Sutter avenues in East New York, Brooklyn.  That corner, and the surrounding blocks, was our world.  We started out playing handball, football (in the street, in between traffic), stickball, softball, and etc.  We were about as average as you can get for a group of kids growing up without the influence of a father in the inner city.  Only one of my friends lived with his father and that is only because his mother had died.  I am not sure if it was because of poverty, the lack of paternal influence, or just sheer ignorance, but once crack-cocaine was introduced into the system things changed dramatically.  It was around 1984 that it spread like wildfire.  Almost overnight people that had never had any money were making thousands upon thousands of dollars selling crack.  I knew guys that had hundreds of thousands of dollars – in $20 bills – in shopping bags in their closets.  The amount of money became a risk to their families, a strong lure to young boys and girls, and a false sense of security to those that made it.

As I think back I know that it was only by the prayers of my mother and the grace of God that I did not fall into that trap.  However, most of my friends did and they are either dead, in jail, or recovering drug addicts now.  Of all the people that I personally knew that made inordinate amounts of money selling drugs – and there were many – I can honestly say that I do not know of any (not even ONE) that still has the money and that sincerely benefited from it. For most of them, the money ruined their lives; it caused rifts between family members, it promoted riotous living, and it was spent like water.  It was not uncommon for my friends to bet $20,000 or $30,000 on a Mets game, or spend $100,000 on a weekend at Atlantic City.  It came fast, it went fast, and caused nothing but destruction along the way.

Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  Money, in and of itself, is not bad.  Money makes an excellent servant, but a poor master.  Most of the people in my family came to the US, worked hard, started businesses and have done well.  There are a few millionaires in my family and they got there by working 12(+) hours a day, six (and even sometimes seven) days a week.  There is a clear difference between what they did and what my friends chose to do by pursuing tainted wealth.  I am glad that I chose the ‘hard work’ route.  I may not be rich, but because of hard work and honoring God I can say that we are no longer poor either.  But most importantly, when I read this text, I can confidently identify with it and say, “Right living saved my life!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that attaining wealth is not bad, but wealth must be pursued the right way.  If you increase God’s way, then you will be able to enjoy the benefits of wealth with a clear conscious, but if you pursue tainted wealth it can destroy your life and legacy.  Take it from someone who had a front-row view of the destructive power of tainted wealth: don’t pursue money, pursue God and He will take care of the rest!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for being my source and supply.  I honor You with my finances and I seek to BE a blessing with everything You put into my hands.  I work honestly and uprightly.  I don’t pursue tainted wealth.  I do what is right in Your sight and I increase Your way.  I work hard, I operate in integrity, I give back to You and to others, and I use money as my servant – not my master!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(10:3) The Soul of the Righteous

(Prov 10:3 LITV) Jehovah will not allow the soul of the righteous to go hungry, but He pushes away the desire of the wicked.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this verse Solomon contrasts God’s response to the desires of both the righteous and the wicked.  For the righteous the message is clear: Jehovah will never leave us, nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).  He will not allow the thirst of our souls to go unfulfilled.  He is a loving, caring and sharing heavenly Father who wants to bless His children.  The psalmist said, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).  Let that sink in for a moment.  He will not withhold any good thing from those that walk upright!  He will not ignore those that are in covenant with Him.  He will hear our cry.  He will answer our call.  He will take the time to commune with us, but we must have a relationship with Him and our heart must be in the right place.  Our motives must be pure.  God is not promising to give us everything we ask, but He has promised to give us everything we need to fulfill our purpose in the earth and to maximize our potential along the way.  Jesus said it best when He said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Mat 5:6).

When I read this verse the first thing that comes to my mind is prayer.  I know from scripture and experience that God is committed to fulfilling the prayers of those that are committed to Him.  However, He does not obligate Himself to those that are not in covenant with Him.  The Apostle John knew a great deal about prayer.  Not only was he part of Jesus’ inner circle (along with Peter and James), but he was also the disciple that lived the longest.  I am sure he spent countless hours in prayer while he was on the island of Patmos.  In his first letter he said, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him” (1st John 3:21,22).  John told us that we will receive whatever we ask, but he also explained that it will only come if we pray with confidence and if we obey God commands.  The wicked Solomon refers are not living lives pleasing to God.  Therefore, they cannot come to God in confidence.  They don’t have a covenant to have confidence in.  In the fifth chapter John said, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  Whenever I read that I like to say, “What are your questions?”  That is about as clear as it can be.  Those that have accepted Jesus are in covenant with Jehovah and those that have not are not.  John went on to say, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him”  (1st John 5:11-15).

So what does this mean to you today? It means your relationship with Jesus should give you complete and total confidence with the Father.  You should come to Him with the assurance of knowing that He will not withhold any good thing from you.  However, those that have not accepted His Son, who are not in covenant with Him, don’t have that confidence.  Can God have mercy upon them?  Absolutely!  But you don’t want to live your life based upon grace and mercy alone.  Your life should be rooted and grounded in the covenant that you have with the Father, sealed by the blood of His Son, your Savior – Jesus the Christ!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for making me righteous by the blood of Your Son Jesus!  I was lost, but now I am found. I was “the wicked,” by now I am “the righteous,” and I live as such.  I come boldly before the throne of Your grace, in the name of Your Son, and I obtain help in the time of need.  I boldly and confidently pray and I know that You hear and respond to the petitions of Your children.  You will never allow my soul to go hungry.  You continually satisfy my heart with good things!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(10:4) Work is Honorable

(Prov 10:4 WEB) He becomes poor who works with a lazy hand, but the hand of the diligent brings wealth.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  We all have a family and we all have people in our families that either teach us what TO DO or what NOT TO DO.  Whenever I think of the men in my family – my uncles, older cousins, etc. – I think of hard workers.  Most are business owners, a few are professionals, and one is a Supreme Court Justice in the Dominican Republic.  From the time I was a little boy I can remember the men in my family going out to work early in the morning and coming home late at night.  My mother, too, was a hard worker.  She taught me that it was noble and honorable to work. She was one of the first three of our family to make it to the United States and she worked hard to not only make a living for us, but also to support my grandmother and those back in the Dominican Republic who had less than we did.  I saw my mother work and give.  She was, and continues to be, a cheerful giver.  She loves to be a blessing to others. She spent countless paychecks on others.  Even to this day, whenever we walk into a store, she is on the lookout for things that she can buy to give away.  Her hard work has enabled her to be blessed, in order that she might be a blessing (Gen 12:2).

I got my first “real job” when I was 14 years old.  It was a summer job working for my uncle.  I worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for the entire summer, for $150.00 a week.  Some of my friends thought he was taking advantage of me, but my family members told me not to listen to my friends.  They taught me to keep the proper perspective.  My uncle was teaching me.  He taught me how to work in a grocery store, he taught me about supply and demand, about mark up and profit, about the difference between volume sales and specialty items, about dealing with customers and keeping them first, and etc.  My other uncles and older cousins told me that what I was learning that summer was worth more than $150.00 a week.  I was learning the value of hard work and they told me that it would pay off in life, in the long run.  Today I can tell you that it has.

Solomon tells us that lazy people are subject to poverty, but those that work diligently open the door to wealth.  The God’s Word translation says it plainly, “Lazy hands bring poverty, but hard-working hands bring riches.”  Now, in Christ there are eternal and countless riches.  There are many Spiritual riches that are way more valuable than money.  But to be clear, this verse is talking about money.  This is not a reference to Spiritual riches.  This is a proverb that makes it clear that if you want to ahead in life – in any area of life – you are going to have to work at it.  I challenge you to find ONE person, in the entire Bible, that God used mightily, that was lazy. I have searched for years and have not found one.  Paul was one of the men called by God and he worked tirelessly to build God’s Kingdom for the rest of his life.  What do you think his perspective of hard work was?  We can get an idea of where he stood on the issue by reading something he said in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica.  In that letter he wrote, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2nd Thes 3:10).

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Walking with God does not exonerate us from work.

2.  Working diligently is honorable and expected from God.

3.  If you want to get ahead in life, don’t expect God to do it all for you.  You have a part and He has a part.  If you do your part He will do His!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for instilling in me a desire to work and to get ahead in life.  I want to be blessed, so that I can BE a blessing.  Use me as a conduit through which You can bless others.  I put my hands to work and I ask You to bless the work of my hands.  I commit everything I do to You and I trust also in You, to bring to pass Your best in my life.  I do my part and I am completely confident that You will do Yours.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(10:5) Opportunities

(Prov 10:5 GNB) A sensible person gathers the crops when they are ready; it is a disgrace to sleep through the time of harvest.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  This message flows in the same vein as yesterday’s, where Solomon told us that work is honorable.  He made it clear that laziness opens the door to poverty and diligence opens the door to riches.  In this text he gives solid counsel about the timing of work.  Although we must all work, it is neither reasonable nor sensible to work all the time. We must tap into the rejuvenating power of rest.  I know many Pastors that have had to learn – the hard way – the value of rest.  If we are not careful we can work ourselves into the ground.  But on the other end of the spectrum is the lazy person who is stuck in a perpetual state of rest.  Neither extreme is beneficial.

There are many truths in the Bible that are expressed to us in parables that deal with farming.  God knows that farming principles are easy to understand and His goal is to provide us His unsearchable wisdom in ways that we can relate to and apply.  Even a kid from Brooklyn knows that farmers have a time to sow and a time to reap (Ecc 3).  Farmers work hard during sowing season, preparing the ground, removing weeds and rocks, sowing the seed, and then covering up the seed with enough soil to protect it from the sun.  There is then a space between sowing season and harvest time.  Farmers do well to get some rest in this time, but the warning here is against getting so comfortable that they get lulled into laziness.  If the farmer is not careful he might sleep through the harvest, spoil all the work he had done during sowing season, and miss the opportunity to capitalize on his investment.

As believers we must be both active and industrious.  This series is about God’s wisdom and when we walk in Godly wisdom we are able to see opportunities that others might miss.  The problem comes when we see the opportunity, but we are too lazy to capitalize on it.  Wouldn’t it be a shame for God to open a door for you, only for you to fail to walk through it, because of the work waiting for you on the other side?  Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  Lazy people not only miss opportunity, they run from it.  Don’t be one of them.  Look for opportunities, ask God to show them to you, but do so with a mindset that is prepared to work.  If you continually squander God-given opportunities there will come a point where God stops giving them to you.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Take time to rest:  As much as God wants you to work, He does not want you to get burned out.  I have learned that rest is Spiritual.  If you don’t rest you will pay for it in the long run.

2.  Don’t allow rest to turn into laziness:  Rest long enough to get rejuvenated, restored, and revived, but then get back to work.  If you are not careful you can lose your passion and drive.

3.  Be on the lookout for opportunities:  I know these are difficult times for many people, but don’t allow difficulty to taint your outlook.  Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”  Have the diligence and dedication to look for opportunities in difficult times.

4.  When preparation meets opportunity:  Your preparation will show up in your performance.  If you are prepared when opportunity comes you will experience success; if not, you will experience the disgrace our text talks about.

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for teaching me to both work and rest.  I work diligently and tirelessly.  I put my hands to work in the time of work, but I also know the power of rest.  I take the time to rest when I need it, because I know that rest is Spiritual and necessary.  I refuse to burn myself out.  I take the time to spend time with You.  You restore my Spirit, soul, and body.  Rest enables me to be ready for opportunities.  You highlight opportunities for me and I take them by faith.  I will not sleep through my harvest season.  I enter every day prepared and when opportunity meets preparation I will experience Your best!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

(10:6) Words

(Prov 10:6 AMP) Blessings are upon the head of the [uncompromisingly] righteous (the upright, in right standing with God) but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon contrasts the blessing (the Good Life) experienced by the righteous with the trouble of the wicked and he makes a connection between their words and what they experience.  Although it is not stated, the implication is that the righteous are speaking words of life and the wicked are speaking words of death.  I taught a series on the power of our words and this topic routinely comes up in my teachings.  Most people are simply not aware how important their words are.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon tells us that our tongue literally yields the power of life and death (Prov 18:21).  If more people understood how important their words are, they probably would not say half the things they say.

If you understand the Bible you know that God has set up His system in such a way that no person can really determine what happens in your life but you and no words are more important in your life than your own words.  Your spirit responds to your voice like no other.  To see this more clearly let’s read this verse from the New International Reader’s Version.  The NIrV says, “Blessings are like crowns on the heads of those who do right.  But the trouble caused by what sinners say destroys them.”  Solomon says that sinners open the door to trouble with their own lips and if that is true (and it is), then the opposite must be true.  The righteous open the door to the Blessing with our own lips.  When we choose to speak life and not death, blessing and not cursing, victory and not defeat, we open the door to the manifestation God’s best in our lives.

Jesus said it best when He said, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.  You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces… Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts.  Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts.  Your words show what is in your heart” (Luke 6:43-45), and, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Mat 12:36).  Jesus explains that he issue of your words is an issue of your heart.  Your heart is like soil and it receives whatever seed you put in it.  There are two ways to sow seed in the soil of your heart: your ears and your eyes.  What goes through your ear gate and your eye gate eventually gets down in your heart and it will bring forth a harvest.  The harvest comes out of your mouth.  That’s why Jesus said that your words show what’s in your heart.  To change your output you must change your input.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  The words you speak are a litmus test for what’s down in your heart.

2.  You are connected to your words and daily, your words are telling everyone who you are.

3.  If you don’t like the message your words are portraying about you, then it is time to change.

4.  To change your words you must change your heart.

5.  To change your heart you must change your input: what you see and hear.

6.  If you can change your input, you can change the condition of your heart; if you can change the condition of your heart, you will change the quality of your words; if you can change your words, you can change your life!

7.  Your words can either open the door to Blessing or the door to trouble – choose wisely!

Confession for Today:  Father, I know my words come out of the abundance of my heart.  My heart is filled with what I allow through my eyes and ears.  I declare, by faith, that I check my input and I fill my heart with good things.  As I fill my heart with things that are pleasing to You, my words will indicate the condition of my heart.  My words will be words of blessing and not cursing, of good and not evil.  Once my input is pure, my heart is right, and my words are righteous, then I cannot help but be blessed.  I change my life by changing my words and I experience the life You desire for me to experience.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:7) How will You be Remembered?

(Prov 10:7 NLT) We have happy memories of the godly, but the name of a wicked person rots away.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Here Solomon contrasts the legacy of the righteous with the short-lived memory of the wicked.  I believe the CEV translation of says it plainly, saying, “Good people are remembered long after they are gone, but the wicked are soon forgotten.”

How do you want to be remembered?  Will you be remembered at all?  100 years after your death, will your name still remain?  Will the legacy of your works echo through the halls of time?  Will the work of your hands leave an indelible mark in heaven’s history books?  After you are gone, will you be inducted into the Hall of Faith?  These are probing questions.  They are soul-searching questions.  These are the types of questions that make us consider what life is all about and whether or not we are giving our time, energy and effort to the right things.

In Proverbs 13 (v.22) Solomon tells us that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.  The inheritance he talks about does include money, but it is not limited to it.  The Amplified Bible translation of that text tells us that part of what a good man leaves behind is an inheritance of “Moral stability and goodness.”  This reminds me of a message I preached on a Father’s Day entitled, “Fathering for a Legacy.”  One of the points I brought out in that message was that we should “Father for Purpose, not for Pleasure.”  Although our children are our greatest legacy, the focus of our parenting should not be on us, but rather on them.  Our focus should be to prepare them for life.  Any loving parent wants to bless their children, but we must remember that sometimes we have to make the hard decisions, even when the outcome will not be pleasing to our kids.  If all we focus on is their pleasure, we might fail to prepare them for their purpose. 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.”  Another point I brought out was that we must, “Father to leave a legacy, not to build a monopoly.”  Some parents lord over their children.  Our children are lent to us from the Lord and we are to love them and care for them; not rule over them.  We have to remember that the time will when they will grow UP and then OUT!  We can’t live their lives for them, nor can we attempt to live our own lives vicariously through them.  Dr. Ted Ward said, “Leadership is a servant relationship that facilitates human development,” and the development of our children should be the goal of our parenting.  Someone said, “The greatest mark of a leader is Development, not dictatorship!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that we should keep the main things the main things.  In this day and age is too easy to get so caught in the daily “rat race” and to fail to keep he important things important.  A great majority of people spend most of their time on things that have no eternal significance. Don’t be one of them.  Determine today to do all you can, while you can, for as long as you can; and as you do it, do it with God in mind.  Keep Him first and He will help you to prioritize your efforts so that you can leave the legacy He expects you to leave!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for giving me this reminder to keep the main things the main things.  I take self-inventory and I make the changes You lead me to make.  I understand what is really important.  I know what things have eternal significance and what things don’t.  I focus my efforts on the things that are pleasing to You.  I pour into my children all that You have poured into me.  I prepare them for their own lives and I pass down The Blessing upon them.  I leave an inheritance of righteousness and a legacy of love!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:8) Receiving Instruction

(Prov 10:8 NLT) The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  Somehow I skipped verse 8 and taught from verse 9 yesterday.  So this morning we go back to verse 8 and seek to glean from the wisdom of God through Solomon.

In this text Solomon contrasts those who are eager to receive instruction and correction with those who can’t stop talking long enough to learn from anyone else.  The Contemporary English Bible translation of this text says, “If you have good sense, you will listen and obey; if all you do is talk, you will destroy yourself.”  The quickest way up in the Kingdom of God is through humility and the quickest way down is through pride.  The person who does not receive instruction is the person who believes they know it all.  I have learned over the years that the closer you get to God, the less you think of yourself.  Now, let me be clear, I am not talking about having a low self-esteem.  I often say that it is a sad commentary for a believer to have a low self-esteem.  No, I am talking about remaining humble.  The more you know about God the more you realize how much you need Him.  You know that it is only by the Grace of God that you are who you are and that if it had not been for God – working through many people to speak to you – you would not be who and where you are today.  When you enter your day with that perspective you are more apt to be receptive when a word of instruction or correction comes through someone else.  You don’t fight the messenger, because you know that it has taken many corrections and much teaching to get you to the point where you are.  If you are going to maximize your potential and purpose, in the earth, before you die, then you must remain teachable.  The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.

James said, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (1:19).  Being quick to listen and slow to speak is easier for some than others.  By nature, I am a social person.  I enjoy meaningful conversations and I am rarely at a loss for words.  However, I make every effort to realize when God is attempting to teach me something through someone else.  On those occasions I limit my speech and put myself in “receive mode.” I am very fortunate; the Lord has blessed me to learn from many gifted mentors.  I believe He has given me favor with experienced and influential people, because I make the effort to avail myself to what they have to offer.  If I am in the presence of someone whose experience far exceeds my own and that person is willing to teach me something, then the greatest thing I can do is listen.  I would be a fool – like the one Solomon mentions in this text – if I wasted these precious God-given opportunities by simply talking over the person I should be learning from.  I have heard many people say that God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak.  Whether that is the proper ratio or not, the point is that we must learn to maximize every learning opportunity.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  You don’t know it all.  Realize your limitations and allow God to develop you.

2.  Be a lifelong learner.  The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing.

3.  Maximize every learning opportunity.  When you sense God has put you in the presence of someone who can teach you something, then put yourself in “receive mode.”

4.  Receive correction with gladness.  You are not perfect, so God will have to send people your way, from time to time, to correct you.  Make the course corrections and grow from them!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for helping to keep me humble.  Whenever I sense that You have placed me in the presence of someone who has something to teach me, I place myself in “receive mode.”  I refuse to waste divine appointments.  I maximize every opportunity You give me.  I remain teachable all the days of my life.  I don’t fight against those You send my way to correct me.  I receive the correction, I apply the changes, and I stay on course to arrive at Your desired destination for my life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:9) Walking In Integrity

(Prov 10:9 NLT) People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those that make every effort to walk in integrity with those that knowingly follow crooked paths.

I have shared with you before how we can and should make every effort to rid ourselves of what I call “Blessing Blockers.”  The writer of Hebrews painted a picture for us.  He used the analogy of our lives being a race and how our purpose is wrapped up in the race that God has set before us.  He told us that to affectively run the race we must rid ourselves of every weight and sin that could slow us down (12:1).  Not everything is a sin.  Some things are weights – things that we know we simply should not do – and if we rid ourselves of the weights and the sin, of every Blessing Blocker, then we can freely and surely run our race.  I know first hand the liberating feeling and the internal assurance I walk in when I know I am right before God; it gives me and overwhelming confidence and peace that cannot be shaken.

Solomon is not talking about a man that is sinless, because only Jesus was sinless, but he is talking about a man that walks in sincerity, integrity, and with a pure heart towards God and man.  This man worships God with his whole heart, he seeks to be a blessing to others, he allows the Word of God to be the ruler by which he judges every decision.  He walks by faith, with humility and patience, and he does it in love.  This man is safe and his spirit can be at rest.  He has nothing to fear and no reason to be afraid.  Matthew Henry said of this man: “He is safe under a divine protection and easy in a holy security.  He goes on his way with a humble boldness, being well armed against the temptations of satan, the troubles of the world, and the reproaches of men.  He knows what ground he stands on, what guide he follows, what guard he is surrounded with, and what glory he is going to, and therefore proceeds with assurance and great peace.”  The Psalmist told us that God will not without any good thing from those that walk uprightly (Ps 84:11).

On the other hand we have the man that willingly chooses crooked paths.  This man is not deceived; he knows the difference between right and wrong and he chooses wrong.  He refuses to submit to Godly counsel.  He ignores the Word of God.  He is deceitful towards others and walks with contempt towards God.  Solomon says that he will slip and fall.  The Message Bible translation of this text says, “Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.”  This man has chosen to live the shifty and shady life and he will be exposed.  Sooner or later he will reap what is has sown (Gal 6:7).

So what does this mean to you today? I could say that it means that you have a choice between walking in integrity or choosing the crooked path, but if you subscribe to Today’s Word I will make the assumption that you have already made your choice and you have chosen God.  That being the case, then this text should serve as a reminder of your security in Him.  You are making every effort to walk upright before Him, so you can face every day with quiet confidence, knowing that God is in you, with you, and for you.  You are safe in His arms and He will not withhold any good thing from you.  Allow this security to a source of strength and peace!

Confession for Today:  Father, I am a man/woman of integrity.  I walk upright before You.  My heart is pure towards You and man.  I remove every Blessing Blocker.  I release all bitterness and guile.  I am free of all weight and sin.  I run my race with patience and confidence.  I shall arrive at Your desired destination for my life.  I walk by faith, not feelings and I seek to Be a Blessing every day.  I am safe in You and this safety gives me an overwhelming confidence and peace that cannot be shaken.  I enter this day with boldness and assurity!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:10) A Refusal to Correct is a Refusal to Love

(Prov 10:10 NLT) People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those who see something wrong and ignore it with those that seek to do something about it.  I have been in the military for almost 19 years.  The military culture is one of standards and values.  We are to adhere to a certain way of life.  If our conduct does not line up with written regulations and time-honored military traditions it is said that our conduct is “unbecoming” of an officer or non-commissioned officer.  We are expected to live, act and perform a certain way.  What I don’t like is when one solider sees another solider violating a standard and instead of making the correction, they go off and tell someone else about it.  Solomon calls this “winking at wrong.”  He explains to us that those who wink at wrong – who laugh at it and gossip about it, instead of confronting it – are guilty of causing trouble.  Soldiers have an inherent responsibility to not only live up the standards, but to enforce them.

Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute Rick.  I am not a solider.”  I understand that, and you may be, but if you subscribe to Today’s Word I would hope that you are a Christian.  If you are, then you have an inherent responsibility to love your brothers and sisters in Christ enough to confront them (in love) when you see them doing wrong.  Don’t talk about them behind their backs.  Don’t laugh about their shortcomings.  If you love them, like you should, then you should pray for them.  If after praying you are led by God to speak to them about it, then please do so.  Allow God to use you as the tool through which He can bring correction to his child.  If you are not led by God to speak to them, then fine, don’t; but don’t speak to ANYONE else about it either.

This reminds me of the often quoted, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” scripture.  This quote comes from Proverbs 13:24.  The Message Bible translation of that text says, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.”  Another good passage to reference on this topic is found in Hebrews where the writer said, “Don’t feel sorry for yourselves… have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?  My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either.  It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.  God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out.  He’s treating you as dear children.  This… isn’t punishment; it’s training… We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live?” (Heb 12:5-9 MSG).  The first scripture was a reference to parent-to-child relationships.  The second was a reference to God-to-child relationships.  The principles that apply to those relationships also apply to peer-to-peer relationships.  If you love your brothers and sisters in Christ (and you should), then you should share the truth in love.  A refusal to correct is a refusal to love.

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:

1.  Don’t get upset when someone is trying to help you.  Receive correction and grow!

2.  Love your neighbor just as they are, but love them too much to leave them that way.

3.  If your neighbor does something you like, tell someone else.  If you they do something you don’t like, TELL THEM!

4.  Use your mouth to build up and never to tear down.

Confession for Today:  Father, I am my brother’s keeper.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ too much to talk about them.  If I see something in them that is not like You, then I will pray for them.  If you lead me to, I will talk to them and become the tool through which You can bring correction to them.  Whatever I do, I will do it in Love!  You are love and You love me enough to correct me.  Likewise, I love them enough to correct them, if that’s what You lead me to do.  And if I am the person that needs correction, then I declare, by faith, that I will accept the correction in love.  I will not get upset with the person You use to correct me!  I welcome correction, so that I can grow!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:11) Watch Your Mouth

(Prov 10:11 NIrV) The mouths of those who do right are a fountain of life.  But the trouble caused by what sinners say destroys them.

This morning we get back to our primary series entitled: “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those who use their mouths to help with those who use their mouths to hurt.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon said, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (18:21).  The old adage, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” may have applied to the playground, but it does not apply to real life.  Our words can build up or tear down, so we must choose them wisely.

Like Solomon, James had a great deal to say about the tongue and it’s use.  His focus was not on what your words can do to others, but rather on what they say about you.  James learned from Jesus that the words that come out of your mouth are in indication of the condition of your heart (see Luke 6:43-45).  No doubt James applied Jesus’ teaching and he incorporated it into his own writings.  In the first chapter of his letter James said, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless” (1:26 NLT).  That statement set the stage and in the third chapter he provided more detail.  In chapter three he said, “… If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.  A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.  A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.  A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!  It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:2-6 MSG).  Just like the small bit controls the direction of a big horse and the tiny rudder controls is used to steer an enormous ship, our tongue dictates the course of our lives.  If you read James’ entire letter you will realize that he is teaching about spiritual maturity.  His aim is that we all grow in Christ.  He emphasizes the fact that our walk with God should not be void of works.  He teaches that faith without works is a dead faith (see 2:18-26); but he also makes it clear that the true test of spiritual maturity is not in outwards actions, but rather in inward control.  The fight of inward control is won or lost with a two-inch piece of flesh – our tongue. Just like a carefully placed word can turn a seemingly hopeless situation around, a carelessly placed word can start a fire that you may not be able to put out. 

So what does this mean to you today? Simply put, it means you should watch your mouth.  Your mouth can either become a fountain from which blessing, promises, and righteousness flow or it can become the vehicle through which destruction and defeat are ushered into your life.  If you can control your tongue, you can control your life.  However, to control your tongue you will need the help of the Father.  Ask Him to help you to protect what goes through your eye gates (what you see) and your ear gates (what you hear).  What goes through your eyes and ears eventually gets down into the soil of your heart.  Your heart germinates what you sow into it and the harvest comes out of your mouth.  Protect your heart and you will protect your mouth.  Protect your mouth and you will protect your life!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for teaching me the importance of my words.  Not only can my words affect the lives of others, they also have a great deal to do with my own life.  I declare, by faith, that I will carefully filter what I hear and what I see.  I protect what goes into the soil of my heart.  I will ensure that my heart receives what is right.  As my heart receives the right things, it will bring forth the right harvest, and I will speak the right words.  I speak life and not death, blessing and not cursing, and I use my tongue to help and not hurt.  My mouth is a fountain of life, not a source of destruction.  Use me Father to speak life into dead situations today – for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:12) Love covers a Multitude of Sin

(Prov 10:12 NIrV)  Hate stirs up fights.  But love erases all sins by forgiving them.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  At first glance this text seems like a clear-cut comparison between love and hate – and ultimately, it does compare the two – but the real comparison Solomon is making is in the area of one’s response to evil.  He is highlighting the fact that as believers we should respond to the evil done wrong to us in a different way than the world.  Love was the central theme of many of Jesus’ messages and He, more than anyone, taught us (by precept and example) how to respond to evil.  It is too easy to repay evil with evil, but when you are able to repay evil with good, that’s when you know that God has wrought a change in your life.

In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus acknowledged that the Old Testament taught, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” (Lev 24:19,20).  The issue was not what the Law taught, but rather what He was teaching.  He came to show us a new way – a loving way, a caring way, a forgiving way.  Jesus went on to say, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies!  Bless those who curse you.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).  Did you catch that?  True children of God walk in love.  True children of God do not keep a track record of the wrong things done to them.  True children of God have mercy upon those that transgress against them.  True children of God know that love is our highest calling and forgiveness, our Godly mandate.

Paul was both the recipient and the disperser of forgiveness.  He personally persecuted the church and he knew that he needed forgiveness for that.  He came to God, received forgiveness, and then sought out to forgive, as he had been forgiven.  In his letter to the church at Colossae he taught them how forgiven believers should live, saying, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14).  As believers we should not walk around with a root of bitterness, but rather with the oil of joy – quick to forgive, to let go, and to move on!

So what does this mean to you today? It means you have a choice.  You can either respond to evil with evil (making you no different than the world), or you can respond to evil with love (making you an example of God in the earth).  Which will you choose?  I know personally that it is a liberating thing when I release the wrong done to me.  Not only does it free me, but it also frees the person who transgressed against me.  The Bible is full of evidence that proves that God expects us, as recipients of forgiveness, to forgive.  Forgiveness helps mend broken relationships, heal broken hearts, and it provides a covering for the wrong done.  I will close with the words of Peter: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1st Peter 4:8).

Confession for Today:  Father, I have been forgiven, and I declare, by faith, that I walk in forgiveness all the days of my life.  I don’t keep a record of the evil done to me.  When people mistreat me, talk about me, and seek to come up against me, I earnestly pray for them.  I pray that Your love would permeate their hearts.  I know that their poison can’t stop my purpose, so I am not concerned about the attack against me.  I am, however, concerned about the attacker.  Use me as an intercessor.  Use me to pray for them, to release Your best in them, to be the tool You use to bring about a change in their lives.  Just as You have released me of all the evil I did, I release them, I forgive them, and I love them with Your unconditional love.  I enter this day full of Your love and ready to forgive!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:13) What are you Known For?

(Prov 10:13 ASV)  In the lips of him that hath discernment wisdom is found; But a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon provides a seemingly strange contrast.  He compares the lips of the wise with the back of the foolish.  To get a better picture of what he is saying we must understand the setting (or the era) from which he is saying it.  In ancient times flogging (or scourging) was a common form of punishment.  When someone committed an act that warranted punishment, but not necessarily prison, they were often 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 – commitment an error that warranted the rod.

The English Standard Version of this text says, “On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.”  Solomon makes it clear that the rod (or the whip) is reserved for the person who lacks sense or understanding.  I often say, “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 where you wind up tomorrow has a great deal to do with 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 become known for the constant trouble you get yourself into. This all leads us to what I believe Solomon’s point is.  As he compares and contrasts the lips of the wise with the back of the foolish I believe what he is getting is that we will all be known for something.  Solomon was the wisest man in the land.  I am sure that he was aware that he was known for what flowed from his lips.  I am also sure that he knew many people that were known for the trouble they consistently got themselves into – and they had the back to prove it!  The question then is: what will you be known for? Will you be known for the wisdom that flows from your lips or for the trouble you get yourself in to?

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 – they will bring forth 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. If you consistently get yourself into trouble, you will eventually be known for it.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your decisions matter.  You will reap the harvest of the seeds you sow.  God wants you to make good decisions for two main reasons:

1.  He wants you to enjoy life.  Jesus did not die so that you could live a miserable life.  He came that you would have and enjoy His abundant life (John 10:10).

2.  He wants you to be light.  You are supposed to shine as light in the midst of darkness (Mat 5:14).  You can’t draw anyone to God if all others see in you is problems.  They have problems.  They need to see something in you that they don’t have.  Be that light (God’s light) today!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me with Your wisdom.  Your wisdom enables me to make good decisions.  My decisions are like seeds and they bring forth a harvest of goodness in my life.  By consistently making good decisions I will eventually become known as a wise person.  This wisdom will become light – Your light – and it will draw others to me.  As they are drawn to me, I will direct them to You Father, so that You can move and minister in their lives.  I declare, by faith, that Your light – the light of the world – flows through me daily!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:14) The Connection between your Heart and your Mouth

(Prov 10:14 NIV)  Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon seemingly contrasts the heart (or storage) of the wise man with the mouth of the fool.  Like yesterday’s message, at first glance it looks like these two are not connected, but upon further review we will see that they are.

Wise men store up knowledge:  Solomon, being the wisest man of his time, knew a thing or two about storing up knowledge.  He knew that the wise are in a constant state of learning and that they meditate on the right things.  Solomon’s father (David) taught about “The Blessed Man” in the first Psalm.  He said that this man literally meditates on the Word (or counsel) of God day and night.  Likewise, when the Lord was preparing Joshua to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land He told Joshua to keep the Word of God in his mouth and his mind.  The promise was that if Joshua meditated on the Word day and night, spoke the Word consistently, and then observed to DO (putting action to it) all that he learned, that he would literally make his own way prosperous and he would enjoy good success (see Joshua 1:8).  The key to all of this is what we store in our heart.  The wise store Godly counsel in their heart.  Eventually, the abundance of their heart begins to flow out of their mouth.  Before they know it, what’s in their heart and their mouth begins to dictate what they put their hands to do and how they do it.  Continue down this road long enough and you will find yourself living in God’s best.  However, the fool chooses to fill his heart with the wrongs things and eventually his mouth gets him in trouble.

But the mouth of a fool invites ruin:  Unlike the wise who meditates on Godly counsel, the fool meditates on ungodly counsel.  They are quick to gossip, to welcome bad news, and to harbor on the evil done to them.  They harbor bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness in their hearts.  They fill their hearts with the wrong things and eventually the abundance of their hearts causes them to speak the wrong words.  Jesus explained this well to the Pharisees when He said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Mat 12:35,36).  Did you catch that?  Jesus explained the connection between what’s in your heart and what comes out of your mouth.  It is obvious that the fool fills his heart with the wrongs things, because his mouth constantly gets him in trouble.  If we fill our hearts with the right things, we can use our mouths to build up and not tear down.  In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus he explained the benefits of using our mouths the right way when he said, “Don’t use foul or abusive language.  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Eph 4:29).

So what does this mean to you today? A few quick things:

1.  There is a connection between what comes out of your mouth and what’s it in your heart.

2.  If you fill your heart with things pleasing to God, then you will speak words pleasing to God.

3.  If your heart is full of Godly counsel and your words are communicating Godly counsel, it is only a matter of time before your actions line up with Godly counsel – causing you to experience God’s best in your life!

4.  The wise speak few words, but the words that they do speak are used to build up and never to tear down.  The fool speaks all day long and his mouth get’s him in trouble.

5.  Jesus said that we will all have to give account for every careless word we have spoken!

Confession for Today:  Father, I understand the connection between my heart and my mouth.  I fill my heart with good things.  I meditate on Your Word day and night.  As I fill my heart with Your counsel, the abundance of my heart begins to affect the quality of my words.  As my heart and my mouth line up with you, my actions are soon to follow.  I declare, by faith, that as I enter this day my heart is pure, my words are Godly, and my actions will be pleasing in Your sight.  I am the wise, not the fool, and I experience Your best in my life daily!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:15) The Right Attitude About Money

(Prov 10:15 NIrV) The wealth of rich people is like a city that makes them feel safe.  But having nothing destroys those who are poor.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts the hearts of the rich with those of the poor.  I read this verse in several translations before I got started.  I feel led to share a couple of other translations with you.  The Contemporary English Version says, “Great wealth can be a fortress, but poverty is no protection at all.”  The Good News Bible says, “Wealth protects the rich; poverty destroys the poor.”  As I prayed over this verse I received to major nuggets from it and I will share them with you.  I believe this verse provides:

1.  A warning against poor financial management:  What Solomon states is absolutely true, wealth does provide a level of safety.  Solomon was well qualified to talk about wealth.  When Solomon was taking over as King of Israel and he had a conversation with God.  In that conversation Solomon explained his concerns to God.  To address his concerns, God told Solomon to ask for whatever he needed.  Instead of asking for material things, Solomon asked for wisdom.  God was pleased with his request and said, “Since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom… wisdom and knowledge will be given you.  And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have” (2nd Chron 1:11,12).  Many scholars believe Solomon was the richest man to ever live.  As king he was able to observe the lives of the wealthy, as well as the poor.  He knew (first hand) that wealth could buy a certain level of security, while poverty, in many ways, leaves the poor exposed.  As believers we should be prudent in financial matters.  Making poor financial decisions can have devastating results.

2.  A warning against having the wrong attitude:  I often say, “There is nothing wrong with having money, just as long as money does not have you.”  The other danger I get from Solomon here is the danger of receiving the wrong attitude from either wealth or poverty.  Many rich people make the mistake of trusting in their riches.  If the current US economy has taught us anything, it is that money can come and go.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon said, “The rich think their wealth protects them; they imagine themselves safe behind it” (18:11), but we know that their wall of safety can come tumbling down.  So those with wealth should thank God for it, and seek to manage it wisely, but their ultimate trust should be in God.  On the other end of the spectrum are the poor.  Even worse than the pride that money can cause the wealthy to have is the low self-esteem that the lack of money can cause the poor to have.  Poverty is a terrible thing.  I grew up poor in the ghettos of NYC and my wife grew up poor in the countryside of the island of Dominica.  At least my family had government assistance.  My wife’s family had no assistance at all.  There were days were they had no food.  She grew up without running water, electricity, or any of the things we (as Americans) take for granted.  My wife and I know (first hand) the devastating affects poverty can have on the minds of the poor.  I have seen people seemingly incapacitated by the suffocating power of poverty.  They work hard, but they never see a way out.  Solomon says, “Having nothing destroys those who are poor.”

So what does this mean to you today? It means you must maintain a healthy perspective concerning money.  Money makes an excellent servant, but a poor master.  If you are wealthy, resist pride.  If you are poor, know that you can get out.  Either way, trust God!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for blessing me with physically, mentally, psychologically, socially, and financially.  I will use money as a tool for Your Kingdom. I ask You, Father, for wisdom concerning my finances.  Help me to be a fiscally responsible son.  As You do, I declare, by faith, that I will maintain the proper attitude.  I will remain humble and I will trust You every day of my life.  My life is in Your hands.  Lead me and I will follow.  Teach me and I will execute.  Use me and I will bring Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:16) Wages

(Prov 10:16 TNIV) The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts the “wages” of the righteous with those of the wicked.  Webster’s dictionary definition of wages is: a payment usually of money for labor or services.  Interestingly enough, Webster also lists the words, recompense and reward under wages and provides Romans 6:23 as a reference.  In Romans 6:23 Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Noah Webster provides us two references.  One is a common reference, and it deals with financial earnings.  The other is an uncommon (in today’s society) reference, and it deals with life earnings; the eternal rewards that we earn (good or bad) for the things that we do in the earth.

I meet people all the time who fail to understand the significance of their actions.  If something good happens, they thank God.  If something bad happens, they blame God.  Either way, they see God as the reason behind everything that happens to them, their family members, their children, and etc.  They might show up late for work, on a regular basis, and wind up getting fired.  Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they say things like, “How could God let this happen to me?”  They eat the wrong foods, live a sedimentary lifestyle, they practice sin regularly, and when they get sick (in their body and their soul), they say things like, “If God loved me, He would not have done this to me.”  People that live this way don’t understand the word “wages” in our text.  They clearly understand what it means when it is payday – expecting full compensation from their employer – but they fail to understand the spiritual significance of what they do (or fail to do) on a daily basis.

In one sense, grace is God giving you what you do not deserve.  Mercy is God not giving you what you do deserve.  I thank God for grace and mercy and you should too.  It is only because of God’s goodness that He continues to give us what we do not deserve and holds back what we really do deserve, but we should not live our lives based solely upon grace and mercy. You can fail to live the life that God expects for you to live and still come to God in prayer.  Will He answer your prayer?  He might or He might not.  God is a good God and He might do what you ask, just out of His goodness, but is that really how you want to live?  Do you want to live every day depending on grace and mercy alone?  I hope not.  Solomon tells us this morning that the wages (the reward) for living a righteous life is LIFE – the God type of life.  This is the life that God desires for you to live.  Think of it this way: when you live the life God intends for you to live, it opens the door to the Good life (His type of life).  However, the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.  When you choose to ignore God’s counsel and you willingly live a life contrary to God, it opens the door to sin and death.  Is that what you want?  Do you want to earn your way to destruction?

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your actions matter; that every cause has an effect.  What you do today will be worthy of wages.  You can either earn goodness or you can earn destruction.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American poet and philosopher said, “Shallow men believe in luck.  Strong men believe in cause and effect” and “Life is a perpetual instruction in cause and effect.”  What will your actions cause today?  Will they cause life or death, blessing or cursing, goodness or destruction?  Remember, the choice is yours.  God is watching and He will cause you to reap whatever you sow.

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for giving me the right to choose, for blessing me to be a free morale agent, and for having enough confidence in me to enable me to make my own decisions.  I know that I will reap whatever I sow.  Therefore, I declare, by faith, that I choose life and not death, blessing and not cursing, goodness and not destruction.  My actions today will open the door to Your best in my life.  I refrain from sin and death.  I live a life of righteousness, love, joy, and peace.  Be glorified in me today, Father.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:17) Making the Right Impact

(Prov 10:17 NIV) He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those who heed discipline with those to ignore correction. The Amplified Bible translation of this verse says, “He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others.  And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.” I see two points in this text:

1.  Our personal development:  In our lesson from Proverbs 10:10 we learned that God is a loving, caring, and sharing heavenly Father.  As our Father He has a responsibility to discipline us when we go astray.  The title of the message was, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love.”  If God failed to correct us it would mean that He failed to love us.  The reality is that His love is unfailing.  He loves us unconditionally and He is ever ready to get us back on the right path.  What this also means, however, is that He is ever ready to correct us when we need it.  Our job then, as loving children, is to accept and apply His correction; so that we can become the men and women that the Father desires for us to be.  I know that many do not like to be corrected, but the reality is that we all make mistakes.  We all go astray.  We miss the mark from time to time.  If we would be honest with ourselves, we would realize that the only thing keeping us from acknowledging our shortcomings is pride.  As believers, if we really want to develop into mature citizens in the Kingdom of God, we will have to remain humble and teachable.  The more we understand our weaknesses, the more God can help us address them.  Our goal should be personal development, but you cannot be developed if you refuse to be taught.

2.  The Impact we can have on others:  The selfish person may pursue personal development, but they pursue it with the goal of making themselves look better.  Pride supplies the fuel to their fire.  Their focus is on their lives and their lives alone!  However, the humble and submitted child of God knows that their life is not their own.  They understand that they were born with and for a purpose and God’s purposes are never limited to one person.  His plans for you are too big to just impact you alone.  He puts His best IN you and then places you IN environments where you can make a difference.  Jesus said that we are to be the “Light of the world” (Mat 5:14).  Light does its best work in the dark.  God wants to be able to plant you as light in the midst of darkness, so that His glory, in you, could pierce through the bitterness, hatred, malice, and strife of others.  The Father wants to be a blessing TO you, so that He can be a blessing THROUGH you.  When God called Abraham He promised to bless him, but the overall purpose of the Blessing was so that Abraham could BE a blessing to others (Gen 12:1,2).  The reality is that we will all impact others – one way or another.  We all have some level of influence over others.  Solomon’s point is that if we accept God’s discipline and correction we can influence others in the right way.  However, if we fail to be developed, then we will influence others in the wrong way.  And the sobering reality to all of this is that every one of us will be judged some day.

So what does this mean to you today? God has blessed you to have a sphere of influence.  For some the sphere is bigger than for others, but nonetheless we all have one.  The question is: what are you doing with that influence? Are you allowing God to develop you, so that you can influence others in the right way?  Or are you rejecting His discipline and thereby putting yourself and others at risk?  Remember, you will have to give account for the impact (good or bad) that you have had on others.

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your Word.  I declare, by faith, that I heed Your discipline.  I remain humble and teachable.  I submit to Your process of development.  In so doing, I know that I am being prepared to both BE Blessed and to BE a Blessing to others!  I release myself to You this morning – spirit, soul, and body – to be used of You, for Your glory.  Use me Father to positively impact the lives of others today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:18) Guarding Your Heart and Your Lips

(Prov 10:18 NIV) He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those who conceal their hatred with those who openly spread slander.  This is somewhat of a departure for Solomon, in that his previous comparisons have been between good and evil, righteous and unrighteous, godly and wicked.  In this case, both are in the wicked category.  They are, however, different types of wickedness.

The first person Solomon mentions is the person who harbors hatred in their heart towards others.  If that were not bad enough, this person refuses to address the issue.  He never openly confesses his dislike or distrust for the other person, but rather seeks to conceal his true feelings with flattery.  He pretends to be a friend, and outwardly behaves as one, but inwardly carries a root of bitterness.  Every time he has an encounter with the person or whenever the person’s name comes up in a conversation, he conceals his hatred with lying lips.  There are many things wrong with this situation.  First of all, as believers, we are commanded – not suggested – to love.  Now, does that mean we are going to like everything others do?  No.  But dislike should not lead to disdain.  You can dislike a person’s ways and still love them.  You can disagree without being disagreeable.  The point is that as believers this simply should not be.  The Bible gives us guidance on how to deal with conflict and we should love our brother enough to resolve any conflict quickly.  Harboring unforgiveness in our heart becomes a detriment to our personal development and a hindrance to our prayer life.  Not to mention that lying about it compounds the issue.

The second person Solomon mentions is the one who openly slanders others.  Solomon calls him a fool.  Our lips should be used to build up, not to tear down.  Unlike the first man, who bites his lip instead of saying his what he really feels, this man’s mouth is stuck in the “ON” position.  He publicly expresses his dislike for others; seeking to deprecate, defame, and discredit them openly.  He has no care or concern for their well being or their public status.  His only goal to speak negatively about the person he dislikes and he will lie if he has to.  Fabricating stories is not off-limits to this person and before you know it, they have a hard time differentiating between what is true and false in their own minds.  He is a fool because he thinks he is destroying the other person, but he is actually destroying himself.  He is sowing seeds of discord and eventually, he will reap what he sows.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1. Be quick to Forgive:  Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your sins.] (Mark 11:25,26).

2.  Use your lips to Bless, not Curse:  Paul said, “Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths.  Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

3. Walk in Love with God and Man:  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  (Matthew 12:30,31).

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your Word.  Your Word has taught me this morning to guard my heart and my lips.  I guard my heart from bitterness, malice, hatred, and strife.  I guard my lips from lies and destructive words.  I use my lips to build up and never to tear down.  If I have an unresolved issue with my brother, I will seek a quick resolution.  And even before the resolution, I will keep from defaming my brother with careless words.  Father, I love You with all my heart and I love my neighbor as myself.  I walk in love daily and I am quick to forgive.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:19) Your Words Matter

(Prov 10:19 NIrV) Those who talk a lot are likely to sin.  But those who control their tongues are wise.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those who talk a lot with those who control their tongues.

The Bible has a great deal to say about the words of our mouths.  I have taught a series on the importance of our words, many Bible-based books have been written on the subject, and the topic gets addressed from pulpits all over the world on a regular basis.  After studying the topic for quite some time I believe it all comes down to two major points:

1.  What comes out of you is an indication of what is in you.  Jesus explained that our words flow from the abundance of our heart (Matthew 12:34).  This means that we are connected to our words and our words are connected to us.  If a person routinely speaks foul language he will be known as a foul person.  You cannot disassociate yourself from your words.

2.  Words have power.  The old adage sticks and stones… words will never hurt me, is simply not true.  Words can build up or tear down.  Abusive words can ruin a person’s life, just like positive and affirming words can prepare them for success and victory.

Solomon understood the importance of words.  As the wisest man to ever live (outside of Jesus), he knew that wise men choose their words carefully.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon said, “Those who have knowledge use words with restraint” (17:27).  I am sure Solomon learned a thing or two about this from his father David.  David said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked” (Psalm 39:1).  Why so much care?  Why so much concern about words?  Because God knows that where a great deal is said, without care and forethought, many idle words – and possibly many lies – will be spoken.  Idle words are useless and unproductive words.  People that speak a lot are people that can’t help but speak idle words.  Since they are speaking all day long, they never take the time to carefully think through what they are going to say.  People that live this way will invariably allow their mouths to get them in trouble (here in the earth) and more importantly, they will have to give account for their words when they stand before God.  Jesus said, “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak” (Matthew 12:36).

So what does this mean to you today? It means you should choose your words wisely.  If you take the time to be deliberate in what you are going to say, you will find yourself speaking less; but you will also find that the words you do speak will have more meaning.  Your words will be more effective and you will be able to get more done.  The same can be said of written communication.  Today many communicate via email as much, or more than, they do over the phone.  I have found that those who write long emails are simply not as effective as those who are clear, concise, and to the point.  Whether written or oral, say what you mean and mean what you say.   In so doing you will show others that your words matter to you, and consequently they will also matter to them!

Confession for Today:  Father, I heed Your counsel, I submit to Your teaching.  I will control my tongue and choose my words wisely.  I declare, by faith, that before I communicate – either oral or written – I will carefully think through what I want to say.  My words will communicate careful, clear and concise thoughts that will accomplish what I send them out to do.  I fill my heart with good things and out of the abundance of my heart, my mouth speaks; speaking life, not death; blessing, not cursing; victory and never defeat!  Father, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:20,21) Value Added

(Prov 10:20,21 TNIV) The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.  The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In these two verses Solomon contrasts the tongue of the righteous with the heart of the wicked.  As I prayed over these verses I see two things:

1.  The Righteous Add Value:  The reference to silver is a reference to value.  Solomon is saying that those of us who walk with God, who fill our hearts with good things, and who thereby speak words of life are valuable.  I have already explained the connection between your heart and your mouth.  As a believer, since your heart should be full of the Word of God, your mouth should be full of words of life.  You should be ever ready to speak words that enrich, edify, uplift and inspire.  And we have already studied the importance of our words.  If you believe your words can make a difference (and they can), and you use your lips to build up all those around you, that makes you valuable to your organization.  Not to mention the fact that the Lord can give you insight, revelation, wisdom, and understanding to be able to tackle the tough challenges you (or your organization) may be facing.  The Lord will give you the insight you need, because He wants you to make a difference where you have been planted.  If He sends you into a dark place, He wants you to bring light.  If He sends you into a place full of hatred, he wants you to bring love.  If He sends you to an unproductive organization, He wants you to be used to turn it around.  Bottom line: as believers, we should add value wherever the Lord sends us.  Our words and our works should make a positive impact on a daily basis.

2.  The Wicked are No Value Added:  Just like the hearts of the righteous are filled with good things, the hearts of the wicked are filled with evil things.  Therefore, out of the abundance of their heart their mouths speak and what comes out is “No value added.”  The lips of the wicked spread gossip, they are quick to backbite, and they speak hateful and divisive words.  These people tear down, not build up.  They are conniving and their ways can spread like cancer through an organization; driving wedges between the members; causing division, discord and discontent.  Solomon calls these people “fools.”  I guess the saddest part is these people are too foolish to realize that they are really being a detriment to themselves.  They will eventually reap what they are sowing.  Solomon says that they will die for lack of sense.  Their evil ways bring destruction.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a choice.  Which person do you want to be: the person that adds value or the person that is no value added?  If you walk with God, study His Word, learn His ways, apply His principles, walk in love, and speak words of life, you will invariably add value to every organization you are a part of.  People will seek you out, because you produce.  At the end of the day, leaders of organizations are always looking for people that can produce positive results.  However, the wicked are not so.  They quickly gain a reputation for being divisive, disruptive, and counterproductive.  People like this are not sought after, but rather ostracized.  Don’t allow this to be you.  Walk with God and seek to make a difference everywhere you go!

Confession for Today:  Father, I declare, by faith, that I am VALUE ADDED everywhere I go.  I fill my heart with Your truth and out of the abundance of my heart, my mouth speaks.  I speak life and not death, blessing and not cursing, words that help and not words that hurt.  I uplift, edify, and inspire all those around me.  And You Father, give me the insight, wisdom, revelation, and understanding I need to perform my duties in excellence.  My relationship with You gives me an advantage over those that do not know You.  As I apply Your wisdom to my life I am able to add value to every organization You bless me to be a part of!  Use me today, Father, for Your glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:22) Increase – God’s Way!

(Prov 10:22 NIrV) The blessing of the LORD brings wealth.  Trouble doesn’t come with it.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those that gain wealth through God’s blessing (living life God’s way), with those that pursue wealth without it (the world’s way).

First of all let me clarify that this verse is referring to material wealth.  I hope you understand that spiritual riches are far greater than materials riches, and being rich in the Kingdom of God – His righteousness, peace, love, and joy – should be our ultimate aim.  However, in this verse Solomon is teaching us about material riches; which by themselves are not bad.  Remember, having money is not the problem; it’s when money has you that you fall into a trap; the trap of thinking that money is that answer to all of life’s issues.

Young’s Literal translation of this verse says, “The blessing of Jehovah — it maketh rich, and He addeth no grief with it.”  Today’s New International Version says, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.”  If we look at all three translations we can see that the Blessing of God upon our lives can open the door to wealth.  The caveat is that when we walk in the Blessing – when we lives pleasing to God – we can attain material wealth, but we can do so without the trouble, grief, and painful toil that can accompany the ill-gotten gain of those that seek increase the wrong way.

I am an American of Dominican decent.  Some of the hardest working men I know are Dominicans.  Between the men in my family and some of our family friends I know men who have come to the U.S., looking for a better life for their families, and who have worked hard to get it.  While their original intentions were honorable, somewhere along the way their focus got skewed.  Many of these men work 12(+) hours a day / 6 (and many 7) days a week, all for the pursuit of riches.  I personally know men who go months without taking a day off.  When asked why they work so hard, so they say, “I am doing this for my family.”  But the sad reality is that they barely see their family and many of them wind up losing their family along the way.  Not one of the men I am referring to here has a personal relationship with God.  Money has become their God and grief and painful toil has become their way of life.

Once again, let me be clear, the Lord does not want us to be poor.  We have already learned that the Lord is against poverty.  Later in Proverbs Solomon says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (13:22).  The Father wants us to be able to be a blessing to our children and their children, but we can do that without forsaking God in the process.   Those that seek riches without God may work hard, but their labor often seems in vain.  In the 127th Psalm we see how hard it can be to work without the blessing.  The Psalmist said, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.  In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat…” (Ps 127:1,2).

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father wants you to be financially secure, but He wants you to do it His way.  When you pursue financial security His way, you can have more than enough to meet the needs of every situation, to give to every charitable work, and to leave and inheritance for your children; all without the grief that comes from attempting to do it without God.  When your priorities are right, everything else falls into place.

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for teaching me how to profit Your way.  I honor You with my finances.  I give, as You lead me.  I work diligently and faithfully.  I respect authority and promote the vision of my superiors.  I do all that I do for Your glory.  Therefore, Your Blessing is upon the work of my hands and You cause me to increase Your way.  I declare, by faith, that I have more than enough to meet the needs of every situation, to give to every charitable work, and to leave and inheritance for my children’s children!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:23) Are You Ready to Grow Up?

(Prov 10:23 NLT) Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts those that enjoy doing wrong with those that take pleasure in living wisely.  Now, you may be thinking, “The term ‘living wisely’ is relative.  Some may think they are living wisely, even though we might disagree.”  That’s true, so to be clear, the wisdom Solomon refers to here is wisdom from above.  His point is that there are some who enjoy doing things that are contrary to the will of God (those things outlined in His Word).  Solomon calls the man that enjoys doing wrong a “fool.”  On the other hand, there are some who enjoy living their lives by God’s wisdom (outlined in His Word).  Solomon calls the man that takes pleasure in God’s wisdom “sensible.”  To further drive this home, let’s look at this verse from the New International Reader’s Version.  The NIrV says: “A foolish person finds pleasure in doing evil things.  But a man who has understanding takes delight in wisdom.”

This verse reminds me of something Paul said in the New Testament in his first letter to the church at Corinth.  He said: “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But when I grew up, I put away childish things” (1st Cor 13:11).  Most (if not all) of all us took pleasure in foolish things at some point in our lives.  We did things that were wrong and thought they were cute, funny, or fun.  We took pleasure in senseless things.  Looking back it all seems so foolish, but at the time, it was enjoyable.  Paul admits that he too partook of childish and foolish things, but when he grew up, he had to leave those childish ways behind.  When I read our text for this morning I think of men and women that have grown up (physically), but they have never grown up (mentally, psychologically, or spiritually).  There comes a point where we must leave childish things in the past.  The same thing we might laugh at a 2yr. old for doing, we might have serious concerns with if we saw a 20yr. old doing.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that the Father expects you to grow up in Him.  He expects you to leave childish ways behind.  The King James Version of this text says, “It is as sport to a fool to do mischief.”  As you grow in Christ sin should no longer be a laughing matter.  Later in Proverbs Solomon said, “Fools don’t care if they are wrong, but God is pleased when people do right” (14:9).  Don’t be a fool.  You should care – you MUST care – when you are wrong and be determined to do all you can (with God’s help) to do right!

As you grow in Christ your desire to want to do God’s will should grow as well.  There was a situation in the New Testament where Jesus sent His disciples out to get something to eat.  While they were gone He ministered to a woman at a well.  When they came back they offered Him some food.  He told them, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”  He went on to say, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent Me, and from finishing His work” (John 4:32,34).  They were offering him natural food, but Jesus had just received a type of nourishment that natural food can never provide.  He was satisfied in knowing that He had just ministered to a woman that was hurting.  His words had just changed her life forever!

When you grow up in Christ you get a sense of satisfaction from doing His will.  You no longer take pleasure in the foolish things you once did, but you rather focus your time, talents, and treasure on things of eternal significance.  Are you ready to grow up?

Confession for Today:  Father, I am Your child, I have been Born-Again into Your Kingdom, and I declare, by faith, that I am growing up into a mature citizen that is determined to make a difference.  I no longer take pleasure in doing wrong.  I don’t laugh at sin or mischief.  I know my time on the earth is limited, so I will not waste time on things of no eternal significance.  I take pleasure in doing Your will.  I get nourishment from being used by You to be a blessing to others.  Use me Father, today, for Your glory.  Use me to make a difference in someone else’s life today.  That’s what I take pleasure in – in doing Your will!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:24) The Hope of the Godly!

(Prov 10:24 NLT) The fears of the wicked will be fulfilled; the hopes of the godly will be granted.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts the wicked (who walk in fear), with the Godly (who walk in hope).  Interestingly enough, I have been teaching on fear all month, here in Iraq.  I teach a Wednesday night Bible Study entitled, “Living By Faith,” and the focus of this month was Overcoming the Fear Factor.  Last week I taught several reasons why we should not fear and one of the reasons I taught was: “What you fear will come upon you.”

Fear is a polar opposite to faith.  Faith is an expression of your confidence in God and in His Word.  Faith is based upon the hope that we have in God.  When we find Bible Promises that line up with what we are believing God for, it adds substance to our hope (Heb 11:1).  This Godly hope enables us to walk in an unrelenting confidence.  Fear, on the other hand, is also a form of confidence, but it is a confidence in the negative.  When you fear you are actually anticipating the negative to happen.  Your confidence is not in God, but rather in what the enemy can/will do in your life.  Fear opens the door to defeat; it welcomes it with open arms.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome he talked about an overwhelming and overcoming hope.  In the 5th chapter he said, “Now this hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (5:5).  We see here that part of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to give us a hope that does not disappoint.  In Christ we CAN get our hopes us, because in Him we are never disappointed!  When He leads us to something, when He opens a door, when He starts us down a path, He always does so with the intent to see His will through to the end.  He will never get our hopes up, only to then pull the rug out from under us.  He wants us to hope, to believe, to operate in faith, and to live with a fearless confidence in Him!  In the 15th chapter of the same letter Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13).  This is one of my favorite verses in all of scripture.  In this verse Paul calls God the “God of Hope,” and I love that.  Furthermore, he tells us that the Holy Spirit can cause us to abound in hope and give us all joy and peace as we trust in Him!  That means we can have the excitement that comes from joy and the serenity that comes from peace, while we live every day in complete and total trust, confidence and faith.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a decision to make.  We are living in a time where the economy is unstable, the dollar is failing and falling, our nation is still waging a war on two fronts, and many Americans are losing their hope.  The wicked don’t have a choice.  They really don’t have an answer for fear.  Fear – especially now – can grip their hearts and their minds and before they know it, their fears will be fulfilled.  Without God, the wicked really don’t have another way and they quickly find themselves in the realm of the hopeless.  However, for those of us who are believers, we should never be hopeless, because with God we are never helpless.  There is a hope available to us that never disappoints.  There is a hope that comes from God that never fails.  Hold on to God’s hope today.  With His hope in your heart you will be able to maintain joy and peace, no matter what happens in your life and our text for today says, “The hopes of the godly will be granted!”

Confession for Today:  Father, my hope is not based upon the economy, the dollar, or anything else in the world.  My hope is based upon my relationship with You and this is a hope that never fails and never disappoints.  You are my God of Hope!  No matter what things looks like, and no matter how hard the challenge, I will never be hopeless, because with You I am never helpless!  I have a hope – Your hope – that does not disappoint and that is why I am able to maintain joy and peace every day.  I am not moved by what I see.  I rest in my hope in You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:25) Standing Through the Storms!

(Prov 10:25 NIV) When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon contrasts how the wicked and the righteous respond to storms.  The Message Bible translation of this verse says, “When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.”

We all face storms in life.  It is unreasonable to think that we are going to live our lives without challenges, especially as a believer.  Paul said, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2nd Tim 3:12).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (Mat 16:33).  It is true, we can’t get around it, in this world we will have trouble, challenges and opposition, but the good news is that as believers we can face every challenge with the expectation to come out on top!  Jesus overcame the world so that we can do the same.  I often say, “You can’t be an overcomer if you don’t have anything to come over!

So the issue is not whether or not we will face storms, but rather how we will deal with them.  Solomon makes it clear that the wicked are annihilated by the storms, whereas the righteous stand firm forever, having a sure foundation.  Jesus taught something similar in the New Testament when He said, “So then, everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man.  He builds his house on the rock.  The rain comes down.  The water rises.  The winds blow and beat against that house.  But it does not fall.  It is built on the rock.  But everyone who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man.  He builds his house on sand.  The rain comes down.  The water rises.  The winds blow and beat against that house.  And it falls with a loud crash” (Mat 7:24-27).  Once again, notice that the rains fell, the winds blew, and the floods flowed against BOTH houses.  Neither one was exonerated from the destructive affects of the weather, but only the one that was on a sure foundation was able to weather the weather.  The wise man, Jesus says, built his house upon a rock.  The foolish man built his house upon the sand.  In Jesus’ lesson, what made the wise man wise?  What man the foolish man foolish?  The answer is: whether or not they put into practice what He taught.  Both the wise man and the foolish man heard what Jesus was saying.  They both received His teaching, but only one turned the corner from information to application.  By choosing to apply God’s Word, by choosing to be a doer and not just a hearer (James 1:23), we can become the wise man in Jesus’ story; we can become the righteous in Solomon’s proverb.

So what does this mean to you today? It means you have a choice.  You can either read these messages and walk away from your computer like nothing happened, ignoring what God is saying in your life, or you can read, believe, receive and apply His truth to your life.  Believe me, the results will be different.  Every day you apply God’s truth to your life you are adding another brick to your spiritual house; a house being built upon the ROCK.  When the rains fall, the floods flow, and the winds blow – and believe me, they will – you will be able to stand.  Life in Christ does not mean that you will be exonerated from challenges, but it does mean that you will be able to face every challenge and remain STANDING!

Confession for Today:  Father, I agree with Edward Mote’s hymn where he said, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.  On Christ the solid Rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  So I declare, by faith, that when the rains fall, the floods flow and the winds blow in my life, I will still be standing.  I stand firm forever.  I am the righteous Solomon referred to, I am the wise man Jesus taught about, and I stand!  Having done all, I continue to stand!  I shall not be moved by the storms of life!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:26) Lazy

(Prov 10:26 NLT) Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.”  In this text Solomon takes a departure from his antithetical pattern.  Instead of comparing and contrasting two ideas he simply makes a statement about lazy people. Theologian Adam Clarke, in his commentary of this verse, said, “As vinegar to the teeth – the acid softening and dissolving the alkali of the bone, so as to impair their texture, and render them incapable of masticating; and as smoke affects the eyes – irritating their tender vessels, so as to give pain and prevent distinct vision; so the sluggard, the lounging, thriftless messenger, who never returns in time with the desired answer.”  That is clearly NOT the affect the Father wants us to have.

This reminds me of the parable of the talents that Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 25.  It is a story about a master (a business man) who gave three of his servants (his employees) sums of money to ‘work’ while he was gone.  Jesus said, “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.  Then he went on his journey” (v.15).  Notice that he did not give them what they could not handle.  He gave them their sums “according” to the their ability.  It would be unrighteous to expect someone to do what you know they are incapable of performing, so this employer assigned tasks in accordance with the ability of his employees.  He wanted to set them up for success.  That way they would be rewarded and the business could prosper as well.  Everyone wins when all the people in an organization do their part – according to their ability.

The one that received five talents doubled the money, the one who received two doubled the money as well, but the one who received one did nothing with it.  He buried it.  He basically sat on it.  He was unproductive.  Verse 19 says, “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.”  Notice that the employer gave them ample time to complete their tasks.  He was not unreasonable at all.  He simply expected them to do, what he had adequately equipped them to do.  When the man with five talents and the one with two both told their employer that they doubled the money, the employer was obviously happy.  He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (v.23).  He basically promoted them.  They proved that they could maximize one level, so they were ready for the next.  However, the third employee did not get the same answer.  The employer was very upset and called this man wicked and lazy.  He told him that the least he could have done was to put the money in the bank, so that it could collect interest.  By burying it in the ground he did not even do that.  The employer then took the money from the lazy employee and gave it to the one who had 10 talents of money.  One of the points I bring out when I teach from this parable is that God is pleased with duplication/multiplication, but not stagnation/ conservation. The man with one talent did not lose it, but he did not do anything with it either!

So what does this mean to you today? It means that as a believer you are called to make a positive impact – to add value – everywhere you go, but you cannot do that if you are lazy.  Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”  You don’t have to be the smartest or the strongest, you just have to put forth an honest effort and you will experience God’s best!  Determine to be a blessing, not a burden, to your employer today!

Confession for Today:  Father, I know You have equipped me with certain gifts and abilities.  I also know that You expect me to do what You have equipped me to do.  I declare, by faith, that I will not let you down!  You are a God of progression, not regression, nor stagnation; therefore, I will do all that I can to progress both naturally and spiritually.  As I do my part, I know You will do Yours and bless the work of my hands, so that You and I (together), can make a positive impact on my sphere of influence today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:27) Live Long and Live Strong!

(Prov 10:27 CEV)  If you respect the LORD, you will live longer; if you keep doing wrong, your life will be cut short.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this text Solomon contrasts the length of life of those who respect (or fear) the Lord with that of those who disregard Him.  Preparing for this message took me a little longer than normal.  Not because I did not know what to say, but rather because I had too much to say.  The Lord has had me to teach on this topic before and I was quite surprised when I first researched it, but 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 role to play.  He wants to operate in our lives, but we must cooperate with Him.  If we do not, we hinder Him from giving us His best and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Back in chapter 3 (of Proverbs), 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 he 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.  And finally, let’s look at the 91st Psalm.  I love this Psalm.  I call it the Psalm of Protection and I often quote it here in Iraq.  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 you want?

On the other hand, the Lord through Solomon, in our text, says that our life will be cut short if we keep doing wrong.  If we ignore God’s commands, if we forsake His wisdom, we are only being a detriment to ourselves.  Solomon’s Father (David) said, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.  But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days.  But as for me, I trust in you” (Psalm 55:22,23).

So what does this mean to you today? I hope the message is clear.  It means that 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!

Confession for Today:  Father, I make the right choice today.  Your Word gives me insight for living.  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit leads me in the way that I should go.  I declare, by faith, that I listen and obey.  I receive Your counsel concerning what to eat.  I get regular 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 live long and I live strong!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:28) Godly Hope!

(Prov 10:28 NIrV)  Those who do right can expect joy.  But the hopes of sinners are bound to fail.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this text Solomon contrasts the expectations (or hopes) of sinners with those of believers.  I have done a great deal of teaching on Godly hope – a hope that does not disappoint!  One of the greatest reasons why we, as believers, can maintain our hope is because it is fueled by joy!  Solomon tells us that we can expect joy.  We can operate in eternal joy, whereas the best the world has to offer is happiness.

I have explained the difference between happiness and joy many times, but it is worth repeating.  The word happiness comes from the Old English word “happenstance,” where we get our Modern English word, “circumstance.”  They are connected for good reason.  Happiness is contingent upon circumstances.  If our circumstances are good, we can be happy.  If our circumstances are bad, we can be sad.  So I often say, “Happiness is contingent upon happenings.”  That being the case, we can see how fragile and fickle happiness – or the pursuit of it – can be.  Joy, on the other hand, is not happiness.  Joy is a state of being.  In Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia he told us that joy is fruit of the Spirit (5:22).  The Holy Spirit Himself, God’s presence in us, enables us to operate in His supernatural joy.  This joy includes the blissful benefits of happiness, but it is not limited it’s conditional circumstances.  Therefore, we (as believers) can be joyful, even when my circumstances don’t allow us to be happy.

A good way to explain this is to point out something Paul said to the church at Philippi when they were facing tough challenges.  Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).  Look at what Paul told them to do.  He instructed them to rejoice.  This word (re-joice) literally means to tap back into your joy.  Since Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and the Holy Spirit lives in us, we can always tap into His joy.  His joy is available to us every minute of every day.  The same is not true with happiness.  If something good happens and I get happy about it, but when that happiness wears out that good feeling is over.  Happiness is temporary, where joy is an everlasting well.  The world can never re-happy, but we can always re-joice!

This takes us back to our focus text for today.  The Message Bible translation says, “The aspirations of good people end in celebration; the ambitions of bad people crash.”  Our aspirations, our hope, our joy is supernaturally resilient.  We can maintain our Godly expectation no matter what the circumstances look like.  However, those without God have hopes that easily dissipate.  Their hope may burn strong for a short while, but it fails in the face of adversity.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that you have a hope (a Godly hope, an everlasting hope) that should enable you to enter this day with great expectations.  Your hope – birthed from your relationship with God – should provide the fuel for your fire, the spring in your step, the song in your heart, and the air beneath your wings.  You have a hope that sinners wish they had; a hope that springs eternal!  I will close with a quote from Paul’s to the church at Rome.  He said, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (5:1,2).

Confession for Today:  Father, since I have been justified through faith, I know that I have peace with You.  My relationship with You gives birth to an everlasting hope.  I declare, by faith, that as I enter this day I rejoice in the hope of the glory of my God!  My hope is resilient – it shall not be shaken and it shall never stop!  I have great expectations for what You will do in my life today and tomorrow.  I walk into this day expecting to see Your goodness manifested in my life, in my family, and in the environment that You have planted me in.  Use me Father, to share Your hope with others today!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!

(10:29,30) The Promises of God

(Prov 10:29,30 TNIV)  The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.  The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this passage Solomon contrasts how believers (the righteous) view “The way of the Lord,” with how unbelievers (the wicked) view it.  The term “The way of the Lord,” is a reference to God’s way of doing things.  This entire series has been about learning to do things God’s way.  So many people want to know God’s will for this or for that, but these same people walk around with a Bible in the their hands.  God’s Word is God’s will documented.  He has blessed us to have 66 Books full of His wisdom – a roadmap for success.  The Father has ensured that we have access to all his precious promises.  But therein lies the difference Solomon is talking to us about today.  What I, as a believer, see as a promise, an unbeliever might see as a problem.  What is encouragement to me (because I am doing things God’s way) may be a discouragement to someone else (who has chosen to live their lives without God).

Solomon tells us that “The way of the Lord” is literally a refuge for the blameless.  Other translations say that it is a stronghold or a strong tower.  Think about it.  When you know you are living right, when you can stand before God with the confidence of knowing that you are at peace with him, and when you know He can search your heart and find His Word there, you can enter every day with holy boldness.  You know who you are and whose you are! You have read God’s Word and you fully expect His promises to be manifested in your life.  You believe Him to be your rock, your strong tower, your deliverer, your protection, your shield, and a hedge that no enemy can penetrate.  With that type of confidence, what do you have to be afraid of?  But the good news does not stop there.  Not only does the Father promise us outward protection, but He also promises us inner peace.  When you walk with God you believe that He will give you a sound mind, a stable psyche, a well of everlasting joy, and a peace that cannot be shaken.  His peace enables you to enter every day with a supernatural rest in your spirit.

Yes, walking in the way of the Lord is awesome.  It is God’s best for our lives.  But then Solomon tells us that the same “Way of the Lord” is the ruin of those who do evil.  What is a promise to the believer becomes judgment to the unbeliever.  For example, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).  This is an awesome promise to the believer.  For those of us that receive and believe the Words of Jesus this scripture tells us that: 1) we have eternal life, 2) we will not be condemned, and 3) we have (already) crossed over from death to life.  That is awesome news for those of us who have accepted Jesus, but it is not for those who reject Him.  Another good example is John 3:16 (the most famous verse in the Bible).  In John 3:16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish, but has everlasting life.  That is great news for the believer, but it is a word of judgment for those that refuse to accept Him.

So what does this mean to you today? It means two things:

1.  As a believer, you should receive an eternal source of joy and peace from the promises of God.  Have full confidence in who and whose you are as you enter this day.

2.  You should want to share God’s goodness with the lost and you must seek to do so IN LOVE.  Allow God’s love in you to draw someone to Him today!

Confession for Today:  Father, I thank You for Your precious promises.  I know who I am and whose I am.  My confidence is in You and in Your Word.  I am fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus my Lord.  And I am determined to share that love with the lost!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

(10:31,32) Using Your Words to Uplift, Edify, and Encourage

(Prov 10:31,32 NIrV) The mouths of those who do right produce wisdom.  But tongues that speak twisted words will be cut out.  Those who do right know the proper thing to say.  But those who do wrong speak only twisted words.

This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” In this passage Solomon contrasts the words of the righteous with the words of the wicked.  He explains that the righteous – those whose hearts are filled with God’s love and His Word – use their lips to build up and not tear down.  They know what to say and when to say it.  Their words are used to bless and not curse.  However, the tongues of the wicked speak twisted words.  They use their lips to stir up strife, to cause division, to defame, slander and curse.  Later on in Proverbs Solomon makes this ever so clear when he said, “Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim (Prov 15:4 MSG).  How will you use your mouth today?  Will you use it to heal and help or to wound and maim?  But remember, you will reap whatever so sow!

This reminds me of something Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Ephesus.  He said, “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it” (Eph 4:29 AMP).  In this chapter Paul starts out by teaching on unity in the Body of Christ and he ends it by teaching us how different our lives are supposed to be now, as believers.  Paul tells us to no longer live as those that live without God.  He explains that unbelievers are darkened in their understanding; they live as those who have hardened hearts.  These are people who give themselves over to sensuality and who indulge in impurity.  Paul then urges us to “put off” our old selves and our former way of life.  When we are Born-Again IN Christ we become new people (spiritually), but we still live in our old body and we still – at that point – have our old mind.  So this new man, in and old body, needs a new mind (a new way of seeing things). Paul’s point is that there should be a difference between a believer and a sinner; there should be a distinction between those of us who have been covered by the blood of Jesus and those that have not.  Paul then gets into practical differences.  He teaches us to stop lying and to speak the truth (in love) to one another.  He teaches us that if we do get angry, that we should still not sin and that we should never go to sleep angry because it can give the devil a foothold.  Paul says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”  And then, in the middle of all the teaching on the differences between believers and non-believers, between sinners and saints, Paul gets to the difference that should be obvious in our speech.  Our speech, just like everything else Paul lists in this chapter, must be renewed and made to align with the newness of our lives in Christ.

So what does this mean to you today? It means that your mind must be renewed concerning your words.  As a believer, it’s not OK to go around putting people down on a regular basis.  It’s not OK to break someone down without ever building them back up.  It’s not OK to focus on abstaining from what people call “major sins,” but neglecting to ever focus on the importance and the impact of your words.  Your words can either help or hurt; they can build up or tear down; how do you think God wants you to use your words today?

Confession for Today:  Father, I submit myself wholly – spirit, soul, and body – to You.  I am a believer and I will live like one.  My mind is renewed from my former life and I no longer live like the world.  I am new in my thoughts, deeds, and words.  I will use words today to build up and not to tear down.  My words shall be a blessing and not a burden to others.  Use me Father to speak words of life into the lives of others today.  Use me to uplift, edify, and encourage – all for Your Glory!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen!

This is Today’s Word!  Apply it and Prosper!